Musician gets the opportunity to go on tour

Rebecca Marsh

Equinox Staff


Equipment, amplifiers, instruments and musician’s voices fill a car heading toward what may be the big break they are looking for. Traveling around the majority of the country is the band The Heligoats and the lead singer and guitarist for the band Jake McKelvie and the Countertops. Starting on March 9 in Kent, Ohio, Jake McKelvie will begin playing on tour with The Heligoats.

The tour will start in the Midwest going towards the West Coast to California and other surrounding states. After that the group will start making its way back to the East Coast by going to states in the Southwest then back to Keene, N.H. ending sometime in April.

Emily Fedorko / Photo Editor Jake McKelvie, lead singer and guitarist for the band Jake McKelvie and The Countertops will be going on tour with the Heligoats this spring.

Emily Fedorko / Photo Editor
Jake McKelvie, lead singer and guitarist for the band Jake McKelvie and The Countertops will be going on tour with the Heligoats this spring.

McKelvie said he is not officially on tour with The Heligoats, but he will be doing some gigs by himself and opening up for The Heligoats on some dates.

“Physically I’m on my own tour, but I’m playing a handful of shows with The Heligoats,” McKelvie said. McKelvie said he contacted the band and asked if he could be a part of it. “I think this will be a good way to get my name out and hopefully make more connections around the country and just make it easier to do stuff like this in the future,” McKelvie said.

Chris Otepka is the booking agent, and doubles as guitarist and singer/songwriter for the band The Heligoats. McKelvie and Otepka have known each other for a little over a year. “He was looking to play shows this spring and we just happened to have a new record coming out and got the dates booked,” Otepka said. According to Otepka, McKelvie will be playing, “wherever we can have him.”

McKelvie is on this trip for the experience. He said that he is not playing for a profit. “I’m definitely not going to profit off of this,” McKelvie said, “I’m definitely not doing it to try to make any money off of it.” According to Otepka, he has helped McKelvie book some of his shows, but a lot of it is dedicated to McKelvie.

“I’ve been just booking them for my band and I’m excited that Jake wants to be a part of it and I think it’s going to work out real nice,” Otepka said. Keene State College junior Nick Votruba, the bassist for Jake McKelvie and the Countertops, is happy for McKelvie’s opportunity. “It’s just awesome because he’s going to spread the love over in the west coast,” Votruba said.

Votruba and McKelvie have been friends since seventh grade. According to Votruba, McKelvie began playing with an older crowd before they started the band. The band has been playing since October of 2011. If it was not for school, the Countertops would also be going on tour. “The only reason why the band isn’t coming with me is because they’re tied to school. It won’t be as possible for them to take a month and a half off, so if not for that they’d probably be coming along with me,” McKelvie said. Votruba had the same idea, “I’m pumped that he’s going. I’m kind of bummed that I have to stick around in school, but school comes first.”  Sophomore Zachary Johnson, drummer for the band TheColorOrange, said that he thinks “it’s awesome” for McKelvie to be going on tour with The Heligoats.

“He’s [McKelvie] been doing a lot of on-campus and Keene shows so I think it’s a good opportunity for him,” Johnson said, “I wish him the best of luck.”

According to McKelvie, this does not mean the end of Jake McKelvie and the Countertops. The band will continue to create songs and rehearse to play many shows in the future. Votruba said that when McKelvie comes back they will rehearse all of their old material because they have a new drummer, who performed for the first time with the band a couple weeks ago.

“Once I get back we’re going to continue playing as a band and hopefully get a bunch of new songs going, maybe record a new album by the end of the year,” McKelvie said. According to Votruba, the band will continue even when McKelvie is on the road. “When he’s on tour he’s probably going to be writing songs on the road and will send them to us so then we’ll end up making parts for him for when he comes back and we’ll rehearse as a group,” Votruba said.

McKelvie said that he wants to do a lot of touring in the future. “I didn’t really see this happening, just a matter of months ago. I never really thought this would be happening so soon, so I think it’s going to be a great way to kick off, hopefully, a good future of doing this more,” McKelvie said. He continued, “I’m very excited to see how things go down.”

Otepka said that he could not think of anyone else whom he would rather have on the tour with The Heligoats. “I feel indebted to them eternally and we like their music very much,” Otepka said.

Otepka said he hopes that this tour will help McKelvie expand his cultural horizons and maybe learn to sing in different languages. “I predict he’ll be able to grow a beard by the end of the tour,” Otepka said. According to Votruba, he thinks this could be a big opportunity for both McKelvie and Jake McKelvie and the Countertops. Votruba said, “I feel like the road is really going to change him. The road is going to make a man out of him [McKelvie].”


Rebecca Marsh can be contacted at

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