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Manteca group heads to LA Battle of the Bands

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Manteca group heads to LA Battle of the Bands

United Front will play the Los Angeles County Fair Battle of the Bands in early September. The local group consists of three East Union graduates and one incoming senior.

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POSTED July 31, 2013 1:57 a.m.

Exposure is everything in the music business.

United Front has gotten that exposure. They’ve played before a live TV audience.

Granted, it was the Manteca Boys and Girls Club Telethon – we’re not exactly talking the first song on Saturday Night Live – but the four East Union High School products have managed to make the most of the “tiny” town that they grew up in had to offer.

And now they’re trying their luck at the big time.

Next month United Front – consisting of singer Jonah Ledesma, guitarist Aaron Leonard, drummer Rodrigo Ramriez and bassist Ray Barber – will test its mettle against some of the best bands in California when they take the stage at the Battle of the Bands competition at the Los Angeles County Fair.

We’re talking about the City of Angels here. The place where careers are made and dreams come true and small four-piece rock groups from Central Valley farming towns hope they’ll find the gold at the end of the rainbow.

It’s not a pipe dream. The group has established a solid following in Manteca. Their upbeat stage presence and unique sound is something that is unique for the area and the indie band in scene in general.

And speaking for the band, Ledesma said they don’t have a whole lot of expectation about the September undertaking other than to go down there and do what they do.

The chips, he essentially said, will fall where they may.

“It is pretty crazy for a small Northern California band to be heading down there to compete against the bands we’re going to compete against – it’s pretty amazing. We had to submit something, and when we got the notification, we were enthused,” he said. “It would be crazy not to think about where it is that we’re going because we’re a small-town band. But we’re going to go down there and show these people what it is that we have to offer.”

For nearly three years the group has been working to build the camaraderie and the musical chops that earned them a space in the prestigious battle.

Ledesma had known Leonard from a guitar class, and had an itch to start a band after his last one fell apart. They eventually tapped Ramirez to play the drums and found a bass player (Barber eventually replaced the original) and laid the framework for a rock band that was different than the others they saw playing at local coffee shops and performance spaces.

They worked hard to build their own music as well.

“For us it’s about the music,” Ledesma said. “We have our own brand, our own music and our own beat. We’re really just a band of friends and we’re looking forward to being able to represent our own little town of Manteca.

“We’re going to go down there and compete against some of the best bands around – there are tons of bands that submitted entries. And every time we get up there to perform we try to put on the best show that we possibly can. We spent hours rehearsing in our garages and trying to put things down as correctly as possible so that when we get up there on stage we can just kill it. A lot of singers talk about the connection with the audience, and that’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what it’s all about.”

The opening round of the battle will be held on Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Fairplex in Pomona. Bands will progress on from there to a second round on Sept. 22 to compete for a trophy as well as other prizes.

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