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Special Section Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 6, 2009

Twenty teen bands set to compete at the fair, only one will stand tall

By Jordan J. Michael

ALTAMONT –– Geoffrey Brown and Stephen Orsini are adding a brand new piece to the Altamont Fair this year. It seems like a real winner.

Brown and Orsini, both of Altamont, have created Battle of The Teen Bands. It’s a competition of 20 bands from all over the Capital Region. Half of the members of each band must be made of teenagers.

Brown told The Enterprise that there were 50 entries at first. “I’ve been thinking of this idea for a couple years now and I finally took the ball and ran with it,” he said. “We cut the 50 down to 30. Most of the bands were local, but we got one from Queens!”

The battle will start on Wednesday, Aug. 12, and run through Friday. The competition will start at noon each day and each band will get approximately eight to12 minutes to perform. The competition will be held at the Reid Northrup Stage on Wednesday and Thursday and then move to the grandstand for the final on Friday.

Orsini, Brown, and Alix Saba will judge and select one winning band each day. The three selected bands will play one song each on the main stage on Friday at 3 p.m.

“We’re not judging or classifying any specific genre,” said Orsini. “We’re looking for their ability to entertain the crowd, as well as their ability to play well as a band. They can play original songs or cover songs. There’s no limit.”

The names show the variety of the bands.

Civilian, Tradewinds, Legal Limit, Adrenaline, Soup Kitchen, Midnight In Moscow, Drift, Wipe Out Marshall, Mama’s Favorite Groove, Gauge 57, Citizen Genet, Four on the Floorboards, Seven Second Delay, The Museum of Guards, My Little Suburbia, The Ashbury, Phoenix Rising, Knights of the Free Republic, Valerie Webb, and Par 6 are all scheduled to perform next week.

The audition was basic, according to Orsini. He looked for a cohesive sound and a set level of skill from the bands, making sure that the teens could perform on stage.

“The bands sent us an audio link and it went from there,” Orsini said. “I’m a musician myself, and I think a lot of these bands are high caliber. They’re all capable and talented in their own way. I’m excited to see what these kids have to offer.”

“Most of the music is modern, given the age of the contestants,” said Orsini. “Half the bands have original material and half play cover songs. When you’re that young, you’re still learning to play and that’s why we’ll be seeing some cover bands in the event.”

However, a band that plays covers won’t have a disadvantage against one that plays original songs.

“I think it might be risky for a band to play an original song because the crowd might be confused,” Orsini said. “It’s all about the choice of the song and how they play it. Do they play well together or are they a bunch of individuals? Either way, if the song is fun then it doesn’t matter. We might not even know if it’s a cover if they don’t tell us.”

The winning act gets $300 in cash, five hours of studio time at Blue Sky Recording in Delmar, three hours of web design services, and a professional photo shoot. Every band receives a Battle of The Teen Bands t-shirt.

“If you’re in a band with your high school buddies and you win this battle, it’s a huge boost,” said Orsini. “Who knows where they could go after they win.”

Meet the bands

Adam Lawyer (vocals), Kevin McCauley (guitar), Dylan Lemay (guitar), Niklas Palazeke (bass), Justin Cestra (keys), and Cory Larmour (drums) make up Wipe Out Marshall from Schenectady.

Lemay told The Enterprise that the band has been playing for over a year now and the name comes from an accident. “We all use Marshall Amps and one day we were playing and Kevin fell down the stairs,” Lemay said. “Put the two together and there you go.”

All six members of the band went to Mohonasen High School, or are still attending. They got hooked up through the schools marching band.

Wipe Out Marshall has 11 or 12 original numbers by the way of a pop punk or hardcore sound. “We have a good stage presents and some gut-wrenching parts,” said Lemay. “We’re all pretty good and we’ll bring it to the table. We might melt your face.”

The band has already won a battle of the bands in Queensbury and just recorded an album. Look for the song, “You Light This Match, We’ll Burn The City” during its performance on Aug. 12.

The Ashbury is a rock trio from Albany that includes Derek Rogers (guitar), Mark Lombardo (bass/vocals), and John Daley (drums). The band formed in 2005 and originally started playing blues-rock.

“We all played jazz growing up, but we’ve matured as a band,” said Rogers. “Mark is into some acoustic stuff and I’m really into rock. We all take music pretty seriously and we’ll take this as far as we can.”

The Ashbury just released a five-song EP in July and made a music video for “Spark Your Curiosity.”

“We have a friend who is a film major in college and we went to him with the idea,” Rogers said. “We found this bus garage and asked the people there if we could set up. We just played and got some cool shots. It wasn’t really work because it was so fun.”

Rogers told The Enterprise that the band really has no expectations for next week. “We just love to play, simple as that,” he said. “We have a lot of sound for just a trio and we get really into it. Hopefully we’ll please the crowd.”

A lasting idea

Battle of The Teen Bands will become an annual piece of the Fair from now on and it could expand to new territory in the future.

“I don’t know where this will go because it’s moving so fast,” said Brown. “We have a website and everything. This event could explode on the scene.”

“Jeff has great ideas and I could see other people getting attracted to this,” Orsini said. “There is a plethora of talent, not just around here, but all over. There was a need for this and we filled that. We are excited and willing to put in the time and energy. I helped Brown realize the vision and we helped young bands get noticed. This is quite the adventure so far.”

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