“My favorite Kingwood High School teacher was Mrs. Julian. I had her for English my senior year. She was super-inspiring to me,” said 24-year-old John Allen Stephens who graduated from high school in 2006. Stephens is also the lead singer and songwriter for New York City Queens, a pop/indie/rock band started in 2011. Four of the five original members of the group graduated from Kingwood High School in 2006 and 2007. Three still live in Kingwood. “’Beowulf’ was the most impactful literary writing. The theme of the work is about how we define success and that you can’t take anything material with you,” Stephens added, who has a bachelor’s degree in audio production from the Art Institute of Houston. If the name of the band doesn’t quite fit their Kingwood roots, there’s an explanation. “How we came up with the group’s name is pretty interesting. We were going to name the group ‘Ponyboy’ after a character in ‘The Outsiders’ by S.E. Hinton. I love that book. But the name was already being used,” said Stephens. “One day I found a military fatigue shirt with a pink patch on it that read ‘New York City Queens.’ The rest of the group didn’t hate it.” NYCQ has only just returned from their East Coast tour. Their West Coast tour starts the end of January. “We played at the CMJ Music Festival in Manhattan. They were really kind to us,” Stephens said. The group was recently named Best Local Album of 2012 by the Houston Chronicle 29-95 staff. The 5-member group also includes Tom Guth, guitarist; Daniela Hernandez, vocalist and guitarist/bassist; Isaac Chavez-Garza, drummer; and Kitty Beebe, vocalist and guitarist/bassist. NYCQ has already recorded two albums. Their debut extended-play CD is entitled “Somewhere Different, Something New.” Their newest full-length album is “Burn out like Roman Candles.” While Stephens is self-taught, Guth played saxophone at Kingwood Middle School in the band. He began playing guitar seriously at the age of 15, studying for several years locally. He also attended MediaTech Institute receiving a diploma in audio engineering. Guth’s love of music includes classical, older rock and roll, as well as lots of local bands. Stephens also gives credit to supportive parents for their success. “The five of us were touring all crammed in Mom’s Toyota Sienna minivan until just recently,” Stephens remarked. “We now have a nice tour bus.” Their West Coast tour officially kicks-off Jan. 23 in Austin, at the Holy Mountain Bar in the 6th Street area. They will also be found this spring playing to crowds in Kingwood. On April 19 NYCQ will play in Kingwood at Town Center for a free concert sponsored by Keller Williams Realty Northeast’s Concert in the Park from 7-10 p.m. New York City Queens music can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon.com or most anywhere music is sold. Their fan page is facebook.com/newyorkcityqueens and the group’s website is RegressiveRecords.com. Photo: New York City Queens, just back from their East Coast tour, will play in Kingwood April 19 at Kingwood Town Center for Keller Williams Realty Northeast’s Concert in the Park series. Band members from left to right are: Isaac Chavez-Garza, Daniela Hernandez, John Allen Stephens, Kitty Beebe and Tim Guth.  

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