The way Port Townsend High School senior Louis Babik tells it, he just plays drums for fun.
The way his band and orchestra teacher Daniel Ferland tells it, Babik is the bedrock of every group he performs in — and he performs in pretty much every ensemble band in Port Townsend.
“He leads the entire Jazz Band,” Ferland said. “When there were times that Lou couldn’t make it for whatever reason, we basically couldn’t play without him. We couldn’t keep time.”
Jazz Band, Pep Band, and Port Townsend Symphony Orchestra are just the tip of the iceberg of Babik’s musical endeavors. He has also served as musical accompaniment for PTHS and Key City Public Theater performances, as well as the drummer for a rock band called Iron Weasel he started with friends.
Babik, who graduated with the class of 2020 June 12, got the idea to start a band with his friends two years ago. But it wasn’t until 2019 when the band and its six members came together.
The name, he said, just came from a funny conversation with his close and long-time friend Keenan Chambers when they were trying to come up with band names. They thought Iron Weasel was a funny play on the iconic metal band Iron Maiden.
But the music they play is nothing like head-banging heavy metal. Their genre, he said, is mostly oldies covers with two guitars, a bass, a drummer, a keyboard, and a vocalist.
Babik said his love of oldies classics began at a young age. He remembers driving to church on Sundays with an oldies station always playing on the radio. The other genre he holds close to his heart is jazz, he said.
When the band first got together, they had a hard time learning full songs, Babik said. Sometimes they would just learn small bits, like the introduction to a song. But for his senior project he decided it was time to commit to learning some full songs and plan a public performance. Before COVID-19 put a stop to band rehearsals in March, they were meeting twice a week to practice outside of school.
They were able to submit a recording of one song to the PTHS online spring concert that took place on June 11.
What was great about having Babik as a student, Ferland said, was his willingness to get other students motivated. They could be having a tough rehearsal and Babik would cut the tension with a joke or encouragement.
And Babik was always willing to help out the younger students, to get them more involved and stay motivated, Ferland said.
“No matter what, he would spend any amount of time he needs to help a freshman.”
Part of it was a natural musical talent, Ferland said, and part was a strong work ethic.
But Babik’s talents are not limited to music; he is also noted for his high academic achievement as salutatorian and his many extracurricular activities, including Knowledge Bowl and Mock Trial. Babik is also fluent in German and until this year, visited Germany every summer to visit family.
This fall, Babik will attend Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. He wants to study political science or history and potentially become a teacher.
He said he wants to help kids and inspire them to expand their minds like his best teachers at PTHS did for him.