Tuesday, January 19, 2010

14th Annual Cleveland Rock Off

Below is my article about the Tri C Rock Off, Cleveland's annual battle of the bands for high school musicians, that first appeared in the January 20 edition of CoolCleveland.com. Pictured here is Streetsboro High guitar virtuoso Brian Poston who played in four bands at this year's Rock Off.

It is January and that means it is time for one of the great annual musical events here in Northern Ohio, the Tri-C Rock Off. Now in it's fourteenth year, the event lets local high school musicians and their bands have a moment of glory or two on the big stage at the House of Blues.
It is a three-step process to win the Rock Off. First, hundreds of bands submit videos and CDs to be picked to perform at the HOB. Sixty-six bands are then selected to perform twenty-minute sets over three weekends. Three bands from each night are invited back on February 6 to perform again, with a champion and several runner-ups chosen.
The bands that get selected to play at the House of Blues are good. They show talent, imagination, and the results of a lot of hard work and practice. During their sets most bands perform several original songs and one cover. Even with 10-13 bands playing a night, things run pretty smoothly as the HOB sound and stage crews keep things moving, with very little down time.
I've been to the Rock Off on and off for years, and I think for most of the bands it’s the chance to perform on a big stage in front of their families and friends which is a bigger deal than actually winning the whole thing.
The first nights of performances were January 8 and 9, with more sets coming on Saturday, January 23; Sunday, January 24; Friday, January 29; and Saturday, January 30. The finals will be at 3:00 P.M. on Sunday, February 6. For more information and a performance schedule of bands visit the website www.cleveland.com/rockoff.
For some of the performers it's a once in a lifetime thing, but for others it's hopefully a stepping-stone to greater things. Brain Poston, an 18-year-old senior at Streetsboro High School, is in his second Rock Off, this year playing with four different bands (Project Rock Star, Steffani Reeder, Maddie Finn, and Shane Stokes). "Last year it was awesome, the best experience of my life. But I was really nervous," he says. This year it's different for the lead guitarist. "I'm a vet, last year we made it to the finals. I'm not nearly as nervous, I'm going to have fun."
Brian is one of those who is looking for a future in music. "Very soon I travel to the Berkeley School of music in Boston to audition. Just me and my guitar and a round trip plain ticket," he says with a confident smile. "If that doesn't work out I'll study music at a local college. As for now, I'm playing out somewhere every weekend, and practicing with someone every weeknight."
I checked out some of the opening night bands, and as always, the talent was impressive. I saw a band from Chagrin Falls and Kenston called Kid Brother who had a great 90's indie rock sound to them. They did a song called "She's Hot" that had a great opening bass line from Amph Fritz and got the audience up and jumping. Yield on Mars hails from Bay Village, and they were definitely influenced by their parents Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd albums, and featured some great guitar work and drummer Jeremy Guffin on vocals. Project Pop Star is a coed project from Streetsboro High School that had a bit of theatrics and a lot of jump to them. There was plenty of big beats and some slick guitar work from Brian Poston. Near Forget Tomorrow features kids from Lake Catholic and Painesville Riverside, and had a sound reminiscent of Pat Benatar and the GoGo's. ESD returned for the second year in a row, and featured almost all instrumentals, and some great guitar work led by Tim Vopat. Selling You short was another guitar driven band with players from St. Ignatius and St. Ed's, who gave a very polished set.
Who's going to be the next Raspberries? MSB? Mushroomhead? Black Keys? You have a chance to check that out over the next several weekends at the House of Blues for the 14th Annual Tri C Rock Off.

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