Musical Battle With A Twist

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

 ThirstyGroundPic235Steve Bacinski, Billy Hirt, Justin White, Michael Engel.     The Battle of the Bands, a friendly competition-fundraiser for Algoma Christian School in Kent City, is back again this year – with a new wrinkle.

     “This year we’re having fan voting,” said Rob Guerin, coordinator of the March 28 event to be held at Kent City Baptist Church (see accompanying details).

     “The voting is done with a phone app we’ll share at the event,” he added.

     Nine area Christian bands are signed on for the battle. Only two of them are repeaters from last year. There will also be a judge’s panel which will pick a winner, but the fan category featuring audience votes will also select a top band.

     That means there could be two different bands both winning the grand prize – a slot on the A-Stage at the Unity Christian Music Festival in Muskegon this August.

                       PREPARING FOR BATTLE

     Stephen Bacinski, electric guitarist for the modern rock band Thirsty Ground, said this will be the first time his group has ever played in a band competition.

     “We’ve only been together for about two years, but we’ve tried to play at as many events as we can,” said, Bacinski, 31. “And the opportunity to play at the Unity Festival…that’s what really drew us to enter this event.”

    Similar to last year, each band gets 14 minutes of stage time, along with a brief period for set up. The “house” provides sound-speakers and a drum kit, although each band can bring its own amplifiers and related gear.

     Thirsty Ground will be doing an adaptation of the song “Like A Lion (God’s Not Dead),” a tune that was a huge Christian radio hit for the band Newsboys. “Actually our version is closer to the (songwriter) Kristian Stanfill version,” Bacinski noted. The players also hope to squeeze in three of their original songs.

     Each of the band members is also part of a church worship team/band. (Bacinski plays regularly at Compass Church in Byron Center). Thirsty Ground already has one six-song recording. The band has been working on a new collection it hopes to release soon.

     You can hear a sample of their music online.

                   MUSICAL DIVERSITY

     The nine-band roster is surprisingly diverse.

     Restless Generation, a band of young artists (with several Kentwood Community Church connections), is slated to perform. The group has a rock/pop/worship style.

     Meanwhile, the veteran band Our Rock, featuring lead singer Bill Raven and keyboardist Lowell Webster, will share its classic rock-worship tunes.

     “Every band is different, but they all have one thing in common – they’re all praising God,” added Guerin.

     Returning for this year’s battle are Nameless (a folk-rock group anchored by the Parcher brothers from Lamont) and the Christian rockers Gained Access from Newaygo. Both bands are working on new recording projects.

     Guerin said that last year there were several area church praise/worship teams in the mix of bands. This time there’s only one: Waypoint Praise, a group from Waypoint Community Church on 96th Ave. in Zeeland.

     Among other bands on the roster:

*David Yonker Band – Rock band from the Big Rapids area headed by worship leader David Yonker

*1 Sam 3 – Contemporary Christian group from the Saginaw area that includes
a pastor, Tom Senge.

* Lady Amp –A praise band affiliated with Camp Michawana near Hastings.

                   PUTTING THINGS TOGETHER

     The fan-voting feature likely will help boost attendance numbers at the fundraiser. If a band can bring numerous supporters who presumably vote for their favorite, their chances to win obviously improve.

     “Last year’s second place band (Falwell) probably would have won if we had fan voting then,” Geurin noted.

     Back as a judge in 2014 is Algoma Christian music teacher Nancy Edinger. A stage coordinator from the Unity Festival – where the winner(s) will perform – is also on the judging crew.

   An “opening act” featuring several Algoma teachers will also perform, although they are not part of the competition.

     The phone app voting tool is designed to allow voters to change their choice right up to the end of the concert. “If it turns out you like one of the later bands better, you can change your vote – it’s your last vote that will count,” Guerin said.

The Facts:

Battle of the Bands: featuring nine area Christian bands plus an opening act
When: 6 p.m. Sat. March 28 (doors open at 5 p.m.)
Where: Kent City Baptist Church, 400 W. Muskegon St. Kent City, Mich.
Tickets $5 in advance, $8 at the door.
Event is a fundraiser for Algoma Christian School
Tickets and more info:, 800-965-9324,

Author Information
Terry DeBoer
Terry is journalist who writes for newspapers, magazines, newsletters and websites. His most frequented “beat” is arts and entertainment. He is married with two children and lives in Grand Rapids.

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