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Teen Bands Battle It Out
After a rain check a few weeks ago Anaheim’s first Battle of the Bands rose to its finale last Saturday evening. Of the 5 video taped submissions, the final three were performed live before enthusiastic crowds in the Pearson Park Amphitheatre.
Right on the tick of 7:30pm Anthony Ramos introduced the evening, recognized the sponsors (which included the Arts Council) and brought the first band, Eight Eleven, on stage.
It’s always tough to be the first act and the band’s attempts to rouse the crowd by getting them to stand up, clap, and even scream, fell mostly on deaf ears. At that point we had no reason to hit the highs of elation because we hadn’t yet heard any performance! You have to earn screams by being really good! And although Eight Eleven turned in a reasonable set over the next half hour they never really electrified the crowd. All credit to them if the music was their own, but the songs were somewhat tuneless, and the lead singer was often just a very, teeny bit short of the note; and that’s a little different from saying he was flat. This is a young band. It takes time and experience to get a fully rounded sound. They have the necessary enthusiasm and personality to become very successful. I look forward to hearing them again in due course. They were adjudicated to be second runner-up.
Detour 91, the second band of the evening, has been around the band circuit for several years. They have always been good, but I was frankly amazed at how much they have grown. With a cool variety of their own numbers, and well known jazz and blues songs mixed in, they show what hard work and talent can achieve. Their instrumental breaks were gorgeous; Anthony Castagna (lead guitar) can so dig into his guitar strings that his solos range from smoky blues to soaring brilliance. Darryn Azevedo’s keyboard abilities and singing have grown from youthful aspiration to fully grown maturity; and yet he is still so young! Audrey Gulb’s singing has depth and subtlety, but she needs to be careful about diction. Overall, this band would now be a fine opener for any number of the nationally famous bands that cross the stage of the City National Grove. Detour 91 took top honors in the competition.
The third group, aptly named The Colony Boys on account of where the teens all live, filled out the evening with their set. This is a very new band built, I believe, around the extraordinary talent of Sean Oliu (right in the picture). When I heard Sean sing in May this year with his Oxford Academy partner Johnny – on lead guitar - their harmonies were soft, close and accurate. Since then they have added a bass guitar and a drummer who both shone well in their solo moments. At the Battle I think Johnny (left) pushed it too hard and (as with the first band) also fell off the notes by the barest of margins. The Colony Boys made it easy for their audience by playing songs we knew from The Beatles and Elvis. In fact, for saying Sean is only 14, he makes a very good young Elvis. Although still a little rough-cut, this band has built a solid foundation and will surely do well in the future. They did well to be judged as first runner-up.
Judges for the evening were (from the left): Greg Daulton, Reon Boydstun Howard and Sabrina Bryan
- Sabrina is clearly a multitalented young woman (see her Wikipedia entry).
- Greg, a graduate of Berklee College of Music, is a songwriter and author, plays almost ANY instrument, and coaches young bands (see his Facebook page).
- Reon is the President of the Anaheim Arts Council, and has engaged in the arts of Anaheim for many years.
Community Services. Huge credit goes to Community Services who did a wonderful job to design and launch this new arts event for Anaheim. They had a few problems with trying to get bands a) to know about the contest and b) to submit entries. But the professionalism of the event was excellent. The concert was video taped and you will soon find the video on the You Tube channel of the City of Anaheim.
Teen band music is of huge importance, whether or not older generations like their music. Every generation responds to their creative impulse to sing, play and entertain in its own way. With the facility to create You Tube channels and explore other digital means to distribute music our modern world offers a rich landscape into which new bands can strive for prominence. But digital media will never replace the experience and thrill of live performance and a great venue. And our own Community Services, in collaboration with other partners and sponsors, has understood that and provided what we can only hope will be a growing phenomenon with Anaheim’s Battle of the Bands.