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Indiefest: Battle of the bands features “over the top” talent

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Cathy Dobson  

Some of the best ideas are kick-started by really great conversation between friends.

That’s how Sarnia’s Indiefest began, says co-founder Dave Burrows.

“I was with Kevin Thorne and we got to talking about our love for music and how the independent world isn’t getting enough attention, especially locally,” Burrows said.

They came up with the concept of giving local indie bands an opportunity to perform, and invite the community along to have a celebration of the music being produced in Sarnia-Lambton.

The first Indiefest was held in 2013 over several nights and included local and out-of-town bands.  Attendance was “just okay,” according to Burrows.

The following year, Indiefest took the form of a Battle of the Bands and the turnout improved.  This year, the Battle of the Bands formula will be consolidated into one night on May 30 at Rustic on Campbell Street.  Four bands will compete for cash prizes and last year’s winner, Power House, will take the stage at the end of the contest.

“We started this thing with zero,” said Burrows.  “Having Kevin and his graphic design skills really helped. We both have different tastes in music and connections with different bands.

“The talent in Sarnia-Lambton is over the top,” he said. “I believe it’s possible Indiefest will turn into an outdoor festival next year, if we get enough money.”

This year’s lineup includes Electric Waves, Live to Rule, and Grind Line, all local rock bands. Opus Rex from London is returning after nearly winning last year, Burrows said.

Three judges will determine who gets the biggest prize package of $550 and recording studio time with Johnny Warrent Studios and The Grove Productions. In total, $1,000 is being given away including $500 donated by Power House.

Warrent is one of three judges, along with Chris Fraser Sr., manager of Power House, and local DJ Arron Sisson.

As much as Indiefest is about the music, it’s also about networking, appreciating the musicians and raising a bit of money for charity.  A cheque for $500 was turned over to Kids Help Phone this week with some of the proceeds from last year’s Indiefest.

This year, Pandas/Pans Ontario, a non-profit group fighting a rare pediatric autoimmune disorder, will receive a portion of the proceeds.

In August, Burrows will be involved in a second event associated with Indiefest, a talent show for youth ages 12 – 18. Details should be released in June.


WHAT: The 3rd annual Indiefest Battle of the Bands

WHEN: Saturday, May 30, starting at 7 p.m.

WHERE: Rustic on Campbell

TICKETS: $10 at the door, or call 519-479-0644 for delivery in advance.

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