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Student's band competes against 85 others for international spotlight

Ethan Kovalcik and his band, 3 Dudes Chillin', perform on stage.
Ethan Kovalcik and his band, 3 Dudes Chillin', perform on stage.
4/18/2012 —

Ethan Kovalcik and his band, 3 Dudes Chillin’, have a unique sound that hasn’t only set them apart – it’s taken them far.

The Penn State New Kensington student’s trio recently won the Pittsburgh round of the Hard Rock Rising Challenge, beating out about 150 bands from the greater Pittsburgh region.

The band is now competing against 85 other acts in Hard Rock Rising’s global competition in what could be described as an online battle of the bands.

The winner will play at the Hard Rock Calling Music Festival July 13 to 15 in London’s historic Hyde Park. The festival will feature Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

"We weren't even expecting to make it through the voting round," Kovalcik, 22, said. “To be ranked up with the top 86 bands from the Hard Rock Rising competition from around the world, we’re happy with that alone.”

The top ten vote getters will advance to the final round of the competition, where the winner will be chosen by judges from the music industry like Steve Van Zandt of the E Street Band, John Gourley of Portugal. The Man and Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit.

Kovalcik, who sings and plays the ukelele, hopes those who take note of 3 Dudes Chillin’ will vote for the band on the Hard Rock Rising Facebook page. The band has enlisted the help of local radio stations Mega Rock and Star 100.7 to get the word out and is posting reminders on its Facebook page.

Voting ends April 24.

“Winning Pittsburgh made us feel like we were on top of the world,” he said. "Now we pretty much feel like we can do anything.”

For Kovalcik and bandmates, Dan DeFalco, 21, of Vandergrift, who plays guitar and sings backup vocals, and Oklahoma borough percussionist Ken Beck, 21, they are just doing what they enjoy.

“It’s all of our passion, it’s what we love to do,” Kovalcik said. “When we go up on the stage, it’s like we’re just sitting in one of our houses, chillin’.”

The group’s unique musical stylings draw upon mellow upbeat melodies. Since the group formed about seven months ago, Kovalcik said, 3 Dudes Chillin’ has played live at venues from Vandergrift to Pittsburgh nearly every weekend, making new fans of all ages.

“People that listen to anything can sit back and listen to us,” he said. “A lot of older people think of younger bands as being punk rock, head banger, stuff they wouldn’t listen to. Then we come on stage and it really connects with everyone in the crowd.”

Though they didn’t set out to develop such a uniquely appealing sound, Kovalcik thinks he knows why he and 3 Dudes have found success.

“When one of us gets into a song, we all get into the song,” he said. “It’s just the way we connect because we’re such good friends.”

To cast your vote for 3 Dudes Chillin', visit https://www.facebook.com/hardrock/app_205164529573076 online.

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