Bands battle, belt it out

Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Tribune photo by Clint Confehr The band advertised as "Passion" is led by Chip Willmore, left rear, and includes, from left front, Todd Henderson and Ashley Rose, and from right rear, Chad Willmore and Aaron Smith.

Proximity to Music City proved to be a boost for the second round of the Battle of the Bands concert series last weekend in Rock Creek Park leading up to the Goats, Music and More festival in October.

Christian country music, Rock-a-Billy, a musician evoking Elvis and a lot of people who recognized familiar tunes faced off Saturday night as three more bands competed for a $2,500 prize and to be the opening act for Shenandoah at what's also known as Goat Fest.

Chip Willmore and his band, Passion, emerged as the judges' favorite - besting Overdrive, and Ronnie Lee Twist and the Future Cats.

Willmore's passionate lyrics included the story of parents breaking up. His message: Blood's thicker than water, "But I've just seen it fall like the rain."

Attending to support Willmore - who's appearing next Wednesday night in Nashville - were rising singer Danielle Reed of Smyrna and her manager, Jennifer Stuart, sister of Marty Stuart, a veteran of country, bluegrass, honky-tonkin' and his RFD TV show that's much like Hee Haw.

Willmore's band is shipping CDs out this month to radio stations through the Christian Country Music Association. He's appeared live on WKDF FM Nashville for 90 minutes. His next show is "The First Nashville Cowboy Cowgirl Formal" 6-10 p.m. Sept. 9 in the Historic Berger Building right off Broadway at 162 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.

Jennifer Stuart's rising singer, Danielle Reed, applauded Willmore's performance with her mother Michelle Hudson of Verona-Caney Road and Hudson's twin daughters Lesley and Lensey, 10, who attend Westhills Elementary School.

"I grew up back stage," Jennifer Stuart said, "and this is fun. It's good that they do this."

The Battle of the Bands at Rock Creek started Aug. 15 when Nickajack, a recently-formed band from the Pikeville-Dayton area, won the first battle. Willmore and Nickajack compete in the Oct. 8 semifinals, the night before Goat Fest starts on Friday that week.

The next concert in the Battle of the Bands is Sept. 12 when bands named Tyterope, Rizin Downfall and Skyline Drive compete. The winner of that line-up faces off on Oct. 8 against the best of the bands competing Sept. 26, those being Three Shades of Grey, Uncle Tom, and Ty Nelson & Common Ground.

Competing bands are told they have 40-45 minutes to perform, according to City Manager Eddie Fuller who provides much of the sound system and runs the system for the shows presented by the Marshall County Tourism Committee.

The band Overdrive "went maybe a half-hour over" the time limit, Fuller said.

As Overdrive played an REO Speedwagon song, Nikki Danby Twist told Fuller, "We could have played for two hours."

"They're losing points," Fuller told Nikki and her husband, Ronnie Lee Twist.

Fuller on Monday said he'd have to consult with the judges about which act actually accumulated the second highest number of points to have a backup act to that's ready if Willmore couldn't perform when the eliminations are to be conducted.

People in the audience at the Battles of the Bands bring lawn chairs, blankets and other seating for their own comfort.

Bob Miller of Lewisburg sat behind the steering wheel of his convertible like he was at a drive in movie.

"I was here for the first one," Miller said. "I like the '50s and '60s music," he said as Ronnie Lee Twist and the Future Cats played more rock 'n' roll.