Let the battle begin 

The countdown is on; musicians from all corners of the Sea to Sky area are set to take the stage on May 1 for the fourth annual Battle of the Bands.

Organized by Late and Unique Nighttime Alternatives (LUNA), the competition sees solo artists and groups of all genres perform for the public and a panel of industry experts in hopes of scoring some impressive prizes that come along with the title.

Competitors will take the stage at Maxx Fish on Friday, May 1 from 3 p.m. until midnight, and local music lovers are encouraged to come check out the talent for themselves.

In the category of solo artist, semifinalists are Dana-Marie Battaglia of Squamish, Whistler's Dani Quayle and Alice Newton, and Pemberton's Darren Chambo. In the band category, Squamish's Zombie's Locker, faces off against Whistler's Rapido, Rising Tide, The Release, Brother Twang and The Tell Tales.

"We have everything from reggae to hard rock this year. I've had a chance to see many of the bands perform and I'm excited to see who's going to come out on top," Kate Mason, event co-producer, said in a recent press release.

The competition started out in the Youth Centre four years ago, using the mini-ramp as a stage, and has grown into one of the biggest nightclubs in town.

The goal of the annual talent competition is to provide emerging Sea to Sky musicians with an opportunity to gain performance experience and meet industry professionals to help take their talent to the next level.

Judges will base their choices on quality of song writing, originality, musicianship, performance, professionalism and overall entertainment value, while audience members will cast ballots to decide who receives the Audience Choice Award.

This year's grand prize is a recording gig at Saga Recording Studio for the best band; the solo winner receives time at Waking Alone Productions. The top band and the top solo artists also receive opening spots at CIA Concerts, air play and an interview on Mountain FM, a limited edition screen-printed competition poster, a professional photo shoot with Darren Roberts Studio, plus a vocal training session with returning judge, Hilary Wright. Runners up will receive airplay and an interview on Mountain FM and a paid gig at Merlin's.

Tickets to the all-day event are $8 and can be purchased at The Cabin and Municipal Hall's Finance Department. Semifinals start at 3 p.m. and run until 8 p.m. Judges have 50 minutes to deliberate, and at 8:50 p.m., they will announce the three finalist bands and three finalists among solo artists, who will perform from 9 p.m. onward.

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