Rock enthusiasts join forces in Apartment 2

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Brooke Thomas, left, and Luke Hojnacki, right, jam in their customized practice space in Lakeside Monday, May 7. (Mary Cloud Taylor/Daily Inter Lake)

The band’s founders, Luke Hojnacki, 62, and Brooke Thomas, 58, discovered a love for music at a young age, but as was the case for many of their bandmates, the music faded as they got older and life got in the way.

After years spent working in Los Angeles, the two friends decided to make the move to Lakeside for a slower pace and a new chapter around 11 years ago.

They would meet for friendly jam sessions, but their music found a home when Hojnacki leased a small space for his wood shop which had an additional room open for use.

They filled the space with chords, amplifiers and instruments and began inviting their musician friends to jam with them. From there, a band was born.

Apartment 2, according to its creators, differs from other bands by taking the pressure off its members and focusing on creating the experience they’ve always craved.

“They don’t want to have to go out and start a band, but they would like to play,” Thomas said. “This gives people the freedom to come in and just explore it a little bit.”

The band caters mostly to an older generation of musicians, usually ages 50 and up, many of whom have played for years but never got the chance to exercise their talents in a band setting. Most of the members are now retired and have finished raising their families, freeing up their time to try something new in a penalty-free environment.

“No one’s going to harsh you if you mess up or hit a wrong note,” Thomas said.

“It’s a learning process, and it makes you a better musician and a better person,” Hojnacki added. “Hopefully you have a better outlook on life when you come out of here.”

As word of mouth spread, more and more musicians began to take interest in the band. According to Hojnacki, the entire group now numbers around a dozen members who play a variety of instruments, including the flute, violin, guitar, base, drums and keyboard.

The group as a whole meets in two locations, one in Lakeside for newer members to get acquainted and one at a larger private venue in Whitefish for friends and established members.

At least once or twice a week, musicians traveling from as far away as Polson and Hot Springs get together to practice, each member contributing their own list of songs they know and enjoy playing, adding up to more than 100 songs.

Though not every song makes it to the set list, each member gets the opportunity to choose a song, and the rest of the band obliges, picking it up and helping each other improve.

“It forces people to learn a little bit more than they otherwise would. You get out of your comfort zone a little bit by having to learn other music,” Thomas said.

“We’re not perfect, and it’s really more about the experience. As long as everyone here is giving 100 percent and doing their best, that’s all you can ask for,” Hojnacki added.

The result is a collection of rock and roll, jazz and blues with an Apartment 2 twist on classic songs by artists like Bob Dylan, Santana, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and many more.

Once the band began to get the hang of things, they decided to take their show on the road, playing small local gigs at birthday parties, weddings and a few restaurants and bars in the area, usually performing for free.

Those performances, Hojnacki said, gave the musicians the chance to check off a bucket list experience, and most of the band members usually jumped at the chance.

“I’ve had people ask me to do solo gigs, and I’ll show up with 10 people,” Hojnacki said. “It’s amazing how if you’ve never played before, you’re not use to it, and you play in front of 100, 200 people, it’s quite an experience. It let’s you know who you are sometimes.”

The band took on their largest show yet for the Taste of Bigfork in April, performing on the bandstand at the Garden Bar.

Thomas said that the performance may not have been perfect, but their collection of classics from the 60s, 70s and 80s got more than a few toes tapping, and most importantly, Thomas said, they had fun.

“There’s not the pressure to make money,” Thomas said. “If you can get a little something for your effort, great, but we’re not trying to make a living at it.”

Hojnacki said that’s the difference between Apartment 2 and bands geared toward younger musicians.

“There are a lot of facilities like this for younger people, and that’s spectacular. They should nurture those talents that come up,” Hojnacki said. “But for people like us who have gone through life, you’ve kind of done everything that you wanted to do, but you always played music and you want to keep doing it.”

Rather than attempting to relive their childhoods, Hojnacki said the band focuses more on helping musicians expand their horizons and experience new things.

When they started the group last year, Thomas and Hojnacki said they never expected it to grow as large as it has, but now they hope it will continue to grow and attract more like-minded people.

For more information about Apartment 2, contact Hojnacki at lukenmoolie@gmail.com.

Reporter Mary Cloud Taylor can be reached at 758-4459 or mtaylor@dailyinterlake.com.

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