Free to Grow are the winners of this year’s Stingray Rising Star Showcase.
Four bands competed in this years Harvest Jazz and Blues – Stingray Rising Star Showcase, each delivering strong sets to an enthusiastic crowd. A panel of judges scored each group on talent, originality and marketability. These results were then tallied together with the event’s online voting component to decide the winner.
Free to Grow were the first band to play to the afternoon crowd and certainly made a strong impression with ten musicians stretching across the stage. For this performance the group consisted of three guitarists, bass, drums, fiddle and four strong vocalists who all delivered a very entertaining performance.
Hum & Hollow took the stage next and after experiencing some technical difficulties, they offered an unfortunately shorter performance, managing to squeeze in a final tune despite running slightly over their allotted time. Despite the setback, this relatively new duo put on a solid show highlighted by Brooke Burns’ beautiful voice and Alexander Cook’s infectiously rhythmic guitar work.
David in the Dark played third and laid down what might have been the tightest set of the event. Singer/guitarist Evan Leblanc’s voice and lyrics drew the crowd’s attention from the very first notes. Backed by a very strong ensemble, this five-piece band demonstrated why they’ve been a major topic of conversation this year.
The show wrapped up with a highly energetic set from Stephen Lewis, who had the crowd dancing and singing along from the get-go. Joined by drummer Marco LeBreton, the two delivered an A-Game performance. Any festival would be lucky to have them on the bill.
Do to a last minute prize addition of $500, Harvest and Stingray Music were able to award two prizes. David in the Dark took the second place prize of $500, loosing out on the big money ($2500) by just one online vote.
An event like this is more a celebration than a competition. It was great to see so many strong performers take the stage. Kudos to Harvest and Stingray Music for keeping this event an annual part of the festival program.
Free to Grow will take the stage tonight at 8 p.m. opening for last year’s winners, Earthbound Trio and festival veterans, Grand Theft Bus.