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Sykesville seeking acts for unique ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition

October looks to be a busy month for events in Sykesville, where town officials have been coming up with ways to promote the community amid the coronavirus pandemic.

An inaugural “Battle of the Bands” virtual competition is first up. Set to begin in three weeks, it’s an idea generated by Downtown Sykesville Connection as a way to support musical acts that otherwise might be missing out on gigs because many bars and restaurants have altered their live entertainment schedules during the pandemic.

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Live shows and concerts have also been affected, and event coordinator Troy Welsh said DSC came up with a way to help the bands that might be struggling to land gigs.

“What would be a fun event that we could do virtually that would respect social distancing and also help support those local artists who might be suffering right now?” Welsh said. “It has been pretty cool to do something a little different than ... the traditional [contest] where everyone’s on set and they go up one at a time. Doing it virtually is one-of-a-kind, and it has been kind of cool to work through that.”

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The deadline for bands to resister is Oct. 2

Welsh said Sykesville received positive feedback from its virtual “Downtown Disco-rona Dance Off” that spanned several weeks in April and May, and the “Battle of the Bands” got its start from there. People submitted videos of themselves dancing to music tracks, Welsh said, and the routines (socially distanced, of course) were judged by volunteers from the town’s Main Street Merchants group.

Finalists competed in late May for a grand prize (a $500 shopping spree for the champ, $100 for the runner-up), and Welsh said the event was a hit that followed proper health and safety guidelines.

Welsh said the “Battle of the Bands,” which begins Oct. 12, is following the same procedures. Welsh said the hope is for a grand finale to be held in-person at the end of the six-week process.

Welsh said they’re looking to have at least 12 bands in the competition so elimination rounds can take place leading up to the finale. The bands will be featured on DSC’s website, Welsh said, and each act will have a video profile put together with help from Community Media Center in Westminster.

Band videos will be showcased on the media center’s site as well as Downtown Sykesville Connection’s, Welsh said.

People can vote online for $4 per vote, and that money is divided between the bands and the DSC (Welsh said the organization’s portion goes toward fundraising costs for event planning and other community activism around Sykesville).

“All those little things, they add up over time,” Welsh said.

The contest will be modeled after “American Idol” in that each band will be given some standards to follow. Musical genres won’t be specific, Welsh said, but one week might be acoustic and another might be love songs.

The event is open to any type of artist that has original music that consists of at least six songs.

“We wanted to leave it up to them to do those freestyle songs and things like that as well,” Welsh said. “It’s big exposure for a lot of these local artists who, their main thing is, ‘Hey, I’m out on Saturday night over here at Market Tavern or Sykesville Station and that’s it.' So it’s pretty exciting for them.”

For more information, or to inquire about entering your band or musical act into the contest, email downtownsykesville.event@gmail.com or call 443-812-3158.

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