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First-ever Battle of the Bands contest in the works for Alive After Five

Alive After Five greaterpatchogue.com

Faced with an annual deluge of emails from bands across Long Island and beyond looking to play at Alive After Five, the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce is making plans for a first-ever AA5 Battle of the Bands series this spring.

The winner — or winners — will be invited to play on the streets of Patchogue Village during the Alive After Five summer street festival series.

One July event last year attracted a record 21,000 people to the village.

There are four Alive After Five dates each July and August.

“We’re very committed to making this happen,” said the chamber’s executive director, David Kennedy. “The next step is to set up how the procedure would work. We anticipate that you might see some preliminary rounds in the different bars/restaurants.”

The final round, the organizers hope, would be held in a larger space like The Emporium, 89 North Music Venue or Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts.

“Whichever venue would want to host us,” Kennedy said.

The Battle of the Bands would also function as a fundraiser for the nonprofit Patchogue-Medford Youth & Community Service, which offers free camps, classes, after-school activities and more for area youth.

Board members with the group are already in discussions with chamber leaders on how to run the Battle of the Bands bracket contest.

“It’s an opportunity for the bands to do some PR for themselves and get their names out there, and getting people in the community to find out who they are,” said Shawn Hirst, the group’s executive director. “And it’s a nice opportunity for us to raise money. So I really think it’s a win-win.”

She said the nonprofit already had a band-battle on its shortlist of possible fundraisers.

“And then [Kennedy] said he had a list of all these bands,” said Hirst, who is also the chamber’s secretary. “This wouldn’t really involve us having to go out to find all these bands.”

Kennedy said he has a list of about 80 bands that have contacted the chamber, and the list is growing.

About 30 bands play at the Alive After Five events each year, he said.

Those bands are typically booked and paid for through the bars and restaurants that share the seven stages along the streets.

“I love the bands that come to Alive After Five,” Kennedy said. “But the restaurants do seem to be very loyal to the bands which they have relationships with, so you see many of the same come back. Since this is such a demand, I would like to see a few others get the opportunity.”

“Most importantly,” he said, “I want these bands that are contacting us to feel like they’re getting a fair shot.”

Both organizations are still trying to figure out how to whittle the number of interested bands down to a more manageable number, possibly through online voting through the Alive After Five website.

Click here for contact information at the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce.

About the author: Michael White

Michael White is a Bellport resident, longtime newspaper reporter and editor, and the owner of greaterpatchogue.com. Email him your story ideas or tips: mike@greaterpatchogue.com