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White Salmon bands sweep regional competition

A "Battle of the Bands" open to kids from a four-county region turned out to be a showcase for White Salmon talent.

A "Battle of the Bands" open to kids from a four-county region turned out to be a showcase for White Salmon talent: Although eight bands were competing, the top three finishers all hailed from White Salmon.

Leading the sweep was the band Luna Rise

, which plays experimental folk, rock, and reggae music. Members include Josh Benavides, Debbie Benavides, Scott Head, and Jose Maya.

"That is the first competition we ever tried," said Jose Maya, drummer in the band. "We are all very excited about this."

Luna Rise won the right to go to Viking Studios in Ridgefield and record a CD single, which will feature two of the band's original songs. The recording session is expected to last about two days.

Maya said the band members traveled to Ridgefield over the weekend to take a look at the studio, and plan to go back for the recording session within the next few weeks.

Mosaic, which plays a variety of music described as "space rock" -- took second place. Mosaic's members include Kevin Malella, Dustin Owen, Wes Trosper, and Casey Wagner.

Mosaic's prize was a $75 gift certificate from Guitar Center, a music store in Portland.

Maxwell Prod took third place with a brand of alternative rock. Band members include Josh Lind, Kris Patrick, and Andy Preston.

Maxwell Prod won a $50 gift certificate for Guitar Center.

The judges announced the winners in reverse order of their finish, so everyone heard that the White Salmon bands had taken the second-place and third-place spots. Maya said when he heard the second and third place winners were from White Salmon, he thought that made it unlikely Luna Rise could win.

"We heard the announcement of the third place winner, and I though `Oh, that's great, a White Salmon band,'" Maya recalled. "Then when they announced that a White Salmon band had taken second place, I thought `Oh man we're in a rough spot now.' I was very surprised all the White Salmon bands won."

The bands were judged on five categories: Timing, originality, skills, organization, and stage presence.

The contest was open to any band in the four-county district served by the Fort Vancouver Regional Library, which sponsored the contest. The bands also had to have at least two members between the ages of 12-18.

Library officials said they were pleased with the results of the band competition, and are considering making the contest an annual event.

"It was a good program and we had a good turnout," said Tricia Segal, coordinator of young adult services for the library district. "The band members were thankful we provided a place for them to play music and provide an audience."

Maya said he would like to see the competition continue.

"It would be really cool if they do that," he said. "Hopefully they'll continue this."

Jenine WhiteCastle, who works in the library district's White Salmon branch, said she was very happy with the results of the event.

"It's really nice our three bands got the top three honors," WhiteCastle said. "A lot of parents were there, and it was a wonderful atmosphere."

WhiteCastle added that all the bands were supportive of each other, "even though it was a competition."

"All three bands were happy for each other," she said.

The battle of the bands was held at the Skamania County Parks & Recreation Center in Stevenson on April 6. Nearly 200 people showed up for the event.

Other finalists included Eternity, a contemporary Christian band from Stevenson; In All Honesty, an alternative/grunge band out of Vancouver; Wither, a North Bonneville alternative pop combo; Project Blue Book, alternative pop from Ridgefield; and Faith Lab, industrial/Gothic from Stevenson.

Luna Rise will be performing at an outdoor Earth Day celebration in downtown Hood River this Saturday, April 21, at 2 p.m. The band also plans to be on stage for this May's Spring Festival in White Salmon.


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