It's been only a week since the City Paper's annual "Best Of Charleston" issue ... and I'm already thinking of a few dozen ideas for next year's issue: new, genre- and instrument-specific categories for readers to consider; a wider variety of critical selections and acknowledgements from the music department covering a larger number of local acts.
Popularity contests weren't limited to the City Paper office. Somebody in town must have pulled hard the bell and rung the alarm as several local music competitions have been in full swing this season. Three on-stage "battle of the bands" series and a month-long radio contest have occupied my time and efforts — some more directly than others.
"Battle of the bands" events can easily unravel into chaos and obnoxiousness. Thankfully, the first round of A Dough Re Mi's Bud-sponsored "March Madness Battle of the Bands" went down without horrible incident on Thurs. March 2. I know: I was there as a "judge." Organizer Stuart Johnson tapped a handful of staffers and scenesters to judge the four acts — Handgun Sonata, L. Brown Odyssey, Steve Hit Mike, and Syraphem — on their "stage presence, musicianship, audience reaction, and professionalism." It was a close call from all of the judges, but the confident L. Brown Odyssey squeezed by in the first place spot.
Local groups Battleground Road, Hot Charlie, Moonless Moth, and Sinister Influence will hit the corner stage at A Dough Re Mi for round two on Sat. March 11, with more events to follow on Fri. March 17, Fri. March 24, and the grand finale on Sat. April 8.
It was a triumphant week all-around for the L. Brown Odyssey. In addition to the gig in Mt. Pleasant, the trio also won an episode of The Map Room's weekly "Battle of the Covers" on Tues. Feb. 28. That two-month series allowed local acts to sign up and play a 20-minute set on the club's own backline for cash prizes and suds. The final event in that series takes place on Tues. March 28.
CofC's fourth annual Charleston Battle of the Bands has five local acts ready to compete on stage at the Music Farm on Thurs. March 23: Tyler Pull Dolls, Ace & O.C., The Golden Palace (who battled in this thing last year as well), Stellar Door, and Fireworks Show. I'm in with the panel of "celebrity judges" alongside Amy Hutto of 98X and local drummer boy Evan Bivins. Should be a hoot for everyone involved.
On the other end of the action, I stood on the receiving end of judgment on Fri. March 3 when a musical submission of my own (under the band name "The Stiff Joints" ... it ain't no joke) faced a panel of expert "senior citizen" judges (Archie, Susan, Tom, and Irene) in the finals of the Storm & Kenny Radio Show with Stupid Mike "theme song competition." 96 Wave's morning show hosts accepted demos from a wide variety of bands, solo acts, and smart-alecks with tape recorders for their February contest. Contestants had to submit a 30-second tune that made some sort of mention of the show. Throughout the month, rock duo The Diesel Brothers kept a strong lead with a muscular, four-chord anthem that kind of resembled the 1982 novelty hit "Take Off" (which features Rush's Geddy Lee singing on the chorus) from Bob & Doug MacKenzie's Great White North album.
The Diesel Brothers — "Stunning" Dave Dunning and Donnie Polk — won in a last-minute tie-breaker, edging ahead of the other finalists — loungy crooner Will Lawton, metalhead Earl Owen, and garage songsmith Joe Christian. Of course, I graciously accept the judges' decision, as I hope this season's competitors accept mine.