By Luna Brewer and Quinn Phillips, Electronic Co-Directors
The University of Tennessee’s Battle of the Bands will feature four bands: Travis Bigwood and the Mourning Doves, Gag Me, The Sedonas, and High Heat.
The competition will be a free show at Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria on Sunday, March 18 in Knoxville’s Old City. In order to qualify, half of the members of each of the bands had to be UT students.
For local artist Travis Bigwood, the competition represents an opportunity to tell his band’s stories. His band, Travis Bigwood and the Mourning Doves, focuses on the use of vocal harmonies to create their sound.
Bigwood said this is part of why he decided to collaborate with seniors in journalism and electronic media, Aubrey Mullins and Skylan Bracey.
“Whenever I decided to start writing songs, I started thinking about the elements of a live show that captivated me the most,” Bigwood said. “When you see a couple of people singing together and it blends the way that it should, you feel like a message is actually being voiced out to you.”
Bigwood hopes that their sound will set them apart from the competition.
“I think when people hear the word ‘band,’ they think of big loud drums and trumpets blaring, well we’ve got an acoustic guitar and vocals,” Bigwood said. “I’m slightly concerned about that but I think we write decent songs that tell stories that need to be heard.”
In contrast, female led Gag Me plans to “lean more into the humor” and use their stage presence to their advantage according to bassist and vocalist Faith Boyte. The band consists of Boyte, guitarist and vocalist Elizabeth Steen and drummer Trey Boyte. Faith is a graduate student in the English Department at UT, Steen is a senior is journalism and electronic media and Trey is a junior in business.
“We think we’ll stand out from the competition just because we aren’t like a traditional band,” Steen said, “whether or not that goes really great or really poorly for us, we don’t know yet.”
Six man alternative group The Sedonas hope to do well in the competition fresh off another battle of the bands competition at Knoxville venue Cotton Eyed Joe. Vocalist James Wike said that he hopes the audience change won’t be a problem in this competition.
“We just did a similar thing… the night before last and we were able to come off with a win there,” Wike said. “It’s a different feel playing rock music to country people.”
The Sedonas consist of Wike, bassist Jon Augustus, lead guitarist Ryan Sise, drummer Casey Green, percussionist Alex Smith and percussionist Jimmy Weir to create their full sound. Although Wike knew some of the band members since 2013, The Sedonas is a relatively new band forming officially in 2016 when they recorded their first EP.
“With our music, we are just trying to come up with messages that people can relate to and feel like they know someone else who is going through similar things and build a connection through that,” Wilkes said.
Finally, rock band High Heat is excited for the competition and are willing to “give it all they’ve got” according to Reed Schneider, vocalist and rhythm guitarist for the band. However, they also want to “show off some of (their) talented pieces” and be memorable to the audience at the competition.
Schneider is joined by lead guitarist Freddy Bahati, bassist Daniel Sawyer and drummer Sean Whalen. “I think we kind of bring a full package,” Schneider said. “We’ve got the musicianship to where it’s not just energy.”
The winner of the competition will win a set at the Rhythm and Blooms festival, a headlining performance at Barley’s, recording time at a professional studio and more. The second and third places will also receive prizes. The winners will be determined through a mixture of crowd support and independent judges. The competition is sponsored by WUTK radio, UT’s The Daily Beacon, Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria, Rush’s Musical Services, and the 2018 Rhythm and Blooms Festival.