This was one of those amazing events that happen in your life. You get thrown together with really cool and creative people and work on a project. There are so many stories here it is a good thing that I need to break it up into a number of segments. I have already credited a lot of the experiences I had as a result of working at the music stores. This was another one of those. The employees were musicians by definition and we also had band and instrument teachers working there. Everyone played but quite a number of us wrote our own material as well. At the store I managed, we were a diverse group with a wide definition of styles. I did not own it, but it was MY store. I had an agreement with the owner that he not visit my location while I was there. I would run it my way and do the best I can as if it is my store. He agreed and for years I did exactly that. I took care of the people that worked and shopped there. I gave people real advice and information. We developed long-term loyal customers. It was a great team and we had a common goal – do good and we keep the owner out of our building! Great motivation.

A local radio station WOXY in Oxford, OH sponsored a Local Licks radio segment I think every Thursday night for a few months. I had submitted a few of my songs and one of them got played one week. Nice feeling to hear your stuff on the radio. I submitted a few more original tunes and suggested one of the other employees to enter some of his songs. He had more of an urban beat box groove thing going and he did all his own recordings. He did not think anything would come of it as his stuff is even more eclectic than mine! So he gave me a cassette tape – yes, a cassette tape! – and told me to pick the best songs and send them in under his name. I took his tape home and consumed it for hours. Then I made my decision and picked three songs to submit.  This is one of those funny things too. I sent in a song I thought had a great hook a nice arrangement and was really catchy in the genre he was in. I entered my next favorite that really pushed the drum/percussion thing he had going. I thought they had a good chance.

For the third song I threw in something that in all honesty was my attempt at ‘comedic relief’. I figured if I threw something out there that was really bizarre and off beat, they would think the other two songs were great by comparison. Not that the song was not great, but not a match for this heavy-leaning college radio station (… “the future of rock and roll” …..) The third song of his featured a banjo player and an off beat kind of groove. The Local Licks segments lead up to a radio version of battle of the bands. Songs played on Local Licks weekly segments would be entered into an elimination round on the last week the program aired. The finalists would have their songs played one more time as the winners were announced and then the bands would perform for just under an hour in a well known club in Cincinnati for prizes and glory.

As we listened to the local radio station during the elimination round there was a funny feel to the ‘winners’ moving ahead. There was an unusual flavor where songs you thought would be a shoe-in were dropped, and unusual tunes were advancing. Some songs were down right off the wall. There must have been a shift in judging but there were songs with unusual instruments in them getting to the finalists position. There was a song by a band called Tuba Blues. Another one I can’t remember had another unusual lead instrument and to think of it, as you remember one of my friend’s songs featured a banjo player!. Sure enough……. his song kept advancing. We were floored when they picked my friend’s third song! That night on the radio they announced the four finalists that would compete in a live battle of the bands event at Bogarts. Without pulling out records I think the event would be in about three or four weeks time from the announcement.

None of us at the store expected any of us to go that far, let alone to finalist. But none of us could believe that was the song that won! It was a fluke that I entered the song and that the judge apparently was looking for unusual instruments in rock and roll bands that year. Who da thunk? Once we met at work and talked it over it became obvious my friend had one problem; he was a soloist and there was no band! HA! The guitar teacher had a band called It. Ellen and I would join on keyboards and guitar and vocals and another employee and great friend over the years would join in on keys, guitar, vocals and a mean shaker! Each of us put in original songs to perform as a band and we rehearsed for a solid two weeks to try to get ready for this show. We knew numbers-wise we did not have a real chance of winning, but we were determined to make a show and event out of it.

……. All the while in the depths of a cave far from civilization, a Master of Ceremony was writing a series of short speeches that would be an added theatrical presentation between songs. Only the day of the performance did we see how this fit together and we had no idea what he was going to say – with the exception of a few word keys that would trigger a response from the band members, and occasionally the audience in return.

Fortunately we were all musicians currently involved in original songs and live performance. We had pretty good gear and we knew how to use it. We knew how to learn songs and how we can add to them or subtract as needed. Practice went well and started to be fun. The writer of the winning song chose the band name, and we made T-Shirts for all band members with the band name and studio logo; Willie the Ferret Studios. We worked out vocal parts as we had a number of vocalists and lots of harmonies and added speech. The lead guitar player was killer. His drummer was awesome and the bass player in their band IT, was solid and blindingly fast. With that foundation we just had to do our thing and it would all blend in fine. So we were ready enough but nervous as hell. A lot of things could go wrong here.

We get there and listen to the bands that were playing before us and there is a pretty good crowd at this point. We have our equipment squeezed up next to the stage entrance so we can rush in as soon as this band is done and moves their gear out. We set up fast. My keyboard controller does something funny and it takes me a while to fix it. No problem – tune guitar and ready to go. We look around and there are only a few microphones so we ask for more as we have a number of vocalists. They tell us no, that is what everyone gets. So as you see us a little unorganized and running from one side of the stage to another, it is changing instruments and trying to find a way for all vocalists to sing – or speak their part.  After a while it was just funny and we worked it out quickly for the most part and had fun with it.

The audience is not sure and a little uncomfortable with the speeches at first, but after a couple times and solid music everyone got the idea and joined in. The band has to settle down a little and the monitors and the mix takes a while to get used to. It is hard to hear some of the keyboard and vocal parts in some parts but that is to be expected. The writer of our winning song does not perform until the last song, so he helps with the Main House mix in the club. We were a little more involved than the regular rock band so he was able to plan ahead. I wish the lighting guy had help too. They seem a little lost at times but over all still a cool event.

Comments
  1. Harmonie says:

    Congratulations 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      The dated video does not do it justice, but it was a great event. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Harmonie says:

        I wonder then how awesome it must have actually been, even though you say it didn’t do justice, I enjoyed it much. Thank you for sharing. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • midimike says:

        Just pulling something like this off with the limited time we had was just awesome. The crowd response was great – especially because no one had ever heard of the band before, and we could not ‘pack the audience’ with our fans.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Harmonie says:

        Haha! Surely awesome. Your writing style surely is impressive, besides being a great musician, you’re a great writer too. You can expect your band to become very well known soon, but more than that I’m glad you are satisfied with your own work, that obviously is priority. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • midimike says:

        Wow. That is very nice of you to say. I try to write as if I am sitting in front of the person so it feels more like a conversation. If that is working I will continue! You made my day.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Harmonie says:

        😀 I’m happy I could. Exactly! The conversational tone, it makes us readers feel so much at ease. It keeps things simple and good, at least that’s my opinion. Warm regards and best wishes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • midimike says:

        simple and good…… I’ll take your opinion!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Tom says:

    I can corroborate Michael’s account, since Barbara and I drove down to Cincinnati to hear NRSB battle with other bands. From my point of view, NRSB (Nixon Reagan Satan Buddha) outclassed the competition. They presented like an old-style tent revival, with a preacher. The preacher gave short rants between songs. Ellen sang lead once or twice. To make an unforgettable moment, the band announced the goofy word of the day: Q-tips. They proceeded to shower the audience with … well … Q-tips. Who could forget that?

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      And we have proof that you were there on video! I also felt we were a tighter band even though we had only practiced for a short time. The other bands were good club bands, but as you mentioned, NRSB had an edgy theatrical production and a great back up band to help tell the story! I had to watch the video a few times to figure out what he was saying in those rants, but they usually introduced the band or song in an intriguing way.

      Like

  3. David Kennedy says:

    Sure nice to see you and Ellen at this event; I’ll have to watch it again to see if I can see Tom and Barb in the video; missed them 1st time around. Reminds me of when we entered The Marlboro Country Festival contest with some of the tunes from the Studio Way tape, we competed, 1st prize was opening for the M.B.F. at Riverfront Stadium. We didn’t have much of a chance since we were primarily a rock band. We were really thrown off our game when the main keyboard didn’t show. That was Ric’s partner Terry Boehm. He had to take his daughter to the hospital the day of the contest, and family always takes precedence over just any jive-ass rock and roll band.

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      Tom and Barb are not in the video because I cut out that segment. It is good to hear about your experience and I think it is all fun!

      Like

    • midimike says:

      I cut that part out – meaning it was 5-10 minutes before the performance starts, so it was not close enough to the songs to include, so I edited each song. Soon I will have the entire video for those that want to see it in its entirety. FYI

      Like

  4. rubiredsaid says:

    This has been a great and incredible time and experience!
    I love live music so this appealed to me despite the buffering computer!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s