For Rye Neck Band, Narwhals, Supporting Cancer Group is Personal

The Narwhals formed when Alex Hull, Thomas Briscoe, Jedd Amos, and Ryan Truta were in fifth grade.

Narwhals
Photo Belkis Hull
Published June 28, 2024 9:29 AM
4 min read

0:00

Abby Flynn was about to begin her junior year of high school when her mom died of cancer in August 2023, after an eight-year battle with the disease. A month before her mom’s death, her father died unexpectedly following a stroke. Flynn’s parents loved music; her mom was a performer and music was integral to her family life.

“Music is a great way to cope and writing music, getting the words on the page, is a really great tool. Performing, too,” said Flynn, who is 16. “I use my parents’ passing as a way to live for them and allow them to live through me, because they were both so supportive of me in my music career. They are a part of me and my music.”

Flynn, who has been singing since she could talk, will be performing June 28 at Locals 10538 in Larchmont with The Narwahls, a Rye Neck band aiming to raise money for Soul Ryeders, a cancer support organization. Soul Ryeders helped Flynn’s family, and the mission of the Rock Against Cancer Benefit Concert & Fundraiser is meaningful to Flynn and other members of the band, several of whom have been performing together since they were students at Daniel Warren Elementary School.

Flynn will be joined on stage by singer/songwriter Mia Plugh, whose mom is a breast cancer survivor.

The Narwhals traces its roots to fourth grade in Rye Neck. Alex Hull and Thomas Briscoe, now Rye Neck High School juniors, were in a band together.  When they lost their keyboard player in fifth grade, they invited Ryan Truta to join. Jedd Amos was in a different band, but had been best friends with Hull and Quinn Byron since kindergarten. When the opportunity to perform at their school’s Spring Fair came up, they formed Imagine Narwhals with Amos on drums. The name came from a television special on narwhals, and without much discussion that became the band’s name.

The Narwhals will be performing on June 28 at Locals 10538 in Larchmont.
Photo Belkis Hull

The band has been a source of friendship and support since its beginning. Briscoe, who took up guitar at age 7 as a way to hone his fine motor skills, moved to Rye Neck from Texas in fourth grade, and Truta arrived in fifth grade.

Truta, a classical piano player from an early age, switched to keyboard when he joined the band. With Hull on vocals, the group began producing real music.

Most of the original members started playing together at Bach to Rock in Mamaroneck, and after their public debut at the Fifth Grade Fair, started booking gigs in middle school. They have competed in Battle of the Bands at City Winery in Manhattan, performed at local events, and had their own gig at Belleayre, a ski resort in the Catskills where Hull, Amos, and Briscoe spent winter weekends together in their ski program. The band shortened their name to The Narwhals and managed to stay together through their transition to high school.

Flynn, an aspiring singer-songwriter, joined the band on vocals in ninth grade. Plugh, also a singer-songwriter with whom Flynn collaborates regularly, is joining the band as a special guest for the benefit, while Quinn Byron, the band’s longtime friend, is providing marketing and communications support. In preparing for this concert, the group has been practicing three times a week, which has been challenging as they close out a demanding school year.

Not only do the band members play music, they include state and national champion rowers, a varsity soccer player, an all-section varsity tennis player, and an award-winning singer, songwriter, performer, and playwright. But despite these competing demands, the band members have remained dedicated to their music and friendship. And with this concert, they’re dedicating themselves to a new goal: to raise over $10,000 for Soul Ryeders.

Narwhals
The Narhwals is a band of Rye Neck students which originally formed when its founding members were in the fourth grade. Photo Belkis Hull

In addition to a short set of Flynn and Plugh’s original songs, The Narwhals will be playing a mix of indie and classic rock, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Guns-N-Roses. They will play some of their favorites from their Bach to Rock days as well as other songs they have picked up over the years.

The Narwhals know Soul Ryeders from the cancer support group’s work in the Rye Neck schools. Band members have helped with bake sales and
other fundraisers, and gotten to know Lesley Findlay, a Rye Neck parent who is director of operations for Soul Ryeders. Though the concert is entirely student run, the group also had input from Rachel Felenstein, another Rye Neck mom who works for Soul Ryeders.

The Narwahls will be joined in performance by The Levee, another local band, that plays contemporary music.

For more information on how to support The Narwhals and to buy tickets for the Rock Against Cancer Benefit Concert & Fundraiser, follow @thenarwhalsband on Instagram.

This article was updated on July 1 at 1:33 p.m.

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