Still time to enter this summer’s 29th annual Horsham Battle of the Bands

Organisers of this summer’s 29th annual Horsham Battle of the Bands are looking for entries as they head back to normal in readiness for next year’s 30th anniversary.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 7:10 am
Jamie Stanley pic by Cheryl Zimmerman

Spokesman Jamie Stanley said: “We haven’t really talked about whether we are going to do anything majorly special for next year, but we might look and see whether any of the bands from the early days can be coaxed out of retirement. It is really important to keep that connection with the early days.”

As Jamie says, the early 2000s are probably seen as the heyday of the event before it was nearly scrapped in 2013. But the fact that the Horsham Battle of the Bands managed to survive the pandemic suggests there are plenty of good times ahead.

“It was started in 1993 and for most of the time since it was run by the Horsham District Live Music Alliance until they were disbanded in 2017. In 2013 they nearly scrapped the Battle of the bands but a few people joined to save it and formed a sub-committee and there was a rebranding for 2014 which is when we moved to the park.

“Then in 2017 the HDLMA formally handed it over to the remaining members of the sub-committee to continue organising it as an independent entity – which was me, Jamie F and Sam Albrow with the addition of veteran of the HDLMA and BOTB Mark Daly as our chairman until 2020.”

As Jamie says: “It is a really important community event. It provides a platform for bands and musicians that they would not otherwise have. We have had a few professional bands coming out of it, professional or semi-professional, but there is no limit. People have spoken about separating them all, but it was decided that it was a good experience for everyone to be all in the one competition.”

For the winners it means key prizes including recording a single and a photoshoot. But for everyone it is the chance to play a big gig, for some their biggest gig to date.

“The bands have to have a Horsham connection, either live or work in Horsham, but a few years ago we added that if they had played a gig in Horsham in the last year they would be eligible too – and for this year, because of the pandemic, we have extended that to two years.”

The point is that it is a platform: “There was never a dedicated music venue in Horsham until the Rec Rooms opened three years ago. I think many years ago the leisure centre at Broadbridge Heath used to have music there, but there was never a dedicated music venue. But there was quite a thriving music scene in the pubs in the area.”

Horsham’s Battle of the Bands was able to provide a focus. The bands are judged on a set of six criteria including originality, stage presence, musicianship, audience reaction and performance. The judges are invited to judge each out of ten in an attempt to reduce subjectivity in their decision-making. They are also urged not simply to go for the kind of music they liked.

Inevitably there have been bands appearing in the heats before they are really ready, but they will always be sent away with constructive feedback: “And some of them will then come back the next year or maybe a couple of years later and be a lot improved.”

The 2021 finals are scheduled to take place on August 14 and 15 in the Human Nature Garden in Horsham Park with heats at The Rec Rooms on July 14, 15, 21 and 22. Entries are open until June 30. More info and details of how to enter can be found at www.horshambotb.co.uk. If you’d like to become a Silver or Bronze sponsor of this year’s event, email the team at [email protected]

Gold sponsor (funds): Woodstock IT. In kind Silver sponsors (prizes): Audiobeach Studios; AWAL; Chezzimm Photography.