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Photography by Daniel Barceló

The story behind the Harrison kids who made a name for their high school band

Let’s be honest: everyone has dreamed of starting a band as a teenager, whether you had the piano skills of Billy Joel or were a master of the cowbell like Will Ferrell. The reality of it actually happening, however, were slim to none. Unlike the rest of us, the alternative band Foxhall turned this dream into reality, playing gigs at Harrison School for the Arts and even inviting total strangers into their backyards for free concerts.

Composed of five teens — Tanner Ledford, Cameron Giddens, Diego Salinas, Noah Hickey, and Caleb Pierce — Foxhall has become a fast hit in Lakeland, their personalities matching the warm, down-to-earth tones of their music. I recently sat down with the band to talk about Foxhall’s beginning and growth in the future.

The guys have had their hearts set on a band for a long time — three years to be exact. For a teenager, that’s an eternity. “I tried to put a band together, and it never worked out,” says Ledford, the innate leader of Foxhall. “We tried getting it going again with some friends from church later, and we just didn’t have time, so it died out. At that point it was only the four of us.”

Foxhall made their debut at their school thanks to the Student Faculty Showcase at Harrison School for the Arts, an event which is often described as “a talent show on steroids.” The band covered “Art Exhibit” by Young the Giant, quickly throwing together an arrangement in about a week.

Sitting in a room with them is like hanging out with people you’ve known all your life; a sense of calmness naturally surrounds them.

“It was insane. I don’t know what we were thinking, but it turned out pretty well. We were asked to play at our pre-homecoming event. At that point, it was still the four of us. Our friend Faith sang with us which gave us a bit more traction and a name in the school. People began to get this was a real thing,” Ledford says.

With no drummer but growing popularity, Foxhall decided it was time to reach out to someone, and their youngest member, Caleb Pierce, joined. “Tanner [Ledford] just texted me out of the blue one day, and he was like, ‘Hey, I have this project called Foxhall,” and I signed on immediately, because anytime I get to make music is a good time,” Pierce says.

Foxhall made their debut at Harrison thanks to the Student Faculty Showcase.

What makes Foxhall so interesting to observe is the attitude of the five guys who comprise the band. Sitting in a room with them is like hanging out with people you’ve known all your life; a sense of calmness naturally surrounds them.

The whole band has different stories regarding their individual journeys to Foxhall, but in the end they were brought together for the same reason — their love of music.

Salinas was born in the capital of El Salvador attending a British school where he learned English before moving to the U.S. in 2009. “In fifth grade we had the option to join the strings program. One day, I was really bored in class, so I decided to skip and go to the strings program as an excuse. The only instrument that they had left was a cello, and I’ve been stuck with it ever since,” he says.

Ledford’s interest in music began with his dad who has been playing guitar since he was a teen. “Around fourth or fifth grade, [my dad] said, ‘Hey, every Sunday night I’m going to give you a guitar lesson.’ We would sit down for like an hour and he would teach me basic rhythm guitar until I wanted to do more than what he was showing me. Another guy taught me for a while, and then I became involved in worship at my church playing bass guitar.” Ledford later played upright bass in orchestra at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy which helped launch him into the jazz band department at Harrison School for the Arts.

The five credit their community and the people in it with a lot of the opportunities that have come their way.

“I think fifth grade is when I actually got my first guitar,” Giddens recalls. “My Uncle Brian was a worship pastor, and he was the best thing ever. He played guitar which made me want to. I was on the youth worship team in sixth grade; I was still learning and only knew about four chords. That same year, I started band at Lawton Chiles and learned trombone. In eighth grade, I got my first electric guitar, and it was quite the beauty. It was a black Les Paul with gold hardware,” he laughs, “and it was very bulky.” The brand was ironically named Agile. Judging by his talent, the old guitar must have served him well.

Pierce was originally from Hayward, California, and his parents used to teach the arts at a Christian school while living there. “We moved to Florida when my dad received a job offer to teach theatre at Southeastern University.” Pierce was reportedly “always smackin’ on things” (he is Foxhall’s drummer, after all), and his first drum set was found on the side of the road. “I began drum lessons around first or second grade with a great guy named Derek O’Bannon. I learned everything from him.” For roughly nine years, Pierce has been playing drums, and it sure shows. Like many of the other members, Pierce has played with his church’s worship team, where he met Ledford, who later called him to join Foxhall.

The whole band has different stories regarding their individual journeys to Foxhall, but in the end they were brought together for the same reason their love of music.

A John Mayer enthusiast, Hickey began playing bass in TBA Youth’s worship band, “because the acoustic guitar player was already occupied by Cameron [Giddens]. So a friend of ours helped me to learn how notes work. I had taken about four years of piano lessons prior to this, but all of that information is completely gone. I don’t remember a thing from them. Nothing at all.” When the Foxhall offer came along, Hickey was all in.

The five credit their community and the people in it with a lot of the opportunities that have come their way. “Lakeland is small enough to feel friendly but large enough to keep you from going insane,” Salinas says.

“There are a lot of opportunities, and the city isn’t too large of a scale where there is nothing open to you. You can really make your own path,” Giddens says.

Foxhall is composed of five guys who not only make music, but make a difference by being leaders in their schools and the community at large. As for their future plans? More shows. Thank goodness for it. I advise all to attend at least one of their shows. Fingers-crossed Foxhall goes on tour.

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