By Suzanne Schmidt
The stakes are high for the winner of the Rockus Maximus XIII Battle of the Bands with a chance to open for Motion City Soundtrack at State Theatre April 24 in St. Petersburg.
Bands from Zephyrhills, Land O’ Lakes, Holiday, Fort Myers, Regency Park and Clearwater will play from 6 to 11 p.m. March 26 at Crews Lake Park, 16739 Crews Lake Drive in Shady Hills. Some of the musical genres include metal core, punk, alternative/pop, classic rock/alternative and post-hardcore. Attendance is free with a current library card.
Land O’ Lakes resident John Gold will be playing at the show with his band John Gold in a Field of White Flowers. He describes his band as folk music but with weird song structures. The band is made up of all solo artists with Gold, 21, Jessi Sherbet, 17, Taylor Collier, 18, and Steven Garrett, 18.
“We are trying to forge a new genre,” Gold said. “Our song structures are different. We have an anything goes mentality. This is a good opportunity for my career choice, which is music. Being in this contest has taught me a lot about different musical genres. Watching the videos we have made has taught me I need to tap into a more professional type of approach.”
Paul Stonebridge, teen services manager at Land O’ Lakes Library, said it is important to get teens involved at the library.
“It is important to have these programs because it keeps people coming to the library for their whole lives,” Stonebridge said. “We have a lot of programs for young children and then we kind of let them go until they are adults. We want the teens to see the library as a valuable source of information. This helps to ensure the continuity of existence for the library.”
The event started out as just a battle of the bands 13 years ago, but has grown so much in the last three years they had to change the name to Rockus Maximus. They had to choose a name that would encompass how big the event has become. This year the show will have eight bands and if it is anything like last year, there will be at least 600 people attending.
“At the first battle, it was just a few bands but it has evolved now to something bigger,” Stonebridge said. “We want to educate them so when they leave us we want them to be able to rally the troops, lay down songs and be able to play in front of a crowd. These are all things bands need to know in order to become famous one day.”
The bands all had to make a video for the personality promotion contest. The band with the most votes on-line will win gift certificates from Encore Music in New Port Richey.
“Through the online voting competition, we got to see how well the bands win the hearts and minds of the voters,” Stonebridge said. “It is good for them to get used to playing music for a crowd, but it is also good for them to learn to promote themselves.”
All the online contests and promotions paid off when Pasco County Libraries won the Web Site of the Year from the Florida Library Association recently.
“We put a lot of effort into making sure we have something for everybody on our site,” Stonebridge said. “We have a whole group of people working on it to keep making it better.”
After library budget cuts last year, Stonebridge said he wasn’t sure if there was going to be an event this year.
“We named the event We Ain’t Dead Yet because we thought the event might be dead,” Stonebridge said. “We managed to rally enough community support to raise money to have the event.”
In order to have the event, the library needed $5,000. The library was able to raise the money with the help of teens, The Friends of the Library, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Monster Energy drinks and local businesses like Tijuana Flats in Land O’ Lakes.
“It started when we won the WWE contest,” Stonebridge said. “We decided since we had the first $2,000 we would try to raise the rest. Then Monster Energy drinks donated $1,000 worth of product that we sold. Encore Music donated gift certificates for our prizes and Morrisound Recording donated recording time.”
Bands and visitors to the show will have chances to win great prizes like the donated recording time at Morrisound Recording. The first place band will have 10 hours, the second place band will have five hours and the third place band will have three hours.
Visitors to the concert will have the chance to win one of two prize packs from Motion City Soundtrack. One of them is a T-shirt and their new CD “My Dinosaur Life” and the other is two tickets and meet and greet passes for the concert. Entry tickets will be available at the concession booth.
In honor of Noelle Park, a two-time cancer survivor and vice president of the teen advisory board, the library is raising money for All Children’s Hospital to benefit cancer research. There will be a bucket passed around at the event for the hospital and the library will be selling donated Monster Energy drinks.
In addition to the Rockus Maximus program, the library also offers an anime club, gaming nights and even karaoke and improv nights. Stonebridge said he runs the teen programs because he wants to provide a place for teens to go where they feel welcome.
“I think about when I was in high school,” Stonebridge said. “No one would listen to me. I felt like I had no say in my life. It is depressing when you have an idea and no one would listen.”
As incentive to keep the teens participating and interested, Stonebridge and some of the other librarians are willing to go to the extreme. Recently Stonebridge waxed his arm on camera because the teens were able to raise $216 for Rockus Maximus. Alicia Moon-Wan dyed her hair rainbow colors over the summer because the reading summer program was such a success. Over the seven-week program, 98 kids read about 1,000 books.
“Incentive always helps,” Stonebridge said. “It encourages them. They like to torment us and make us do something funny.”
For information, visit www.myspace.com/pascolibraries.
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