Going wild about The Wilde!

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By Gig Scene Editor Graham Chalmers

I had the pleasure of being one of the judges of the Bottom of the Bottle Battle of the Bands for local indie and rock groups at the weekend.

Held at Rehab club on Parliament Street in Harrogate, I say “pleasure” despite the fact I’ve always looked on these things as a necessary evil.

Which is why I’ve been a judge numerous times over the past 16 years or so in Harrogate, Leeds and York.

The standard was certainly high in last Sunday’s grand final helmed by DJ Trev, who’s been the heart of Harrogate rock n roll for more than 10 years now.

The prizes, including £500 cash, studio time at Home Fire run by local punk promoters NYHC plus various treats courtesy of Contemporary Hair Studios and North Star Tattoo, were pretty good, too.

I dare say a few bands I would have preferred were undoubtedly knocked out in earlier rounds but the winners, a hugely energetic, recently-formed five-piece called – The Wilde – were impressive.

At any rate, battle of the bands are by definition purely a matter of taste. There is no such thing as a “fair winner”.

The last time I chatted to Rick Witter he still hadn’t forgotten how his band Shed Seven has finished third in Fibbers Battle of the Bands – and that was before Britpop was even born.

PS What I really thought of the final at Rehab was this. . .

Best songs: Recovery. Most impressive playing: Pips (who were runners-up - and their bassist played for two bands in the final!). Most energy: The Wilde. Surliest attitude: The Superlatives.

From up-an-coming local bands to a musician of international standing.

Phenomenal Texan-born blues guitarist and versatile songwriter Eric Johnson plays Harrogate Theatre tonight, Thursday, April 4 and I can highly recommend him. A Grammy winner and a member of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century (Musician magazine), his famous fans include fellow legends Steve Miller, Jimmie Vaughan and one Eric Clapton.

Johnson is coming to Harrogate straight from his UK tour’s opening date at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London tonight.

There may be a few tickets left. Telephone the box office on 014234 502116 or book online at http://www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk/

More news for fans of guitar playing. A new guitar-based music night is starting on the first Sunday of each month at Boston Spa village hall.

Kicking off at 7.30pm this Saturday night, Free and Easy is open to all and sundry, though there’s a number you can call if you’d like to take part in future events.

Helmed by Mike Kendall-Smith, amongst others, all proceeds will go to Boston Spa Village Hall. Entry costs £3 and it’s a case of BYO drinks.

Oh, and that contact number is 01937 588275 or you can email madmaks2@aol.com

The Blues Bar is probably the biggest supporter of live music in the district – and had been for some time.

This great Harrogate institution’s latest good idea is giving young local acts the floor in a series of early evening sessions on Sundays.

One youngster who played there recently was 13-year-old Gina McCann, a teenage veteran of numerous regional open mic contests and the final of the AMP Awards with the band GLJJ.

You can catch Gina next in a gig at the Cross Keys in Markington shortly, then as guest performer at Jigsaw fashion shop in Markington on April 28, before appearing with GLJJ at Bedale Acoustic Festival in May.

There’s also a video at www.ginamccann.com