MAGNATAR is a five-piece band based in DeLand, FL. The lineup crosses over 3 generations of musicians that have forged a unique original instrumental sound that blends power rock with progressive leaning elements and rich layered melodic overtones. In addition to the traditional guitar, bass, keys and drums, Mandolin serves as the 5th instrument that binds and weaves the various song movements together.
The founding members of the band which dates back about 12 years, are Glenn Smith on Mandolin and Joey Costa on bass. During the first 4 to 5 years, several iterations of the band evolved as they were developing their style and sound, with Glenn serving as the principal songwriter. During this early formative period they played under the name BUCKETS AND STRINGS.
About 8 years ago Glenn crossed paths through a chance encounter with drummer Reed Hayes. The band was playing at the DeLand Original Music festival, one of the largest festivals of this type in the Southeast sponsored by Songwriters Showcases of America, and Reed just happened to be near the stage where Buckets And Strings were playing. Reed, who was well known in the central Florida music scene, was very intrigued by the unique sound of the band. He introduced himself to Glenn and one conversation led to others over the next few months and when the opportunity arose, Reed stepped in as the new drummer.
As well as leading to the addition of Reed as the new drummer, the festival also turned out to be a key step in raising awareness of the band to a larger audience. BUCKETS AND STRINGS received the Songwriters Showcases of America 2010 Band of the Year Music Award as voted on by festival attendees.
So on both accounts, the festival was a pivotal step in establishing a very solid rhythm core for the band that also served to advance the skill level and quality of sound as the band continued to grow musically with the addition of Reed on drums. At this point the band decided to change its name to JEBRA’S PARADISE.
The next big step in the progression of the group occurred over the next year or so when guitarist Ryan Rivas stepped in and really took the band and its music to the next level. Ryan met Joey when he was only 14 and still trying to find his musical path. Joey saw something very special in this young and raw talent, and spent a lot of time exposing him to a lot of the same music that had had such a profound influence on him in his early years. Fast forward 8 years or so and that young, raw talent had developed into something very special, and as fate, or destiny would have it, the door opened for him to join the band.
Once Ryan had become fully integrated into the band along with the impact Reed had made on drums, the decision was made to again change the name of the band to MAGNATAR, to reflect what had effectively become a completely new look and sound.
The final step in advancing the bands’ musical growth and identity occurred about another year or so after had Ryan joined the group. Glenn’s cousin and Joey’s old band mate, Dave Norton, re-connected after many years apart through yet another completely chance encounter. This unexpected reunion ultimately resulted in Dave coming out of “retirement” to return to his old music roots as the bands’ keyboard player. Glenn and Dave’s relationship dates back to their early adolescence when their common interests revolved around playing basketball and baseball, and music was not even a thought in those days.
Dave and Joey had attended high school together as their individual musical interests were first beginning to develop. They were both playing in different local bands at that time. Their paths eventually merged together a couple of years after graduation when they got together as co-founding members of the band HOT CITY, which released a single, “Leaving”, on London Records in 1971. The core of this group later evolved into a very popular touring group around the southeast club circuit known as FANTASIA.
Adding the keys has provided a multi-layer foundation to blend and accentuate the bands’ diverse tones and textures and serving to further refine and define the unique and ever-evolving sound of MAGNATAR.
While the core sound and style of the group is now stronger than ever, the band remains open to additional opportunities to further experiment and grow their sound. After more than two years of very hard work, they are extremely excited to announce the release of their independently produced debut album titled, “Parallel Worlds”, as of October 23, 2018. It is available in both CD and digital formats at CDBaby.com, and digital downloads are available on all popular music services worldwide.
Glenn Smith - Mandolin
From a very early age Glenn was instilled with a love for and a fascination with music. He remembers as a little boy watching his uncle and friends getting together with their guitars and just being mesmerized by the amazing sounds they could make together. He was just simply “blown away” by watching and listening to people making music on instruments.
Even as this infatuation with music had been firmly implanted in Glenns’ soul, it was a love of sports that would take him through his youth and into his twenties. The defining moment that would impact and influence Glenn in a way he could not have imagined, occurred on a chilly winter night in 1971.
Back in those days, Stetson University used to sponsor concerts in the middle of fraternity row in a giant sinkhole called “The Pit”. On this night a little known group called YES was performing. The band had just released what would become their breakout album “Fragile” two weeks earlier. What Glenn saw and heard that night profoundly affected and transformed him from that day forward. Unknown to each other, there were also a couple of other people in the crowd that night that shared in that experience, Joey Costa and Dave Norton. Little did they each know that night how their futures would intersect many years down the road.
After that night, Glenn knew he wanted to be involved with music and began to play the guitar. He worked hard to learn his instrument and over time he developed into a fairly good rhythm player.
The next key event in Glenn’s musical journey occurred one night while on a camping trip with some friends. They were all just a bunch of amateur players that liked to jam just for fun. While most were playing guitars, one of the guys was playing a mandolin. Glenn was intrigued by the look and sound of this little string instrument and asked if he could try it out. Much to his surprise, he discovered a very unusual yet “natural” feel about it and it really got him thinking about the possibilities. It also triggered a long forgotten memory, that somewhere buried deep in a closet at his parents house, was an old mandolin that one of his uncles had left many years earlier.
When he got home from the camping trip he immediately dug around the closet and found the 1967 Harmony mandolin that had been in there probably thirty years. He put new strings on that thing and began to play it almost daily just for fun. At about this same time Glenn was playing rhythm guitar in a Classic rock cover band called CATFOOD, and it did not take long for a “just for fun” mandolin thing to become the key to Glenn finding his true musical calling. Learning the mandolin so naturally and so quickly came as a completely unexpected but very pleasant surprise to both Glenn and his CATFOOD band mates. This surprise development around the mandolin set in motion the future path to this day for Glenn.
In addition to just being able to play the mandolin in his very unique and personal style, it also served to unlock Glenn’s creative side. He began composing instrumental songs that were very progressive in nature and his ideas were coming one after the other at an almost frantic pace.
However, there was still one more development that playing the Mandolin surfaced for Glenn. After playing and composing song after song almost non-stop for about a year, he surmised that his ability to adapt so quickly to the mandolin for both playing and creating music so rapidly had something to do with the “dyslexic” condition that he had struggled with for most of his life. It was as if the mandolin for whatever reason helped decode the dyslexic backwards scramble that had frustrated him from an early age. After learning on guitar, where the first four strings are EADG, the strings on the mandolin are GDAE, exactly backwards, so he gives his dyslexic condition the credit for his musical growth and creativity.
Having truly found his passion with the mandolin and with the creative juices pouring out, the need for a musical outlet that could bring life to his original compositions was the natural next step. Glenn moved on from CATFOOD and co-founded the first iteration of BUCKETS AND STRINGS, along with his close friend and bass player, Joey Costa.
This first original Buckets & Strings endeavor eventually morphed into JEBRA"S PARADISE for a short period of time, which in turn eventually transitioned to the current lineup of MAGNATAR. Over the last 10 years or so the band continued to evolve both in style and personnel, and they have been featured at a number of popular central Florida events.
Glenn doesn’t listen to very much of today's commercial music, but he still loves most all music in some way. He also has no formal music or music theory training, but credits his musical mentor, Steve Hewing from CATFOOD, for helping him develop his passion and philosophical approaches to rhythm, composing and playing music that guide his thought process every time he picks up his mandolin.
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, ELP, Tommy Emmanuel, Jethro Tull.
Reed Hayes - Drums
Reed started playing drums at the age of 12 and quickly became a huge fan of Neil Peart of Rush, which naturally led him to playing with musicians of the same interest. As his skills rapidly developed, he eventually began touring with Rush tribute bands all over the southeast and northeast part of the country.
When not touring, Reed also collaborated in original music and recording projects. Over time Reed had successfully established himself as an extremely talented and versatile drummer in the central Florida area.
This led to many different types of group opportunities, playing every style of gig from top 40, wedding bands, special events, bars, theme parks and conventions. This broad diversity of work over the years supported Reeds’ growth as a professional drummer that included many different playing styles covering rock, jazz, country, and funk to Zydeco.
Underscoring his accomplished drum style, skill and technique, Reed was one of 8 drummers to reach the National Semi-finals of the 2012 Roland VDrum Competition in Houston. Reed enjoys music of all types but his primary interest at this stage of his career is focused on original progressive rock.
Musical Influences: Rush, Frank Zappa, The Beatles, Allan Holdsworth, Chick Corea, Return to Forever, Brand X, The Police, UK, King Crimson, Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater.
Joey Costa - Bass
Joey’s initial interest in playing music, like so many others of that era, was inspired by the British invasion, and specifically the Beatles. He joined his first band in Ohio at age 15 called the LYNX, and picked the bass guitar because that was what the band needed to round out their lineup, and Joey has never looked back on that decision. His style was heavily influenced in those early days by the sound of Paul McCartneys’ Hofner bass lines.
It wasn’t long after that first foray into music that Joeys’ family moved to Florida in 1968. Over the next several years Joey played in a procession of different bands. Memorable among them was THE CAUSE, IMPULSE and IVORY. It was the next band however that would shape Joeys’ musical path for several years.
In 1970 Joey teamed up with Thom and Jerry Hemby in INFERNO. INFERNO eventually morphed into “HEMBY” when drummer Bill Finney, who also played in IVORY, joined the group. It was during this time that the band began to shift their focus from playing covers to writing their own original music, and the relationship with Keyboardist Dave Norton first emerged.
There were a number of ebbs and flows during this period, but the next key event occurred when Joey and Dave made contact with another set of brothers, Brad and Russ Hoag who living in the panhandle at that time. This meeting proved to be very eventful on two different levels. First, the Hoag brothers were convinced to move to DeLand to create a new group with 2 drummers and 2 lead guitarists, effectively borrowing a page out of the Allman Brothers Band at the time.
The other key event from that meeting however, would have a profound and long lasting effect on Joey and his idea of what a bass guitarist could be. While visiting with the Hoag brothers, they put on an album that blew Joeys’ mind. It was the second album by a band from England called YES, entitled “Time and a Word”. From that moment forward, Joeys’ idea of how to play the bass and how he wanted it to sound was forged and forever ever influenced by the ground breaking bass style of Chris Squire and his Rickenbacker.
So the Hoag brothers teamed up with the Hemby brothers along with Joey, Dave and Bill. They were initially called CANYON for a short time, but Brad came up with the name HOT CITY, which was quickly adopted by the group. Much happened in a short period of time during this phase that included a record deal with Flamingo Music and a single released on London Records, along with a 2 night gig opening for ALICE COOPER. Unfortunately due to typical youth immaturity, the band broke up just as they were about to go on tour.
After a period of time the core of the group absent the Hoag brothers re-united in 1973 as FANTASIA. The band then went on a furious binge of writing new original material. Over time however, the band drifted away from being all original and started playing covers in the club scene around the southeast. Along the way after tiring of the cover and club scene, Joey decided to leave the group to pursue other interests.
It was in the late 70’s that in addition to playing bass, Joey’s interest also turned to sound reinforcement and recording and he built his own recording studio in downtown DeLand. In addition to recording the groups he played in he also provided his services to other artists in the area and for a period of time had a small but thriving venture.
The next key musical endeavor for Joey came in 1980 when he joined the group MAMMOTH. They released their album recorded in Joeys’ studio in 1981. Over the next few years Joey also played with the band DRAMA, and in1985 formed a duo focusing exclusively on original music using midi and a drum machine called the SIGMUND EXPERIMENT. They released an album also recorded in Joeys’ studio called "Let Me Go".
In 1988, Joey joined the group CAT FOOD, who he still plays with today and are now called FAKE NEWS. CAT FOOD was the band that eventually led to the intersection of Joey and Glenn Smith who joined CAT FOOD in 1992. It was both the musical and personal relationship forged between Joey and Glenn over the next several years that became the core foundation for BUCKETS AND STRINGS in 2007.
There would be many different members and iterations of BUCKETS AND STRINGS over the next few years, but the best was yet to come. The real turning point of the band from both a personnel and musical standpoint occurred when drummer Reed Hayes joined in 2010, followed by guitarist Ryan Rivas in 2013, and MAGNATAR was born. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place in 2016 when keyboardist Dave Norton reunited with Joey after almost 40 years since their time together in the early 70’s.
Musical Influences: The Beatles, Yes, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, ELP, Dream Theater, Jethro Tull, Kansas, RUSH, Bach Chamber Music.
Ryan Rivas - Guitar
Ryan first started learning guitar at the age of 12, after taking a liking to the music of BLUE OYSTER CULT. His parents saw his interest and bought him lessons, which he would continue to attend for three years. Throughout his teenage years, Ryan's influences expanded to virtuoso guitar players like Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. He found himself practicing everyday for many hours, and improving to the point where more experienced musicians even began to notice him including Joey Costa, a well-known and established bass player in the area.
Ryan first met Joey through church, where Joey was playing bass for the Sunday morning services. Not long after, Ryan was recruited to play guitar for the church band and naturally began to associate with Joey more often, which served to grow both their personal and musical relationship. Ryan almost instantly fell in love with progressive rock music when Joey introduced him to the music of YES at his home studio one day. Ryan was impressed by their bold approach to writing music and viewed it as a creative departure from more conventional songwriting.
This proved to be a seminal moment that profoundly helped to shape the guitar style that Ryan would pursue moving forward. It also marked the point when Ryan became interested in acoustic guitar arrangements, after hearing Steve Howe's "The Clap" and "Mood For A Day".
At the time Joey was playing in a local band called BUCKETS AND STRINGS. One day Joey invited Ryan to come along to meet the band and hear them play. As he was when Joey first introduced Ryan to YES, he was again similarly impressed with the bands’ unique style and how the songwriting could be so different yet so catchy. Ryan was still quite young and continuing to develop his skills at this point, spending countless hours practicing on his own and gaining valuable experience playing with other bands. However the connection with the band had been established and it would only be a matter of time before Ryan would go on to become their guitar player several years later.
In the meantime during his late high school and early college years, Ryan played in a number of different metal bands. Even though his roots were in rock music, metal was more popular among his peer group of friends so he learned to adapt his guitar playing to that particular style.
During this time, Ryan reached a turning point in his approach to guitar when his uncle gave him a Dream Theater album. Their music not only further solidified Ryan's taste for Progressive Rock, but the guitar work of John Petrucci inspired Ryan to learn more challenging and intricate guitar techniques which have since become an integral part of his playing style.
Over the last couple of years Ryans’ style has continued to evolve and mature. The most recent notable influence that has significantly impacted Ryans’ style is Tommy Emmanuel. However, DREAM THEATER and YES probably still have had the greatest influence in steering Ryan's musical style.
In addition to influence from other musicians, Ryan also credits his working with Guitar Pro software as another key factor that molded him as a guitarist. Guitar Pro is an application where the user writes tablature and the program plays back an audible representation of said tablature. In order for Ryan to make the song sound right, it was important for him to understand and workout the fundamental details of his musical ideas. Developing this skill has not only benefited Ryan's own composition skills, but has also made it significantly easier for him to dissect and learn other people's music.
Then in 2012, the connection that had been established several years earlier when Ryan went to see Joeys’ band practice came full circle when Joey made the call to invite Ryan to join the band. The addition of Ryan proved to be a major turning point in both the direction of the band and Ryans’ growth as a guitarist. Prior to Ryan joining, the band had changed their name from BUCKETS AND STRINGS to JEBRA"S PARADISE. Ryan’s impact on the band and its sound was immediate and dramatic. This in turn led to one final name change for the group to MAGNATAR. In addition to his role as lead guitarist, Ryan is also the recording engineer and producer for the bands new album, "Parallel Worlds".
Outside of the band, Ryan works as an Electrical Engineer at a Defense Contractor during the day and pursues his musical ventures at night and on weekends. In addition to MAGNATAR, Ryan also plays lead guitar for the MATT BURKE BAND, a group that blends a number of more popular styles such as R&B, Alternative Rock, Funk, and Blues. When he's not too busy with the bands, Ryan works on acoustic guitar arrangements and records his original music in his home recording studio.
Musical Influences: John Petrucci/Dream Theater, Tommy Emmanuel, Steve Howe/Yes, Tosin Abasi/Animals As Leaders, Porcupine Tree, Andy McKee, Neal Morse, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Sons of Apollo, John Mayer, Avenged Sevenfold, Symphony X, Ed Sheeran, Blue Oyster Cult, Breaking Benjamin, Between the Buried and Me, Greg Howe, Rick Graham.
Dave Norton - Keys
Back in the day when anyone who could play 3 chords was considered qualified to be in a band and pretend they were the BEATLES, Dave found himself thankful for those 6 years of forced piano lessons in elementary school. So after convincing his parents to by him a VOX Jaguar organ, Dave joined his first band and made his debut stage appearance in the Junior High Talent Show with his first band, THE FASCINATIONS. The big song they played, of course, was “Louie, Louie” by the Kingsman.
The next step up for Dave in High School was joining one of the most popular cover bands in the area, THE YAK, who made their living as regulars on the college frat party circuit at the University of Florida and Florida State. In 1969, they recorded their version of “Every Little Thing” by the BEATLES in Nashville, which was released on the Avco Embassy label.
After High School, Dave played briefly in a number of different bands in the area for next year or so as all of the local musicians at that point were trying to find their place and fit. The turning point was when Dave finally found his way to the HEMBY BROTHERS, Thom and Jerry, along with Joey Costa, and eventually Bill Finney on drums. This was the combination of musicians that in some form or another helped Dave to develop his playing style and musical direction forward, and most importantly, the eventual transition from cover music to original material.
It was also during this early transition stage that the musical style that was emerging called for more than just the organ. By now the VOX Jaguar had grown to a Hammond B3 with a couple of other steps in between. Then of course the next step was to add an electric piano, but the instrument that really helped to define the new sound that changed everything was the Mini Moog.
The HEMBY BROTHERS band over time with some breaks in between, eventually hooked up with another set of brothers, Brad and Russ Hoag. The new expanded lineup started out as CANYON, but early on changed the name to HOT CITY, a 7 piece band with 2 lead guitars and 2 drummers. The band was discovered during a gig as the house band at the Daytona Ocean Pier in the summer of 1971. They were signed to a management contract with Flamingo Enterprises and Productions. They then recorded an EP of 4 songs at Capricorn Studios in Miami. “Leaving”, their single from that session was released on London Records in both the US and Europe.
The band looked primed to make its mark after the release of their single and were booked as the opening act for “Alice Cooper” for a couple of shows in South Florida. Unfortunately, as many such acts back in those early days went, the band broke up just before things were really starting to pick up.
After the split, everyone sort of went their own way and wandered musically for a while. Still, there was a lot of good chemistry there among the core members, and after a period of time, Dave and Jerry re-united along with Joey, Bill and later Thom, to form FANTASIA. With FANTASIA, this core group of old friends really found their style and hit their stride. Dave and Jerry collaborated during a particularly creative songwriting period, where the songs were coming so fast they just gave them a number and moved on to the next song before coming back later to give them a name.
The band always kept its original songs as its core, but eventually reverted back to primarily cover music and toured the Southeast club circuit for many years, which included many different iterations of the line-up.
After Fantasia, Dave had a very brief stint with another original band called WARM, based in Boaz Alabama. After that band went on hiatus, Dave made the decision to leave the music scene to attend college. After graduating, he spent the next 30 years in a sales career without any real thought or intent to return.
Then through a series of a part happenstance event with the Hemby Brothers, Thom and Jerry, and some nudging from old band-mate Joey, Dave was talked into coming back to his roots with what is now MAGNATAR. It was both very challenging and intimidating after being away for so long, but it looks like things have worked out and once again Dave is back at the keys, just this time with a few more toys to play with.
Musical Influences: The Beatles, YES, ELP, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Deep Purple, Queen, Alan Parsons Project, Heart, Tom Petty, U2, Coldplay, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Rush, King Crimson.