CORNING – A battle raged Friday at the Adams County Speedway as three area bands competed against not only each other but also a slew of technical difficulties for a chance at a $200 cash prize and the opening spot for ‘80s tribute band “Hairball.”
Murphy’s Law was in full force for the first annual Adams County Fair Battle of the Bands. Despite band members forgetting key pieces of equipment to amplifiers and guitars losing power in the middle of a set, the members of Zaraphis, Basic Bohn and Bad Influence pulled through, worked with what they had and entertained the crowd.
Audience members chose the winner by dropping poker chips in jars labeled with each band’s name.
The race was tight. The bands were within 10 votes of each other. While all the bands performed well, considering the technical issues, in the end, Bad Influence arose victorious and won the honor of opening for Hairball tonight at the speedway.
“I’m pretty excited about this deal,” said lead vocalist Joe Smith. “I’ve been down a lot of highways back and forth playing little bitty stages in little bitty clubs, and I’ve loved every second of it because I love to sing. But this is a pretty cool opportunity, and I’m not going to let it rush by. I want to soak in it and have a good time.”
For the Battle of the Bands show, the band performed classic rock favorites from Led Zeppelin, Free and Neil Young, to name a few.
Bad Influence members come from all over southwest Iowa. Guitarist Jerry “Mouse” Gilbert and bassist Zach Gilbert are a father and son duo from Corning. William McClure, who plays guitar and sings, has the longest drive coming from Anita. Drummer Jerry Jameson is a resident of Elliot, and rounding out the group is Smith, who is from Red Oak.
Musical influences for the band are as varied as the places they call home. From classic country to heavy metal, the members bring that influence to Bad Influence. Where the elder Gilbert introduces a classic southern rock vibe to the band, the youngster of the group, McClure, brings the heavier influence of bands and performers such as Led Zeppelin and Slash of Guns and Roses and Velvet Revolver fame.
Although the members of Bad Influence individually have years of experience playing in a variety of bands, the group, as a whole, is new to the local scene.
“We played our first gig together on New Year’s Eve,” Smith said. “We started practicing together around October 2017.”
The birth of the band started when the younger Gilbert and Smith met two and half years ago when they were invited to the Corning Opera House to perform old country western music by artists such as Merle Haggard and George Jones. They practiced together a few times, but Smith said they couldn’t quite get things to come together.
A year and a half later, following stints in other bands, the two got together again.
“We decided we wanted to go out for New Year’s Eve, but we wanted to get paid for it,” Smith said. “We put this together as kind of a one-night deal and once we started practicing and came together more, we added Will [McClure]. We were a four piece when we started and brought Will on.”
The music starts at 6 p.m. tonight at the Adams County Speedway. Gates open at 5 p.m. and tickets are $10.