This was it! After 10 heats, two semi-finals and 40 or so acts across the past several months, we were down to the final five in Battle of the Bands, who were battling it out for the two coveted places on stage at Festival Too.
I have to say right off the bat that this was the most consistent final we’ve ever had, and trying to pick just two acts was going to prove a difficult task for the judges.
It was up to Mammal Not Fish to get things underway. The sun was shining outside, and thanks to this foursome, some of that sunshine made it indoors, too.
Every time I’ve seen this band perform I’ve been left with a smile on my face. Their energy and chemistry spills into the room and anyone caught in their wake is instantly infected.
They’re such a “feel good” band that they could brighten up any party, even if Buzz Killington was in attendance!
Following on from that were Hot Raisin and, in the week between their semi-final and this event, they seemed to have found another gear.
They were tighter, more focused, and altogether much more unified – but once again they performed with an effortless grace.
It’s really difficult to make working that hard look so easy, but they have a real knack of making it seem as natural as spring water, and equally as refreshing.
It fell to Sam Coe and the Longshadows to keep things flowing along, and they did just that. I have absolutely no doubt that they could fit into any country music event and hold their own against even the bigger names.
Their sound is authentic, their style switches easily between ballad and rock and again they make everything feel effortless.
I would go so far as to say, that they provide some of the most genuine country you can experience without crossing the Atlantic. If you like country, you HAVE to check them out.
Anyone that knows me, also knows the style of music I prefer, and Flint Moore fall precisely into that category.
Once again I was blown away by the sheer power of the vocal presence that this band has.
They’re an extremely tight unit, each band member playing their part beautifully, and their performance is as visually intense as it is audibly.
They perform with energy, engaging with the crowd at every opportunity, making it a two-way experience, and they have a great attitude, too.
Bringing things to a close fell to The Wise Naïve, who were a couple of members light, but were no less formidable.
Again they are an energetic band, and Josie’s voice is full of soul. They are a major force, and the wall of sound they produce hits you like a sledge-hammer.
There’s nothing subtle about this band at all, and they throw everything at you during their performance, including the kitchen sink.
That was it – all of the bands had done everything they could, and it was now down to the judges. As it turned out, things were as close as everyone thought they were going to be.
There was literally nothing in it, but it was Flint Moore who emerged the victors, with The Wise Naïve taking the runner-up slot after tying for second place and the judges deliberating again.
Personally speaking, this is my third year being involved in this competition, and this part of it never gets any easier. Any of the five acts in this final wouldn’t have been out of place on that stage, such was the standard of this year’s competition, but the competition itself is only the half of it.
It’s a community event, where people meet fellow musicians and music lovers, make new friends and catch up with old friends, and that is why I love being involved with it. See you at Festival Too!