A few moments after Drew Chadwick took the stage, Kristy Sallee could only see glimpses of her son’s roots.
“I kept seeing him when he was 12, with long hair playing with The American Scholars at the Boys & Girls Club,” Sallee said.
Chadwick, along with brothers Wesley and Keaton Stromberg, have come a long way since their days in Sequim. As part of Emblem3, the trio opened Key Arena on Nov. 12 for pop sensation Selena Gomez and created quite the fervor back home.
Hundreds of Sequim fans, family members and friends made the trek from the peninsula and the reviews are nothing short of amazing.
The show was 9-year-old Bailey McComas’ first concert, said her mom Hayley Wilson.
“Since we followed them on ‘The X-Factor’ last year, we’ve been in love with them and Selena Gomez,” Wilson said.
The mom-and-daughter duo went with Bailey’s best friend Chelsea Carriveau and her mom Sarah Berg but their concert almost didn’t happen.
“I was at the Boys & Girls Club auction bidding on them but I didn’t win,” she said. “So I searched online for three hours but they kept selling out until finally I found some decent tickets.”
At the concert, Wilson said she’d never heard her girl be so loud and giddy.
“(Concerts) take you out of your element and transport you to a new place. They came out of their skin and weren’t embarrassed to sing and dance,” she said. “They were hoarse as can be from screaming.”
Wilson said the concert experience wasn’t different from her own in eighth grade when she took a bus to see Bon Jovi and Skid Row.
“You never forget,” she said. “But you are never prepared for how loud it is. The loudness is so grand.”
The full E3
Local fans got to meet up with the band throughout the day.
Stephanie Clark, the band’s middle school and high school choir teacher, wanted to see her former students prior to the show and went to a Q&A session before the concert.
“I love their music,” Clark said. “I listened to American Scholars (their first band). Wesley said they were going to be famous and I believed him.”
At the Q&A, Clark was spotted by the band among the hundreds of teenage girl fans. She said Keaton stood up and said she taught them how to sing. Afterward, fans even wanted a photo with her.
“I taught them like everyone else. I don’t want to dumb down something when I’m given a compliment but I gave them the opportunity to keep singing,” she said. “The rest they did in their garage and on their own.”
As a former music professional, Clark said seeing the trio on stage was thrilling.
“To watch my kids live my dream through their dreams means so much to me,” she said.
“The concert as a whole was an awesome experience. I thought it was going to be so loud but you could hear all of them singing.”
Sequim shout out
Even though the band blasted through a short set, “Girl Next Door,” “Spaghetti,” “XO,” “3,000 Miles,” “Just For One Day,” Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” “Sunset Blvd” and “Chloe (You’re the One I Want),” Sequim got its time to shine.
Sean Clift, a family friend of the band, said the show was an 11 out of 10 especially with Emblem3 giving shout outs to Sequim and the Pacific Northwest, family and friends and giving the back story to “3,000 Miles” tied to Sequim.
“It was a nice tribute. It showed where their hearts are at,” Clift said.
Clift said he got to know the band well through their teen years going on mission trips and was seen on on “The X-Factor” as Chadwick’s mentor.
“They went from being on a road of maybe destruction to a road that’s awesome, but that’s not (because of) me or my wife, that’s all grace given to God,” Clift said.
He saw a big change in Chadwick after visiting the Dominican Republic after the Haiti earthquake.
For the Seattle show, Clift took much of his family and a few of his children’s friends in the middle of the day with the hope to spend time with the band. They bought tickets at the door and were able to hang out before the concert. After the show, they met up with band members and about 30 others for dinner.
“For two days, we’ve been walking around with stupid grins on our faces,” Clift said.
For obvious reasons, Sallee said the concert was one of the best nights of her life.
“He’s living his dream,” she said of Chadwick.
Sallee doesn’t doubt he’ll remember the night forever either, as he said from stage.
“(People) love him for more than his talents. He’s out to change the world and make it a better place and spread positivity,” she said. “He’s a firm believer in ‘The Law of Attraction’ with thinking good things.”
On the monorail over to the show, Sallee was wearing a shirt she made that reads, “Drew’s Mom,” which caught the eyes of some fans who wanted a photo — including a woman about the same age as Sallee. Her reason: she loved Chadwick’s positive message.
So does Jake, Chadwick’s younger brother, who had a long conversation about life that night with his brother, Sallee said.
“Jake said it was the most amazing night he’s had,” she said.
Karen Griffiths, the Strombergs’ aunt, had an interesting first encounter with Keaton and some fans. As they were walking to Key Arena, some young fans were outside. A young man, dressed in all black, stood near the crowd taking snapshots of the sights before snapping photos of the fans.
Griffiths said because Keaton was so low key, it took them a second to recognize him, but once the girls saw him “they were all aflutter and in jitters.”
One car screeched to a halt, she said, and one fan jumped out to give him a personal painting of the band.
“She was so thrilled to be able to give it personally to Keaton. He hugged and thanked her, took a little time to pose with the fans and then escorted us backstage where we hung out a bit,” Griffiths said.
“Keaton, my folks and me were just at the Key Arena a couple years ago watching Michael Buble give a wonderful concert,” she said. “Who knew Keaton would be up there in such a short time? (It’s definitely) surreal and a dream come true.”
Wesley and Keaton’s godmother Victoria Jazwic was at the concert as she’s been through much of their performing careers.
Standing with their mom at the show, Jazwic said they cried happy tears about how far the boys have come.
But through their success, Jazwic said she is grateful the band called Sequim home during their most integral years.
“Thankfully, they were grounded enough to go back into that big world,” she said. “You can see a shift in people seeing them differently. My hope is this town maintains breathing space for them. That world is going to be tugging on them everyday and I hope that they can keep this space sacred.”
Emblem3 continues its tour with Selena Gomez through the end of the month and performs Thursday, Nov. 21, on “The X-Factor.” Read more on Emblem3 and a possible spring tour at emblem3.com or facebook.com/EmblemThree.
Their album, “Nothing to Lose,” is available at local and online music stores.