The fourth annual Northwest School Division Battle of the Bands music festival was held in Maidstone this week before an appreciative and enthusiastic audience.
Six bands from Maidstone, Lashburn, Loon Lake, Neilburg and Paradise Hill performed a wide variety of songs before a panel of adjudicators and approximately 200 staff, students and parents.
The festival began with three tunes performed by the Maidstone High Junior Band. Crisp vocal work by Sahlysse Federkeil, Natasha Donovan, Halie Hanson, Mackenzie Durocher and Celynn Elder over top of competent instrumental work by Chris Danychuk and Drayson McGillvary (guitars) and Sara Wright (bass) enabled the group to deliver memorable versions of I Keep Holding On, Mean and Perfect. The adjudicators commented on the fine work by Celynn Elder on guitar and piano, and mentioned how they appreciated the nice banter between the songs that engaged the audience.
Set two featured a six-piece band from Paradise Hill with Jessie Kramer-Zweifel on drums and vocals, Vicki Oliver on vocals and guitar, Jordana and Brooklyn Heisler on keys and bass respectively, Landon Saunders on drums, vocal and guitar and Chantel Bielecki on guitar and drums.
"A very versatile band with good bass and a lot of potential," commented Drew Dalby in his adjudication. Char Normandeau remarked on how much she enjoyed the strong vocals by Jessie Kramer-Zweifel.
Ernie Studer School from Loon Lake featuring Jaida Freyman, Lisa Levesque-Osiowy (both on guitar and vocals), Natasha Hirshfeld (keys), Chennoa Tracey (guitar and vocals), Kody Studer-Starnes (bass) and Wyatt Kosmynka (drums) delivered a blistering set in their characteristically fine style, with tunes like Hey Mickey, Scar Tissue and Island in the Sun. The second half of the set began with By The Way that featured superb drumming by Wyatt Kosynka, a driving up-tempo cover of the Stone's Paint It Black (great vocals by Jaida Freyman), and an absolutely stunning, right down to the co-ordinated and frenetic dance moves, version of Safety Dance.
After opening their set with twin power guitars (Arlee Walde and Eli Jacquest), percussive bass (Brandon Morgan) and the powerful rhythm section of Shayla Koedyk (drums) and Chad Graham (cajon) driving the riffs of the Muse tune Supermassive Black Hole, the band from Neilburg launched into Crazy, Fallout, Last Friday Night and Lonely Boy. All songs featured the blended but powerful voices of Ashlee Goodfellow, Laura Hegel, Mikayla Watson, Dustin Hafner and Chantal Ryan.
"I loved the great guitar playing, the solid bottom end bass, the cajon and the vocal mixes," said adjudicator Randy Schmaltz. "And especially that vintage '80s keyboard solo (by Coleman Tyler) in Last Friday Night."
"All in all a great job," agreed Dalby, "with excellent harmonies and vocals, and I loved that keyboard solo!"
The band from Lashburn High School wowed the crowd with solid, big bright vocals from Bethany Dueck, Andrie Minish and Kirstyn Holmstrom and a wall of rhythm guitar laid down by Tristan Schimelfenig and Brant Kolybaba.
"They did a great job," said adjudicator Tyson Wayhill from Synergy Credit Union.
Excellent playing from back-up drummer Cassie Walker, and keyboard player Carley Dejong, together with the excellent bass work of Jordan Brink ensured that the band's performances of Arlandria, Kerosene and Rolling In The Deep were top notch. Their covers of Pink's Raise Your Glass and especially Moves Like Jagger were outstanding.
"Best guitar sound all day, " noted adjudicator Randy Schmaltz. " The band was really solid."
"I really enjoyed the way the bass player worked the crowd," said Dalby.
The final act was the Maidstone High Senior Band.
"They had great energy," said Dalby, " It was the closest anyone came all afternoon to a 'full rock show' and I liked that."
The band, comprised of Jay Sutherland (drums), Lauren Blanchette, Jacquie Donovan, and Leah Huard (vocals), Danielle Hult (keyboards), Mandy McGillis, Laurel Donald and George Nyame (guitar), and Ty Higgins and Evan Winterhalt (bass), put together a dynamic set that began with Blitzkrieg Bop, ramped up with I Love Rock and Roll and Teenagers and a medley of All The Small Things and All these Things That I Have Done, before concluding with We Are Young.
"I absolutely loved the drum solo in the Joan Jett tune," exclaimed Normandeau, "and George's guitar solo in Teenagers absolutely melted my face."
Festival organizer Ray Bodnarek wishes to extend his thanks to Scott McConnell and U Turn for the use of the PA, Lindsay Klaussen for the use of the drum kit, Kevin Schimelfenig and Lisa and Craig Hall for the use of the monitors, and to Toby Cochrane for running the sound board and for the many hours he spent ensuring that the sound mix was superb.
Thanks are also due to the teachers and band directors - Leslie Wolak (Lashburn), Orrie Herbert (Loon Lake), Murray McDonnell (Neilburg), Rob Stewart (Paradise Hill) and Ray Bodnarek (Maidstone) whose efforts made the day a rewarding experience for everyone.