By: Terry Smith
A band with roots in Athens, the Burning River Ramblers, are representing Cleveland in “Hard Rock Rising: Global Battle of the Bands,” a worldwide competition sponsored by Hard Rock Cafe.
More than 12,000 bands entered the contest, including 100 groups from Cleveland alone. After winning the local round, Burning River Ramblers are now one of 96 acts vying for the title. A panel of judges and a public voting process will help determine the winner, whose grand prize includes a record deal, a world tour and an opening slot for a top-tier band in London.
“Getting this far in the competition tells us that we’re doing something right,” vocalist Conor Standish said in a news release issued by the band.
(The band is playing a show at Jackie O’s Public House tonight and a free show at the Union Bar in Athens this Saturday.)
Standish co-founded the band with bass player Chris Rush.
According to the release, Standish isn’t the only one who thinks BRR is on the right track. The Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland’s Hard Rock Cafe, 87.7 Cleveland’s Sound and the Cleveland Clinic have all thrown their support behind the band, whose lineup also includes drummer Jesse Catania, his brother, guitarist Zach Catania, and keyboardist Dave Young.
“Another Cleveland-based band, Hey Monea!, actually won the whole thing last year,” Standish noted, “so we are trying to keep the Hard Rock Rising title in Cleveland, seeing as how it is the home of rock & roll.”
The voting process runs from April 22 to May 1. To vote, fans have to visit www.facebook/com/hardrockcafecleveland, “like” their page, and vote for BRR by downloading the band’s single, “Don’t Wait On Me.” Each download counts as one vote.
In the meantime, the Burning River Ramblers will continue putting the finishing touches on their second album, a collaborative effort co-produced by the band’s own keyboardist. Although more rock-oriented than their debut, the band’s sophomore record will still bear their trademark mishmash of styles, including rock, jazz, funk, folk and hip-hop, the release said.