The time is now and the final event is upon us. Central Oregon's Make-A-Band worked its way through the audition and team-building section of the event at Silver Moon from October 6 to 22. Each day featured auditions for different sections of a band. For example, vocalists tried out on October 6 and 8, guitar and bass on October 13 and 15, and so on. Seven producers then listened to the musicians play, chose their team (in a manner similar to NBC's "The Voice"), and then spent the next four weeks creating 20 minutes of music to play at the Tower Theatre.
The seven resulting bands will then be given awards at the show, selected by members of the audience who can either vote in the lobby or through an easily- downloadable app. There are no winners or losers, just talented musicians thrown together to create art with strangers, friends, and producers they might not have ever worked with before. For some of these people, playing The Tower is a big win on its own.
"Fortunately for us, we have found a model that is more representative of collaborating musicians and giving them an opportunity to perform with other musicians that they might never have the chance to," says Jennifer Meyer, promoter and producer of Make-A-Band. "They may or may not stay together after this. This is not about the last band standing, this is about awarding musicians for their individual skills and highlighting those who are able to come together in a collaborative way with only four weeks of band practice under the guidance of their producers."
It's a tall order, but the bands have plenty of support.
"We have a vocal teacher who comes in and helps us with the vocalists, we have some singer/songwriters that are helping with some of the original songs the bands have brought together. The bands may or may not be doing originals," Meyer says. "They get to do whatever they want to."
Stephanie Slade (formerly of the MOWO band and currently in LAMP) auditioned four weeks ago and made it onto the Treason Sound Studios' team, Tiny Humans. Slade has always been a powerhouse vocalist and proved herself an excellent actress in this year's Evil Dead: The Musical, but this is something a bit new for the experienced rocker.
"After the bands had all been formed, the producers in each team would pick out songs they would like to have people cover. Our band discussed which ones we liked and disliked and decided to do three covers and two originals," says Slade. "I don't know about the other bands, but I am having a blast. I've made new friends, musical connections, and I am playing music with an 11-year old piano prodigy. It's been an honor playing with such talent."
The Make-A-Band showcase is giving away more than $50,000 in awards, some of which are hilariously specific. There's the Drummer Face Award (shirt and sticks), the Flashy Pants Award ($1,500 in Saxon's Jewelry, three-song mastering from Liquid Mastering, and a case of Humm Kombucha), and the Breedlove's Beefiest BassLine Award (an acoustic Breedlove stage bass guitar) just as a few examples. There's even a Hash-Tag Award, which gives the band that "shows incredible online/marketing skills throughout the MAB series" their own digital marketing app worth almost $10,000.
The idea of a collaborative process like this is a sound one. While the Last Band Standing competitions were always fun to watch (especially the MOWO/ESO year), it didn't bring those bands any more recognition outside of Central Oregon. Most of the bands competing then were already established or formed just for the competition, so after the contest was over, the bands would either break up or continue doing what they were doing. Make-A-Band puts these musicians together in a way where collaboration is the key ingredient, which could bind these talented folks in a way that no other event like this could. Plus, it is always a good thing to teach others (musicians, humanity, children or otherwise) how to play well with others. That right there might be the key to civilization...and this event.
6 pm, Sunday, Nov. 21
The Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St.