With a packed house at Juanita’s Cantina Ballroom urging them on, four bands gave strong performances Friday, March 4, in the final round of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase. But in the end, the Odds, a quintet out of Fayetteville, survived with its infectious pop-rock and percussion-heavy jam sound to emerge as this year’s “best original music band in Arkansas.”
The Odds bested Further Down, a power rock group from Jonesboro; “nu” metal group Temper Effect from Little Rock, and blues band Charlotte Taylor and Gypsy Rain from Heber Springs.
By winning, the Odds assured themselves of a spot in Riverfest as well as on the Peabody-Little Rock’s late spring-early summer schedule of concerts, the date to be announced soon. Also, the winning band received $300 in music equipment from Jacksonville Guitar, $200 in food from Trio’s Restaurant, an ice chest full of Red Bull, recording time from Cabot’s Blue Chair Studio, and a photo shoot from Arkansas Times photographer Brian Chilson.
The Odds, second on the lineup Friday, grabbed the room’s attention with its melodic pop-rock with jamming undertones. The shared lead vocals and harmonies of keyboardist Derek Van Lynn and bassist Severino Myers were on throughout the band’s 30-minute set. The group’s catchy “Stick It in Your Pocket,” the title of its first CD, and the closing number, “Angel Divided,” appeared to be the clinchers as far as original music.
Charlotte Taylor’s band mixed traditional rock blues with some upbeat funk that kicked off Friday’s show, and her backing band displayed splendid musicianship.
The catchiest song of the Showcase may have been Further Down’s “What You Say,” which concluded its powerful rock set. Dustin “Red” Dorton gave the stage a festive look by painting his bass map with the flag of Ireland, while frontman Michael Collins kept the band energized.
Temper Effect had huge fan support and performed solidly as the final band of the night, with determined vocalist Devin Castle, bassist Nick Williams and drummer Jerry Halpain leading the way. The group’s energy and choreographed thrashing style were noted as high points by the five judges.
The contest, held at Juanita’s Cantina Ballroom on Main Street, was the culmination of a process that began around Thanksgiving, when the Times began receiving the first of 52 entries. Those were pared to 16 for four weeks of semifinal rounds to determine the four finalists.