Ultimate Music Challenge 2010 – Part II

Still reeling from last night and my ears still ringing and sleep deprived I muddled through the work day and on the drive home, sometimes the only time I get to think, I started thinking about the winning bands from last night… or are they? Based on what the lead singer of Super Magnetic told me herself, they put this line up together just for this competition. Now that I think of it, the Dave Band’s first time every playing live ever was at UMC4 on May 16th and the lead singers major mistake was actually saying that during their 20 minute set! (I can find no reference to the “Dave Band” on the web anywhere)

Before continuing with this post, you you haven’t done so, you should first read Part I .

Thanks to the power of the Internet (Google) let’s look at the winners shall we?

Super Magnetic (won $25K)

This band started 2008 as a house band for a local cable TV network labeled as a Motown – funk music. But that project got shelved at some undisclosed time. I can’t find any reference of them until they registered their web site March 26th of 2010, right before this contest started. I can’t find anywhere in their current line up where they have played any gigs except for this contest. One of the waitresses told me that the current female singer has a contract with a three female group that sings at Viejas. (searched all over their web site but could not find the group name)

Radio Karma (won $10K)

Labeled themselves as Top 40, 80’s, Latin, Hip-Hop, Dance (English and Spanish) from what I can find started around late 2009 not long before this contest. No web site, and had four gigs before this contest. If anyone wants, RadioKarmaBand.com is still up for grabs (maybe they can use $9.95 of their $10K to purchase it)!

Damaged Inc. (won $5K)

This Metallica tribute band is the first non-dance top 40 bands to win any money! Formed in 2002 by vocalist / guitarist Aaron Pearson. On bass guitar, is Stephen Goodwin, lead guitar, KK, and drumming, Larry Howe. This was the only true rock band that won any money in this dang contest, so my hats off to you guys. They are based out of Los Angeles so check them out if you are a Metallica fan!

Something Smells Fishy

There are many seasoned musicians that have been in the business for a long time looking to have fun and maybe some extra cash for their time some need to do it to supplement their income in these hard times. Since I’ve been in San Diego, there have never been many places for original bands to play, especially that pays or people actually come to. Back in the day, bars were filled with cover bands and that was the only way to make money. Bands bring in drinkers that sell more liquor, which has a huge markup for bars/ casinos etc.

So as most of you might have guessed by now, I’m not a huge fan of dance, top 40, R&B music. Sure I like it, and if I’m with a date I might actually get on the dance floor (not a pretty site). But no offence to the musicians in these bands, but these bands in San Diego are a dime a dozen. You can’t shake a stick on Friday or Saturday night without hitting one.

As a matter of fact on a whim, I went down to Humphrey’s Backstage Lounge on Saturday night hoping to hear some jazz or blues. Nope, just the same old top 40 dance music, after I paid $24 to get it! I could not take it anymore so I went outside on the deck to get some fresh air and guess what was playing in the main Humphrey’s outdoor venue… you guessed it the same top 40 dance music, just a bigger stage! Actually they were playing the same damn songs they were playing in the Backstage Lounge! I had to run out of there to find some real music. If I weren’t running so fast I would have asked for my $24 back!

The night was saved by Patrick’s II and the Dennis Jones Band who by the way is one of the best blues players around and the most friendliest. Dennis Jones came by my chair twice to chat. Don’t see any of those dance bands doing coming around to chat.

My point, if I get around to it, is that there are lots of musicians that are trying to be “original” tribute bands (kind of ironic) and do something different than the same old top 40 dance bands that litter the San Diego county/ southern California landscape. Give people a choice over that mindless, buy more drinks until your wallet is empty music or puke… which ever one comes first, and actually work their asses off recreating adding their own spin to music from The Stones, Queensrÿche, Tom Petty, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Oingo Boingo, Bad Company, Heart, INXS, Jonny Cash just to name a few. None of which ended up as money winners in this contest. Because lets face it, most new music is crap because record companies think everyone has ADD. That’s why young people, middle aged and older people are flocking to these type of shows! Why the hell to you think the Belly Up is featuring this type of music for a large portion of the summer on Friday nights? They get it and what better way to finish off your crappy work week working for the man with a great “tribute” band at a very cool venue that’s easy to get too but the ocean and a cool beer? Doesn’t get much better than that!

Went off course again, so maybe I’m disgruntled, upset what ever. Maybe so, but something smells fishy when the two biggest winners of the night last night won a total of $35K from the Viejas Indians and the winning band does not really exist. The fishy part to me is that these two might or might never be heard from again, while all the other bands are left empty handed for their years of hard work.

If Super Magnetic and Radio Karma end up with a contract at Viejas, I feel they should donate ALL their prize money to local school music programs. Then I (and hopefully others) will be happy and maybe some good will come from all of this.

Judges Blog

I read the blog posting from the judges on what happened last night after I left and rioting started. Some people there have been drinking since 4pm or so, what do you expect? When I left I was following a bunch of drunks on that horribly dangerous Willow Road that could not do over 30mph and almost could not find the freeway entrance (last week I almost got hit by an SUV full of four drunks with no lights on). Funny how the Casino doesn’t do anything about that (just worried about people taking pictures)? But I have to call you all on your shit on what you wrote on your blog. Not sure where you got your facts from but they are wrong!

Dave Patrone (1st judge) stated “I think Dazed and Confused were morons to play four shows before this one.” Well Dave, it’s you who is the moron, and I’m not sure who told you this and if this in anyway effected your judging then I have lost all respect for you, not that I knew who you were before this contest. Did you even bother to check their web site to verify this (didn’t you have a computer up there)? Dazed and Confused has had NO public gigs since the semi-finals and the finals. Their next public gig is not until June 26th. Some of people, like you, have to make living, pay bills. It’s tough out there. Figured you would realize that before shooting your mouth off.

Alicia Champion (2nd judge) IM’d judge #3 “The whole drive home I kept thinking if I should’ve pushed harder for Radio Karma.”  I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. Where is that guy from Damaged Inc. so he can kick you in the mouth for saying that! I also think who ever called Alicia the “B” word, well that is just uncalled for. Pissed off people + hours of drinking = idiots.

Edwin Decker (3rd judge) Ran around with a recording machine taping people. Good thing he did not talk to me. He actually seemed to take much the brunt of the anger last night but to actually say that Dazed and Confused pulled a DSB (some reference to the Journey band last year), I think I just threw up in my mouth again, is utterly insane. Like most finals, they are usually a let down from the shows running up to it. If you say that Dazed and Confused pulled a DSB, well all the other bands did not do very well either, you admitted it in your own blog! The only band that sounded halfway decent was Radio Karma because who knows how long they had to do a sound check. The other bands had 15-20 minutes or less under crappy house rules that made it worse. Not near enough time if you want your band to sound good for a final contest.

Let’s Meet The Judges

So who are these judges who have been presiding over 40 bands since April 11th? Deciding who goes home, who doesn’t and who wins $40K (if that is what we are supposed to believe). What qualifications do they posses to tell bands if they are good or bad? Not sure how much they got paid by Viejas for 11 weeks of work but hopefully enough to endure this, because I’m not in a band (might never be after this post), so I don’t have to kiss up to them or Viejas.

Dave Patrone

Dave Patrone
Dave Patrone

I believe he was new this year… might be his last. Dave is 2009 San Diego Music Award winner for “Best Jazz”. Here is what his web site says: “San Diego’s Premier Male Jazz Vocalist and Master of Ceremonies. He croons and delivers Jazz standards with the distinctive swagger found in Frank Sinatra, and the Rat Pack, with a legitimate Jazz foundation”. Seems he has some regular gigs at restaurants, weddings. So how did he get hooked up with this event? Full of rock bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Queensrÿche, Bad Company and more with a mix of top 40 dance bands? Lets call him the Randy Jackson of the group. Had one real working stint in Journey and never heard from him again until American Idol (puke) and both of them have no hair.

Dave also kept trying to get people to go bowling with him after the show each week. Not sure anyone went. Sorry Dave, like your first name though. Last name sounds fake.

Alicia Champion

Alicia Champion
Alicia Champion

Here is what her bio said on the UMC4 site: “is a full-time record producer officially under the Universal Music Group (note here the only producing I could find is her own company which I can not find any updates on in awhile). She is endorsed by Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and WINNER of VH1’s nationally televised reality talent competition, “You Rock With…” (2001) Alicia is also co-founder and producer of the San Diego IndieFest (2004). As a performer, Alicia has shared the stage and worked with Artists such as Melissa Etheridge (2001).” What they left off were the what year this happened, which I happily filled that in for you. Born in 1981, she is from Singapore (I’ve been there, wait, that might have been around the time I was there, she might be my daughter). Below for your enjoyment is the latest video of our dear Alicia at IndieFest 2008 playing rhythm guitar unknown band (maybe she will write and let me know). I wonder how well you would have done in the UMC4?

Lets call Alicia the Paula Abdul of the bunch. Cute, had one hit, and just faded away until American Idol (puked again) came along to turn her into a drunk (not talking about Alicia). Still not sure why she was picked for the UMC either. Most of the music that she is judging came into existence before she was born or while she was a baby. Not that she can’t have an appreciation of it.

Edwin Decker

Edwin Decker
Edwin Decker

Is hands down the Simon Cowell (triple puke) of the group. His web site says: “Edwin Decker is 48 year old freelance writer and performance artist residing in San Diego. He regularly publishes articles in various newspapers and magazines in San Diego and around the country”. So what type of performance artist is Edwin… drum roll please… spoken word! Lets check out his video:

So what else did I find out about Edwin? All of you Dazed and Confused fans that live in Ocean Beach, guess what? He lives right where you do! So I checked out his web site and this is what it says towards the bottom, I was laughing so hard, thanks Edwin. “Decker is a bartender, having slung drinks in several San Diego’s premier live music clubs including the now defunct Bacchanal (gone), 4th and B (on it’s way out), Buffalo Joe’s (gone), Club 710 (formerly Blind Melon’s) and Winston’s Beach club where he served as General Manager before being abruptly fired by an alcoholic, semi-insane, though lovable boss.” (I see a pattern emerging here) Again Viejas and DMC4, where does Ed get his qualifications for judging this contest except for spouting his opinion like a writer and critic does and writing the blog (hope you got paid well Ed).

UMC5 in 2011?

So my fingers are getting tired and I need to go to bed for work tomorrow. So if Viejas actually holds an UMC5 in 2011, here are some helpful hints (that might ward off the boycott building against the casino and venues like Viejas Arena and the angry (as Edwin put it) rioting crowd:

  1. Get some real, well known, musicians to judge the contest! All three judges. No puppet judges (just like American Idol) that need money or free publicity. There are tons in San Diego. San Diego has a huge music scene! If you need someone to write a crappy blog, that’s not hard to do. Heck, I’d almost do it for nothing. Wait, I’m joining the Viejas boycott. Maybe you can have a special guest musician each week to get different types of opinions.
  2. Change the Rules! When I got home tonight for the first time I read the official rules. Here are the only real rules for the band entering (besides the music cannot be original):
    1. All performers must be 21 years of age or older.
    2. Bands can be a maximum of ten performers but cannot be fewer than three.
  3. Make sure the bands have been around! And can prove it with real gigs (real paying bookings at clubs, venues etc., not friends parties or restaurants), blogs, web sites, photos, etc. for at least six months prior to the contest and a strong fan base. None of this crap when their first gig ever was playing in a $25K contest. WTF? Or like below, putting the band together just for the contest. My opinion on second place is still out too.

Does anyone but me see a huge loophole left open in #2 above that the winning band took advantage of, maybe because she (or others) work at Viejas? I’ll give you a few seconds to think about it. Do you see it? Well here is the scenario… maybe I’m wrong but here is what came to mind of… lets say you already work at Viejas and hear about this contest coming up where you can win $25K (5K more than last year). Call up all of your musician buddies (10 to be exact), your former second singer from 2008 (who by the way is awesome and left right after their performance last week), work out some songs, put sheet music in front of the horn section, maybe the keyboard players (which the one judge criticized them for last week). Do some practicing, play three times and never be heard from again? Maybe it’s late and things are getting fuzzy. But they registered their one page website on GoDaddy and expires on 10/13/2010. Now do you know why is smells fishy to me?

These three rules, maybe I will come out with more, should weed out many of the bands we saw this year. Viejas… you have your name on music venues and more. Make this a real music contest next year! Not an audition.

One last word to the judges, I apologize for my rant in advance, but you opened up your opinions, blogs and your ability to criticize others in this event, so it’s only fair. If you are judging hundreds of people’s careers, source of revenue, maybe we should look at you first. If I see you at an event soon well lets just say I’m not very worried. The comment box below is open to take your best shot back.

*Judges, your bios were too dang long so I had to edit them. This is already way too long. Already up to almost 3,000 words. (before you comment on it)

8 thoughts on “Ultimate Music Challenge 2010 – Part II

  1. I was at Viejas for the whole Ultimate Challenge contest, which was my first experience with this show. I’m not part of any of the bands, and don’t have friends in any of the bands (disclosure).
    After several weeks, I got the impression that some of these bands are friends of the judges, you can tell that from their comments during the show, during the judging, and on the blog they maintain for comments.
    The bands that compete invest a lot of time and effort, but then the judging is slanted – a couple of weeks it was apparent that a certain band was friendly with the judges and those bands won their specific week, regardless of who they were up against. Two in particular were WAY overshadowed by the other bands, yet they won…. didn’t turn up in the semi’s because they weren’t that great – but thats not fair to the other bands that come into this not being a favorite of the judges.
    And to say these “judges” are fair in their assessment of the bands is a joke – and an insult to these hard-working bands that think this is on the level.
    Viejas is doing itself no favor by having this contest judged by three locals who are definitely biased. I came into this show not having any pre-conceived notion of this, but it became very evident by the end.
    A suggestion: we have several large universities with great music departments. Why don’t they get music professors who UNDERSTAND MUSIC to do the judging. You would have an unbiased assessment – and not have to feed them drinks all night long (the guy and chick judges).
    Very unprofessional.
    Just my opinion.

  2. I’m surprised it’s taken me so long to have found out about this blog posting but after reading it this morning, I felt obligated to address a few things.

    I’m posting here not because I feel it necessary to defend my judging or my credentials; rather, to point out that some of your statistics and statements are pretty far removed from the truth. It’s a bit weak to post misleading statements on your own blog where none but your friends and those who share your opinion are looking at it. I’m sad not to have seen this posted on the actual UMC blog where it would have been screened by people who have followed the UMC from its inception. Speaking of which, all three judges have been involved with this competition at some level from the first year. This is an example of a readily available fact that seems to have eluded you in your “research” for this blog entry. You do some exceptional research, I have noticed, to support theories you seem to have developed prior to your research and yet omit facts that you must have discovered in this same research that would easily disprove your wacky conspiracy theories derived in your agitated state.

    It would have been nice if you had done some unbiased research on your statements or even looked up the history of the event before you started angrily posting provocative speculation about the character of the judges or the intentions of Viejas Casino or the tribe.

    To clarify:
    No judges are affiliated with the Viejas Tribe nor does the tribe take any interest in the winners of the competition other than the entertainment production department who obviously considers them for future entertainment based upon the crowd they bring and their level of performance. Each of the judges has had a successful career in the entertainment industry and has no financial or other interest in the outcome of the competition. We (judges) are dedicated to being fair and constructive in our evaluations. Your snide observations about the judges qualifications omit much, including the aspect that we are judging an entertainment PRODUCTION and we three are very successful producers of shows, music festivals, competitions and recordings as well as being award-winning musicians. Winners of this competition, semi finalists and even non-finalists have been asked to perform at Viejas as a result of their participation in the UMC. Nearly every band that has ever participated has stated that they benefited from the evaluation experience and naturally they have gotten gigs as a result of the entertainment director being able to see them in a live performance situation.

    Among the many incorrect or inaccurate comments you made here on this blog is your list of types of bands who haven’t won money in this competition. For instance;

    You specifically mentioned tribute bands like Johnny Cash and The Rolling Stones. For your readers’ information, a Johnny Cash tribute band WON first place the first year (Cash’d Out) and a Rolling Stones band WON first place the third year (Rolling the Stones). Metal tribute bands like Monsters of Rock and Damage Inc. also have taken home thousands of dollars in this competition. The idea that we judges have some sort of ulterior motive in this competition is particularly insulting if you had taken the time to read this or past years’ blogs on the UMC site. Our process of judging is completely open and we actually defend our opinions publicly so I can’t possibly see how you might come to the conclusion that we are anything less than objective and fair. At times we may be provocative in our verbal or written assessments because we are, after all, providing entertainment. This should be easy to understand.

    There are many more inaccuracies in your blog pertaining to the competition. I don’t really have the time or desire to extract them all, suffice to say that this post reminds me of the worst kind of journalist: a muckraker. You seem to wish to create drama and angst with your writing to support your interest, in this case, that Dazed and Confused should have won… For instance, it was later stated that Jason probably did exaggerate and tell Ed that he played four gigs before this competition so, it’s clear you’re more interested in making a statement than representing facts. If you were interested in truth you would have retracted your erroneous statements and clarified the situation. Instead I see a post on the UMC blog that you have “moved on” and that others should do the same.

    That statement really describes your take on journalism… Fire and forget, and the truth doesn’t really matter in the end, simply that you cried out loudly and were heard…

    I am personally offended by the way you have represented both myself and my fellow judges in your blog and I hope you have the moral courage to leave my post intact here.

    David Patrone

  3. Jason, to address your theory of collusion or favoritism, I’d like to point out that we hear this every year from people who don’t know us or have never seen this competition and it’s simply not true. After they get to know us they realize we’re being as fair as anyone can be when judging bands of vastly different genre, presentation and instrumentation.

    There are obvious reasons why we know many of the musicians in these bands, one of which is that we’ve been judging this contest for four years and many of the bands have come back to compete each year.

    In my case, my company, Midnight Productions sends out about 50 1099s each year to various bands and musicians that I personally perform with as well as the hundreds more I work with at festivals or hire for my swing dance extravaganza.

    Alicia owns a studio and works closely with hundreds of bands each year in one of the biggest Indy music festivals in the World: San Diego Indiefest http://www.sdindiemusicfest.com/

    Ed has interviewed or watched nearly every band of note in the last 20+ years and works as a bartender in a popular music venue as well as being a performer himself. http://www.edwindecker.com

    OF COURSE WE’RE GOING TO KNOW MANY OF THE MUSICIANS! IN fact I’m excited when there’s a musicians I DON’T know cause then I get to meet them!

    There are probably a lot of reasons why Viejas selects local judges, not the least of which is that we have a relationship with them and they know what to expect from us as far as professional behavior and impartiality. We get very little compensation to work at this competition so that the most amount of money goes toward the prize money. Any judge worth their salt is going to know many of the performers, ESPECIALLY THE REALLY GOOD ONES, so I can see how, at a really simplistic level, you might see favoritism but you’d really have to be a simpleton to continue to believe it in light of the facts: especially since we’ve voted down and critiqued many more of our friends than we have advanced.

    Another thing is that talented bands that do well catch our attention and we then become friends with those people that we didn’t know before and since I hire bands for various events, I will of course hire the ones I think have done well… Would you have me hire the bands that I think sucked? Just to be fair, maybe I’ll start peppering my events with crappy bands so someone doesn’t complain that I’m favoring the high quality bands… (If any of my clients are reading this I want you to know I’m just kidding…)

    I hope you can gain a bit of perspective from this. If you’ve read any of our blog http://www.ultimatemusicchallenge.com/umcblogfour you will see that all of the musicians who know us know that we would not show favoritism to anyone and go to great pains to evaluate each band honestly and according to specific criteria.

    Get to know us, you’ll understand that we’re good people who judge this contest honestly.

    David Patrone

  4. First of all, I barely recognized Dave Patrone by his posts on this blog. My contact with him on UMC has been one where he narcissistically brags that he is a “Champion” or rants about his experience as a Marine… Some of his most “Dave-like” comments were when he not so subtly mocked my past musical experience as less than his… He must have done some heavy meditation to have written the fairly rational posts above… lol… But the smell of him still carried through… whew…..

    Mr. Patrone….The factually incorrect UMC blog remains intact today with nothing but a deeply buried apology within hundreds of boring comments for incorrectly accusing Dazed and Confused of a lack of professionalism. Or, for using loosely interpreted off the record statements publicly… In fact, Patrone chooses to manipulate the words on this blog to defend the original factually incorrect UMC blog!!! Amazing….

    Dave Patrone is interested in one thing, protecting his public persona from the truth about who he really is — an egotistical man who believes he is much, much more talented and important in the music community than he really is…. A man who cares little about demeaning the reputation of others publicly. A man who is “unconcerned” about righting a wrong that could damage others. A hypocrite.

    That unfortunately IS the self serving, egotistical, sociopathic mindset that is the UMC via their judges… Will it change? I’ll be watching next year ~~

    BTW, the incorrect UMC blog remains intact with no retraction visible to the casual reader… Dave Patrone, why should we care about sugar coating your public persona when you obviously care so little about publicly and incorrectly trashing a wonderfully talented band???

    1. My public personality and opinions, as you have pointed out, are clearly posted and available for all people to read and evaluate. I’m not trying to protect my reputation, I stand by my statements and have no interest in trying to deceive anyone about who I “actually” am. I’m honest and open about who I am, what I believe and what I do. I’m sorry you think that I’m all of these things you accuse me of. I don’t consider myself important in the SD music community and I was asked to be a judge and I did it with integrity and honesty. I’m sorry if you think I maligned some bands. Maybe I did. Whatever I said, at least it was what I believe. I hope those bands can benefit from one listener’s honest opinion.

      The UMC is not factually incorrect. People who posted on the blog made some mistakes and they were later addressed. Those are the facts. The blog was turned off by the Viejas moderator a couple of months ago so no more posts are coming through including a few that I made and a few that other people I know tried to post. Oh well! There’s always next year! I probably won’t be judging next year because I’m hiking the Pacific Crest Trail all summer and doing a walking Jazz tour but I’m sure whoever takes my place will face the same challenges in balancing compassion with honesty. Be nice to them, it’s not an easy task!


  5. All I have to say is plain and simple. The whole set up at UMC is a JOKE!! starting with the Judges “The 3 stooges!” Absolutely unqualified and on the take to promote themselves. Expressing their opinion on musical acts without having their ears checked and they should, promptly. You are a disgrace to the music industry. Select judges that are impartial knowledgeable and professionals, not these three Morons that in their delusional world, think the know and understand music. Then again, with these 3 imbeciles all you have to do to win is know the judges. Go ahead and reply, you nincompoops it really doesn’t matter what you will say, the reality is, you are and always will be MORONS!! Have a nice day 🙂

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