Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Judging a Local Battle of the Bands (Fundraiser for Mangold Music Foundation)

Collecting donations at the event
I was asked to serve as a judge for a "Battle of the Bands" on June 9 at the Arch Street Teen Center in Greenwich, CT.  The event raised money for the Mangold Music Foundation, which provides instruments and lessons to sick and underprivileged children.  Charlie Mangold, a friend from growing up in Old Greenwich, recently established the non-profit to reach out to young musicians that have the drive but not the access in order to learn how to play music. He recently delivered guitars and ukuleles to the Sloan-Kettering Pediatric Ward in NYC and gave private lessons to the children there.  As his literature explains, a donation of just fifty dollars puts an instrument into the hands of a child who might not even have the opportunity to experience the gift of music.

Eight local bands were featured in the showcase, with ages ranging from the tweens to early twenties. The wide range of genres surprised me, although the classics are still considered classic (there were two Led Zeppelin covers). It was really interesting to see how these bands described themselves: alternative + jazz, light rock (when I actually thought things sounded more like dance punk), and light grunge as apposed to just grunge (isn't that an oxymoron?)  We were given cards to rate each band on a scale from one to five for originality, musicianship, stage presence and overall performance.  There were also a few lines on the bottom for "notes" which I quickly renamed "helpful suggestions."  As the only woman on the four-person judging panel, I was also probably the only one who used smiley faces in the comment section. (It was just very easy to feel to maternal towards all the musicians, as it reminded me of happy days having my son's band in the basement!) I disregarded my regard for any particular genre, and instead tapped into my performance past as a dancer plus all those countless concerts as a music fan, along with Tom Jackson's "On Stage Success" method. (I've seen him in action twice and even interviewed the guy for PopMatters last June).

Judging panel in action with video guy Paul Seymour in back

When everything was tabulated, thankfully there was a clear winner.  The group, Waiting for Sam, is an alternative jazz quintet of high schoolers with a lead singer that embodies a soulful voice reminding me of Joss Stone. They won a generous $250 gift card to Greenwich Music and a day of recording at the Carriage House Studios in Stamford, CT.  In second place was that light rock band called Front Row and in third was the light grunge band Bittersweet. 

Congrats go out to all the bands!  Check out Paul's video compilation below and for more info visit the organization's website mangoldmusicfoundation.org.

Left to Right: Trombonist Vinny Nobile (The Trummytones, BimSkalaBim, Pilfers, and Less Than Jake), Ray Foote, Co-Founder of Big Foote Music and Sound NYC, Sarah Pyles and Charlie Mangold of the Mangold Music Foundation, me and Joe Summa of Greenwich Music