Battle of the Bands: Local musicians duel for chance to win EP recording session

Staff photo by Adam Urquhart Dioniso rocks away on stage during the Merrimack Valley Battle of the Bands Saturday afternoon, playing through their three song set.

NASHUA – Usually, libraries are a place for silent reading and research, but the Nashua Public Library was anything but quiet Saturday as 15 bands and solo artists competed in the Merrimack Valley Battle of the Bands.

This inaugural event drew hundreds to the library’s lawn throughout the day for a variety of sounds provided by up-and-coming talent from throughout the Merrimack Valley Region, including rock and rap music. Each act had 15 minutes to perform three original songs with the hopes of being crowned the winner, who will receive the grand prize of a professional EP recording. That fully produced EP opportunity features five days of recording/tracking, three days of editing, two days of mixing, professional mastering, a limited run physical print of 300 jacketed CDs, a one-year listing with Amazon MP3, iTunes and Spotify with producer Ben Ruddock, of Weird Fish Productions, will guide and support the recording process. The length of the EP will be limited to five songs.

A panel consisting of industry professionals and leaders from the Nashua music scene judged the bands based on the following four factors: music originality (1 – 15 points), stage presentation (1 – 15 points), marketability (1 – 10 points) and audience attendance/participation (1 – 20 points). The panel consisted of Paul Shea, executive director of Great American Downtown; George Pelletier, a former reporter with People and Entertainment Weekly magazines, associate producer with David Copperfield and an award-winning music and arts writer; and Alyssa O’Mara, WSMN1590 radio personality. All three judges conferred at 7 p.m. before announcing Fourshadow, of Nashua, as the grand prize winner.

“We’re really excited to produce this event,” Shea said. “It’s the third event added to our annual music festival series. This one is geared toward stimulated youth music culture of the region and so we are really pleased to kick this off with some great bands, and we are excited to have a lot of people coming out to enjoy local original music.”

He also said this is the first event where Great American Downtown is collecting data for Nashua’s Americans For the Arts economic impact study. That study will run for the next 8 to 12 months, and is being led by the Nashua Arts Council, in partnership with Great American Downtown, City Arts Nashua, the Downtown Improvement Committee, Peacock Players and a variety of other Nashua arts programs organizations.

Solo artist Mark Kaschak worked his way between the keyboard, ukelele and guitar during his three song set at the Merrimack Valley Battle of the Bands, hosted at the Nashua Public Library on Saturday. Rather than going the rock ‘n’ roll route, he took to the mic to rap.

He said this is Nashua’s first time collecting this data, and it will help the community survey baseline impact in advance of the city’s future Performing Arts Center prior to the next AFA national study, which occurs every 5 years.

This event was made possible in part by support from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, Nashua Arts Commission and Boston Billiard Club & Casino, and was hosted by the Nashua Public Library.

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or