Rock out at inaugural Battle of the Garage Bands

Local bands looking for a big break, it’s time to grab the songbook and guitar pick for the Battle of the Garage Bands benefiting wetland advocacy group Voice of the Wetlands.

The sing-off on June 20 at Mike Bruno’s Bayou Country Harley-Davidson in Houma will feature 10 local bands competing for a recording contract with local musician Nicki Rhodes, a photo shoot and a secret prize custom-made for the winning ensemble.

Rhodes has more than 30 years performing experience. He is optimistic the event will grow to include more than 10 bands in the near future.



“We sat down in a meeting and said, ‘There’s nobody out here promoting garage bands,’” said “Captain” Wayne Savoie, one of the event organizers. “Everybody is a garage band. Bon Jovi said it the best: ‘We’re just a garage band that somebody gave a $1 million stage to play on.”

Well, giving local bands a stage, albeit one costing far less than $1 million, while raising money to promote wetland restoration, is the tune to which local organizers are playing. But there is one rule: bands must play four original songs. If they have time during their sets afterward, groups can play cover songs, Savoie said.

Bands will compete in two categories, country and rock, with a set of grand prizes offered to winners in both categories.



Bruno’s Bayou Country Harley Davidson is hosting the competition. All proceeds go to the Voice of the Wetlands.

Voice of the Wetlands was started in 2004 by local bluesman Tab Benoit as a volunteer-based non-profit organization focused on driving awareness about south Louisiana’s loss of wetlands.

The all-day Saturday event kicks off with a guided two-hour motorcycle/classic car/jeep tour down Bayou Terrebonne through Chauvin, Bayou Dulac and Cocodrie at 9 a.m. for $15 per person. Vehicles are not provided, but those with wheels can join in on a tour of some of the communities most affected by wetland loss.



“We want everybody to experience what is happening to the wetlands,” said Kim Rodrigue, marketing manager for Mike Bruno’s Harley Davidson.

The first band to battle for stardom will take the stage upon the riders’ return at around 11 a.m. Each band will have a half-hour to play their songs for judges.

There will be prizes for audiophiles as well. There will be a drawing for 10 people to compete in a cornhole tournament. The winner gets a $500 shopping spree to Mike Bruno’s Harley Davidson.



Those who want to compete in the tournament can register through June 18 at Mike Bruno’s Harley Davidson. The competitors will be selected on June 19.

There will be free food and drinks inside the store while it lasts. Also, in the parking lot, food and beer will be sold.

From 6 to 9 p.m. June 19 – the Friday before the battle royale – an Opening Party will be held. Voodoo Bayou Band will perform, and food, beverages and door prizes will be available.



A $100 gift card to the store will be raffled.

Bands can register to compete for $100. The last day to register is June 17. Bands must register at Mike Bruno’s Harley Davidson.

So far, the bands competing are: FFU, Fallen, Two Shots Till Sunday, Nonc Nu and the Matu’s, Jerika Cheramie and her band (they are still trying to figure out their name), Tugboat Tony and the Pushers and Daballah.



“These artists – and I’m going to call them artists – they don’t have a lot of places to showcase their music,” Rhodes said. “And we’re hoping that this could get bigger and bigger and bigger.” •

Battle of the Garage BandsBrian Allen