Rock the Dam kickoff a rocking hit despite heat

Studio D2D brings music festival/band concert to downtown


Youth bands showed tremendous talent and energy during the first week of Rock the Dam brought to you by Studio D2D. Photo by TOM SCOTT

“I was really impressed with the youth bands. They seemed to like each other and support each other,” said Dan DeWard of Studio D2D in Rockford, who brings downtown another annual event to anticipate in Rock the Dam battle of the bands. The new event had its first three days of free music in the beautiful setting of Garden Club Park on the banks of the Rogue River on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, July 20-22. Despite breathtaking heat Wednesday and Thursday, the new music event had good turnout and everyone enjoyed the talent and the setting.

DeWard said although the event is a contest, the youth performers cheered each other on, applauded and danced during their competitors’ performances. “It felt like a music festival,” DeWard described.

DeWard said his panel of four judges took into consideration aspects of the performances of each of the youth portion of the competition, from stage presence, interaction with the crowd and each other, preparedness and organization, among other elements of their performance. A video clip on the Rock the Dam website announces the winners of the youth band for the first session of the battle.

Rock the Dam volunteers take a break during the battle of the bands. Photo by TOM SCOTT

DeWard, who is used to organizing weddings and other events as part of his job at Studio D2D, had promised the City of Rockford that the competition would run smoothly and it did. Bands had a tent in which to prepare and solo singers filled the time between performances so the crowd enjoyed a steady stream of musical entertainment.

Drawing talent from across West Michigan, nine youth and 18 adult bands from Grand Rapids, Cedar Springs, Greenville, Montcalm County, Kentwood and Lansing have performed (and will perform during upcoming days) a variety of musical styles.

DeWard said bands were prescreened for appropriate content, but also for variety. “We wanted to keep it interesting. We didn’t want to be restrictive.” He said styles of rock varied from classic, pop, alternative, country and heavy rock. “We didn’t want anyone to get bored,” he said.

The band competition continues August 3, 4 and 5 with music beginning at 5:30 p.m. each of the three days. Each of the upcoming bands are part of the adult division of the competition, although there will also be solo artists filling in space between performances as bands set up. Studio D2D’s photo booth will be available in the studio at 25 S. Squires Street and t-shirts will be available for purchase with all participating bands listed.

A singer performs during the youth portion of Rockford’s Rock the Dam. Photo by TOM SCOTT

“We are using the studio as a sort of after-performance hangout for the bands,” DeWard said, so fans can mingle with performers or cool off. In addition to putting up $1,000 in prize money, $500 for adult and $500 for youth winners, the studio is providing each band free publicity photographs and video to use in future promotion of their band.

“There are really two purposes for this,” DeWard said of his battle of the bands brainchild. “The first is to bring new people to downtown Rockford and the second is to provide exposure for these bands.”

DeWard said the grand finale of the event will be a six-band competition on Friday, Aug. 11 with the top three youth and top three adult bands competing in each category. The winner will get the cash as well as $1,000 in professional studio recording with the Macinaw Harvest Music Group studio in Grand Rapids. A completely separate social media contest will allow the public to view clips of each of the bands and choose their own favorite online at the Rock the Dam Facebook page.

“We were really impressed with all the bands,” DeWard said of the musicians who were chosen to participate in this first of what will be an annual event for Rockford.

Caleb Markin (second from left) playing a game of cards with friends while listening to Rock the Dam bands. Caleb is a paper carrier for the Rockford Squire. Photo by KATE SICKREY

DeWard said many of the band members were new to Rockford and said they loved the beauty and peacefulness of the setting. Tune in for the adult bands next week and mark your calendar for the final evening’s entertainment August 11. “It will be a really fantastic day of music,” said DeWard.


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The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.