BANDS BATTLE FOR BIG FESTIVAL SPOTLIGHT
TALENTED Worcestershire bands are limbering up to do battle for a hot festival date, thanks to two musicians who know exactly how crucial a big spotlight can be.
Four groups of hopefuls will play their hearts out in the Drunken Monkey Festival Battle of the Bands, at Evesham’s The Valkyrie Bar from 7pm on May 11, with the hope of winning a coveted spot alongside more than 50 big bands at this year’s August 3-5 blast at Upton-upon-Severn.
Tickets are already selling fast for this year’s Festival, with a line-up that includes Wizards of Oz, Pearl Jamm, Van Hailen and Gage, hot footing it from South Africa. Check out www.drunkenmonkeyrockfest.co.uk for the full line-up and tickets.
The organisers had to turn away scores of would-be performers and places are already filling up for next year. But Festival volunteers, and musicians, Stu Evans and Chris Harvey kept three 2018 places free for the winners of the Battle of the Bands.
“We wanted to give a mix of up and coming bands, and those who narrowly missed out on a place this time, the chance to get their talent showcased at the Festival,” says Chris.
Chris plays in four bands, including The Stone Cutters who appear at the Drunken Monkey on Sunday, runs the big event’s Tower Stage and tutors and talent spots performers at his Tower Studios, in Pinvin near Pershore.
Stu Evans, who runs the main stage, is a process engineer by day and a singer in an AC/DC tribute by night. His band Soul Stripper is soaring after getting a try-out session at Worcester’s Marr’s Bar eight years ago.
Stu’s band will also be playing at the ever-growing Festival, which was launched in memory of Ian Downton, who died in 2009 after a car accident. To date, more than £25,000 has been donated to the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity (MAAC).
Stu, a father of three who works for a cold storage company and lives in Worcester with civil servant wife Debbie, had only ever sung in front of family, friends and the bathroom mirror when he spotted a Facebook post in 2010.
Scott (Fast Fingers) Pinchin, from Pershore, gave him a try out and the Marr’s Bar-gifted chance to drop in and perform one song turned into belting out all of the six they had ready and they never looked back.
AC/DC fan Stu perfects the sound of Bon Scott. So how was it the first time?
“I was more nervous about whether we could pull it off as a band, but we did,” smiles Festival Music Director Stu, whose band is now in big demand and often offers support slots to up and coming sounds.
Hate.System, Ranstone, Vintage Inc. and Voodoo Stone will be battling it out for the Festival on May 11.
The fierce competition will be judged by audience reaction plus the verdicts of Stu, Chris and The Valkyrie Bar owner - and Festival fan - Steve Richford, who says: “It will be a great night that will also raise money for MAAC.”
Evesham (Worcestershire) based heavy metal 14-15 year old three piece Ranstone have been talented spotted by Chris. They are eager for the chance to shine.
“We have been practising really hard for this and I'm ready to tear up that drum kit,” says drummer Zack Morris, aged 14.
It will be a first playing in Evesham for Hereford-based modern metal outfit Hate.System, whose members are also raring to glow.
“We’re very happy to be included on the bill for this battle of the bands,” says vocalist and guitarist Dan James, whose brother Ben is the drummer.
“Ben went to Drunken Monkey last year and witnessed first hand how great the Festival is, furthermore how important it is for local music and rock music in the area! So for Hate.System to be part of this years event would be a huge privilege.”
Worcester-based Vintage Inc.’s four highly experienced musicians bring together 150 years’ gigging experience and belt out rock and blues classics with a unique twist.
“We may not be the youngest or have the most hair, but we are really excited and honoured to be invited and will be giving all we have to gain a place at the Festival,” says drummer Rich Beard.
Last, but definitely not least, popular Voodoo Stone, who rock audiences with their own music, can’t wait to get playing.
“We’re very excited about the prospect of getting a Festival slot,” says singer Claire Clements, from Alcester, near Redditch.
“The Battle of the Bands at The Valkyrie will be a fantastic night and we're very much looking forward to sharing the stage with three amazing bands.”
“We wish all the bands well,” says Festival Chairman Steve Coyne. “Let battle commence.”