Bands' battle at Rock Creek Park

Friday, September 18, 2009
The lead singer of Tyterope makes a point during the closing act of last Saturday night's Battle at Rock Creek, a band contest leading up to Oct. 8 semifinals and the Goats Music and More Festival Oct. 9-11.

A Chapel Hill-based band won on Saturday, the third concert of a Battle of the Bands leading up to Goats Music and More Festival when the finalists open for Shenandoah.

The musicians in Tyterope "did go to Forrest High School," Greg Lowe, the band contest's announcer, told a crowd of nearly 300 while introducing the winners. "They got kicked out of Chapel Hill, but they won the talent contest with their version of 'Free Bird.'"

Lyrics in that Lynyrd Skynyrd song - "Cause I'm as free as a bird now, And this bird you'll never change" - reflect an attitude in Tyterope's original song, "Too Country for You," with its lyrics of "Kickin' up, drinkin' out in the field."

Tyterope enticed its audience to dance as the band's Ronny Ashworth, armed with a wireless microphone, sang behind drummer Adam Ashworth, at a hurricane fence-line, and on stage in Rock Creek Park on the Old Farmington Road.

Band contest judges base their score on five positive points and one negative. Scores increase as bands reflect showmanship, technical proficiency, musicality, audience appeal and creativity. Points are deducted for exceeding their allotted 40-45 minutes.

Tyterope wisely omitted "Free Bird," a 14-minute song, but did play Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man." Playing with the Ashworth brothers are Dustin Perryman, Trey England, and Josh Veatch.

They out performed Rizin Downfall (with Lewisburg and Columbia musicians) and Skyline Drive, a Lewisburg-based band that played Bob Seger's "Turn the Page," as did Tyterope.

The next concert in the first round of eliminations also has three bands, two of which are competing with more classic rock. At least one band will play Eagles and Beatles music, according to City Manager Eddie Fuller who mans the soundboard.

Marshall County Commissioners' Economic and Community Development/Tourism Committee is sponsoring the Battle of the Bands at Rock Creek with the help of the City of Lewisburg, according to County Commissioner Jimmy Stitt who, like several other public officials, has sold hotdogs, hamburgers, chips and soft drinks at the concerts. Last Saturday former County Mayor Terry Wallace, now the city industrial development director, cooked the food on a backyard grill.

Rizin Downfall was the second band playing Saturday, and performed with music in memory of Trinity Stegal, the band's former lead guitarist who died in a one-vehicle crash while driving back from a New Year's Eve gig, according to Rizin Downfall's lead singer, Justin Craig, Stegal's cousin.

Stegal's last performance was at Long Neck Pub & Pool in Mt. Pleasant, Craig said. The crash was in front of Big Mamma's Country, the night spot on Columbia Highway that burned a couple of weeks after Stegal's death.

Ethan Stewmon, 19, of Lewisburg is the lead guitarist for the band Skyline Drive. "We are trying to play twice a week," he said. "We're working with an agency," Afton Live in Nashville.

"I always wanted to play in my hometown," said Stewmon, born in New Mexico, the son of an Air Force serviceman. The singer is a 2008 graduate of Marshall County High School.

Sue Garrett was at the concert with Skyline Drive, working as the band's agent. She met band member Shawn Griffin where he works as an electronics sales associate for a big box retailer here in Lewisburg, and soon the group will be recording a four-song demo at Osborne Studios on Bear Creek Pike, Columbia.

The Opening Round Finale of the Battle of the Bands is on Sept. 26, the last Saturday of the month. It's also the day the Lewisburg Cruise-In comes to a conclusion. The display of classic cars on the Courthouse Square and Church Street has been a monthly event this summer and attracted hundreds of vehicles.

The last one includes a concert by The Nora Mills Band of Marshall County during the Cruise-In from 5-8 p.m.

While the Battle at Rock Creek starts at 7 p.m., there's probably not an overlap of live music since the sound crew and many of the program managers are the same people for both events.

The final three bands that Saturday night are to be Three Shades of Grey of Lewisburg, Uncle Tom of Shelbyville and Ty Nelson & Common Ground of Murfreesboro.

The bands in this contest are vying for the final spot in the Battle at Rock Creek semifinals to be held during the Goats, Music and More Festival on Thursday, Oct. 8. The two finalists will perform the following night, Oct. 9, for a chance to be crowned Champions of the Battle at Rock Creek following the performance by headliner, Shenandoah.