V FOR VICTORY: Last week, Santa Barbara singer/songwriter Jake Jeanson took home top prize in The Santa Barbara Independent’s third annual Downtown Sound Battle of the Bands. The 21-year-old artist and his band of musician friends delivered a solid and sweet 30-minute set filled with tranquil folk orchestrations and four-part harmonies. Thanks to a crowd of fans that topped out at well over 150, Jeanson & Co. beat out fellow Downtown Sound finalists Freakin’ on Speakers, Broken Machine, and The Mutineers for top prize.
Thursday’s event was the grand finale of music competition that started last month with a weeklong online contest. There, more than 200 bands battled it out for online votes, with the top six winners (and two editors’ picks) moving on to the semifinals round. Earlier this month, those eight semifinalists were split into two groups of four, with each group plugging in to play at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club for voting fans and an Independent-approved panel of judges. The two highest-scoring acts from each of those semifinals shows moved on to the last week’s finals. Come Thursday, the four finalists gathered a very sold-out crowd at SOhO, resulting in more than 400 votes cast by both attendees and judges.
As the winner, Jeanson will take home more than $5,000 worth of prizes, including a guitar, a bass, strings, and schwag from Ernie Ball; professional recording time at Santa Barbara Sound Design; airtime on KJEE 92.9 FM; a pro photo shoot with Cara Robbins Photography; a slot at this year’s New Noise Musical Festival and Conference; and a feature in The Independent’s annual Santa Barbara Band Guide.
FRESH STARTS: From his days in At the Drive-In to his time spearheading The Mars Volta, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez has situated himself atop the list of contemporary music’s best guitarists. And that’s not just because he can play loud. Rodriguez-Lopez’s deft hands and detail-oriented ear have helped make for some of the more intricate and beautiful guitar music of the past decade. (“Cygnus … Vismund Cygnus” anyone?) Of late, Rodriguez-Lopez has been overseeing — and lending his axe work — to his own Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Group, which just recently adapted the moniker Bosnian Rainbows.
While I hesitate to call Rainbows a “supergroup,” I will gladly gush and gawk at its star power. In addition to Rodriguez-Lopez, the band boasts vocalist Teri Gender Bender (of Le Butcherettes fame), drummer Deantoni Parks (KUDU, The Mars Volta), and Nicci Kasper (KUDU, Dark Angels). None of these names ringing a bell? Then I suggest you get ye to a YouTube-ing device and give Gender Bender a search. As the frontwoman for Rainbows, as well as Le Butcherettes, Gender Bender is a veritable force to be reckoned with. Wild-eyed and wild-mannered, her stage presence nicely encapsulates the frenetic energy of Rodriguez-Lopez’s tense guitar work. Add to that the hints left by a few melodic, stark, and — dare I say — pop-inclined Bosnian Rainbows tracks that have been floating around on the web of late, and you’ve got a recipe for musical excellence. This Saturday, October 27, Bosnian Rainbows play Velvet Jones (423 State St.) at 9 p.m. For tickets and info, call 965-8676 or visit newnoisesb.org.