EHM’s Real Band Battle a huge win for local acts


bobbique bands

Two full days. That’s how much time Sir Cadian Rhythm and the four other bands in WEHM’s Real Band Battle had to learn a song they had never heard before.

Then, they had to perform it in front of a packed house at Bobbique in Patchogue.

“The contest was pretty crazy,” said Sir Cadian Rhythm’s lead vocalist, Jack Weppler. “[EHM] had us pick a cover song from their website. They gave a list of like 20 covers to choose from. This wasn’t top 40 either; it was all very obscure and reflects their own taste in music.”

When the smoke cleared that Thursday night, the band’s energetic, horn-driven and crowd-pleasing rendition of “My Type” by Saint Motel made for an easy choice among the four expert judges. The win punched Sir Cadian Rhythm’s ticket to play at the annual Great South Bay Music Festival.

“We really only got to practice it twice, but it’s a song that really cooks live,” Weppler said.

This marked the fourth consecutive year WEHM 92.9 and 96.9 FM held its Real Band Battle at Bobbique.  Anthony Cafaro, host of the progressive rock station’s morning show, The Morning Show with Anthony, said the promotion has been a huge success in drumming up interest in the station, Bobbique, the music festival and the bands.

“There’s some incredible talent out here, from Miles to Dayton, to Gene Casey, to Nancy Atlas,” Cafaro said. “These are artists that can easily be national acts but for whatever reason, family or whatever, they’ve decided to stay here. They’ve been on  EHM. They’re selling albums.”

“But for the guys and gals that are out there plugging along at the bars and clubs and writing songs, but not necessarily getting themselves off the ground, we thought, why not get exposure for those guys?” he said. “There’s another whole level of uncovered talent out there.”

A battle of the bands isn’t a new concept, Cafaro admits, but he believes the EHM contest stands out because — and this is why it’s called the Real Band Battle — it doesn’t rely on gimmickry like sound meters or viewer popularity contests, like with American Idol.

The bands are judged by four music professionals, which this year included Great South Bay Musical Festival founder Jim Faith, as well as Ron Alexenburg, the record executive perhaps best known for helping Michael Jackson’s Thriller become the top-selling album in history.

“We’ve had grammy winners judge,” Cafaro said. “And then we have our fifth judge, which is the audience that comes to BBQ. We pass out ballots in the audience and we count them up. Whichever band gets the most of the audience gets their vote. So we feel its a good checks and balances. Even if you didn’t bring the most people with you that night, you have a chance.”

In an interview after the June 25 contest at Bobbique, Faith said there was “no question” who the winner was: Sir Cadian Rhythm, a band whose members hail mostly from Smithtown that just formed about 18 months ago.

They were great,” Faith said. “All the bands were good but when they played, they were just so good that there was no question. They were entertaining to watch. Killer musicians. Great vocals. Great songs. We just looked at each other and were like, there it is. They were like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, they just had it all.”

Sir Cadian’s lead guitarist, Alex Laudani, said the newly formed band had been looking to play at the Great South Bay Music Festival, but missed the cutoff date to apply.

Even if they had, booking the gig is no easy task.

“We did miss the cutoff date,” he said. “So we figured we missed our opportunity. But after winning [at Bobbique] we were able to sneak in there. This was our first festival and the fact that we really earned the spot was a big motivating boost for us.”

Sir Cadian Rhythm took to the Jambalaya Stage near the vendors area of the festival about 3:30 p.m., just in time for the rain and fog from earlier that day to dissipate.

“We like to have a good time,” Weppler said. “We’re pretty energetic and the crowd totally received that and gave it right back. They were dancing and fun-loving. It felt like we were really well received.

“From all our social media this morning it looks like we got a nice amount of fans too.”

Photo: Sir Cadian Rhythm at the June 25 Real Band Battle at Bobbique. (Credit: Michael White)