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Eight bands, one spot on stage at the Pemberton Festival

Finalists vie to represent the region in the battle of the bands
Battle of the bands Lovecoast is among the eight acts who are competing at Be the Best, Play the Fest in Pemberton. Photos submitted

Eight Sea to Sky bands will battle it out for $5,000 in prize money and a chance to perform onstage at the Pemberton Music Festival.

The Will Ross Band, Red Chair, Lozen, Dentville, Blackwater, Marble Canyon, Railtown Prophets and Lovecoast will compete at Be the Best, Play the Fest at The Meadows at Pemberton on Saturday, June 27 — each band plays three songs.

Over 40 musical acts submitted an original song to organizers Mountain FM in the hopes of making the final eight.

"The calibre of talent was really amazing," said Mountain FM station manager Joe Polito.

First-place winners will take home $3,000 and will perform a 45-minute set at the Pemberton Music Festival, which takes place from July 16 to 19. Second and third place will take home $1,500, and $500, respectively.

The judges will be A.J. Niland of Pemberton Music Festival organizer HUKA, singer Adam Leggett of Pemberton band Dakota Pearl, who won the competition last year, and another judge still to be announced.

The competition starts at 4 p.m. Tickets are $10 and include a burger. They can be purchased at, at Random Clothing in Squamish, or at the pro shop at The Meadows.

And an excited Leggett said in an interview that Dakota Pearl had been invited back to play at Pemberton for a second time.

"It's pretty awesome, we feel super fortunate," he said.

"HUKA is doing an awesome thing for local music."

Dakota Pearl was "barely a band" when the opportunity came to compete for a space at the 2014 festival.

Their album Dakota Pearl came out in November.

"The festival launched us. It totally made us the band we are now. If it wasn't for them, I'm not sure Dakota Pearl would still be a band. It helped, big time," Leggett said.

Over the past year, the band members have worked on their writing, their performing and their professionalism.

"We realized there is a different level to this. I don't know how seriously we were taking it until we got the opportunity to play Pemby fest last year," Leggett said.

"The songs are so much stronger, our new record is so much better, we are a better band just because of getting that leg up. Pemberton (Festival) gave us a kick start way faster than we could have done it otherwise."

Dakota Pearl performs every weekend, Leggett said, though they are already practicing their set for the festival.

"We want to knock it out of the park," he said.

For more information, visit the Be the Best, Play the Fest page on Facebook.

The Sea to Sky finalists for Be the Best, Play the Fest are:

The Will Ross Band

Squamish-based singer Will Ross will be joined by Marco Roach (bass), Garth Mosbaugh (keyboards, saxophone), John David (drums), Jason McNeil (percussion), and Emily Molloy (vocals).

Winner of the 2014 Whistler Talent Search, Ross says the band's style of music is acoustic, funkified folk-rock. He submitted their politically charged song "Not the Predicate" to the competition.

"We have some really dancey, bassy undertones that get people moving. Really upbeat music," Ross says.

For more information:

Red Chair

Singer Adam Wilson is performing alongside Cam "Bodia" Hyde (lead guitar), Derek "HD" Stembridge (bass) and Frankie G on drums. They are based in Whistler.

Formed in 2013, Red Chair's style of music is "pure and simple rock." He submitted their song "Sick, Wicked, Deadly" to the competition.

"We put the band together as an opportunity to have fun and get out and play live music in Whistler. Over the course of the last year, we started writing music," Wilson says.

"We're really excited about playing our stuff. We haven't played it live yet."

For more information:


Whistler-based rapper and MC Lozen is a busy performer who writes her own music. She submitted her song "Everyday Hustle," featuring Whistler's Animal Nation, to the competition. She's also the new on-air host for the Après Lounge on Whistler FM.

"I guess I'm the only performer who's not a band," she says.

"We're going to put a set together that is upbeat, happy."

She's very happy to see how the Pemberton Music Festival embraces hip hop and EDM. "I'm really excited. It would be nice to move up on that platform," she laughs.

For more information:


Squamish singer and guitarist Darcy Cavanagh says Dentville is a six-piece band that formed in January this year. Other members include Nadine McNeil (vocals, percussion), Darrell Booth (lead guitar), Mike Hewitt (keyboards), Chris Robertson (bass), and Ross Willard (drums). Their musical style is alt country and rock fusion.

They submitted their song "Low Winter Sun" to the competition, a song that also took them to the top 10 bands in B.C. of the CBC Searchlight contest.

"We've been like writing a lightning bolt for a few months, ever since CBC and we came out with a few songs and it has been really cool," Cavanagh says.

For more information:


Singer and guitarist Josh Fairbrother says Blackwater's style of music is rock 'n roll. He submitted the Pemberton band's garage rock song "4 x 4" to the competition.

"We're got the hometown advantage, which is great. We just finished recording a couple of days ago here in Pemberton," he says.

Along with Fairbrother is Mate Dillon (guitar, vocals), Robin Trethewey (drums), and Ross Edwards (bass).

Marble Canyon

Singer-songwriter Jay Greenaway says Marble Canyon's style of music is alternative country, similar to Blue Rodeo. He performs alongside Mark Bannock (drums), Brian Macdonald (bass) and Chris Branch (lead guitar). The band is based in Whistler.

The band submitted their new song "The Stare of the World" to the competition.

"We're definitely excited to be in the competition," Greenaway says.

For more information:

Railtown Prophets

Drummer Dean Feser (a.k.a. T-Rex Mcguinty) says their style of music is influenced by early soul, rockabilly and old-time R&B. He will be joined onstage by Tony "Captain Conway" Moser (bass, vocals) and Chris "Bento Relaxo" Branch (guitar, lead vocals).

He submitted their song "The Bottle and Me" to the competition. A three-piece band based in Whistler, Railtown Prophets has been performing for just over a year.

"We just released the video for 'The Bottle and Me' today, so it's great timing!" Feser said.

"We're pretty excited. It's the gig of the summer. For a new band like us to be accepted, it's great. I listened to the others and it's high-calibre stuff."

For more information visit The Railtown Prophets on Facebook.


Squamish-based singer Danielle Sweeney says Lovecoast's style of music is West Coast indie soul pop. She will perform with Andrew Fraser (bass), Jesse McNeill (drums) and Mike Clement (guitar).

The band submitted their song "Help You" to the competition.

"The song comes from our debut EP, which was released in November. It was awesome in that it was fully funded through Indiegogo. Our fans and family paid for it, so that was really, really cool," Sweeney says.

For more information:

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