When you put some of Central New York’s most popular bands under one roof with the goal of having them compete for the title of “Best Band,” it should make for some good entertainment.
When you do it for a good cause, it should make for a great fundraiser.
At least, that’s the hope of Tara Dennee. Dennee founded Stand Against Suicide (SAS) in 2011, an Elbridge-based nonprofit that seeks to raise awareness about the risks of mental illness and to encourage those in need to get help. The organization offers peer-based support groups every Tuesday for those suffering from suicide-related loss and mental illness, as well as memory baskets to families who’ve lost a loved one to suicide. SAS also distributes awareness literature and materials and hosts a website, standagainstsuicide.org.
Dennee, who lost her father to suicide in 2008, said a battle of the bands seemed like a novel idea for a fundraiser in a world filled with walks and craft shows.
“Stand Against Suicide is trying to come up with new and unique fundraisers to draw in more diverse crowds,” she said. “Mental disorders and suicide happen to so many different walks of life, and we want to cater to everybody.”
In order to participate in the event, bands must take part in a 15-minute audition before five judges with various musical backgrounds. To sign up to audition, email Dennee at firstname.lastname@example.org. Auditions will be held starting at noon, Sunday, Jan. 20, at Monirae’s, 688 Route 10, Pennellville. Bands must audition in order to compete for the 20 slots available in the battle itself, which will take place Saturday, April 20, at the SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College.
Right now, SAS is spreading the word about the battle through Facebook, where it has a large presence; more than 4,100 people like its main page, and Dennee has also set up virtual support groups through the social media site. But she said she’s really looking to ramp up support for the event.
“We need bands to participate,” she said. “They can be any age, any genre, cover bands or originals.”
The prizes for the ultimate winners in April should provide an incentive, if bragging rights aren’t enough; first place nets $1,000 cash, while runners-up get eight hours of recording studio time with Techno-topia productions and a professional photo shoot from Anderton Photography.
Dennee said a Battle of the Bands is a great way to not only raise money for SAS’s programs, but also to spread the word about the organization’s mission.
“This will be a great event for SAS because we will have the opportunity to cater to so many different people,” she said. “Music is in everybody’s life. Since we’ll have all genres present, I think it’ll just be one huge event.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.