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POSTED February 27, 2013 10:44 p.m.

*WHAT: Manteca Youth Focus/GK Music Battle of the Bands

*WHEN: Saturday, March 2, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

*WHERE: Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane

*TICKETS: $5 in advance and $8 at the door

*MORE INFO: Call (209) 456-8623



Hot Spud’s offering hybrid rock-jazz

sound at Battle of the Bands Saturday


Alex Orr is in a band.

It even has a clever name that you’d expect from a group of high school that are gearing up to play in their first ever competition – Hot Spud.

He plays the guitar.

Like every other high school shredder that has ever plugged a guitar into an amplifier, Orr has grand visions of pursuing a career in music in one form or another – getting behind the mixing board and using his keen ear to help others with their creative process.

But what sets Orr and his bandmates – lead singer Caleb Wardel, bass player John Cook and drummer Matt Elliott – apart from others out there is a fifth member playing an instrument that you don’t expect to find included high school band.

The piano.  

And it takes a big role in the direction the band takes with its music.

“I think that a lot of our music is pretty much driven by piano,” he said of Simon McHenry’s work at the keys. “I think that we base a lot of our music off of the piano, and I like the sound – it’s different than a lot of the stuff that you’re going to hear out there.

“It brings something new to the table.”

Pushing forward with the rock star dream, however, isn’t Hot Spud.

The group itself formed out of Sierra High School’s band room when a bunch of students of Rick Hammarstrom’s jazz band class got together to try to do something a little bit different on their own time.

Initially formed as a jazz band, the group quickly found itself drawn to the allure of rock music and forged a hybrid between the two that has blossomed into the music they currently play. Orr admits that they can seem a little bit awkward at first, but those roots – the ability to read the others on stage and jump in when necessary – proved invaluable when honing the skills of the band over the last year.

“We’ve all gotten to know each other’s style, and while we’re new to playing on stage, we’ve played a lot together,” he said. “We can get out of sticky situations and I think that having that jazz aspect allows you to think on your feet a little bit more.

“It forces us to communicate as well, and that’s the element that we’ve taken the most out of it.”

Hot Spud will be one of the bands performing at the Manteca Youth Advisory Commission/GK Music Battle of the Bands on Saturday, March 2. The event, which will be held at the Manteca Senior Center, will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 in advance and $8 at the door. For more information call (209) 456-8623.

To contact Jason Campbell, email or call (209) 249-3544.

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