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The vote is in: Black Bear Music Battle winner announced

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The 12 week grueling competition came to an end on Dec. 10 as four finalists took to the stage at Black Bear Frozen Yogurt shop, each playing their hearts out for a shot at the $1,000 grand prize.

Narrowed down from 12 semi-finalists, Otis B. Driftwood, Crush the Empire, Cell Phone Parking Lot, and Island Bound went head-to-head with a 30-minute set each that captivated the store, which was filled over capacity. Although barely enough room to walk, members of the crowd showed their enthusiasm by jumping and clapping to fast-paced songs; Black Bear customers and fellow musicians put aside the competitive aspect to simply have a good time.

First up was six-piece band Island Bound. Bringing an island reggae beat to the shop this group started the night off with a smooth, laid-back sound. Although the many instruments in their band came together nicely, it may have been too much for the small venue that is Black Bear. It seemed the beautiful voices of the three main singers –  Sarah Fanoimoana, Issac Panui and Isaiah Chun Fook – were overpowered by the various pieces. Their overall sound and performance was stellar.

Second on the stage was Cell Phone Parking Lot, which consisted of two guitarists (Cody Schuman and Maveryke Hines), one bassist (Josh Bozich), and the new addition of a drummer (Orion Williams). Picking up the tempo from the previous competitor, this group entranced the audience with their indie alternative rock sound and passionate stage presence.

The next group to play was Crush the Empire. While they also define themselves as alternative rock, this band was entirely different from their previous competitors. As Matt Jahns (lead vocalist/guitarist), Colten Koch (drummer), and Aaron Sweet (bassist) amped up the volume, the small frozen yogurt shop was booming with loud music. However, his final set did not amount to the high quality of their semi-final performance.

Last to compete was the sole Otis B. Driftwood. Using only an acoustic guitar and his powerful voice, this local musician held his stance among three full-blown bands. He pulled out captivating instrumental tricks and sang lyrics with deep meaning. Driftwood was unforgettable.

Choosing between these four finalists were the judges: professional musician and production company owner Robert Wade, representative of the Pioneer A&E section Daniel Conrad, and former radio DJ Dan Livingston.

The audience, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the frozen yogurt shop, fell silent in anticipation of the winner. After 13 long weeks of competition, Jesse Roberge (shop owner) announced that “Cell Phone Parking Lot” would be taking home the grand prize of $1,000. As ear-piercing shouts of joy erupted from the members and fans of this group, it was known that the Black Bear Music Battle had officially ended.

Runner-up to the first place winner was the one and only Otis B. Driftwood. The order of the two following were not revealed.


If you want to be a part of the next round of the Black Bear Music Battle, just email before the first week of competition, which will be taking place near the end of January. Don’t miss the opportunity to share your talent and compete for yet another grand prize! 


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The student news site of Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington.
The vote is in: Black Bear Music Battle winner announced