By Robert Downes
If you feel the earth shake the weekend of April 30-May 1, relax -- thats
no earthquake -- its the finals weekend for the Rock Your Way to the Top
battle of the bands that has been raging in Northern Michigan every other
weekend since January.
We thought this would be a good way to kick off the grand finale. Were
going to party for the whole weekend, says Joey Callahan of TCs Radius
Recording, who is winding up his second year of Rock Your Way to the Top.
And party on dude it will be: On Friday, April 30, the weekend kicks off
with tribute artists Mini Kiss doing a mini tour of Traverse City
nightclubs with fans in tow. The evening will culminate in a CD release
party at the Leelanau Sands Showroom with Crooked Chord (last years
runners-up) and New York City classic metal band Titanium Black.
On Saturday, May 1, the action explodes with up to eight finalists
competing in a mammoth battle of the bands at the Leelanau Sands.
Celebrity judges will award the winning band a Radius Recording session,
$2,000 in cash, and the chance to open for national headliners Saliva.
Mini Kiss will also perform, along with David Shred Demon Shankle, one
of the worlds fastest metal guitarists.
ON AN UPSWING
Callahan is happy to report that the series is building pressure despite
the flat economy, thanks to strong support from local rock fans, WKLT-FM,
and the Leelanau Sands and Turtle Creek Casinos, which have hosted the
The response has been real good. It seems like the event is getting more
well known around the state, he says. Weve also had quite a few bands
competing from our area this time. Theres been a good mix of downstate
and local bands competing this year.
Contenders from Northern Michigan at the upcoming finals include TCs
Dream Scar Reality and Bender (along with possibly Callous and Bloodshot
Victory, who were playing in the eliminations as the Express went to
press). Also representing the region in the finals is The Darwin Project
from Cheboygan. Rounding out the list are The Banana Convention from Bay
City, Panic Trigger from Detroit, Atrium from East Lansing, and Brena from
One sad note for the event involves the case of 4Warned guitarist Greg
Miller, who is fighting for his life after being stricken with cancer and
undergoing emergency surgery. 4Warned was the winner of last years
series and was scheduled to perform this year at the finals before Miller
fell ill. It is tragedy we didnt anticipate at all, Callahan says,
adding that members of the band will be on hand at the show with their CD.
Rock Your Way to the Top is noteworthy in that the judges have included
musicians and producers of national renown, such as Mark Farner, the
guitarist and frontman of Grand Funk.
Judges to be on hand for the May 1 finals include:
David Shred Demon Shankle (credited with selling more than 9 million
Martin Atkins (formerly of Johnny Rottens band, Public Image Limited);
Howie Beno (major label producer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blondie,
Rae Dileo (Grammy-winning producer for Billy Idol, Stone Temple Pilots
and Henry Rollins);
and John Pettigrass (music industry exec involved in global tours,
events and marketing).
Im proud to say that our battle of the bands is the only one I know of
where weve flown in all of these celebrity judges from around the
country, Callahan says.
He adds that hes also bringing in a professional film crew from Chicago
to catch the Friday night performance of Titanium Black for a live music
video. That video will be going out around the world, so anyone who
comes to the show will have a chance to be in it.
Callahan is also happy to report that major product sponsors are starting
to take notice of Rock Your Way to the Top, with sponsorships by the Dean
Guitar Company, ProCo Sound, LeRoi Body Jewelry and a guitar string maker.
Dean Guitar will be giving away a Flying V axe to some lucky shredder at
the show, while ProCo Sound will pass out distortion boxes and guitar cables.
In short, if you rock, this event rocks. Following is a rundown of the
Friday, April 30
Mini Kiss a.m. interview with Omelette & Finster, WKLT-FM
Mini Kiss mini tour of TC nightspots, 5-8:30 p.m.
CD release party for Crooked Chord & Titanium Black at the Leelanau
Sands Showroom, 9:30-11 p.m.
Afterparty with The Hangers On, 11 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Saturday, May 1
Eight bands compete in the finals at the Leelanau Sands Casino
Concert Showroom at 7 p.m. $5 cover.
Intermission: Kiss tribute performance by Mini Kiss along with
performance by David Shred Demon Shankle.
Info: Check out http://www.myspace.com/rockyourwaytothetop