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Ticket to the Top

Showcase aims to spotlight bands, jumpstart local music scene

Ten bands from around the state will take the stage this weekend during the preliminary round of the New Mexico Showcase, a battle of the bands aimed at luring bigger crowds to local shows and bringing the music community together.

"I'd like it to be something people in New Mexico could look to as a starting point to find music they'd like in the state," said Michael Feferman, a local music fan who organized the event.

During four weekends, a field of 20 bands selected by a panel of local judges will be narrowed down to determine "New Mexico's Best Band."

Feferman, who works at the UNM Children's Psychiatric Hospital, said he got the idea after returning to his native Albuquerque after a six-year stay in Boston.

"I came back and wanted to find out what bands were good, but it's hard to find that out," he said. "It's hard to distinguish which ones were really talented and in the style that I would enjoy."

He said audience attendance at Albuquerque live shows was dismal compared to the East Coast, despite a slew of skilled performers.

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"There's a ton of talent, really great music is being produced locally, but there's not a lot of people getting out," he said. "One of the big reasons is there's not an easy and quick way to get a sense of what is good and in the style they like."

After talking to music scenesters and garnering enthusiastic support from heavy-hitters such as a local Coors distributor, the Journal Pavilion and Lesmen's Music, Feferman put out a call for demo tapes. About 90 recordings were submitted and judged on several criteria, such as creativity, musicianship, artistic power and overall impression. Judges included John Strader, host of "Ear to the Ground," a local music show on KUNM 89.9-FM; Rachel Heisler, an Alibi music critic and former Daily Lobo culture editor; and Jamie, co-host of the morning program on the Edge 104.7-FM. A panel of three judges culled from every corner of the local music and arts scene will rate each performance based on similar criteria.

The winning act will receive a two-day recording session at Stepbridge Studios in Santa Fe and finalists will receive recording time at Albuquerque-based Santa Fe Center Studios.

The first round will be held this weekend at Burt's Tiki Lounge, 313 Gold Ave. SW. Admission is free. Bands in the first round will include, pop-alternative country act Jason and the Argonauts, funk/hip-hop act Felonius Groove Found-ation, political funksters Red Earth and Latin-raggae act Panjea.

For a full lineup, as well as the lineup for next weekend, check the New Mexico Show-case Web site at

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