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Mike Terry, Deseret News
The Terks, a Utah-based band, practices. They recently won the eWorld Music Awards as one of the top indie rock bands in the country.

SOUTH JORDAN — There was a time, back in the dark ages of rock-and-roll — we're talking way back, turn-of-the-century back, all the way back to the 1990s — when a rock band without a record deal and mainstream radio play was pretty much destined to be the greatest band nobody ever heard of.

But then along came cyberspace and the miracle of streaming, and the turntables turned.

Now, if you're good, chances are you won't remain a well-kept local secret for very long.

Case in point: the Terks.

They're a five-man, made-in-Utah, totally independent band without an agent or a sponsor that last month in Los Angeles won an international honor called the eWorld Music Award.

Out of more than 2,000 indie rock bands that entered the online contest from around the globe, the five guys from Utah came out on top. Their triumph was based on a combination of fan voting and a judging panel made up of accomplished musicians — much like "American Idol" but without the TV.

The competition was conducted entirely over the Internet until the finals in Los Angeles, where the Terks squared off against two other bands in front of a live studio audience of about 1,000.

Meanwhile, an audience in the tens of thousands, maybe millions, watched and listened to the live streaming transmission.

The band won a guitar as a trophy, plus studio time with award-winning producer Drew Lane of "High School Musical" fame, a deal to feature one of their songs in an upcoming movie, and playing gigs at a number of L.A.-area venues, including the House of Blues and Whisky A Go Go.

Not bad considering six months ago the Terks in their present formation didn't even exist.

Adam Reader is the man who put the band together — and his story is as unlikely as the world orbit the Terks have now entered.

There is nothing about Reader that screams "typical rocker." He's 34, a returned Mormon missionary, a family man — married, father of two — and he spent most of the last 14 years making a good living as a salesman.

But life changed abruptly one day about two years ago when Adam's wife, Leslie, downloaded some tunes into her iPod that Adam had written and composed on preparation days while he was a missionary in Nashville, Tenn.

"Hey," she said, "these are good."

"Oh, you're my wife, you're supposed to tell me that," replied Adam.

But Leslie persisted. "No, I mean they're really good. I'd say they were good if you hadn't written them."

With that nudge, a sales career was scuttled and a rock star was born.

Adam started writing again and then set to work manning his band. The lineup kept getting juggled until six months ago when it jelled with the current configuration of Stu Eastman on drums, Patrick Coffin on rhythm guitar, Christian Williams on bass and Eric "Yeti" Hughes on lead guitar. Adam does lead vocals.

The makeup, appropriately enough, is Internet-fueled. Adam found Stu through facebook and hooked up with Patrick through an ad on KSL.com. He found Christian the old-fashioned way — he's his brother-in-law.

As for the name, it came to Adam one night when he was watching an NBA basketball game on television. One of the players was Hedo Turkoglu, an NBA star from Turkey.

In Adam's mind, Turkoglu morphed into Turk, which he considered quite catchy.

He changed the spelling slightly, as rock bands are wont to do, like the Beatles.

The Terks' sound, according to Adam, is "folk-rock with a little alternative in there — one song even sounds a little country." (to hear for yourself, go to www.reverbnation.com/theterks).

Every member of the band is LDS. Four of the five are returned missionaries.

It is not something they're trying to downplay.

"A lot of LDS (rock) bands, when asked if they're Mormon they say yeah, but it doesn't influence our music," says Adam. "I just say yeah and proud of it. We don't shy away from it at all, like it's a bad thing."

Where the Terks will go now that they're a global award-winner remains to be seen. Will they all quit their day jobs (at this point only Adam and Stu are full-time musicians)? Will they make the cover of Rolling Stone? Will they get so big they stop practicing at Adam's house?

And will they become so popular you can hear them on the radio?

Remember when it used to be the other way around?

Lee Benson's About Utah column runs Monday and Friday. E-mail: benson@desnews.com.