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.
Glenn Smith - In Memorium
We are saddened and heartbroken to report the passing of our dear friend and the original founder of Magnatar, Glenn Smith. Glenn passed away on October 18, 2019. He leaves behind an indelible mark on all of us who were fortunate enough to know him and call him friend, and especially for those few of us that got to share in making music together. His talents were many from his school days where he excelled as a talented athlete ranging from basketball to baseball to football. Later in life after the glory days of his accomplishments in sports, his interests turned to the arts and the artistic. His passions shifted to his love of wildlife, sunset and sunrise photography, and to his unique style of abstract mixed media art, but none so deep, personal and lasting as his love for music. It was always the music that gave Glenn the most satisfaction, and Magnatar was the pinnacle of that passion. He was the driving force from the early days of the band along with bassist Joey Costa, when the practice studio was just a small tent at the spot where Studio 44 now stands as the central core of Magnatar World. Glenn had a vision those many years ago, and together with Joey, they worked together over almost 15 years, and many different band members, to ultimately not just achieve, but exceed more than even Glenn thought possible. Our album, "Parallel Worlds" , and its surprising success, was Glenn's most gratifying accomplishment. Glenn left us with a wealth of music to continue to develop and record, as there is nothing that he would want more than for the band than to continue what he started all those years ago. These wishes are strongly supported by his family, and for that, we are deeply grateful. The music of Magnatar will continue, and we hope will serve as Glenns' legacy for many years to come.
Introducing Jerry Hemby
In trying to come to terms with the devastating loss of our friend and leader, Glenn Smith, and in our collective effort along with the family's wishes to "Keep His Music Going", there was really only one option to consider to fill the huge void that we were facing. That option was Jerry Hemby. Jerry's personal history and ties to Glenn, Dave and Joey, go back to the earliest of days in each of our musical journeys. To take that back even further, Jerry and Dave were actually in first grade together. Moving well ahead into the Junior High and Senior High days, and thanks to the success of the Beatles, a rather robust music scene was starting to take hold in DeLand. If you could play a few chords or riffs or beats, you were in a band, and there were quite a few of us back then that formed a surprisingly large pool of "musicians". Most of the bands didn't last very long and members went from one to another. Most everybody knew everyone else and by the time high school graduation time came along, the core of the better and more committed musicians was becoming clear. These were the years that would form the foundation for what was to come involving the collaborations that would ultimately bring Jerry and Joey together first, and Dave a little bit later. By this time, Jerry, along with his brother Thom, had firmly established themselves as the top tier musicians that evolved out of the pool of all the others. Those connections that formed what would become life long relationships over the years, are highlighted a bit more in the individual bios below. Jerry's relationship with Glenn would come many years later and as fate would have it, in the months just prior to Glenn's illness, they were having serious discussions about collaborating on writing some new music together. Glenn, Joey and Dave also had many discussions about including Jerry as a guest guitarist on the next album. So, while the next step, and in fact the only step to keep the music going was obvious from the bands point of view, would involve an almost unfair scenario for Jerry to even consider. Jerry, in addition to his full time day job, is also the lead guitarist for the very popular and in high demand classic rock cover band, PENTA, who are mainstays on the central Florida club circuit. Oh, and by the way Jerry, you need to learn how to play the mandolin. The fact that Jerry accepted our invitation to come on board without hesitation, and would be honored to do so, tells you all you need to know about Jerry. And so we enthusiastically welcome Jerry to the Magnatar family, and so appreciative his willingness to take on this additional responsibility. We all know that this is how Glenn would want it, Together, we will endeavor to the best of our collective ability to "Keep His Music Going".
Jerry Hemby - Mandolin / Guitar
Jerry started his music career at an early age. He and his brother Thom loved the BEATLES, and would sing as many of their songs as they could to polish their vocal abilities. Jerry was 14 years old when his love for the guitar began. He would sit for hours and copy guitar riffs off the BEATLE albums, and any other good guitar riffs he could. His first band, called The Squires, was with his brother and some of the neighborhood kids in DeLand.
When Jerry entered 7th grade he started noticing other musicians from his class that he thought were very good. Some of those musicians were Dave Norton, and David Wehrfritz. Jerry and his brother continued on their musical journey, and played with many of the great musicians that grew up in DeLand and the surrounding area.
When Jerry entered 10th grade, he became friends with a bass player who was starting gain attention in the local scene by the name of Joey Costa. Joey was performing in another band at the time, but he and Jerry became very good friends and laid the foundation for the future. Also along a similar parallel path, Dave was playing in a very popular band called the YAK. Jerry was always impressed with Dave's musicianship, but it would not be until after high school that their paths would cross.
Back in these early days. all the musicians were very familiar with each other, and collaborative combinations formed and dissolved on a regular basis. But one of those collaborations was about to rise above the others when Jerry got together with his brother Thom, Joey Costa, and another childhood friend, Bill Finney on drums, and played under the name HEMBY. They were starting to make a name for themselves and to round out the lineup a little bit later, Dave was recruited to join. This is the group that began to move away from cover songs to write original music that over time, would start the Prog movement that blossomed out of DeLand.
Unfortunately, like so many before it, this group split up, and for a period of time, everyone was sort of wandering around in the desert, so to speak. But the foundation and shift to writing original music with this group of friends had been established. It was during this in between time, that Jerry first heard YES'S version of "Every Little Thing", and at that moment he fell in love with progressive music. Peter Banks and Steve Howe would become a great influence on Jerry’s musical creativity. And as the stars sometimes align, independently but in parallel, Dave and Joey were likewise discovering and being forever influenced by this new direction in music inspired by the new prob movement with YES at the forefront.
At this time, Jerry's brother Thom was traveling on the road with his own project, which left Jerry with no one to work with in the hometown area. And then that fate thing found its way back in as Jerry met up with Dave, who had just purchased a Mini Moog synth, and from that point, the music creativity could not stop. This reunion also brought back Joey and Bill to form the core, and Thom a bit later to complete the group.
As this fortuitous reunion was starting to take shape, the idea of adding a second guitarist and drummer came into to play. This led to the addition of adding the Hoag brothers, Brad on guitar and Russ on drums, to the band. The band was called Hot City. This was when the early writing roots of Hemby then began to blend and blossom into something more sophisticated. In a very short time frame, Jerry and David’s writing ability landed the band a recording contract with London Records, and the band recorded their first single at Criterion Studios in Miami.
During this period, things were happening fast and furious which included a two night concert appearance with Alice Cooper at Pirates World in Ft. Lauderdale. But once again as before, keeping a band of young and immature musicians together in those days was difficult, and unfortunately for us, we parted ways just before a national tour date was taking shape. Even after these difficult events, we always remained friends.
After a period of time, the core of Jerry, Dave, Joey and Bill eventually found their way back to each other, to start yet another new project. Jerry's brother Thom, after a period of time, would also find his way back to this group of childhood friends. This is the lineup that eventually became FANTASIA, which embarked on a furious period of writing prog songs so fast that they were just identified by a number. This period would be the pinnacle of original prog song writing by this group of friends.
However, as the band was driven to transition to playing popular cover music from the day to financially survive, Joey decided to leave the band, Digging deep into old relationships, the band the band convinced an old friend and guitarist, David Wehrfritz, to switch to bass and join the band. This lineup went on for a few years to successfully tour the southeast club circuit. unfortuantely, David "Fritz" Werhfritz, was killed in a car accident, which resulted in the break up of the band, and Jerry ended up moving back to DeLand.
Jerry continued to perform in and around the DeLand area in a variety of local groups over the years, most recently as the lead guitarist for PENTA, a classic rock cover band, but always maintained his relationships with the key musicians still in the area. As fate would have it, one day he received a call from his old friend Glenn Smith, who had been playing with Joey Costa and Dave Norton in MAGNATAR who had released their first album called Parallel Worlds. Jerry had heard the album and was very impressed with their unique sound, so it really was no surprise that Glenn and Jerry began having serious discussions on a writing collaboration for MAGNATAR'S second CD when Glenn became ill and passed away.
The new MAGNATAR, will always remain committed to keeping Glenns' musical influence and spirit alive, as Jerry will handle the mandolin duties on many of the old MAGNATAR material. An evolution is also inevitable which will bring whole new progressive sound to the band as Jerry Hemby and Ryan Rivas intertwine their guitar virtuosity with Reed Hayes, David Norton, and Joey Costa’s impeccable musicianship.
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: The Beatles, YES,
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.
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.
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.