Hagerstown native Connor Abeles returns to area with rising band
Hagerstown’s Connor Abeles is coming home and this time he is bringing along some friends.
The young musician and his band Cab Ellis will make their Maryland debut when they perform at The Blue Side Tavern in Frederick, Md., on Saturday, Aug. 3.
Connor Abeles, 23, is the son of David and Stacey Abeles of Hagerstown. He grew up in the Fountain Head area of Hagerstown with a younger sister and an older brother. He is a 2014 graduate of Saint James School in Hagerstown and graduated from Emerson College in Boston, Mass., with a Bachelor of Arts in theatre studies in acting.
His mother, Stacey said her son has been performing on stage since he was 5 years old.
Hagerstown residents may remember seeing Abeles as a child or teen performing in local talent shows or singing in the choir or in theatrical productions at St. James School. When the native son returns in August he will be a full-fledged musician.
“I’m 100% supportive of his passion because I know how hard he has worked over the years,” Stacey Abeles said. “I’m just really proud that he is pursuing his passion and using his training.”
Connor Abeles has been living in Los Angeles for the past year and a half working on his music career, which he said began in Boston while he was still a student at Emerson.
“The shift sort of happened throughout college. I would go into the practice rooms everyday and figure out my sound,” Connor said. “Music was one of those things I had the liberty to explore all on my own and I think that allowed me to figure out what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it and especially with the band, I’m figuring that out more and more everyday.”
Before leaving Boston, Connor began performing as a solo artist under the name Cab Ellis. He headlined shows in Boston, Atlanta, Maryland, and Virginia, and opened for artists such as 2Chainz, Watsky, Pell and DJ Premier.
Also while in Boston, the multifaceted artist acted in a number of stage productions and short films. His film credits include: “Maya Forever,” a NoBudge Film Festival official selection, and the short film “Pressure” which was an Austin Film Festival official selection. He was a member of “This Is Pathetic,” a long-form improv troupe, and “Paradise Moves,” a professional dance company.
Since moving to Los Angeles, Connor said his main focus has been on his music. He said about a year ago, Cab Ellis grew into a full band that has a core of artists that includes himself (vocals/keys), Jonny Sim (guitar), Nick Petrou (bass), Luke Woodle (drums), Matt Richards (saxophone) and Fernando Ferrarone (trumpet). His sister Sophie Abeles, 21, of Hagerstown, is also one of the band’s core members on vocals.
“She does shows and rehearsals with us but she is based in Boston right now studying at Boston University,” Connor said. ”She has been there from the start and been a huge part of the evolution of the sound.”
He added that the band often has other artists join them like percussionist Ian Hubbell.
“We are a rock band but all the influences come from a lot of different places but the spirit of it is rock,” Connor explained.
He said the band plays a mix of original music and covers of bands like the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and David Bowie.
The band has two of what Connor Abeles calls “mix tapes,” in “Gorgeous Nonsense” and “Business Casual.” He said the band is working on their debut album made entirely of their own music that will be 100% written by them.
“I write all the lyrics and vocal parts and then write the song on the piano and then I’ll work with the other guys in the band to work out the other parts,” Connor said.
While Connor may have moved to the other side of the country, the influence of his hometown and his formative years growing up there is a large part of his music. He said his song “Flashback” was wholly about his childhood in Hagerstown.
“I think everything I write sort of comes from that yearning I’ve always had to break away out of the small town and then once you do, you figure out what remains and keeps you sane. Keeping the mindfulness of where I came from and not knowing what the rest of the world is like. It definitely creates a feeling of childlike wonder. Then going out, breaking out and coming back to a place that’s comfortable,” Connor said.
For only being together a year, Cab Ellis has had a good deal of early success. They have played at several well-known Los Angeles hot spots as The Mint, Sassafras, The Viper Room, Whiskey A Go Go and they will be playing at the famous Troubadour in August.
The band was also a regional finalist for the Los Angeles area in the NPR Tiny Desk Contest this past May. Stacey Abeles said the contest received more than 6,000 entries from across the country and her son’s band was one of only three in the Los Angeles region to be named as a finalist.
“There were about 10-15 bands across the country that were invited out on the tour. Here in our tour stop at The Lodge Room (Los Angeles), there was us and two other bands that opened for the headliner. It was very cool to be recognized by people we respect,” Connor said.
He said it’s exciting to be coming home with his band. He said the audiences who attend the show should feel fun, free and be able to let loose and discover something new about themselves.
“I think they should come out because it’s something new but it’s deriving from a spirit and camaraderie that has been lost in modern music,” Connor said. “It (our music) can apply to anybody. That is what we are going for and the spirit of the old rock band is growing in us and that is reason to come out if anything.”
Top photo: Members of Cab Ellis, from left, Luke Woodle (drums), Jonny Sim (guitar), Fernando Ferrarone (trumpet), Matt Richards (saxophone), Connor Abeles (vocals/keys), Ian Hubbell (percussion) and Nick Petrou (bass). Not pictured is Sophie Abeles (vocals). (Submitted photo)