And The Winner Is...
THE PRIME MINISTERS CROWNED WINNER OF SONIC SUMMER CONTEST
PONTIAC — Decked out in ties and sweater vests, The Prime Ministers won over the crowd and took the top prize at the second Detroit News Sonic Summer battle of the bands contest Friday night at the Chrysler Arts, Beats & Eats festival.
The group's polished, pop-influenced sound made for an upbeat set and an enthusiastic crowd at The Detroit News/Comcast Stage on Pike Street in downtown Pontiac, and earned it prizes including a 12-hour recording session at Effigy Studios and a publicity photo shoot from StarShowz Photography.
"I feel like I'm going to have a heart attack," said Prime Ministers bass player Ned Coho. "It's good to get some recognition. I was actually nervous tonight."
The quartet, whose latest CD, "Budget Cuts," was released earlier this summer, also won a special-edition Fender Stratocaster guitar from ABC Warehouse, a Spider II 210 amp from Axis Music Academy, a feature on Motor City Riffs on WRIF-FM (101.1).on Sept. 10 and a performing slot on the festival's main stage Sunday.
The Prime Ministers, whose members are in their 30s, beat out finalists Free Element and Pillar of Autumn. Comcast taped the evening's performances for rebroadcast for Comcast On Demand. The event was co-emceed by Dave Doran of WRIF and Adam Graham, pop music writer for The Detroit News.
The three bands were among 20 that emerged from more than 100 entries in July; those 20 groups were voted on by visitors to DetNews.com and whittled down to nine contenders, who then performed at Ferndale's Magic Bag, Detroit's Majestic Theatre and Pontiac's Clutch Cargo's to determine the final three.
The Prime Ministers entered the contest last year and made it to the online vote, only to lose out in the voting's last minutes. The loss was "pretty bitterly disappointing," said frontman Todd Wicks. But this year's contest gave the group the chance to play in front of one of its biggest crowds and was a lot of fun, he said.
Judge Nicole DeMember-Johnson, managing partner at Effigy Studios, said the Prime Ministers' enthusiasm and dedication made them her top choice.
"The Prime Ministers won because of their lyrics, stage presence and commitment to music," she said Friday. "They love it, they believe in it and that goes out to the audience."
The other judges were videographer Peter Franco of DE1X Productions, club and Amir Daiza, promoter of Clutch Cargo's club in Pontiac, and John Antone, founder of Axis Music Academy.
The bands were evaluated on sound quality, technical skill, entertainment value, originality and creativity, and songwriting ability.
The Prime Ministers were "very original," Daiza said. "They could have a mass appeal."