ANAHEIM, Calif. — VIA, a Salt Lake City band, placed third in the nationwide SchoolJam USA Battle-of-the-Bands contest to find the best teen bands in America. With the award, VIA won endorsements, a cash prize of $500 for the band — as well as $500 for their schools' music programs — and individual honors for several band members.
More than 150 teen bands across the United States competed in the contest, sponsored by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM). The finals, featuring the top 10 bands that emerged from a series of regional competitions, — were recently held in Anaheim, Calif., at Downtown Disney.
As part of the competition, VIA's lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Chase Kroesche, a student at Rowland Hall in Salt Lake City, secured a guitar endorsement with Sabre Guitars, a company from the United Kingdom.
Kroesche called the experience "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I had a chance to meet some of the most influential professionals in the music industry. It was exciting and really opened my eyes to a career in music. What was once a dream is becoming a big reality."
Of the six individual honors awarded during the competition, members of VIA won two of them. Jake Bills was named "Best Bass," and Alec Jackson won "Best Keyboardist." Jake, a student at Hillcrest High School, won a Peavy bass amplifier, and Alec, a student at Olympus High School, won a Yamaha keyboard. The fourth band member is drummer Matt Howitz, a recent graduate of Olympus High School.
The bands were judged by a panel of musical experts, including Michael Blakeslee from the National Association for Music Education, Steve Dobo from Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Stan Freese from Disney, Kevin Lyman from Vans Warped Tou and Menzie Pittman from Contemporary Music Center.