DJ BEEFCAKE throws beach balls and prizes into the crowd Wednesday night at the Last Band Standing competition at Shenanigans. - Photo by Andy Atkinson

Last Band Standing 2010

There are heavy prizes waiting for the winner of the Last Band Standing competition going on at Shenanigan's in downtown Medford. Local bands are striving for a Gibson Les Paul electric guitar, a cargo trailer or a band van and a recording contract with Top Secret Records of Eugene.

The contest heads into its round of semifinal performances Wednesday, Aug. 4, on the outdoor patio of Shenanigans, a nightspot that takes up most of the block of East Main Street and Riverside Avenue.

Preliminary rounds ended July 28, with sets played by HeadWayte, Takilma, Jamlanders and Fates Medallion. The preliminaries started six weeks ago with 24 local bands. Four bands played each Wednesday night, and two of each four advanced to the semifinals — voted for by their fans. The winner of Last Band Standing will be announced Sept. 8, at the final round.

The July 28 show was the first round in the contest for Medford band HeadWayte. Out of the four competing groups, HeadWayte and Jamlanders made it to the semifinals.

"We're just gonna take it how it comes," says HeadWayte's frontman, Ryan Overby. "It's all in fun. There's a lot of heavy hitters in this competition."

Other bands making it to the semifinals include rock and reggae groups Dead Sea Pedestrians, Bill Skins Fifth, Steel Monks, Idle Threats, Major Jones, Holdfast, The T Club, Indubious and Stephanie Hirche & Three. Country and bluegrass band Sweet Town Little also is a contender.

Overby's band plays experimental rap and rock mixed with metal.

"We don't like to limit ourselves to one sound," Overby says. "We like to keep it open."

Most of HeadWayte's players grew up in the Rogue Valley and attended local high schools. Vocalist Overby is from South Medford High School. Guitarists Justin Rycraft and Chris Preston, from North Medford High School, share lead and rhythm for the group. Drummer John Fuller is from Rogue River High School. Bass player Justin Crum hails from Bandon High School.

"We've been musicians since we were young kids," Overby says. "So when we came together as a band, we were good and tight."

HeadWayte's music is influenced by rock groups such as Primus, System of a Down, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Deftones, among others.

"When we put it all together, it comes out really cool," Overby says. "It's progressive, creative and high-powered."

DJ Beefcake, who hosts 96.9 The Rogue's Mid-day Show, emcees the Wednesday night competitions.

"The band contest is the best thing to happen for local bands in this area," Beefcake says. "It's created a huge showcase for local talent."

Jim Rose and Craig Cooper, program directors of 102.7 The Drive and 96.9 The Rogue, respectively, coordinate the contest and prizes. The Guitar Center of Medford provides sound equipment for the shows.

It's the second year for Last Band Standing, with last year's contest being very successful, according to Rose. Similar contests have sprung up in cities such as Eugene, Bend and Boise, Idaho. Medford's competition has outpaced them.

"We're kicking their butts as far as attendance," Rose says.

"Supporting local music is our goal," says Beefcake, "because of the good it brings to Southern Oregon."

As for Overby and his bass player, Rycraft, the two are keeping the faith.

"We try not to question fate," Overby says. "But, we have HeadWayte tattooed across our right forearms.

"And we've created a song that we don't think we'll be able to live down, called 'Stupid Pictures.' I think the song is going to carry the band whether we like it or not."

See www.969therogue.com for more information.

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