It's a tale nearly as old as the music business itself.
A couple of bright-eyed, clean-living, music-loving kids decide to leave the cozy confines of home to seek their fortunes in Los Angeles.
Often the tale ends badly with both kids succumbing to the culture shock and traps of big-city living, but sometimes those young musicians get out to La-La Land and find themselves in the perfect place at the perfect time and suddenly find their dreams are coming true.
It's the latter, more uplifting scenario that has begun to apply to Cuyahoga Falls/Akron natives Kira Leyden and Jeff Andrea, who with another local transplant, Frank Freeman, have been garnering national attention with their band the Strange Familiar, which will perform tonight at Musica in downtown Akron.
Besides racking up more than 50,000 downloads of its new EP online, the band and one of its songs are featured in promos for the ABC Family series The Secret Life of Teenagers. A second Strange Familiar tune will be used in the show's upcoming season.
Leyden and Andrea, 2000 Walsh Jesuit High School graduates, have been writing and performing together since grade school. They were part of Jaded Era, a local band that built a healthy following for nearly 10 years and opened for Bon Jovi in 2005 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
In 2006, singer Ashlee Simpson recorded the band's song Invisible for a scheduled re-release of her sophomore album I Am Me. The song reached No. 21 on the Billboard charts before disappearing. Simpson's album relaunch never happened, though her version of the song can be found on international copies of her recent album Bittersweet.
Nevertheless, the experience allowed the pair to meet a few movers and shakers and get their name and product in potentially important hands.
After Jaded Era disbanded, Leyden and Andrea returned to L.A. where a combination of good fortune and hard work began opening doors for them. One of the good happenings was a meeting with producer/record label exec Brian Malouf who has worked with Everclear, Pearl Jam and Michael Jackson.
''We went out there with hardly any meetings,'' Leyden said. ''We only had a meeting with him and another guy and the other guy canceled, so we went into that meeting saying we're getting this producer and we're going to make this happen.''
Malouf liked what he heard and with his help (and a small financial boost from Invisible), they recorded a five-song EP, You Can't Go Back , which the band released independently on iTunes and put in permanent rotation on its MySpace page (http://www.myspace.com/thestrangefamiliar). Soon after, the group decided to move to Los Angeles in March with buddy Freeman (formerly of area alt-rock trio Templeton's Zeal).
''We didn't have much of a plan other then let's get out of here for a while and see what we can make happen,'' Andrea said.
While thousands of bands have followed a similar blueprint with little success, good fortune once again smiled on the new project, now called the Strange Familiar, when a producer for ABC Family heard the group's music online, called the members and told them he wanted to use the song Courage Is . . . for a new series called The Secret Life of Teenagers.
''There was apparently a lot of competition for the song that was going to be used in the promos and to help launch the show and I guess they kept coming back to our song,'' Andrea said.
The song is a piano ballad highlighting Leyden's clear-ringing voice and the pair's songwriting chops. The song's uplifting message of standing tall in the face of fear and self-doubt is found in its chorus: ''Courage is when you're afraid but you keep on moving anyway. Courage is when you're in pain but you keep on living anyway.''
''People were writing in and telling us how it changed their lives and it was so inspirational to get that feedback to hear that people were really getting it,'' Andrea said.
Once the ball was officially rolling, the pair knew they needed some footage of themselves to go with the tune so Leyden called another Akron-to-L.A. transplant and former gymnastics classmate, Erin Brown, who shot the footage of the band seen in the series' promos.
Between June and August, You Can't Go Back was downloaded more than 50,000 times, and in September, the band released a new single, Secret Life (You And Me), which is being featured in season two of the series, which premieres Jan. 5.
''It was so great seeing it [for the first time] because it felt so real, it was like finally it's one of the songs that we recorded and we wrote and it's us up there.''
After Saturday night's show at Musica, Leyden and Andrea plan to head back to their Woodland Hills apartment (where they have also joined a choir at a nearby church, which they describe as ''the greatest group of people''), and continue working on their debut album, which they hope to release next year.
Malcolm X Abram can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3758.