Student band making waves in national contest
- Nov. 14, 2010
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Light brown and yellow leaves lay smashed under where the garage door seals against the driveway. Inside rests guitar cases, a saxophone stand, and enough amplifiers and speakers to rattle the house built above the garage on Lawrence Avenue in West Lawrence.
This isn’t the home of The Louisiana Street Band — the members just happened to be using the garage to practice over the weekend. This is a band born in Grace Pearson Scholarship Hall, now poised to make the leap to Los Angles and win a recording session in the same place where Aretha Franklin and Dave Matthews Band have recorded past albums.
The music they practice inside of that small Lawrence garage has already reached thousands of ears across the country through a national battle of the bands competition sponsored by General Mills. The top three vote recipients in the competition, called “U Rock! Battle for the Best”, will travel to Los Angeles to perform in front of industry judges and the winner will get to record in Firehouse Recording Studios.
“That’s a big deal,” Evan Epperson, a senior from Wichita, said. “Basically all the recordings I’ve done have been in most disadvantageous locations.”
The Louisiana Street Band had previously only recorded a list of about seven songs in their dorm rooms or the garage on the verge of being invaded by fall leaves.
Epperson is the lead guitarist and vocalist in the band. He had been trying to put together a group since arriving at the University, but the current form of the band has only existed for one year. The six current members came together for their first performance together in September for the Campus Battle of the Bands sponsored by Department of Student Housing, KU Dining Services and General Mills.
The competition was judged by crowd noise. And the winner was slated to enter the national General Mills’contest.
“I voted for Lucky Charms,” Scott Marks joked while Epperson quickly agreed.
Marks, a senior at Baker University, is the saxophonist for the band. He said it was obvious that their band had defeated the two other competing bands at Templin Hall.
Voting for the “U Rock!” contest began on Oct. 29. The Louisiana Street Band started the completion off in first place, but soon fell down in voting totals because of an apparent cheating scandal in the system. Some bands were receiving around five thousand voteseach day. General Mills restarted the voting, and ever since then, The Louisiana Street Band has maintained the lead, almost doubling the second place band with 1,068 votes as of Sunday night.
Austin Quick, a senior from Shawnee, said the band has a decently strong following here in Lawrence.
“Someone at the Jazzhaus actually said it was pretty cool that our name was that,” Quick said of his band’s name, which was originally The Louisiana Street Voodoo Kings, “because if you’re not from Lawrence you’re not going to really know.”
The band name also provokes a good sense of what their music sounds like, Epperson said. They originally began as a blues group, but have evolved into a classic rock with a hint of Cajun, funk group. The members of the band have experience as varied as the group’s musical style. Epperson said they could sound like a band from New Orleans.
Marks has been classically trained in the saxophone, and he says that this group really allows for each member’s talents and personalities to show through in their music.
Voting is open on the contest’s website until Nov. 25. Epperson said even if they don’t win this competition, the amount exposure they received from this national competition is invaluable. Quick said there is a long future ahead of this band.
“We hope to just keep going with it as high and as long as we can,” Quick said.
But for now they will practice in their garage in West Lawrence with Louisiana Street in their mind.
Edited by Clark Goble