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Crowntown Showdown continues to showcase variety of talent 

A common complaint around every music scene is that people won't pay money to see a band they've never heard before. In order to combat this, bands will play free shows, offer songs online and try various other methods to get their music out to the masses.

One creation by me to aid the local scene has been the creation and distribution of the Homebrew compilation series. We've been handing them out for free at shows around town and you can also pick them up at local record stores such as Lunchbox Records in Plaza- Midwood.

Another way to check out a variety of local and regional talent is the Crowntown Showdown, organized by Eric-Scottt Guthrie. What originally started as a competition of sorts has now become a showcase for a lot of great musicians from up and down the east coast.

The last one was held on Nov. 19 at Snug Harbor, as nine bands performed three-song sets in front of a small crowd. It's a great way to check out some new music, and if you don't like it -- hey, you only have to sit through three songs. Here are my thoughts on how it all went down:

Deformati, Denman and Holt -- The trio may have started out a bit slowly, but they quickly picked it up and got into an entrancing ambient-rock groove that was reminiscent of early Pink Floyd. Lyrics were more often groans and hums, but damn if those didn't provide a great backdrop to the bass, keyboards and drums.

Eva Gael -- She took over when her sister, Etta Lea, couldn't be there. Both are part of The Near Misses and it's no wonder they collectively won CL's Best of Charlotte award for Best Female Vocalist. Gael's vocals were fantastic as she strummed her way through three solo acoustic tunes. These ladies are all as good individually as they are en masse.

Just Monroe -- Nothing personal, but there's something almost comedic about a really tall guy dwarfing a standard-sized guitar. This duo brought rock to the Showdown sounding much like Daughtry. Some bass would have added a little depth, but the two rocked out on their own.

The Dubber -- If this event was still a contest, there's no doubt in my mind that the D.C. resident would have walked away as the winner. Within moments of starting his performance, the crowd closed in and conversations ended. His reggae-folk style combined with a fantastic stage presence as The Dubber sang and hit occasional notes of percussion with a pinky ring or his mouth a la beatboxing. A few in attendance displayed disappointment about missing his recent Evening Muse show. Hopefully, he'll be back around the area soon.

The Train Wrecks -- They brought a country/rockabilly sound to the stage with some Tom Petty-esque vocals. They could have used the slap of a stand-up bass here and there, but the down-and-dirty style was a nice change of pace.

The Galen Kipar Project -- Another act that started out slow, but really picked up the groove by the time the third song came around. Playing with acoustic and electric guitars and drums, they had their own folk-rock style that leaned a bit toward the instrumental.

Dylan Gilbert -- Definitely one to keep your eyes on around the local music scene, Gilbert is a fantastic songwriter and musician. He's one of those "leave it on the stage" performers who dives into his own world and isn't afraid to break out feedback and effects on an acoustic guitar. He reminds me a lot of Josh Panda, if you're familiar with the former resident.

Volatile Baby -- I first saw Volatile Baby live at a benefit show at Amos' Southend a while back, but at that time it was just a duo -- Gina Stewart and Julie Hogan. On this night, they had the full trio in full effect and the presence of Allison Modafferi gave the harmonies a little more depth and her keyboard work added another layer to the music.

Born Under Punches -- The rock trio offered up a heavy groove to close the night with some good harmonies between guitarist and drummer. Serving its purpose, it was enough for me to want to go back and check out the band's CD again.

Heading out to a show like the Crowntown Showdown is a great opportunity to hear a variety of acts -- maybe you'll see one or two bands you'll be sure to check out again down the road. At least you gave them a chance.

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