Battle of NYC’s Finest…On Stage
by Annie Vinton
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Sometimes life gets in the way of our dreams but, when given a chance, dreams really can some true. This happened on Monday evening when Long Walk Entertainment in association with Live Nation gave seven bands with at least one member of the NYPD or PBA a shot at stardom, while raising money for the NYPD Widow’s and Children’s Fund. It’s the second in a series with this one following the Battle of the Bravest held in March, a benefit that pitted NYC Firemen head-to head in a battle of the bands.
The event was the brainchild of Long Walk Entertainment’s founder, Andrew Gerardi. Living in a neighborhood with many friends who are cops and firemen, Gerardi’s no stranger to understanding the psyche of many of them who turn to music as a creative outlet after what really is a “tough day.” His goal was to give back to these guys and provide an opportunity to fulfill a dream that seems so out of reach.
This inaugural event held at the Gramercy Park Theater had just the right mixture of celebrities like hosts Marky Ramone and New York’s 104.3 radio talent Maria Milito; legendary concert promoter (and my former boss from the 90’s) Ron Delesener; execs from the big labels and management; and among the fans, model and actress Paulina Porizkova, whose brother Kym took the stage as lead singer for one of the particpating bands Sweet As Ether.
Old school tactics were used in the selection process for participating bands - promotional flyers were hung in precincts throughout the five boroughs and a selected committee from Live Nation and Long Walk Entertainment narrowed the submissions to the lucky seven: The Bel Airs; Buck Pryor;Clubbin Eddie , Rattlin Hum ; Sweet As Ether; Tiger Uppercut; and Voxhound. Rules for the evening were each band was to play one cover and two originals and the winner decided by in-audience paper ballot, as well as weigh-in from selected judges within the music industry.
All seven bands were more than worthy of being there, but Voxhound was a standout from the first note played. The band’s charisma along with a very marketable package of talent and good looks complemented their Pearl Jam and Velvet Revolver influences evident in original songs, but most impressive was their interpretation of Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer. Bass player and police officer from Manhattan’s 20th Precinct Charlie Grimm said, “For the band, reworking Sledgehammer was more difficult than writing original music.” And, in the fifteen minutes they were on the stage, this band comprised of a cop, a plumber, a teacher and a litigation specialist, raised the bar significantly at this competition.
Overall, the line-up was well rounded and included a wide variety of musical genres from the rock funk sounds of The Bel Airs to the hard rock of Tiger Uppercut and Clubbin Eddie to the Allman-esque sounds of Buck Pryor. Voxhound’s steepest competition was Sweet As Ether. When introducing the band, Maria Molito drew attention to the drummer saying, “Hey, doesn’t he look just like Kevin Bacon?” After a few nods and laughs from the crowd, the lights dimmed and Sweet As Ether jump started their set with an injection of energy into a version of the 80’s pop song hit Strength by the Alarm. The band, together for four years, is comprised of two current cops, one retired cop and a “civilian” with a corporate day job. Thier seamless transitions and comfortable stage presence illuminated off the stage.
At the end of the evening, just after Marky Ramone performed I Wanna Be Sedated, Voxhound was declared the winner, which was well deserved and we should expect to hear and see more of them in the future.
Gerardi has created a real diamond in the rough with this event and hopefully it will snowball, taking on a life of its own in the future, continuing to give our New York City Heroes a shot at making their dreams come true.
For more information on this event or Long Walk Entertainment, please visit http://www.longwalkentertainment.com/
Annie Vinton Annie Vinton is a freelance writer and film critic living in NYC. You can read more about her and her writing at her blog here.
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