Musicians head to the cage

BY HOPE WILSON | JULY 18, 2013 5:00 AM

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It’s survival of the talented at Gabe’s, as 10 local musicians will duke it out for the crowd’s votes. Gabe’s will take the classic battle of the bands to a whole new level with its Acoustic Cage Match this weekend.

“My favorite part of the event is getting a chance to hear new musicians and getting a chance to hear people play acoustic,” said Pete McCarthy, the general manager of Gabe’s, 330 E. Washington St., and the Yacht Club, 13 S. Linn St. “It’s very raw.”

The cage match began in 2004 as a way to showcase the talents of musicians who spent their time hanging out at the Yacht Club, McCarthy said. Each performer gets 25 minutes to impress the audience, then audience members vote for their favorite performers on ballots distributed at the door and with each drink purchase.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind event,” McCarthy said. “It’s also interactive; the crowd determines the winner. You get to hear 10 different local musicians for $5, and you can’t beat that.”

Gabe’s hosts an open sign-up for anyone wishing to compete in the cage match. Contestants have big shoes to fill, given some of the former participants, including singer/songwriter Jason Reeves, known for his collaborations with popular musician Colbie Caillat.

One musician hoping to come out on top this year is repeat competitor William Danger Ford. A self-taught musician, he began playing guitar at the age of 23. With seven years of experience under his belt, Ford looks forward to playing at the cage match not only for the competition but for the camaraderie as well. 

“… The more new people I hear play, the more potential musically inclined friends I’ll meet,” he said. “I might find someone who I would love to play more shows together and maybe even collaborate with.”

Another contestant returning to the cage match is Jack Greve. His first appearance in the match was also his first experience performing for a large crowd. While each performance for him is exciting, Greve said, the cage match brings a special opportunity for him to meet new musicians and explore new styles.

“[The cage match] is less of a competition and more of an opportunity for sharing music with one another,” he said.

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