By Susan Dey
I’m not going to tell you I’m sad that July 13th has come and gone, that the Andes Battle of the Bands Broadcast is over. I’m going to tell you that it was a great success and if you weren’t there you shoulda’ been, because it was a special something for our town.
Over and over again, eleven times to be exact, a member of each band stood to the microphone and thanked Andes as if the town was a person, “And we thank you Andes for giving us this opportunity!”… “Thank you Andes for doing this!”… “We want to thank Andes for inviting us here!” …“Thank YOU Andes!!!” They were right to do so because the spirit of Andes was in the air for all to experience. People felt welcomed by the creation of a festival atmosphere. There was a tent to protect us from too much sun and a bit of rain; a face-painting artist, Karina Marvelina, delighted children and adults with her magical flare for color and drawing; Woods BBQ cooked delicious roast pork and beans; Joe Berghammer made fresh macaroni salad; Andes Hotel Restaurant & Woody’s Country Kitchen provided special vegetarian food; Carol & Pat Capasso sold homemade birdhouses; and live music was played almost all day! It was free FUN for everyone who came to the Fire Department Pavilion!
Eleven bands performed fifteen-minute sets from noon until 4:30 pm. The music genre varied from rock to folk to blues to VGM (video game music). The ages of the musicians ranged from 12 to 60 years. The final four bands chosen to perform live on WIOX radio from 6pm to 8pm were Skinny Guys With Glasses (Worcester); Mario Speedwagon (Oneonta); Asphalt Green (New Jersey); and the winning band, Hello, Seattle from Oneonta. I can’t tell you how many people attended the event but I can say that we had 200 of Edie Mesick’s special programs printed with information about ‘what to do in Andes’ on the back, and at the day’s end she gave back 10.
This all day event was run so smoothly because we had three different camps of volunteers and professionals working at the same time to set up the tent, tables and stage; providing the technical expertise to implement the critical minute by minute schedule; to park all the cars; to create and manage the hospitality room for the musicians; to act as security; to prepare the food for lunch & dinner; to co-ordinate eleven bands (40 musicians) and their equipment; and to put on a ‘really good shew’. The Andes Fire Department, the Andes EMS and Auxiliary, the BBQ King himself, Dick Winner; the kindest most generous in spirit, time & enthusiasm – one of a kind people Jane & Fred Berghammer and Ann Roberti; countless volunteers that stayed on their feet for 12 hours; and the whole WIOX team that knew how to produce live performances from eleven bands on schedule! And the music was good – really good – with special nods to the final four. Mario Speedwagon, the VGM band that you probably scoffed at when first mentioned, were favored for the talented musicians that they were! Though they performed rock music, Skinny Guys With Glasses had the harmony and zeal of Pete Seeger himself! Asphalt Green had the most powerful stage presence as they performed classic rock better than it ever was! But the absolute favorite was Hello, Seattle – the band that came in third at last year’s battle returned this year to take the winning title! Their opening set was electric!
My last thoughts of the day rest with the 40 musicians who traveled to our little town with the desire to play their music. I thank you from my heart for trusting us and for sharing your spirit, your goodwill, and your passion for music. ~