Music, mirth were in the air

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Air-band competition a big hit as Summerfest kicks off Arts Alive!

By Devan Filchak

For the Courier

The arts came alive in Evergreen on Saturday evening as the sounds of music — and silence — filled the air on the first night of the annual Summerfest music and arts event at Buchanan Park.

The sounds came from four rock 'n' roll groups vying for two $250 prizes in a battle of the bands. The silence came from a new event that proved equally entertaining for Summerfest's big crowds: an "air band" competition that featured four quiet collaborations also pursuing two $250 prizes.

The air band contestants dressed as well-known bands or represented different eras of music. Since they were simply pretending to play instruments, high energy, stage presence and elaborate costumes were important factors in the performances.

While five judges tallied the bands' final scores, battle of the bands director and Center for the Arts board member Jim Sherwood led an air band in performing several songs, and women were seen throwing their bras at the stage.

“This is new and different, so I think everyone got a taste of what we can do down the road,” said Sherwood, who had the idea for the air-band competition.

Dr. Poz and the Scrubs finished first in the actual band category, led by frontman Joe Bye, who said the band was named spontaneously once the members were assembled. Open Space won second place. Sky Rockers and Dr. Oz and the Strokes won first and second place in the air-band division.

Bye said competing was more about community spirit than about winning.

“We wanted to be active in the community,” he said. “Didn’t matter if we were to lose (or win), we just wanted to have some fun and support the event.”

Sherwood would like to expand the event in coming years. Eventually, he envisions more bands with four stages, two for air bands and two for rock bands. This year, there was one stage for each.

Lorie Curry, an Evergreen resident, said she enjoyed going back and forth between air bands and rock bands and would like to see a similar event next year.

“It is just community,” she said. “It is getting everybody together and just loving everyone. We’re such a close community, and this is just one of those events that brings our community even closer.”

The competition followed a Palette of the Brews beer-tasting event, at which attendees could sample brews from 16 different breweries for $20 in advance or $25 the day of the event. It also was a first-time event, and Steve Sumner, executive director of Center for the Arts Evergreen, said he would like to see both again.

“We were just plowed the whole day,” he said. “We had a third more of the attendance we had a year ago.”

Sumner said about 3,200 people attended Summerfest on Saturday. More than 300 were under the battle of the bands tent.

During the day on Saturday and Sunday, Summerfest featured dozens of tents showcasing artists and food vendors.

Summerfest was the kickoff for the 10-day Arts Alive! festival in Evergreen, which culminates this weekend with the Evergreen Jazz Festival.

Sumner said the weekend events at Buchanan Park were packed with fun and were designed for everyone from young children to senior citizens.

“We do all of this as a fund-raiser for all of the things we do throughout the year — our arts in the schools, the grants we give to teachers, the programs that we have for special kids and special adults,” Sumner said. “It is a lot of fun, but all of that money comes back to the community. That’s the important part of this event.”