This past week saw the passing of Don Caldwell. We worked with Don on the FMX 21 & Under Battle Of the Bands.

Image by Christian West from Pixabay
Image by Christian West from Pixabay

I was approached by Don top do an "FMX Battle Of The Bands" for 4th On Broadway. I immediately let him know that I hated the idea, but if he'd give me a minute I'd come up with something. The problem is, with "Battle Of The Bands", about 90% of the people go away mad, and usually mad at the radio station. In short, Battle Of The Bands events suck, and rarely does the band who deserves to win, win. It's usually whoever brought the most people, or didn't get disqualified for some stupid reason.

My idea was for the "21 And Under Battle Of The Bands". You might think, "Well, isn't that the same thing?"  The answer is, no it's not, and it has everything to do with the participants. My thinking, which proved to be true, is the the 21 And Under crowd would be so happy to play to a full house in public, that winning or losing the competition just wouldn't matter to them. Being so young, they couldn't play clubs, and/or had many fans that couldn't get into them. They also weren't jaded or burnt out like some of the older musicians and were happy to make this all about a younger musician community.

The plan worked better than expected. Every single year our tent was absolutely the most packed, most exciting, and ,most talked about tent at Fourth On Broadway. We went from tiny p.a. systems that only had one vocal mic and nothing else, to full-on pro setups with professional sound guys. We found the popularity of the event so huge that some acts were able to even headline the Cactus Theater as part of their prize.

The event went for many years before the bands started drying up. We went from 50+ submissions a year to barely ten. Kids were just not forming bands and that was a terrible thing to face in Lubbock. We decided to end the event on a high note and went out with a bang and a full tent. Unfortunately that also spelled our exit from Fourth On Broadway because we were unwilling to tarnish the legacy of what had done.

Our thanks to Don Caldwell for having faith in us and our crazy idea to give super-young musicians a place to play. The event was a defining moment for a lot of people and like Don, it will always be fondly remembered.

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