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Free Concert Kicks Off Rockus Maximus Season

Four of the eight bands in this year’s battle are set to perform on Saturday, Feb. 23.

With bands coming from all over Pasco and Hillsborough counties, organizers say this year’s Rockus Maximus: Battle of the Bands 16 is going to jam.

To show off some of the local talent, a free concert is being staged this weekend that will feature four of the eight bands lined up to battle it out in the final concert in March.

Low Fuel Light, Orange Gravity, Heritage and Hang ‘Em High will take the stage at the South Holiday Library at 6 p.m. Feb. 23. The 4649 Mile Stretch Drive library is playing host to the first of two promo concerts featuring the bands.

The slated acts were selected from a total of 17 that applied to take part in Pasco County Libraries’ annual battle of the bands. The production, now in its 16th year, pits local acts against each other in a competition to win free recording time from Clearwater’s Clear Track Studios and $1,000 in cash. It also features an online video portion where fans can vote for their favorites. The winner of that competition gets a $500 gift card from Encore Music.

“It’s a tough gig,” said Paul Stonebridge of trying to select which bands ultimately end up participating in the battle.

This year’s number of entries broke the record, said Stonebridge, who serves as the library system’s youth services librarian. He also organizes the annual battle, which is staged without taxpayer dollars as a way to raise awareness about the musical arts and libraries while giving young acts a chance to perform in a real concert.

For the past several years, the library system has opened the battle to bands from all over Florida – not just Pasco. In fact, MBL Trio from Lutz won last year’s competition.

This year’s acts come primarily from Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, Stonebridge said. Potential entrants, however, listened to the library system’s open invitation for any bands from Florida that met the eligibility requirements and came from as far away as Orlando and Sarasota, he added.

In order to participate in the battle, bands must have at least three members, the majority of members must be 21 or under and all bands must have at least two original songs.

The actual battle takes place March 22 at the Rotary Pavilion at the Concourse, 15325 Alric Pottberg Road in Shady Hills. Admission is free with a library card. All told, this year’s battle has $6,000 in prizes on the line.

To check out the first promo concert, just stop by the South Holiday Library Feb. 23 between 6 and 10 p.m. A second promo concert will be held in the Land O’ Lakes area before the March 22 main event.

For more information about Rockus Maximus, visit the contest's Facebook page.

If You Go

What: Rockus Maximus: Battle of the Bands 16, first promo concert

Where: South Holiday Library, 4649 Mile Stretch Drive, in Holiday

When: Saturday, Feb. 23 from 6 to 10 p.m.

Cost: Free

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