It all started with a bet between Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Gregg Cox and President Kevin M. Ross. And just 45 days later, Ross put together a band to perform at Lynn University's annual Celebration of the Arts. This bet led to the beginning of Wolfhawk, a cover band like no other.
Wolfhawk consists of Ross at lead guitar and Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Anthony Altieri on the drums, as well as Adam Beighley on guitar, Jay Brandt '99 '01 as lead singer and guitarist, and Alex Keller '14 on bass guitar.
“We wanted to lose this bet,” said Ross. “I always wanted to be in a band, rock stars have all of the fun.”
“We had 45 days to get everything ready to go and we put as many practices together as we could and learned five songs,” said Brandt, lead singer. “We were extremely nervous, but we got it done.”
After their first performance in the Amarnick-Goldstein Concert Hall, they were asked to play at a backyard party. The band was paid in swordfish.
When deciding to continue on with the band, the group chose the name Wolfhawk.
“I named it after a 1987 Jeep Wagoneer that I bought on eBay,” said Ross. “I went to North Carolina to pick it up and the owner said the car had an animal spirit name called Wolfhawk.”
Wolfhawk is now trademarked, and Ross still owns the 1987 Jeep. The band performs mostly rock music and some contemporary music, with inspiration from Foo Fighters and other influential rock bands.
Each member brings to the table a different favorite band or version of rock music. Ross enjoys gritty rock like Stone Temple and AC/DC along with Drivin N Cryin and Cracker. Beighley notes his love for Led Zepplin. Altieri grew up listening to Bon Jovi and Poison. Brandt loved '70s southern rock, including Creedence Clearwater Revival, Led Zepplin and Bon Jovi.
Wolfhawk covers several rock bands, but hopes to pursue acoustic sets in the future. The members also noted that they have worked on lyrics for their own music, which they hope to publish.
Altieri had prior experience playing drums, but the other Wolfhawk members learned their instruments within the past five years of playing together. Interestingly enough, John Mayer opened for one of Altieri's past gigs.
“Alex was in a Christian rock band called Ambient Soul,” said Ross. “He reminds the band of Will Farrell and is the only Millennial in the band with no kids.”
Each member, aside from Keller, have children who show Wolfhawk lots of support and love. Altieri and Ross mention how their kids take an interest in the band.
“My kids like it a lot,” said Altieri. “My six-year-old wanted to come on stage at the Boca Bowl.”
“I had this moment where I felt pretty cool, and that’s rare,” said Ross. “My daughter told me one of her friends posted a video of Wolfhawk on Snapchat and said, ‘This band is dope.’”
Wolfhawk has played several performances, including at the Boca Raton Resort and Club this past New Year's, at weddings for Lynn alumni, in garages and backyards, and this past December, at the Boca Raton Bowl.
Beighley does not think of Ross and Altieri as Lynn administration during band activities.
“I don’t think of them like that,” said Beighley. “I think of them as good friends and cool dads.”
Brandt is a Lynn alumnus and worked at the university for 15 years. Wolfhawk has never had trouble separating the band from their work life.
“It’s amazing to think what our professions are because when we are playing music it’s just playing with the guys,” said Brandt. “The day jobs tuck away once we start playing.”
Altieri does not think about his work life during band practices. “It is something done in my spare time and something that I enjoy doing,” said Altieri. He says they have come a long way since the beginning. When discussing the beginning of the band he said, “I was expecting a lot worse.”
As for their audience, it continues to grow. Starting off with mostly Lynn students, faculty and alumni, their fans are now from the entire Boca Raton area. The band also has gained fans from South America and Colorado, who watched Wolfhawk perform at a wedding in Key West.
“Work floats away,” said Beighley. “You have to pay enough attention while you’re playing that you can’t think about the rest of your life. You can be completely engaged with people and let off steam.”
In April, Wolfhawk made its third Celebration of the Arts afterparty appearance, and the band's members are looking forward playing a secret show that has yet to be announced.
As for words of advice? The members of Wolfhawk encourage Lynn students to jump out of their comfort zones, and try new things even when it seems like it's too late.
“Try and stick with it and do it with people you want to,” said Ross. “Make it up as you go along.”