Local bands 'stand up and shine' at Manette Saloon

It’s no secret that Bremerton’s arts district is alive and well. First Friday events fill downtown streets with spectators wanting to see the latest exhibits at numerous galleries featuring area artists who work in a wide variety of mediums.

But where are the talents of local musicians showcased?

This month, a local music lover’s best bet is at the Manette Saloon’s second annual Battle of the Bands. The brawl began in November and will culminate in a special finals night Saturday, Dec. 14 when the last bands left standing will duke it out for the title of best band in Bremerton.

“There’s a pile of bands in Kitsap County,” said Jake Cohen, lead singer of Bremerton band Bodega, as he stood near the bar at the Manette shortly before his group took the stage during one of the first Battle of the Band nights. “It’s a chance for those who are actually good at it to stand up and shine.”

Each Friday and Saturday night since Nov. 22, starting about 9 p.m., three performers or acts representing a wide variety of musical styles have taken the stage for a chance to win the battle, though Bodega guitarist Kevin Crew said it’s less about competition and more about giving local musicians a place to play and check out one another.

“It allows everybody to enjoy it,” Crew said. “It allows everybody to hear bands they’ve never heard before,”

Colby Kenfield, who watched from the soundboard that evening, agreed.

“You get to see some different bands, some interesting stuff too,” Kenfield said. “I think (Battle of the Bands is) important because it gets the bands together.”

Anoka Hills Project, Dead Set and Jim Neighbors band are scheduled to play this Saturday, Dec. 7 and the semi-finals will take place Thursday, Dec. 12 and Friday, Dec. 13 before finals night Dec. 14.

Spectator Kevin Quinn said he enjoys the Battle of the Bands as a break from open-mic nights.

“There’s no pressure in playing,” he said of open-mic settings. “(Battle of the Bands) raises the bar a little bit.”

The grand prize is $500 in cash, as well as gift certificates to the Manette Saloon and other area businesses.

Cohen said there is only one factor that will decide the winner.

“Presence,” he said. “If you command the crowd then they’re gonna remember who you are and vote for you later.”

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