If you’re looking for a way to discover new local country acts, grab your cowboy boots and head to Gaslamp in Long Beach for the inaugural Shipkicker Battle of the Bands. The showdown takes place on Thursday, January 26 and the prize is an opening slot for the headliners of the Shipkicker Country Music Festival at Queen Mary’s Waterfront Park in May. Whether pledging musical allegiance to Johnny Cash or Jason Aldean, country fans of all subgenres can count on a night of guitars and twang as local artists compete for a gig in front of thousands of country music fans.
The first-time battle is comprised of six bands selected by a team of event producers at the Queen Mary, and the top acts were tapped after a preliminary round of online judging. The second and final round of the competition will take place at Gaslamp, where the winners will determined by 50% judges votes and 50% audience votes. Bands will have 30 minutes onstage to throw down their best material (which the rules state must largely consist of original songs) as they fight for a spot on the main stage of the Shipkicker Country Music Festival.
Five of the six bands have already been announced, with a mix of solo artists and full bands rounding out the lineup so far. Artists include the harmony-driven trio Blontourage, solo songstress Melissa Farrior, and the hearty yet happy-go-lucky Just Dave Band. The competitors also include country-pop artist Heather Jeanette and melodic singer/guitarist Dean Kalgoris. While the final band is yet to be announced, submissions for this year’s battle are closed.
The bands who made the cut are competing for more than a main stage show, contestants are also in the running for a chance to perform an acoustic set at the Shipkicker Saloon or churn out their favorite covers at the BBQ Stage. The side stage acts will be chosen by producers and by fan vote on the Queen Mary’s social media pages, opening up more opportunity for local artists to become involved with one of the few large-scale country music festivals in Southern California.
The Shipkicker County Music Festival is heading into its third year, and past lineups have boasted headlining acts including Dustin Lynch, Eastin Corbin, and Dylan Scott. The new battle of the bands gives local musicians a chance to perform with some of the genre’s top names, and with a full lineup set to be announced later in the year, it could be the chance of lifetime for a lucky cowboy (or girl).
Tickets to the Shipkicker Battle of the Bands at Gaslamp Long Beach are $10, doors open at 6 p.m. For more information visit and to buy tickets click here.