In the end, a foursome from Broadneck High School came out on top of the 17th Annual Anne Arundel County High School Battle of the Bands held last night at Maryland Hall.
The Battle of the Bands (BOTB) is 100% volunteer supported effort to raise much needed funds for the music departments of high schools across the county–private and public. The winner of the competition has a grant that will go to further the programs in their own high school and with budget cuts, every penny helps. As founder Nancy Almgren said, this is a chance to showcase talent (rock bands) that is not normally supported in high school music departments.
And talent there was! The event is a great chance for parents and students alike to be exposed to the enormous (no understatement) amount of talent that spews forth from our high schools. Rhythm and blues, heavy rock, original pieces, punk, funk, and classics. If you missed it, make sure you catch it next year because the $15 ticket price is well worth it.
The competition is judged American Idol style with a panel of four judges from the regional music industry. Chris Keith, Special Events Manager for 24-7 Entertainment; Larry Rodbell from Rodbell Drums, Sam Silverman from Rams Head Live and Pier Six Pavilion; and Nick Woolford, Bassist for Have Mercy (Hopeless Records) gave their honest opinions to the bands and had the unenviable task of selecting the best one.
Unfortunately, like with American Idol, the contestants and audience do not agree. Keith panned the Spalding band Empty Houses and heard about it all night on Twitter! But the contestants need to understand this is not a grade school talent show. This is a stepping stone to greater things and if they want to move forward in an unarguably tough industry, it makes sense to listen to people like Keith who recently booked Jane’s Addiction, Rise Against and Gogol Bordello for the Shinding. It makes sense to listen to Larry Rodbell and Nick Woolford who have been in the trenches and have the scars to prove it. It makes sense to listen to Sam Silverman who sees close to 700 acts pass through her two venues each year. They know what works.
The Unwoolly Mamoths from South River High School were the crowd favorite and blew up Twitter last night. The People’s Choice Award was determined by the audience (and friends at home) by Twitter. Host and emcee Danny Mays monitored the feed and interacted with the crowd to determine the winner–and Woolly Mamoths were also a judges favorite as well.
Chasing Verity (a personal favorite of mine) brought some controversy when they covered Peggy Lee’s “I’m a Woman.” In addition to the band (Jolie Sarro, Peter Terrier, James Bartolotta, and Connor Haley), they brought out two dancers to accompany them. Clad in crop tops, shorts, and torn fishnet stockings, it left a lot of people wondering if it was appropriate for a high school event including one judge. But again, I suggest this is not a grade school talent show and they took a risk and musically and theatrically, it worked with the song. Chasing Verity, of all the bands, seems the most intent on making it in the music industry. They take risks and perform–a lot. They play at festivals, the MRE Tug-Of_War and the night before the BOTB, they played an all-ages gig at Metropolitan Kitchen and Lounge. They have released an album. While they placed forth overall, I think you will this band, with some more work, go places!
Heaven at Midnight representing Glen Burnie High School was on the bill, but did not play. The original BOTB was scheduled for last weekend, but the threat of snow caused the school district to cancel all weekend activities and the band was unable to reschedule in order to appear last night. It’s unfortunate, because I would have loved to see more talent from our local schools!
As for the winners…..
- Best “other” musician – Isiah Wheatley, Annapolis High School, Rhemington
- Best performance (people’s choice) – Unwoolly Mamoths, South River High School
- Best drummer – Tomy Auger, Broadneck High School, Forexes
- Best bassist – Nick Howard, Broadneck High School, No Capes
- Best vocal – David Ossman, South River High School, Unwoolly Mamoths
- Best guitarists – Peter Terrier, Performing & Visual Arts Magnet, Chasing Verity
- 4th place overall – Chasing Verity, Performing & Visual Arts Magnet
- 3rd place overall – Crash 57, Southern High School
- 2nd place overall – Unwoolly Mamoths, South River High School
- 1st place overall – No Capes, Broadneck High School
And yes….I did tweet that Carraway from Annapolis High School did a smoking rendition of Smoke On The Water and attributed it to Hendrix. Twitter is unforgiving, and I should have known better, but my head was…..
— Eye On Annapolis (@eyeonannapolis) February 1, 2015
definitely up my ass. And to correct another mistake—saxophones are not brass. Oh well…guess that is why I am not a musician!
The bands that qualified this year were:
- Forexes, Broadneck High School
- Rhemington, Annapolis High School
- Empty Houses, Archbishop Spalding High School
- Unwoolly Mamoths, South River High School
- Crash 57, Southern High School
- Chasing Verity, Performing & Visual Arts Magnet
- Heaven at Midnight, Glen Burnie High School
- Carraway, Annapolis High School
- Panic Switch, Severna Park High School
- No Capes, Broadneck High School