Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Battle of the Bands rocked the house

Manatee County’s musicians rock.

They turned out in force last weekend to prove just that. Sure, this may be a bit biased -– the event was our’s inaugural “Battle of the Bands.” But I don’t need to sugar-coat anything. This community is blessed to have such a wide range of bands that thrive on local support –- and feel lucky to be here.

Battle of the Bands was the brainchild of Bradenton Herald’s Interactive Media VP Jackie Luper and Advertising VP Erin Humphreys. What better way to generate some new revenue than to tap into one of the most vibrant scenes in our town: The Bands.

And so, Battle of the Bands was born. In the midst of grim cost-cutting days, you should have seen the spirit generated throughout the Herald as committees were formed to handle everything from recruiting the bands to designing logos and handling the “pit.”

Posters went up all over town, and dozens of bands made the deadline for the finals. Heading into last weekend, 28 bands were named finalists to compete Friday and Saturday for the grand winner.

The finalists were awesome, and while the contest was deemed a “battle,” the synergy among competing bands was astounding. For hours, guitars, drums, bass, keyboard and fans rocked the Manatee Convention Center. The categories: rock, country, jazz/blues/reggae, and Christian. And they had the chance to win more than $3,000 in cash and prizes.

All local talent. All here to strut their stuff for local fans.

Full disclosure on my part: When Richard McNeil, our online designer who grew up in Jamaica, learned that I was a judge -– and that included judging the Reggae category -– I almost had to call 911 to revive him. He was literally in tears of laughter. But my love of music prevailed, and I humbly joined a great panel of judges to pick the best those nights.

Reporter January Holmes covered the competition for the Herald -- including on her day off. “Are you kidding?’ she said when editors "begged" her to help out. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world. This will be way cool.”

Totally cool. Here are the winners:

Traci Conrad,'s interactive sales & marketing manager, was front and center through all of this. She forwarded me some of the feedback we got in the past few days from The Bands:

Steve Satyr (bassist for SINERGY):
My thanks to the Herald and all staff involved in this event. It could not have been organized and executed any better. The event staff ran things flawlessly and professionally. I have never performed a large venue where all went so smoothly. Special thanks to Tracy Conrad, who kept it all together and made it a real pleasure to be a performer. I hope this will become a regular event.

Seven Years Past - Grand Prize Winner
Great job on setting everything up, it was an awesome show.

Seth White Worship:
Thank you so much for allowing us to be a part of everything. We loved meeting everybody and hanging out. You guys did an awesome job! Be blessed.

Meeting Aaron:
Hey, this is Bill, the drummer for Meeting Aaron. Thanks for an awesome time yesterday. The band really enjoyed themselves. Things couldn't have been run much more smoothly. Everything was on time and all of your staff was terrific. The tech and sound guys were extremely professional and made every band sound great. We got a kick out of all the cool video. The ladies from the Bradenton Herald are the best! Thanks and I hope you'll do it again next year.

Thanks for the great time, and the opportunity for us to play!
Hope we can do it again next year!!!
The Martin Westrick Combo :
Thank u all for having us!! We all loved it and had a fun time performing in the battle!

We can’t wait until next year.


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