Butler County band to debut first album Saturday with Cincinnati show

The Wonderlands, comprised mostly of Butler County residents, are debuting their first album Saturday night. From left: Miles Jena, Adam Steele, Jillian Gavigan, Patrick Oakes and Derek Johnson. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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The Wonderlands, comprised mostly of Butler County residents, are debuting their first album Saturday night. From left: Miles Jena, Adam Steele, Jillian Gavigan, Patrick Oakes and Derek Johnson. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Miles Jena and Adam Steele decided it was time to give their music careers “an honest shot.”

So they added three members to their band, changed the name to The Wonderlands and produced a first album they will debut during a concert Saturday night in Cincinnati. The first album, which includes nine songs written by Jena, is called “The Digital Life.”

Jena, 21, a 2017 Fenwick High School graduate, and Steele, 23, a 2015 Middletown High School graduate, formed a two-person band called WTU years ago. They wrote their own music and played in local churches. Then they realized it was time for their next career move.

“Life is too short not to do what you love,” said Jena, a golf standout who played his freshman year at Ball State before leaving the team to concentrate on his musical career.

Now he’s a senior studying music production at Ball State and lead singer of The Wonderlands, named after a series of albums written by Jon Foreman, lead singer of Switchfoot.

In the Wonderlands, Steele plays bass and sings; Jillian Gavigan, a 2019 Fenwick graduate, sings and plays keyboard; Derek Johnson, a 2018 Ross High School graduate plays drums; and Patrick Oakes, a 2019 Turpin High graduate, plays guitar and sings.

Jena said most of the production staff is from the Butler County area, and the band’s first video, “Danced Herself To Death,” was filmed and produced by Cameron Ridge, a 2014 Fenwick graduate who owns Cameron Ridge Media.

That song, the first single off the album, has more than 4,000 views.

“That’s better than we thought,” said Jena.

Jena said he does most of his writing at Ball State and at two Middletown coffee shops, Triple Moon and Java Johnny’s.

“Need to get away and focus a little bit,” he said. “That’s when I get my best ideas.”

Jena’s mother, Carrie, is a pastor, and his father, Jeff, is a comedian. He got his interest in music from watching his mother play the keyboard in church and listening to his father’s vintage albums. When he attended Fenwick, he enjoyed performing in school musicals.

“It stuck with me,” he said.


HOW TO GO

WHAT: Debut of “This Digital Life”

WHEN: Doors open at 6:30 p.m., concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Redmoor, 3187 Linwood Ave, Cincinnati

HOW MUCH: $10 on-line, $15 at the door. Tickets at www.cincytickets.com.

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