The Hi-Tops: five talented teens in town [music]

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What you hear is a slick, professional production of precocious adolescents seeking stardom. It is worth the $10 investment to add to your CD collection.

The Hi-Tops are made up of Remi Maxwell, 16, lead vocalist and guitar; Jessie Madill, 16, on lead guitar; Ally Whitlow, 17, on the keyboards; sister Bayley, 13, on bass; and Madi Cunningham, 16, on drums.

The group is managed by Kim Elliot, aunt of Ally and Bayley, yet not a parent herself. That was a trait that Mark Maxwell was looking for when selecting the group’s manager. Elliott wears many hats for the band, including moving the equipment to and from gigs; booking the shows; and arranging the rehearsals with all of the conflicting schedules of the girls. She also plays “counselor” and “confidant” for the girls, and says that the band members often think of “me as being their same age, even though I am the adult.” She has been managing the group since 2005.

The Hi-Tops have it harder than other adolescents in that their parents demand that they get their homework done before they can rehearse or practice their instruments. Collectively, the band practices about 4 to 5 hours per week. Individually, the number of hours they practice their instruments varies and can range from 2 to 6 hours per week. And then there are the performances, which usually come up on the weekends.

“Not only parents, but siblings and friends will come out to help us set up and see us perform,” said Jessie Madill.

As young as The Hi-Tops are now, they were even younger when they got started at the band’s inception.

At Christmas 2003, Remi, Ally and Jessie each received 6 weeks of free music instruction at Mom’s Music in Jeffersonville, Ind., as gifts. At about the same time, Remi and Ally saw the movie, “Freaky Friday,” which featured a band. That movie got the girls thinking ‘why not us?’ So they asked Madi to join them and then, Bayley to complete the band. At the time, the bass guitar was “taller” than Bayley, who also was very shy. In due time, Bayley conquered both the “height” and the “shyness” issues to become the solid performer she is today.

The Hi-Tops have performed at a variety of venues. In California, in 2008, they performed for the National Association of Music Merchants in Anaheim. They then followed that up with a performance at Six Flags/Magic Mountain.

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