Teen band leader is a real crowd pleaser

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PARKVILLE, Mo. -- Hardly a day goes by that a glitzy show doesn't air on national TV about young performers trying to win their big break. We've discovered a teenage talent right in our midst -- a gifted entertainer just half way through high school -- who appears to be well on his way to stardom. And he's this week's Fox 4 Young Achiever.

When you first hear and watch him perform, you get the sense you are getting in on what could be someone who could very big very soon in Country and Southern Rock music. With powerful stage presence, Roman Rojas -- stage name Roman Alexander -- radiates charisma. Roman just turned 17, but his rich, mature, bluesy baritone and skilled guitar licks permeate a room, And you are reminded of some of his music idols, superstars of the past like Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings. And modern-day ones, like Dierks Bentley.

"I love the music," said Roman. "It stands for something good. You start playing and people start screaming and that's what gets you going. You're so moved by that many people that come together to listen to good music and sit there and support an artist. That's what really means a lot to me."

With Nick Riffle, his Park Hill South High School friend and fellow School of Rock Kansas City alum, Roman recently formed a new band. Nick plays a nifty lead guitar. Daniel Page provides the bass rhythm. And Michael Stansic pounds out driving percussion. But it is Roman in the spotlight as lead singer and guitarist. And the group has his name on it -- The Roman Alexander Band.

"It's a lot of responsibility, it really is, but it's a good responsibility," said Roman. "I don't want to be a dictator. I don't want to be rude. I just want to be outgoing, be that fun lead singer that's never stuck up. Stay level-headed and just keep going."

With a brand new demo CD, Comfortable, just released, Roman is no neophyte as an entertainer. He's been playing and performing for years, first pulled up on stage to sing for a paying audience when he was just six years old.

"The crowd got a kick out of that," said Roman of that experience. "That's when I knew that pleasing the crowd was really my main thing I was going to end up doing."

"And he'd just , like, play air guitar, he wasn't strumming any strings yet," said Jim Eaton, who brought Roman up on stage for that first appearance.

Eaton is leader of the band Outlaw Jim and the Whiskey Benders and owner of Frank James Saloon, the Parkville bar and restaurant where Roman and his band often play. Roman's band often opens shows for Eaton's band. A longtime family friend, Roman calls him Uncle Jim, Eaton has become Roman's music mentor. He sees something very special in his protege -- a real crowd pleaser.

"He didn't learn that from me," said Eaton about Roman's charisma and performing chops. "It just came naturally. He's got a great voice. When you hear him singing, it almost sounds like it must be coming out of someone else. You kind of look around the band and see if there's an older guy. But no, it's him. And he plays guitar better than me. So, it's like we give him the tools to learn a technique and style on his own and the sky's the limit. He's running with it."

For now, Roman says, he's not thinking about the sky, the prospect of filling arenas and stadiums. After all, he still has to finish high school. He and other band members are starting to write and perform their own songs to go with the many cover tunes on their play list. If stardom comes his way, Roman intends to earn it.

"I think you stay level-headed and you keep your mind on the game," said Roman. "I think you will get to that point eventually. It's a long road." A real crowd pleaser.

Roman and the band have a busy fall ahead of them. They play tomorrow night (Thursday, September 12) at 7:00 at the downtown Kansas City Power and Light District KC Live Stage. That's a 21 and older show but minors will be admitted if accompanied by an adult. Friday night (September 13) at 8:00, they'll be at Tanner's in Gladstone. On Thursday, September 19, at 5:00 p.m., they will open for Outlaw Jim and the Whiskey Benders at Worth Harley Davidson on I-29. That's a 21 and older show. And Tuesday, October 8, at 8:00 p.m., they'll be at Tanner's in Gladstone again.

You can follow The Roman Alexander Band on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheRomanAlexanderBand.

FOX 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Wednesday on FOX 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on FOX 4 News at 8 a.m. and noon.

Phil Witt, Fox 4 News

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