Bands to battle it out Saturday at 'Rock Paper Scissors'

Blacktop Mojo will be one of four bands battling it out at Saturday's battle of the bands at Liberty Hall. -- Photo courtesy Modern Brush Designs

It's the first-ever battle of the bands at downtown Tyler's Liberty Hall as four East Texas bands have been chosen to sonically duke it out at Saturday's Rock Paper Scissors event.

Each band will receive a professionally recorded video of their performance to use in marketing the band, but the winner will receive a cash prize of $500, with $300 for the runner up, courtesy of Kyser Musical Products, based in Canton. The winning band will also receive a spot in the East Texas All-Star Showcase on Sept. 17.

This may be Liberty Hall's first battle of the bands, but it has already drawn bands of many different styles from all over East Texas: Struck By Hammerz!, Blacktop Mojo, Westbound 21 and StillBent.

Struck By Hammerz! consists of Jonathan Harrison on drums, Charles Trader on keyboard, Matthew Brantley on bass guitar, David Wheeler on lead guitar, and Dustin Douglas on rhythm guitar and lead vocals. Their sound does not fit well into any set category, but it incorporates blues, psychedelic rock, and grunge, among other things. Most of all, it is very much focused around the keyboard. Their influences include 3-11, the Foo Fighters, the Smashing Pumpkins, Led Zeppelin and ZZ Top. Music fans can expect an energetic performance that will leave them feeling like they've been struck by hammers.

Blacktop Mojo features Matt James on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Nathan Gillis on drums, Chris Davis on bass guitar and Kenneth Irwin on lead guitar. The band has only been together since last December, but their sound is a tight mix of blues, psychedelic rock and country music. Their influences include Pearl Jam, Blind Willie Johnson, Bob Dylan, Jefferson Airplane, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, just to name a few. Their performances are sweaty and intense. As Michael Yanez, the band's manager, said, "If you want your faces rocked off, just come to one of our shows."

Acoustic guitarist and lead singer Cody Wayne, drummer Ronnie Godfrey, bass player Lyndsey Torrez and lead electric guitarist Max McRuiz make up Westbound 21, a Southern rock and Texas country band. Their influences run all throughout their sound – Zac Brown, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Neil McCoy, Kevin Fowler, and Hank Williams Jr. Their lyrics, vocals and harmonies evoke modern alternative country, but their drums, guitar lines and attitudes are rock'n'roll all the way.

The members of StillBent prefer to use assumed names: Red on lead vocals, Lord Riff on lead guitar, Tim on bass guitar, Keith on drums and Brian on rhythm guitar. The band started in 2009, but has only had its current line-up for about a year and a half. StillBent's sound is dark and heavy, yet melodic. Their influences range all over the metal spectrum, from hair metal to death metal to grunge, even incorporating elements of hip hop and funk. Yet StillBent's sound remains firmly rooted in heavy metal – a mixture of Tool and Killswitch Engage. They are technically proficient musicians who put on a visually striking show that ought to appeal to any metal fan.

Tickets can be purchased online at for $8, or at the door on Saturday for $15 at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m., the show starts at 8 p.m.





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