A strong stage presence
Nomad versus Settler were the winners of the Battle of the Bands at the River Garden on Nov. 6.

A strong stage presence

Nomad vs. Settler takes first prize at Youth Services%u2019 Battle of the Bands

BRATTLEBORO — An adolescent alternative-rock band from Brattleboro, Nomad vs. Settler, took first prize in Youth Services' Battle of the Bands. The performance took place Nov. 6 during Brattleboro's Gallery Walk Night in front of an enthusiastic crowd of several hundred fans.

Sponsored by Whetstone Station, Supreme Fitness, and Hazel Restaurant, the competition took place between six area bands that were judged on crowd appeal, musical technicality, stage performance, and originality.

Nomad vs. Settler first came together as a band just over a year ago and, for such young members, demonstrated a strong stage presence, according to the judges. Rei Kimura, 12, was on guitar and vocals; Owen James, 11, took bass; Archer Parks, 14, played guitar; and Zack James, 15, was on drums.

In awarding the band the first place prize, the judges noted Nomad vs. Settler's very creative compositions, the vocals by Kimura, their impressive instrument switch up, amazing musicianship all around, and the enthusiastic response of the audience.

“Rei Kimura's brilliant vocals and performance defy her age and size,” declared judge Lisa McCormick, a singer/songwriter herself. “This righteous front-woman is heartily supported by excellent players and visionary arrangements of strong original songs.”

First prize is a full day (up to 10 hours) of professional recording time donated by Guilford Sound, valued at $1,500. In addition, donated by Pure Green Tees, the 1st place winners will also receive a dozen custom-designed T-shirts of their band logo.

Sometime Sunday received second place and is composed of Gabbi Walton, 15, of Townshend on guitar and vocals; Robert Athanasopoulos, 30, of Keene, N.H., on bass; and Jacob Gartenstein, 17, of Brattleboro on drums.

“This tight power trio took the house down, with powerhouse rock diva Gabbi Walker delivering refreshingly unpredictable original songs,” said McCormick. Other judges noted the outstanding vocals, drumming, and great dynamics, good eye contact and conversation with the audience.

Second prize is a two-hour rehearsal and band coaching session at Headroom Stages, a local musical venue at 17 Elliot St. in Brattleboro, owned by judge Aaron Chesley.

Third prize went to Wicked Thirsty, an all-rock duo from Hinsdale, N.H., composed of Zebulon Hildreth, 17, on guitar and vocals and Sebastian Smith, 17, on drums.

McCormick commented on their skillful experimentation with unconventional timing and modes and the huge full band power coming from just two players. Other judges highlighted the “amazing drumming” as well as the stage banter by Hildreth, who was commended for “pushing through his nerves.”

“I want to put out Wicked Thirsty's record myself,” quipped judge Spencer Crispe, who advised them to “get a bass player and take over the world!”

Third prize is two hours of vocal lessons with jazz and blues performer Samirah Evans and guitar strings and tuner donated by Maple Leaf Music Store.

Judging the battle were musicians Aaron Chesley, Lisa McCormick, Spencer Crispe, and youth judges Dharma Ramirez and Nina Cates of the indie-rock band Snaz, which opened the event. Snaz helped get their start as winners of Youth Services' Battle of the Bands in 2012.

Also complemented and encouraged on their music were the runners-up bands: Negative Space, The Regulars, and Raspberry Jam, who the judges said they are looking forward to seeing at the next Battle.

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