By Lydia Farmer – [email protected]

Just months after picking up their guitars and learning to play together, juniors Billy Brandecker and Patrick Strom will be taking the stage at ’17 Pines as the opening act for Echosmith.

Strom started learning to play guitar this past winter break while he had to stay at St. John’s for basketball. This inspired Brandecker to bring his guitar with him after break and they began playing and learning together in January.

The two started inviting friends over on Saturday nights to hear them play some of the songs they had learned.
“We didn’t really think anything of it,” Brandecker said.
But their friends did.
One night, a friend took a video of a mash-up Brandecker and Strom had put together. Auditions for the Joint Events Council’s (JEC) The Voice were closed but Brandecker’s roommate, Mack Short, thought the duo had a chance of getting into the competition and becoming the opening act for Echosmith at ’17 Pines.
“I grabbed the video off Facebook and sent an email to JEC saying ‘hey these two great students, great people on campus, really think they should get a chance,’” Short said.
Brandecker and Strom weren’t fully aware of what Short had done, but the next day they received an e-mail from JEC asking if they would attend The Voice.
Friends who had listened to the duo play in their apartment on Saturday nights came out to support them in the competition. Brandecker and Strom attribute their win to those fans.
“It was a lot of fun, we had a lot of our friends there in the audience cheering us on,” Strom said. “We were pretty nervous but we tried to pretend we were just playing for our buddies.”
The two competed against five other performers in three rounds and a fan vote to earn their spot as the opening act for Echosmith. Strom said they were excited and surprised when they won.
“All the contestants were phenomenal and I think had been doing music for years and Pat and I started just a few months ago we really weren’t expecting anything like this to happen,” Brandecker said.
In preparation for their opening performance at ’17 Pines, the two have put together a set list that they hope will engage the crowd.
“They can expect songs they’re going to want to sing along to as well as a couple off the wall songs we put together, and even an original” Strom said.
Doors for ’17 Pines open at 7:30 p.m. Johnnie Blend will perform in addition to Brandecker and Strom as the openers for the headliner Echosmith this Saturday, April 29.
Feature photo: JULIA ECKART• [email protected]