Band contests have been around for years, offering the small bait of door prizes that really don’t end up doing anything for a band looking to raise their visibility in the competitive world of music. That’s where The Break steps in. For several years, The Break has been offering bands a genuine opportunity to get onto the big stage at the legendary Bamboozle Music Festival. But if you look at the actual prizes being awarded, you will know that this is much more than a band contest, it’s an opportunity to allow a group a genuine step up into their chosen field.

Some of the highlights for the winners are playing The Break Main Stage slot at The Bamboozle Festival 2011, they will also receive a custom starter kit from Bands On A Budget, a headlining show at The Stone Pony along with coverage in The Aquarian Bamboozle Issue, a professional Photo shoot with Mark Sullivan (East Coast Only) and, get this, health insurance. Seriously, winners will receive 6 months of health insurance coverage courtesy of rockforhealth.org, and unheard of offer in the music industry!

There is also studio time with John Naclerio at NADA Studios (two songs or three days) a live video performance captured by BamboozleTv.com crew, one song on the Bamboozle Break Competition Compilation CD, demo submission to major label A&R reps, weekend festival passes to The Bamboozle Festival you are performing, as well as many other amazing things for your band. You can read about the whole list over at thebreakcontest.com.

You’re probably sitting there asking, “How can my band get involved in this deal?” All you have to do is go to the website and sign up! Each year a group goes through a series of competitive shows that can move them to the next big level and closer to the big stage. Each round is scored by a panel judges on a scale of one to 10 in the categories of talent, performance, audience response and ballots.

The Break is the ultimate band competition showcasing some of the Tri-State’s hottest talents and providing them with the tools to secure the coveted Bamboozle main stage prize. It’s a real shot at the big time and it’s a win-win for all involved. And remember, while this year’s competition may be winding into its semi-final phase for the year, this is an ongoing series and next year’s bands will be in the selection phase quite soon, so don’t delay or feel it’s too late to get involved.

The Break semi-finals will take place on March 5 and 12 at the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ. Doors open at noon and tickets are available at the door as well as through bands involved. This is an all ages event (21 to drink in the bar area only). For full Stone Pony show information head over to stoneponyonline.com. For information on The Break Contest and scheduled bands, head over to thebreakcontest.com and don’t forget to check out the East Coast’s hottest outdoor festival on April 29, 30 and May 1.

The Bouncing Souls-Home For The Holidays Redo @ The Stone Pony, Feb. 9 to 12

December of last year was a hellacious month. With the holidays drop-kicking us repeatedly in the nuts the last thing we needed was the snow. I’m talking about that after Christmas snow like in the Shining when Jack Nicholson was trapped at the Overlook Hotel, hobbling around the hedge maize with an axe and screaming “Danny… Danny Boy!” And with that snow comes complicated travel and business logistics. So after old man winter dumped tons of frosty punishment upon us, the Stone Pony had to shut the doors and reschedule their sold-out Bouncing Souls shows. It doesn’t happen often but when it does there’s not much you can do but sit and wait.

The good news is that everything’s back on track. The Stone Pony folks are straight shooters and New Jersey’s best-kept secret has been rescheduled. I say best kept secret because unfortunately, most of out generic nation only thinks of New Joisey for Bruce, Bon Jovi and The Sopranos, which, while all fairly palatable cultural icons for sure, are not the real face of New Jersey or the musical community as far as I’m concerned. Punk garage and hardcore were born in the Garden State as a means of individual expression and rebellion against the members only club of the “shore sound,” and many well-known bands have rallied to that statement including these Shoreworld kings. Hey, ask Little Steven and any of the bands on his Wicked Cool records what’s up and they’ll tell you the same thing.

The Bouncing Souls (The band’s name is a reference to Doc Marten’s shoes and their bouncing soles) were part of the second wave of punk, starting around 1987 and developing a monstrous following in and around their adopted hometown of New Brunswick. It’s funny when you hear that while the band decided to forgo college, they did decide to move to a college town to develop. With a fantastic combination of rabid fans and bars like The Court Tavern and Patrick’s, New Brunswick was a perfect incubation tank for the groups sound. If your into The Loved Ones, Descendents and Smoke or Fire, you’re gonna love these Jersey old-schoolers.

The Bouncing Souls started off on their own Chunksaah Records in 1994 with The Bouncing Souls. It contains some Bouncing Souls classics like “Cracked,” “Kate is Great,” and “East Coast Fuck You!” They signed with Epitaph in 1997 and continued that relationship through 2006 with The Gold Record before taking a hiatus. Their latest release is titled, Ghosts on The Boardwalk, back on their own Chunksaah label. The Bouncing Souls have also been featured in numerous video games including Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 and Rock Band via Rock Band Network featuring the song, “Gasoline” from the album Ghosts On The Boardwalk.

It’s quite common to see the Souls “bouncing” around town at places like Bond Street Bar, Holdfast Clothing and the Asbury Lanes (guitarist Pete Steinkopf sometimes spins there) or at other shows throughout the area. I’m not going to be the first to tell you how approachable and non-rock star these guys really are, so say hello if you get the chance. The band will be doing some pre-show signings throughout the extended weekend.

The fact that an important Jersey band can still command this type of four-date following while enjoying a successful and uncompromising recording career is a joyous thing for New Jersey. There are a handful of returned tickets that will be up for re-sale so please visit all ticketing sites ASAP! Chunksaah.com and ticketmaster.com for your chances to come to the party!

Also, the Chunksaah after-parties have also been moved! Banquets and The Holy Mess will perform and Lamar Vannoy will DJ on Wednesday Feb. 9, from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Asbury Lanes. And there will be a last-night party with Lamar at the Asbury Lanes too (Sat Feb. 12th from 11:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.)! More info at bouncingsouls.com.

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