The Summit at Downtown Days

rpulley@lsjournal.comJune 6, 2014 

The Summit is a good band name, said Eric Quatela. It’s a bonus that it happens to represent his hometown, he said.

Quatela, 19, is the youngest in the group, a life-long resident of Lee’s Summit, and a life-long drummer.

His parents bought him a kiddie drum set at 18 months, he wore out that set, then another, and finally bought him an adult kit.

“We never had to tell him to practice, we had to beg him to stop,” said his father Mike Quatela.

The Summit, with Tanner Pinkerton, guitar, Mike Hilboldt Jr., vocals and keyboard and Keenan Franklin, bass, with Quatela on drums, appears June 6 during Downtown Days. They’re on at 7 p.m. on the Depot Stage. Then they’ll pack up and go play at the Record Bar in Kansas City later that night.

They said their artistic influences, giving them a similar sound, include Phoenix, The Killers, Kings of Leon, My Morning Jacket and Muse.

By the time he was 7 or 8, Quatela was playing with house bands, including one at the former Jerry’s Bait Shop in Lee’s Summit, which is how he met Pinkerton, 20, of Oak Grove, at about age 11. The two have been playing together ever since. Pinkerton’s father toured with a country band Live Oak.

Quatela says The Summit is very much a collaboration and democratic with no one person being the band leader. It’s members, who mostly perform original music, compose by jamming until they get a tune and then Hilboldt writes lyrics.

“It adds up nicely,” said Franklin, 21, of Lone Jack, “The song writing is really natural and just flows.”

Pinkerton and Quatela’s partnership has lasted through two previous bands. At the time the members were all school-age youngsters, even then playing at venues that feature national acts as well, such as Knuckleheads Saloon. He’s done their booking, because as school kids, they could hardly call bars owners to promote themselves.

When they lost their female lead singer for their previous band, Burning Symmetry, they took another path with a new style when they couldn’t find another female lead that “wowed” them and other members also left.

Hilboldt, 22 of Kansas City, and Franklin were each looking for a band to play with and reached Quatela and Pinkerton through Craigslist. The current lineup has been together about a year.

The band plays around the region, in clubs and at festivals such as the Backwoods Bash in Tulsa, and in Kansas City-area clubs like Czar Bar and the Riot Room.

“Whoever will let us in the door, we’ll play,” Hilboldt said. When he met the other guys in The Summit “The sound they had was exactly what I’m looking for,” he said.

Quatela said it’s important not be overexposed to an audience in one locale so the show doesn’t get stale.

“You’d have 10 people there instead of 100,” he said. “They’ll come out to see what’s new.”

Now the group is finishing an EP and talking with record labels. They just released a single called “Cave.” You can get a taste of their music on YouTube or on Facebook at


Two of them attend college, the others have day jobs, but they’re intent on taking The Summit as far in the recording industry as their talent lets them.

Quatela said their parents are all supportive, which is a big plus, because they each have a place to land, say if they take six months to go on tour but then bomb.

Franklin said they realize they need to gain respect and a following.

“We have big dreams and aspirations,” Franklin said. “But by no means do we expect to go on a world tour tomorrow.”

Hilboldt said: “Everybody in the band is ‘all in’ with it, this is what we want to do.”

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