STORY BY ANNA ZAVELL
It’s not everyday you get warmly invited into a band’s van and told to make yourself at home.
Fortunate Youth lives off of good vibes and spreads their love through reggae music throughout the country. Members include lead singer Dan Kelly, percussionist Travi Walpoole, keys and bass by Jered Draskovich bass and guitar by Greg Gelb, guitar, bass and keys by Corey Draskovich and drummer Jordan Rosenthal.
The six-piece band hails from Los Angeles, where members joined after playing with various bands.
“Most of us grew up together,” Draskovich said. “It was our manager’s birthday when we formed the band. It was a backyard party and we started playing some jams and went from there. Jordan played for another band and joined us during our first tour after our original drummer dislocated his shoulder and wasn’t able to play.”
The band had never played with Rosenthal before, but it seems he became part of the team at just the right time. Not wanting to cancel their first tour, Rosenthal was invited to practice with the rest of the band and they haven’t looked back since — as Draskovich said, “We have been cruisin’ ever since!”
On October 7, Fortunate Youth played at Vaudeville Mews in downtown Des Moines along with opening acts Sensamotion and Stranger Band.
One could tell how passionate the guys of Fortunate Youth are about their music and their fan base.
During their tours it seems they always meet interesting people who make a mark on their lives and are added to their “big book” of great stories.
“Every city, we find, has its own special gems,” Rosenthal said. “We don’t like to stick to ourselves and we like to meet people in the town or at our shows. These people end up showing us some fabulous spots. There’s beauty everywhere and we appreciate that.”
Fortunate Youth got the chance to walk around the city of Des Moines and were amazed by its architecture and the history it holds.
“We learned that Al Capone had a secret underground place here in Des Moines in the 20s during the prohibition, which is something you wouldn’t really expect,” Rosenthal said.
A name is probably the most important aspect of first creating a band, and a lot of thought has to be put into it because the name becomes the face of the band.
When asked how Fortunate Youth came up with their name, Kelly immediately chimed in with “Easy!”
“We named our band after the people who are going to be listening from way after we are gone, “ Kelly said. “They are the fortunate youth, after all, and we are getting a good message out there: peace, love and unity, and you can’t really go too wrong. The best thing to give is a positive mind.”
Gelb continued to talk about how music goes from young to old and how it transcends through age. Music lives on and Fortunate Youth strives to keep that alive.
In a small venue, it’s easy to spot the musicians from all three bands hanging out with each other and interacting with others in the crowd. If you walked into the dimly lit venue and didn’t know anyone, a band member would instantly greet you.
The message of peace, love and unity truly filled the air as audience members swayed and danced to the strong sounds of the bass, drums and rustic voice that echoed throughout the building.
“It’s cool that when we get to travel we also get to interact with people, and that is a blessing,” Draskovich said.
“People are a blessing,” Kelly added. “Whenever you do this job, you think this and that are going to be awesome, but you soon see that glamour isn’t awesome. It’s the people that you see and the people you shake hands with or have a drink with and tell a story are awesome. These are our riches—all these great people.”
The band’s latest album “It’s All a Jam” was on the Grammy shortlist and the band continues to tour the country spreading good vibes to everyone they meet.