5th Annual BAND ROULETTE Set to Spin

D-Street Fundraiser Showcases the Brightest Regional Musical Talent In a Rock & Improv Show Full of Surprises

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, Concert Reviews,   From Issue 924   By: Robert E Martin

13th January, 2022     0

Easily one of the most exciting, unpredictable, and engaging entertainment showcases that we have kicking off 2022 is the latest installment of the 5th Annual Band Roulette, which will be happening this year on Sunday, January 23rd at Bay City’s State Theatre, with doors opening at 4:00 PM and the show beginning at 5:00 PM.

Band Roulette is an ambitious, innovative, and highly interactive musical showcases that since its inception has raised $14,000 for the admirable efforts of the D-Street Music Foundation - a respected non-profit entity focused upon fostering the talents of young musicians through scholarship and instrument acquisition programs, while also showcasing the artistry of our musical scene to divergent audiences in the Great Lakes Bay Region through various showcase performance festivals held throughout the year.  This year proceeds will also be shared with All Music is Power - a special program that brings live music into special needs classrooms for area students.

According to musician Jeff Poirier, who is the inventor, founder, and  Chief-Ringleader behind Band Roulette, the concept is similar to a variation of ‘Who’s Line Is It Anyway’, consisting of a musical pool of 24-plus musicians, selected from some of the best bands in the region, whose names are drawn from a hat to form a 5-piece band that will then spin a wheel containing the titles of popular songs to determine what specific song the newly formed band will need to perform on the spot for audiences with no rehearsals. Moreover, the list of songs is a secret, even to the musicians!

According to Poirier, because of so much demand from fans and supporters, this will be the first Band Roulette that will have a Theme of 1980’s Music. “We received so many requests that this year we decided to structure the show around the Theme of ‘80s Rock Music,” he explains. “Because of the fact we’re going with an ‘80s Theme, this year I decided to invite musicians and players that I like to call the ‘80s Allstars, so we’ve got members from Jedi Mind Trip, The Rock Show, The Sinclairs, Peacemaker, and Mike Eudis from The Hipakritz who will be appearing, while also trying to include some new faces.”

“Basically, when I thought of 1980s music, I thought of enlisting these guys to perform it,” he continues. “The line-up consists 75% of guys that I know I can count on - especially as the song list becomes more difficult and the need for more seasoned players increases.”

This year’s tentative cast of musicians will consist of: Chris Bartnikowski, Tom Behmlander, Jimmy Beschoner, Joe Christensen, Jason Dean, Mike Eudis, Levi Goodwin, Steve Gould, Brad Graham, Stacey Hill, Noel Howland, Chris Jankowski, Tommy K, Dave Miller, Jimmy Militello, Dave Mossner, Dana Osmun, Jeff Poirier, Mark Shelley, Kamm Skeels, Mike Thomas, Tod Walraven, Rick Maida, Joe Sullivan, and a couple more to be determined.

The format for Band Roulette will stay the same as in previous years and consist of two 45-minute sets with an intermission separating the two sets. Jeff anticipates that it will take about 8 minutes to draw the band names, call the song, take a few minutes to talk it over, and then perform the song and get off the stage so the next group can be featured.

No rehearsing is involved with this event and to add even more drama to the evening, Jeff is the only person that knows the song and set list.  “It’s definitely a challenge and struggle coming up with different songs every year,” reflects Jeff. “You’ve got to keep the material somewhat simple because musicians will laugh at a Train Wreck, but audience members won’t.”

In order to expedite the overall length of the show, which lasts about three hours, Jeff decided to eliminate a bit of the drag by assembling a smaller cast of performers. “When we first started Band Roulette we had seven musicians representing each position and 14 guitar players, so I took it down to five in each position and 10 guitar players. Before each musician got to perform twice, but now everyone will get to perform four times.  I think this will be a good improvement because everybody will get to play a little more.”

Another change for 2022 is that this will be the first year Band Roulette has reserved seating. “The last time we held Band Roulette in 2020 it sold out,” explains Jeff, but people buying tickets the day of the show complained because they couldn’t sit together.  So this year we’re trying reserved seating, so as people purchase their tickets they’ll also be reserving their seat. This year the main front section literally only has three seats left, but we still have the two side sections to fill along with the balcony.  It will be interesting to see if we sell out, because with reserved seating you often have holes between people.”

“I think we finally have our systems down in terms of the mechanics,” concludes Jeff. “The song selections are still kind of a challenge because there’s always going to be some material I haven’t thought of; but this year I’m focusing on all the ‘80s standards that everybody knows and loves.”

“It’s also always a challenge bringing in new players because I’m too nice of a guy and while many people are honored to be a part of this endeavor, there’s always people that don’t get asked who get hurt so I worry about peoples’ feelings. But this year, going with the ‘80s Allstars, I know they can deliver and count on them.  This isn’t necessarily meant to be an all-inclusive event for the musical community, it’s basically a way for me and my buddies to get together and raise some money for D-Street, so if people don’t like that, so it goes.”

When people arrive there will again be an Auction Sheet available in the lobby whereby people can bid on building their own favorite band. “At the end of the night the highest bidder gets to pick the five people going on stage, and possibly the song they will play,” states Jeff. “I’ll give them three songs they’d like to hear and pick.”

With pricing still fixed at only $15.00 Jeff is hoping for another sellout crowd.

Since its inception, Jeff says the entire Band Roulette phenomena has exceeded his expectations. “I say it all the time - I came up with a cool idea, but could never have dreamed the excitement that idea would generate in the air - the level of anticipation from musicians all keyed-up about who they’re going to be performing with, or what songs they are going to get.”

“It’s a happy tension and nervous excitement that bleeds into the audience and gets them on the edge of their seat.  Everyone is so excited when their song works, you could never dream of it. Plus, the camaraderie on stage is gratifying - that family feeling between the musicians - it’s like one big love fest.”

“I knew from the start that Band Roulette would be cool, but never dreamed it could be like this until the first one happened,” he concludes.

“That’s because of all my amazing friends, which says a lot about our community.”



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