Judges, emcee named for Battle of Bands

Music lovers won’t want to miss the inaugural North Georgia Battle of the Bands, presented by The Times and Lake Lanier Islands. The concert is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Sunset Cove at Lanier Islands.

While the musicians competing on stage are up-and-coming talents, veterans from the industry will play major roles in this new event.

Doug Harkrider, a founding member of Fly Betty Band, will be the emcee for the day to keep things lively on stage between sets. Fly Betty is a popular, high-energy variety band. Harkrider is also known as an emergency medicine physician who is CEO of Gainesville Emergency Department Services and works at Northeast Georgia Health Systems Gainesville and Braselton medical campuses. In addition, he’s the owner of North Georgia Sound Light and Video Production Company. Some will also remember him as an original member of Ruckus, one of the Southeast’s popular party bands from 1973 to 1993.

“We are so excited that someone with Doug’s personality and energy will keep things moving on stage and help us celebrate the finalist bands,” said Charlotte Atkins, publisher of The Times.

The four bands competing Saturday are Local Honey, Five Speed, South of Heaven and Daddy Issues! They were selected for the live battle through The Times’ online contest held in May.

Saturday’s champion will be determined by three judges: Bruce Burch, Rojene Bailey and Joseph Erwin. There will also be a People’s Choice winner as determined by donations to Habitat for Humanity of Hall County.

“We wanted judges with a variety of musical roots and we found that in these gentlemen and are so thrilled to have them be part of the first ever North Georgia Battle of the Bands,” said Atkins.

Burch has had success in many facets of the music business, including being a hit songwriter, operating his own publishing companies of hit songs and working for a major music publishing company, as well as being an artist-manager.

As a songwriter, Burch co-wrote two No. 1 singles for Reba McEntire, “Rumor Has It” and “It’s Your Call.” Burch also co-wrote songs on two of her other albums, all of which have gone multiplatinum. He has also had platinum and gold album recordings by other top artists.

Burch served as creative director at EMI Music Publishing, at the time the world’s largest music publisher with over a million songs in its catalog. He’s also author of a book called “Songs That Changed Our Lives.”

Burch founded and directed the University of Georgia Music Business Program and the Joel A. Katz Music and Entertainment Business Program at Kennesaw State University, and is currently serving as an Executive in Residence at Brenau University.

Bailey is best known as host of BluesTime in the City on KISS 104.1 and WCLK-FM Radio in Atlanta. He’s also known for his many years as a multi-Emmy award winning television producer/director. His radio credentials are renowned in these parts, too. In 1985, he hit the radio airwaves with “The New Atlanta Blues Show.”

A long-time blues enthusiast and collector, Bailey’s highly successful radio career began as a one-time special for a fundraiser and evolved into a top-rated Atlanta show. In 1998, he decided to concentrate on golf and to relax, and left the Saturday morning show. In less than two weeks, he was called by David Dickey, owner of KISS-104.7 FM, to become the host of its blues show. Bailey accepted, and a new venture was under way. According to the Arbitron rating services, “Down Home Blues with Rojene Bailey,” later changed to “BluesTime in the City” also became the top-rated show in its time slot. He is currently retired from television and radio, and is the volunteer executive director of The Educational Foundational and Museum of Beulah Rucker Inc.

Twisted Whiskey is a hard-rocking country band known as a crowd-pleaser in Georgia and the Carolinas. Erwin is front man for the band, which will perform at Sunset Cove right after the Battle of the Bands. He is a singer-songwriter born and raised in the hills of Clarkesville. He grew up in a family full of musicians and quickly learned that music was in his blood and part of who he is. The Twisted Whiskey website touts, “His soul soothing vocals combined with his energetic interaction with the audience is enough to keep anyone on their toes or on the edge of their seat.” 

Battle of the Bands tickets are $20 per person, plus the Lanier Islands regular parking fee of $15 per car. They can be purchased on the Lanier Islands website, www.lanierislands.com, in advance or at the gate.

The People’s Choice winner will be determined by donations to Habitat for Humanity of Hall County. Go to the celebrategeorgiamusic.com website and find the band of your choice and click on the donate button on their band page. Each dollar of donation equals one vote. For example, a $25 donation means 25 votes for your favorite band.