An alternative-rock band from Brattleboro, VT, Nomad vs. Settler, took first prize in Youth Services’ Battle of the Bands Friday evening during Brattleboro’s Gallery Walk Night, in front of an enthusiastic crowd of several hundred fans. Sponsored by Whetstone Station, Supreme Fitness and Hazel Restaurant, it was a fierce competition between six talented area bands that were judged on crowd appeal, musical technicality, stage performance and originality.
Nomad vs. Settler first came together as a band just over a year ago and the young members demonstrated a strong stage presence, according to the judges. Rei Kimura, 12 was on guitar and vocals; Owen James, 11 on bass; Archer Parks, 14 on guitar; and Zack James, 15 on drums.
In awarding them the first place prize, the judges noted Nomad vs. Settler’s very creative compositions, the vocals by Rei Kimura, their impressive instrument switch up, amazing musicianship all around, and the enthusiastic response of the audience. “Rei Kimura’s brilliant vocals and performance defy her age and size,” declared judge Lisa McCormick, a singer/song writer herself.
“This righteous front-woman is heartily supported by excellent players and visionary arrangements of strong original songs,” explained McCormick whose views were echoed by her fellow judges.
First prize is a full day (up to 10 hours) of professional recording time donated by Guilford Sound, valued at $1500. In addition, donated by Pure Green Tees, the 1st place winners will also receive a dozen custom-designed T-shirts of their band logo.
A very close second place was won by the band, Sometime Sunday, composed of Gabbi Walton, 15 of Townshend on guitar and vocals; Robert Athanasopoulos, 30 of Keene, NH on bass; and Jacob Gartenstein, 17 of Brattleboro on drums.
“This tight power trio took the house down, with powerhouse rock diva Gabbi Walker delivering refreshingly unpredictable original songs,” stated Judge Lisa McCormick. Other judges noted the outstanding vocals, drumming and great dynamics, good eye contact and conversation with the audience.
Second prize is two-hour rehearsal and band coaching session at Headroom Stages, a local musical venue at 17 Elliot Street in Brattleboro, VT owned by Judge Aaron Chesley.
Third prize went to Wicked Thirsty, an all-rock duo from Hinsdale, NH composed of Zebulon Hildreth, 17 on guitar and vocals and Sebastian Smith, 17 on drums, which was the first band to compete.
Judge Lisa McCormick commented on their skillful experimentation with unconventional timing and modes and the huge full band power coming from just two players. Other judges highlighted the “amazing drumming” and stage banter by Zebulon Hildreth who was commended for “pushing through his nerves.”
“I want to put out Wicked Thirsty’s record myself,” quipped Judge Spencer Crispe, who advised them to “get a bass player and take over the world!” Quite the accolade from Crispe, who in addition to being in a band for 15 years is an avid concert-goer, having listened to in excess of 1,000 live concerts to date.
Third prize is two hours of vocal lessons with jazz and blues performer Samirah Evans and guitar strings and tuner donated by Maple Leaf Music Store.
Judging the Battle was musicians Aaron Chesley, Lisa McCormick, Spencer Crispe, and youth judges Dharma Ramirez and Nina Cates of the indie-rock band Snaz, which opened the event. The Snaz helped get their start as winners of Youth Services’ Battle of the Bands in 2012.
Also complemented and encourage on their music were the runners-up bands: Negative Space, The Regulars, and Raspberry Jam, who the judges said they are looking forward to seeing at the next ‘Battle’.
Russell Bradbury-Carlin, Director of Youth Services said they were proud to have produced such a successful event. “The bands were all amazing and the crowds of young people and adults provided the perfect amount of encouragement and energy. The Battle of the Bands was truly a celebration of youth and of great music,” Bradbury-Carlin stated.
For more information on services for young people in Windham County, contact Youth Services at (802) 257-0361 or visit wwwyouthservicesinc.org