By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ripon band in final four of MySpace contest
French Cassettes – a six-piece band from Ripon that has been selected as one of the four finalists in the MySpace Artist Discovery contest. Pictured, from left, are Ben Isganitis, Mackenzie Bunch, Stephanie Sams, Thomas Huerta, Louse Barros, and Scott Huerta. - photo by Photo Contributed
RIPON – When Scott Huerta first got an e-mail telling him that his band – French Cassettes – were selected as one of four finalists in the MySpace Artist Discovery contest, he immediately dismissed it as spam.

Even after beating out dozens of Bay Area acts to win the annual Battle of the Bands at Chabot College in Hayward, thinking that they were in the top of four out of thousands of entrants was a little bit much – especially when nobody in the band claimed to have submitted anything.

It wouldn’t be until he got an official e-mail from one of the contest’s administrators telling him that yes, this was in fact real, that it finally sunk in – especially with a winner’s trip to Los Angeles, time in a professional recording studio, and use of their music in an upcoming Nokia commercial.

“When we found it out it such a shock to everyone, and nobody would fuss up to it,” Huerta said. “There was so much curiosity among us all, but it was also exciting at the same time.”

Huerta – who provides lead vocals while also playing guitar, the keyboard, and at times percussion – was joined by brother bassist Thomas Huerta, Drummer Ben Ignites, and lead guitarist Mackenzie Bunch when they took their music to the next level by winning the Hayward competition that has been a stepping stone for famous musicians.

Prior to entering, he said, the group had only played for groups of around 20 that included mostly family. It was a huge jump to the 3,000 people that would be out in the audience when they took the stage.

“We started off so nervous when we realized how big it was, and then the music just took over,” Huerta said. “The experience was amazing in-and-of itself, so even if we didn’t win, it would have been worth it just to be there.

“But after they announced us as the winner, it was like being in shock for the rest of the month. Once we got on stage, we were totally in our element, and that was great.”

The group has since expanded to include saxophone player Louise Barros, and trombonist Stephanie Sims to help expand upon the unique sound the band was already going for.

“As a group we started developing an ear for music that wasn’t made in the United States, and tried to expose ourselves to as many different things as possible,” Huerta said. “We’ve always been in kind of an experimental period, going into things blindly to see if people will bite on something or they won’t. “

Fans and supporters of the group will have until June 22 to vote on MySpace for the band, and the winner is expected to be announced on June 27.

MySpace users can also visit the group’s page at to hear samples of their unique music, and find a link to get to the voting page before the deadline is actually up.

 “I really love the chance that the audience is giving the band to show them what we really care about – whether they love it or hate it,” Huerta said. “I spend so much time writing and we spend so much time rehearsing, so it’s really just the gamble of it all to see how it goes that makes it exciting."