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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Calendar > Arts and Culture

Their world ‘Without Walls'

Sullivan West youth band wants to spread message

By Kaitlin Carney - reporter/photographer

Kaitlin Carney | Democrat
Without Walls is comprised of, from left: McKinley Bernitt, vocals and guitar; Reece Maopolski, bass and guitar; John Muzuruk, drums and guitar, and Bryce Maopolski, guitar and drums.
Above a garage in Western Sullivan County, a movement has started. That movement is in the form of a band called Without Walls, and their message is one of acceptance, of support - and of hard rock and heavy metal.
The message starts in the band's name, as lead guitarist and drummer Bryce Maopolski explained: “Too many people put up walls to be people they aren't. We want to encourage people to be who they are, and not put up those walls.”
The foursome of Sullivan West students credits their initial meeting to elementary school band teacher Trish Ellmauer, an educator always looking for ways for her students to showcase their talents.
Bryce, 12, joined Ellmauer's band where he met John Muzuruk, 13.
They had numerous parts together and discovered a shared affinity for music and clear instrumental talents. Bryce was already jamming at home with his brother Reece, 10, (a student in Kim Eschenberg's music class) on bass and guitar and the addition of John on drums and guitar made them a band: Without Walls was born.
The trio performed a Halloween show at the Jeffersonville Main Street Stage, where another local band, Astroview, opened for them. Shortly after their show Astroview's lead singer and guitarist, McKinley Bernitt, 14, came aboard and rounded out the group.
No teenyboppers
Without Walls is not your typical pre-teen and teen group. They favor a heavy metal sound and perform a mixture of original tunes and familiar hard rock covers. Bryce pens a lot of their original music, McKinley adds lyrics, and the group fuses it together for the final product.
John loves to play just about anything, and Bryce and Reece credit their dad with teaching them their first instruments. They play daily, and get together for weekly band practice as a whole.
Message in the Music
Music is the centerpiece, but the band is part of a larger anti-bullying message. Realizing it is not always easy to be different, they are working to put together an assembly to bring music, and their message of accepting people for what they are to different elementary schools around Sullivan County.
JAMuary is their first event aimed at bringing local kids together in a fun, safe, and entertaining way. See sidebar.
“We wanted to give kids a safe place to go, to keep them out of have a fun night, for free,” the band explained. They also hope to bring awareness and support to the Delaware Youth Center and their programs that support local children and teens.
Response to the event has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive. Without Walls was interviewed on Thunder 102, which helped connect them with Presley & Taylor (who reached 43 on the country chart). Many local businesses donated door prizes, with the group going door to door in Callicoon to spread their message and talk about the concert.
“A lot of people are going to try to make it to the concert, and there is a very positive response. We are very excited about performing in front of a crowd but also to bring attention to the Delaware Youth Center, a place for kids to do fun stuff,” the group explained.
Bolstered by sponsors Buck Brook Alpaca, Just-In-Time Construction, Callicoon Creamery, and Faith Metzinger's Day Care and a growing fan base, they are hopeful for a successful night. The group is also appreciative of their parents for hosting practice, shuttling them and their equipment around, and supporting their dreams as a band.
Even with their first large scale performance as a group on the horizon, Without Walls is looking to the future. “The goal is to have more after this event in different areas and towns, to create a scene where teens can be motivated and focus on positive things.”
Check out JAMuary, or learn more about Without Walls the band and their upcoming events on their Facebook or events page.

When: January 24, 6 p.m.
Where: Delaware Youth Center, 8 Creamery Rd., Callicoon.
Who: Without Walls, Purpose of the Unwritten, a group of Sullivan West seniors and college students; Presley & Taylor, a country duo from Connecticut; Conspiracy, from Warwick; Purple T, from Liberty; and Asia Calabrese-Lewis with Molly Seidl and Kristen McAndrew.
What Else: Face painting, poster creating contest (with the winner snagging two tickets to the Callicoon Theatre), and over fifteen door prizes.
Why: To spread anti-bullying message and support the Delaware Youth Center; any donations raised will be “paid forward” to youth music programs.

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