Bella Robison jams on the drums.
Isabella Angelina Robison of St. Pete is just like every other 15-year-old girl in America — she’s a Ukraine-born Romanian-gypsy adopted daughter of two loving moms who plays drums in a rockabilly combo when she isn’t working to graduate high school early.
OK, well, so she isn’t just like every other 15-year-old in America. But she does love summer as much as the next kid.
This year, booking shows for her band, The Riders, is a priority. While Bella’s been playing drums for more than four years, the group is a relatively new thing. She got together with the rest of the guys through the Pinellas County Center for the Arts music magnet program at Gibbs High School.
“I knew [singer-guitarist] Sean McQuiston in the beginning of the year, then I heard his music play at an event at our school,” she says. “He said they needed a drummer, and I knew what I was doing. We got together and played a little bit, and it worked out.
“We’re all in high school, so it can be tough to find gigs. We have enough music for it, we just need to start talking to people. And to practice a lot.”
Bella is also looking forward to that classic teenage rite of passage, learning to drive, as well as spending time at the library indulging her love for reading. She’s a big fan of both mystery and fantasy, and cites YA paranormal-romance writer Amanda Hocking, author of the Trylle Trilogy and a legendary self-publishing success story, as a favorite. She’ll also be filling the summer days with skateboarding, movies and trips to beachside hangout Salty’s in Gulfport with her mothers, Jessica and Jessie Seldin, for some cornhole and open-mic performances — she plays guitar, mandolin and ukulele in addition to drums.
All this, and she’ll be taking an online course to accelerate her schooling with an eye toward graduating early, plus finding time to hang out with her friends and her little sister, Zoë.
Hey, summer’s just three months — ya gotta fit in what you can. Bella’s not the type to waste those long and valuable days; she’d rather fill them with all the cool stuff she might not find the time to do once too much of her waking life is again taken up with school. She’s also not the type to let boredom or idleness lead her into making any questionable decisions this summer. With so many good things to do, why waste her time on the bad?
“Doing some type of art, music, drawing, something creative,” she advises. “It’s safe, it’s fun, it keeps you out of trouble and it could get you somewhere. Going out to places, like the skatepark, gets you to meet new people, which is also another way to stay safe — just hang out with the right people.”