By Susan Dey

Once again WIOX Community Radio is collaborating with Andes Works! and the Andes Fire Department to provide the venue for young musicians to present (often original works) in a professional environment affording experience and regional recognition.

To be held Saturday, July 13th, the second annual Andes Battle of the Bands Broadcast will build upon the success of last year’s pilot event that attracted 22 young musicians and over one hundred audience members.

Putting on last year’s “battle” left me with an enduring impression of what it means to live in Andes.  Some things are harder to accomplish here, and some things seem easier – and now I wonder if it’s just a state of mind.  Whereas I worried (a lot) about not getting bands to participate, Bill Feldman said, “Hey, if we have two bands we have a battle!” Still, my over-heightened sense of responsibility created a stress that was beyond my comfort zone. I even fantasized about exchanging my mental burdens for some strenuous outdoor summer labor, to the extreme of wondering if my back was strong enough to pitch hay, which of course it is not. And I whined like a toddler that I never had time to swim until Ann Roberti came up with the bright solution to hold some of the meetings in a pond – which we did!  But the never-ending fears of what could go wrong kept chewing on my nerves: What if the bands don’t show up? What if there’s no audience to perform for? What if it rains? What if the sound is awful, or can’t be transmitted for the live radio show… what if? I didn’t believe I could do this again and pretty much told Bill and Marlene Feldman that I wouldn’t. But then something happened.

Last year’s “battle of the bands” was held on such a HOT day! It must have been 99 degrees in the sun, not a good day to be outside, but even so, volunteers from the Andes Fire Department & Auxiliary showed up to help and even BBQ’d over a hot grill. And Carol Capasso arrived with a plate of freshly baked cookies that we passed around to the 100 attendees, Yvonne and Marty Donnelly came with an extra pair of earplugs for me, Vickie & Frank Winkler and members of Andes Works!, and Jim Andrews came to show their support, and so did Gabrielle Pierce, and Peg Ellsworth from the MARK Project. And Joe Ferla came to oversee the sound engineering. And the Pavilion looked great because members of Andes Works! and volunteers from the Andes FD came over the night before to do a lot of magic. Wow – this is what community is about. And, ALL six bands showed up! Some of them traveling from as far away as Binghamton and Cooperstown!

And when the moment of truth arrived, did the Andes Battle of the Bands have any real meaning? The answer was a resounding YES. As each band performed you couldn’t help but feel how dedicated these young musicians were… and how they were excited to be there, and grateful for this professionally engineered showcase, and to have two professional hosts as MCs, and to be given airplay on live radio as well.  At the end of the day my face was as red as a tomato from the heat – we were all so hot, but it didn’t matter. What mattered were these young musicians who showed such courage and determination to come to Andes for this opportunity, who performed for two hours, sharing their passion for music with us. At the end of the day all I could think of was – can’t wait to do this again!

So, we’re baaaack! Bill and Marlene Feldman, Chief Joe Berghammer and the FD Auxiliary, Candace Rudd from Roxbury, other members of Andes Works!, WiFi support from MTC, and the amazing WIOX Community Radio team of volunteers Joe Piasek, Mike Teitelbaum, Artie Martello and Jezz Harkin.  The one person who won’t be with us this year is the same person who made our first “battle” possible – Terry Doyle.  Terry found five of the bands that performed last year, and got WIOX interested in producing the event as a live radio broadcast, and then Terry agreed to be one of the hosts. Terry was passionate about music. He took a night job so that he could spend his days promoting the unique music of local artists of the Catskill region. On his radio show “Crackle” Terry promoted real music – often live  – music rooted in the American tradition of folk, country, blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and other influences. Terry passed away on February 6th at the young age of 46.  He was dearly loved and will always be missed.

In the spirit of “everything Terry”, the 2nd annual Andes Battle of the Bands Broadcast will broaden its scope by inviting musicians of all ages to participate. Expanding upon the pilot model launched last year results in a forum that celebrates the rich artistic diversity of music found in the Catskill Mountains, while providing valuable skills for our younger artists. Whether rockabilly, alternative rock, all acoustic, traditional rock, metal or folk, blue grass, country or fiddle bands – we want them to come to Andes and express themselves! And if what they say is true, “If there was music, Terry was never far away,” then we hope Terry will come too.

A contest for musicians – a festival for people! On Saturday July 13th we’ll be gathering at the Andes Fire Department Pavilion along the Tremperskill. From 2pm to 5 pm musicians will battle for placement in the Final Round of 4 bands that will perform live on WIOX Radio from 6 pm to 8 pm. Once again the Andes Fire Department will be cooking up food (including veggie burgers) to be served from 5 pm to 6 pm.

We gratefully acknowledge funding from The A. Lindsay and Olive B. O’Connor Foundation, and from Colonial Subaru, Kingston, and the support from some amazing local residents, and The MARK Project. Their generosity allowed us to expand the program this year. We also want to drive some of the traffic into town. I’ll be coming by the stores, shops, and restaurants soon to discuss ways to do this.

Lastly – back in February, when Joe Piasek and I met to start working on this year’s event, Joe said, “Susan, sometimes great things can be created from mistakes.”  So I’m asking YOU the reader to come on over to the Pavilion on July 13th and see if Joe is right!  In the meantime, for further information, you can contact us at:  ~