By RFT Music
By Drew Ailes
By Bob McMahon
By Allison Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
Jay Mumma, who took over booking when Jacobs relocated to Colorado earlier this year, agrees. "Since Cicero's started spotlighting this kind of music, there are more bands focused on jamming," he observes. "Right now, it's thriving. There's a lot of really, really good local bands that all have their own sound, and that's the hardest thing to get people to understand. It's frustrating when Cicero's gets hit with the stigma of being a Grateful Dead-cover-band club, because that's just part of a bigger picture. The jam-band thing has so many subgenres in it, from bluegrass to funk, blues to techno, just about anything. That's one reason we record all our shows and post them on our Web site (www.ciceros-stl.com) for people to check out. We're willing to share in some of the magic that happens here!"
A couple of years ago, Cicero's held its first battle of the bands to draw attention to the fledgling scene. Now in its third year, the annual monthlong competition means more than ever. In addition to cash prizes, gift certificates from local music stores and merchandise manufacturers, bands are competing for free studio time at Smith Lee Productions. The suspense is almost over. Winners of the three preliminary rounds, CPB, Caravan and one yet-to-be-determined band will battle it out for the grand prize in next week's finals. Although judging in the initial rounds is based entirely on audience response, the ultimate winner will be determined by a panel of judges (including the RFT's own René Spencer Saller).
"Making it to the finals means that people like us and support us, and we love that," says CPB's Hotle. "If we win the final round, that would mean recording time, which would be great for us. But even if we don't win, it's OK, because this battle of the bands is great for the whole scene in St. Louis, and that's what we really care about."