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Jammin' Java Mid-Atlantic Band Battle 11: July 2, 2014

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Tonight (Sunday, July 6), the preliminary rounds of the 11th edition of Jammin Java's Mid-Atlantic Band Battle will finish when the last of four semi-finalists will be chosen from the seven regional music acts scheduled to appear. These four will then compete on August 22 for a Grand Prize that includes a headlining show at the venue, studio time at Cue Recording Studios in Falls Church with producer Jim Ebert, a professional photo shoot from sponsor Act of Light studio, and a cash prize of $2,500.

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Although audience response adds to the excitement of the night, a judges panel scores each band on criteria like musicianship and songwriting to determine the winner, and I was pleased to act as a judge on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. A recap of Tuesday night's event can be found here. As for Wednesday, the slideshow at the top left contains photos of all the bands involved and here's a brief recap...

The Band Battle is open to music in all genres, but rock usually dominates; this night was no exception. The first three bands were all guitar-dominated quartets, starting with great energy and a crowd of boisterous fans as The Topper Project blasted through a set of pop/punk with some Zeppelin-esque blues influence. The Piranhas came next, offering a cover of the Police's "Message in a Bottle" among their original tunes, and then EastWestHWY wrapped up the first half of the night.

Northern Virginia's Shade Parade, who had previously played the Band Battle in 2013, are also a quartet, but this outfit distinguished itself with the input of keyboard player/singer John Greenwood, who leads the group in a mix of blue-eyed soul and groove-driven rock.

More new sounds filled the room with the arrival of Buffalo 40, a five man band with a cool saxophonist, who ended their set with a jamband flourish. To cap off the night, Root Deco, a drum and guitar/vocals duo in the style of White Stripes/Black Keys, brought the blues.

In the end, when all the scores were tallied, the winner for the third night of preliminaries was Shade Parade, who will return to the club on August 22 to compete against the two other bands that won their nights so far - Lost Philosophers (Monday), Skyward (Tuesday) - and tonight's champs. Tickets for the Band Battle finals, and other Jammin Java shows, can be purchased online or, if available, at the door.

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