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Reaves column: Battle of the Bands

This past weekend I had the honor of being one of the judges for the inaugural March Hare Music Festival “Battle of the Bands,” presented by the Blues and Jazz Society at the Looking Glass Artist Collective.
Six bands were competing for a first prize of recording time with Jerod Jacobs and a runner-up gift certificate prize to Music&More in Concord. The finalists were chosen from many demos sent in, and we really had some great local talent on hand.
First up was Jeremy Vess, whose first two songs were really nice acoustic numbers. For their last song, however, a full band come up a join them for a really rocking tune that got the crowd on their feet early on.
Next up was Jeremy Hopkins and the Thrill. This band was very solid and professional sounding and sounded like they could have been playing on your radio as you pulled up to the parking lot. Their sound was acoustic/alternative rock with some nice guitar leads from Jeremy Mullis and vocals from Hopkins.
Following them was Jimmy Alston who really threw the crowd a curveball that night by playing some smooth jazz for us. Their first song had the crowd clapping along as singer Leslie Alston promised to make us “feel good” that evening. They most certainly did that as they finished by playing two fantastic instrumental songs with great guitar leads from nephew Jerry Alston.
The next band to perform really blew everyone in the house away. Ten More Years are a group of guys ages 14, 14, and 12, yet they sounded like they could have been the band from “School of Rock!” It is always nice to see awesome young talent like that, especially right here in our own backyard.
It was even more impressive that the three songs they played were written by them, including one that lead singer/guitarist James Brickley said “came to him in a dream” (very Keith Richards of you there, sir).
They were definitely a tough act to follow, but Trappers, Traders, and Mountainmen did just that by giving us some pop/punk to bob our heads along to. One of my fellow judges, Marc Hoffman, remarked to me that their bass player Matthew Jordan looked like he was “having more fun than anyone there that night” as he bounced his head around and moved his body throughout their energetic set.
Last but not least we had Fire for Effect playing us some Christian Rock to close out our evening. I could not believe how big of a voice was coming out of singer/guitarist Vincent Baynard, that guy can really belt a tune. Also their lyrics were very deep and the band sounded amazing.
After a break for the judges to add up our scores, we had ourselves a winner. Drum roll please…and the winner is Ten More Years! Those kids couldn’t have looked any happier with their win. The entire crowd was also happy with the decision that had been made, including the other bands as they clapped and showed their approval for such a young and talented band.
Second prize went to Jeremy Hopkins and the Thrill in a very close competition.
I do want to say congratulations to all the bands who played-you were all fantastic and there really were no losers. Again, congrats to Ten More Years. We are all looking forward to great things from you guys!

Musician Jesse Reaves lives in Salisbury. He may be reached at ringostrat1@yahoo.com.

Battle of the Bands Video

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