The Battle of the Bands is an annual event run by The Basement Door, a Registered Charity and music cafe which trains young people and gives them work experience in putting on live music events. Mandy Ali was at the 2nd heat in February supporting local band The Karetakers
The Basement Door began life at Vineyard Church, Richmond as a way of
bringing together young people in the area. The music café trains its young
volunteers, giving them work experience in putting on live music events for young people. It is a safe place for young people to meet up and especially for young bands to perform to their peers and to learn from some of the
more established bands. Kevin Westbury, who runs The Basement Door, has many years’ experience with bands and is always happy to help out the young bands who pass through its doors.
Many young bands have been associated with The Basement Door over the years and the annual Battle of the Bands came about because many of the bands wanted an area for a big competition. Originally five or six bands played over two or three heats.
The Battle of the Bands is now in its 8th year and this year’s competition is the biggest yet! So many bands have entered that the competition has had to be split into ‘Junior’ and ‘Senior’ categories for the first time, and this year there have been four heats.
There are amazing prizes for the winning bands: the Senior winners will
open up the Hanwell Hootie main stage – with an anticipated audience of
around 4,000 – and the the Junior winners will headline the Youth stage at
the Hanwell Hootie.
Marshall Amps is a major contributor, donating fantatic prizes such as a 50 watt amp, a Marshall Bluetooth speaker and a tour of the Marshall Offices in Milton Keynes. Other prizes won last year were a guitar, a bass and a set of drums. Among this year’s judges is Dave Ambrose, a founder member of
Fleetwood Mac. He has worked for several major music companies such as EMI – looking after Queen, Pink Floyd and Kraftwork – and signing artists such as Radiohead, Pet Shop Boys and Duran Duran. Mick Fleetwood is currently in the UK, doing a Peter Green tour with Christine McVie and has been invited along to the final heat.
Each band in the competition was required to play a Fleetwood Mac cover as well as their own original song and another cover of their choice. Most of the bands’ Fleetwood Mac covers were from the ‘Rumours’ era, such as ‘The Chain’, ‘You Make Loving Fun’ and ‘Don’t Stop’. The Karetakers played ‘Oh Well’ from Fleetwood Mac’s early years and the band mastered this intricate piece of music extremely well.
The atmosphere in the auditorium was fantastic – the young fans enthusiastically supported all the bands in this Heat and towards the end of the evening so many were on the stage that it was almost impossible to see the performers!
Stereotype, another band from Hinchley Wood, was in the Junior cateogry. They had the difficult position of being first on, but the skills of guitarist/vocalist Amber, bassist Will and drummer Rachel soon won
over the audience.
The Karetakers were on next. Christian is a natural performer, interacting
confidently with the audience – something not many of the other bands managed to achieve. The Karetakers’ set was tight and all three musicians played with confidence and skill. Their choice of cover was another challenging tune – ‘White Room’ by Cream. The Karetakers’ brand of rock and blues received an enthusiastic reception from the audience.
Other bands in the 2nd Heat were New Sahara; Magnesis; When Worlds Collide; A Day in June and Gunliner. The winning bands were New Sahara from the Junior category and Gunliner from the Senior category. However, subsequently Stereotype were also put into the finals as they had been judged as Seniors rather than Juniors.
Sadly, The Karetakers gig in April at The Fighting Cocks, Kingston, has had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis, but anyone wishing to hear their brand of blues-inspired rock should check out their facebook page.