Top three finalists of "Land the Big Gig" announced

MILWAUKEE (WITI) --  Nearly 100 aspiring musicians and acts from across the nation auditioned and more than 89,000 votes were cast.  The Top Three Finalists of Land the Big Gig® are Hydra Melody, Independent Idols and The August, in alphabetical order.  The finalists will perform live at Summerfest on Thursday, June 27 at 4:00 pm at the Briggs &  Stratton Big Backyard for the chance to win a share of $35,000, which is in addition to each finalist’s all-inclusive trip to Milwaukee, totaling $50,000 in cash and prizes that will be awarded.  The event will be hosted by Milwaukee native and American Idol™ Top 3 Finalist Danny Gokey.

Summerfest teamed up with Tap Milwaukee, the city’s leading online entertainment site, and Robert Haack Diamonds to find the next big music sensation and offer three talented bands the gig of a lifetime.

“Performing live at Summerfest is truly ‘landing the big gig,’ and these talented finalists will provide an excellent finale to this competition,” said John Boler, Chief Marketing Officer at Summerfest. “This is a great way to discover and showcase aspiring artists at a mega-event like Summerfest.”

This year’s finalists, Hydra Melody, Independent Idols and The August, are tuning their guitars and warming up their vocal chords for Thursday’s big show.

Hydra Melody
San Antonio, TX
Hydra Melody’s memorable melodic strands, heartfelt and relatable lyrics, sophisticated arrangements and powerful presentation are catching the ears of fans and critics alike.  The band had a busy 2012, playing SXSW, CMJ Music Marathon and opening for bands including Every Avenue, The Early November, Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, Minus The Bear and The Toadies.  Band members are Jordan Berlanga (lead vocals/guitar), Jason Harari (bass/vocals), Justin Berlanga (keyboard/vocals), Matthew Gomez (drums), Manuel Prince (percussion/congas) and Taylor Ferguson (lead guitar).

Independent Idols   
Milwaukee, WI
Formed in 2005, the band’s versatile style features strong melodies and hooks, crisp vocals, striking guitar riffs, forceful drums and tuneful bass lines, all woven into a familiar and crunchy power pop tapestry.  Recently unleashing its third full-length recording, Independent Idols has performed at SXSW, the Midwest Music Convention, Riversplash and the Waukesha and Wisconsin State Fairs.  Band members are Ryan Charles (lead vocals), Bryan Arzaga (lead guitar), Dan Morissey (bass guitar) and Tony Myers (drums, backup vocals).

The August
Nashville, TN
The August is clearing its own path of music that runs between American roots and American pop music.  Originally from Chicago, IL, Jacky, Tim, and Wojtek moved to Music City in 2009, where they met up with guitar player Cameron Clarke.  The August’s most recent album, Dear Chicago, Love Nashville, as well as two others can be found on iTunes and other online stores.  The band is proud to have shared the stage with a variety of great musicians including Toby Keith, Lionel Richie, Leon Russell and The Drive-By Truckers.

All three bands will also give a free concert at Spaights Plaza on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus Tuesday, June 25 from 3:00 – 5:00 pm.

Public voting for Land the Big Gig® opened May 15 and closed June 17. One lucky voter, Carol Jensen of Iron Ridge, WI, won the Ultimate Summerfest Experience sweepstakes.  The prize is a trip for two to Milwaukee that includes Summerfest tickets, VIP passes to the Land the Big Gig® event, round-trip airfare to anywhere Southwest Airlines flies, five nights’ hotel accommodations and $2,000 in cash to live like a rock star while in Milwaukee.

“The winner of our Ultimate Summerfest Experience is really in for a treat,” said Bret Eulberg, owner of Robert Haack Diamonds. “Summerfest is something everyone needs to experience - no matter where you’re from.”

In all, more than 89,000 votes were cast by music lovers and band supporters nationwide.

“Fan support for this talent search has been truly phenomenal,” said David Wise, Marketing Director for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  “I loved seeing bands promote themselves and really create a following on their social media pages. The competition has struck a chord with music fans across the country.”

Each band will perform a 20-minute set beginning at 4:00 pm Thursday, June 27 at the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard. A panel of celebrity judges will score the performances and select one act to win the grand prize of $20,000.  The second place winner will receive $10,000 and third place will win $5,000 in addition to each finalist’s all-inclusive trip to Milwaukee.  Judges are Milwaukee native and American Idol™ Top 3 Finalist, Danny Gokey, Chief Marketing Officer for Summerfest, John Boler, Vice President of Entertainment for Summerfest, Bob Babisch and 94.5 The Lake morning radio personality, Danny Clayton.  Gretchen Bartlett, of 94.5 The Lake, will be the special emcee.

In 2013, Summerfest celebrates 46 years of rocking Milwaukee’s lakefront. “The World’s Largest Music Festival” features more than 800 acts and 1,000 performances on 11 stages over 11 days, providing an unforgettable live music experience for nearly 900,000 music fans from around the world each year.

Fans and contest entrants are encouraged to visit for updates and follow Land the Big Gig on Facebook and Twitter at @landthebiggig.

Land the Big Gig® is presented by Tap Milwaukee and Robert Haack Diamonds. Producing Sponsors are Boucher Automotive, University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee, Mountain Dew Kickstart and 94.5 The Lake. Supporting Sponsors are Wisconsin Vision and Elm Grove Travel.  Southwest Airlines is the official airline of Land the Big Gig 2013.