by Jaz Bowens
The Bands & Bites Grand Finale Showcase went down at the Hard Rock Cafe Tuesday to a packed house. Surprisingly, the light drizzle, the fact that it was on a Tuesday, and rush hour didn’t stop people from piling in.
I arrived as soon as the first performer, Paul Saint John, got on stage. There were no seats available. Fortunately, a stranger invited me to sit with him. Paul Saint John sounded great. It was just him, his guitar and the crowd. As people continued to come in, order food, and settle down, his strong and soulful voice raised above the noise. He was able to grab the crowd’s attention as his simple set allowed his talent to shine through. Check out his song “All the Kings Horses”.
The second performer was Ashley Leone. I heard about her in passing but I have never heard her music before. The host informed the crowd that she is a local girl who graduated from Germantown Academy High School, has opened for a lot of big name artist, and has performed all over the country. Leone was able to fit her whole band on stage but once she got started I wasn’t able to hear anything she said. I wasn’t sure if her mic was too low, her band was too loud, or if something was completely off with the sound quality or system. I decided to listen to her music when I got home because her performance didn’t seem to live up to all the rave I had been hearing about her.
Victoria Watts, a San Francisco native who moved to the city a few years back was next to perform. She had a lot of supporters with her and she definitely had the rocker look. Her band sounded great, but just like Leone’s performance, I couldn’t hear her voice. I got closer to the stage but that didn’t help either.
The fourth band to perform was Slot 55. As soon as they started playing I was hooked. They sounded great! I heard everything and it was obvious they had been playing their instruments and performing for years. This band owned the stage in my opinion. They played “Free” and two other songs. Download “My Reflection”and “Free” for free via their social media networks. I can’t describe their sound. It’s good ol’ all American rock- great lyrics, great instrument playing, and all around great performance.
The last band onstage was Hopscotch Jefferson, the winner of the finale. The definitely won over the crowd with their energetic vibe and upbeat sound. They had a lot of supporters at the show.