Music fraternity sponsors first band battle

Paige Graves
Staff writer

Photo courtesy of Derek Fannin

Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia will host the inaugural Battle of the Bands on Saturday in Lovett Auditorium.

Wesley Hughes, Phi Mu Alpha member and senior from Marion, Ky., is the event manager for the program.

“In the process of trying to figure out a way to earn more money to help local music programs, we decided to resurrect an old idea from some of our alumni,” Hughes said. “Really it was a no-brainer. We are a music fraternity reaching out to a sector of the music world that is largely cast off from the classical side.”

Proceeds from the event will go to support local music programs, Hughes said. The winner of the battle will receive $300.

Hughes said he is responsible for seeing the event runs as smoothly as possible and said the preparation will continue up until the show.

“The process has and is still involving a large amount of thought and work,” Hughes said. “We started contacting bands in March to see if there was interest. Let’s face it – without bands we have no show. So that has been a long process, but on Sept. 28 we closed our registration process. From there it has been all about our audience. Trying to figure out how to market the idea to a college audience that is out of touch with most of the traditional markets has been interesting.”

The fraternity’s members spread the word about the event with posters around campus and by talking about the show each chance they could. There will be eight bands performing.

“Probably the most memorable experience was coming back to school and checking with our bands to find out that half of them had split up,” Hughes said. “We all had a good laugh on that, because that is the danger of working with garage bands.”

Garrett Carman, Phi Mu Alpha member and senior from Garfield, Ky., said the idea to have the competition had been talked about in previous years.

“We wanted to do a fundraiser for a while, and the idea of a battle of the bands competition had been tossed around for a couple of years,” Carman said. “Around last year a couple of our brothers sat down and talked about finally doing it, and here we are now.”

Carman said the advertising process was stressful, as it included visiting numerous venues in the area to find potential acts and handing out applications.

“The process for me has been interesting,” he said. “I primarily spent my time in advertising with the help of Justin Schuring. If it wasn’t for him helping me with that I do not believe we would have had the awesome fliers and posters we have. I (think) this will be extremely memorable because I think this will finally get Phi Mu Alpha more known on campus.”

Derek Fannin, sophomore from Versailles, Ky., is the guitarist for Wolf Gap Ramblers, an unsigned band competing in the show.

“Wolf Gap Ramblers formed in March of 2010,” Fannin said. “We had been playing around unofficially for about a year, but then we decided we needed to form a band. We had been playing a gig in Goodlettsville, Tenn., and we discovered we could work well as a band.”

The band draws its influence from traditional folk tunes and jazz harmonies and considered entering the Battle of the Bands contest when they first heard about it. Fannin plays and sings alongside Richard Osban, Andrew Taylor and Brandon Burke.

“It was an idea we were throwing around, and we’ve been looking for things to do and gigs to play,” Fannin said. “I think the original idea was to get exposure to the community and other areas. We do the Coffee House Jam as usual, and we have an idea of what songs we’re going to play since we’ve done a few gigs. In November we’re playing a wedding, and we’ve also got a show coming up in Berea.

“We’ll continue to look around for gigs. We’ll spend time rehearsing specifically for Battle of the Bands. We’ve never competed in something like this as a band, but Andrew has competed in fiddle contests before.”

Tickets for the show are on sale for $7 at the Curris Center rocking chair lounge and are available at the door Saturday. Doors open at 4 p.m., and the show begins at 5 p.m.

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