The sixth annual Acoustic LIVE Challenge is in full swing right now, completing the second night of competition just last night. The three month-long event features five new performers every Thursday at The Ugly Monkey. The rules are simple: acoustic music only (no drums or electric instruments), original music only (no cover songs), and no more than three people on-stage per performer (supporting musicians are allowed, but that number is limited). I had the honor of sitting on the judge’s panel for The Acoustic LIVE Challenge last year and have been granted the same privilege again in 2011. For the remainder of the contest, I’ll be sharing a recap of each week’s show the following day right here on my NUVO.net blog.
Dressed in a cowboy hat, red button-up shirt, black jeans, and a pair of cowboy boots, Bob Kite provided a disclaimer before beginning his set. “I’m gonna play a lot of country songs. Cry-in-your-beer-cuz-your-hearts-broken kind of stuff. But I’ve worked hard on them and I’m pretty proud of them.” Kite’s sound ultimately was best described as twangy and country-western with an obvious Hank Williams influence.
Lindsay and his two backup guitarists offered a more modern sound than Kite’s rustic openers. Stiff and slightly uneasy in the beginning, Rogers found his groove midway through the set. His soulful, slow-moving music also livened up, but a lack of eye contact and crowd interaction between songs left me unconvinced.
Sitting upon a clear, plastic, blow-up couch on stage, Josh Hann and Treeman made an instant statement that gave the audience something tangible to attach the sound to. Hann’s bare feet and rolled pant legs jived with his lighthearted sound (think “Jack Johnson” or “Zach Gill”) and happy-go-lucky attitude.
Reigning champion of the 2010 Acoustic LIVE Challenge, Jamie Nichole returned to defend her title with a bundle of fresh, new songs. Despite the Ugly Monkey’s increasing level of attendance as the night progressed, Jamie’s angelic voice effortlessly projected itself over the boisterous crowd while maintaining a soft and feminine sound.
Traveling from Evansville to compete as a solo artist in the Acoustic LIVE Challenge, Miller combines a variety of musical styles (blues, folk, Celtic rock, gypsy punk) with a vocal range that runs the gamut to produce a truly entertaining one-man-show. Miller’s lyrics are as eclectic as his sound, proving him to be a storyteller at heart who simply chooses music as his medium.
The top two winners advance to the semifinals on May 12th.
1.) Josh Hann & Treeman
2.) Jamie Nichole
3.) Bob Kite
4.) Troy Miller
5.) Lindsay Rogers