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Posted January 25, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Blue Fox searching for best local drummer

By Josette Keelor

Tonight drummers and their fans from around the area will gather at Blue Fox Billiards Bar & Grill in Winchester to compete for title of "Hammer of the Gods of the Valley."

It's the second in a four-part series that Blue Fox owner Conrad Coffman has organized with Bar Code guitarist and lead singer Jay Powell and DJ SkyHigh Bryan Flemming. The first, a guitar competition called Guitar Gods of the Valley, took place Aug. 17 and featured 10 of the area's best guitarists from bands that play anything from funk/alternative to hard rock.

"It's supporting local talent," Coffman said. "It's not about the competition or who's the best; to us it's all about getting [musicians] together that are really, really good," he said. Besides hearing great music, the audience, which for the guitar competition was upwards of 200 people, gets to watch musicians who normally wouldn't perform together.

"So it's all about showcasing local talent," Coffman said. "It's really about putting together all the local talent on one night in one room."

Tim Artz, guitarist for Monolith and Bar Code who won the first competition, later will join the winners of the competitions for best drummer, bass player and lead singer to form an eventual all-star band for the series' final performance, Coffman said.

Finding the best bass player might prove to be easier than the best singer, said Coffman, who doesn't want an "American Idol" or karaoke type of event.

Those who perform tonight initially were nominated, Coffman said. Then by popular vote on Facebook, from thousands of "band oriented" people among the friends lists of Coffman, Powell and Flemming -- the 10 were chosen and asked to compete.

There's no particular limit of how many might compete, Coffman said, so in the next two competitions, more might compete.

"The only requirement is that you're not a full-blown professional," he said. Any unsigned artist who has performed at Blue Fox previously or anyone local is welcome to be nominated as a contestant.

Considering the success of the guitar event, Coffman expects to see another 200 or more people attend tonight's Hammer of the Gods. It's been promoted mainly on Facebook and by word of mouth, but Coffman said that should be enough, considering Winchester's music foundation.

"Start a rumor, start it quick, and it spreads like wildfire," he said.

The $5 cover charge and donations from sponsors Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Ducati of Winchester contribute to prizes for the top three drummers -- gift cards for movie tickets as well as $500, $200 and $100 cash prizes.

The judges will be Golder O'Neill, director of music and production at Shenandoah University; Greg Shiley, owner of Shiley Acres in Inwood, W.Va.; and Jimmy "Chocolate" Chalfant, drummer of the bands Kix and Funny Money.

But the night won't end with the winner of the competition, Powell said.

"At the end of the night we're going to start basically a big drum circle or a room of rhythm," he said. Anyone who brings a percussion instrument -- anything from bongos to egg shakers -- will be invited to be part of a drum circle.

"It will be the biggest drum circle Winchester has ever seen," Powell said. "It's going to be a really good night."

The Hammer of the Gods of the Valley drummer competition will begin at 9 p.m. today at Blue Fox Billiards Bar & Grill, at 1160 Millwood Pike, Winchester. There will be a $5 cover charge. For more information, call 665-2114 or look for Hammer of the Gods of the Valley on Facebook.

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com

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