Thursday, August 28, 2014 · 9:18 a.m.
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Will Hot Damn be the winner of Road to Nightfall this year? (Photo: Hot Damn) 

The fourth annual Road to Nightfall at Rhythm & Brews begins this Friday. The winner of the series of five live band competitions will receive $1,000 and a headlining spot as part of the Nightfall concert series, which runs May 2 through Aug. 29.

One of the bands competing in the second round on Saturday, Hot Damn, doesn’t care much for competition when it comes to music. But for the chance to play Nightfall and $1,000, Hope Treider, Jonathan Wimpee, Jack Corey, Joe Rogers-Jones and Mason Tanner are willing to put aside those feelings for the kind of exposure such a gig would afford them. After all, more exposure means more gigs, which means more opportunities to play, which is where their passion lies.

If you go

What: Round two of Road to Nightfall

Where: Rhythm & Brews

When: Saturday, March 8, 8:30 p.m.

How much: $7

Hot Damn has been around for a couple of years now, playing at various clubs in town. But the band seems to be making a name for itself lately—recently winning the Battle of the Bands show at Sky Zoo—and has a slew of upcoming shows already lined up. And with the recent addition of Wimpee as lead guitarist, the band seems to have solidified itself as a force to be reckoned with.

"It’s kind of magic right now," according to band manager Joe Dill. "They are the exemplary model for musical evolution in terms of something simple and from the heart, with just a couple of chords and some ideas and making that into an intensely embodied sound."

The story of how the band originally got together is nothing special. Chattanooga’s music scene is a small, intimate affair where everyone knows everyone. But when singer-songwriter Corey heard lead vocalist Treider—whom he worked with at his day job—sing at a party, he knew he had to collaborate with her.

"I forced her out to open mics and got her feet wet," Corey said. "As co-workers, we’d always had kind of an animosity toward each other, and I thought it might work well if I tossed her some songs."

"Which led to the four of us coming together and forming something really cool," Treider added.

Rogers-Jones, the group’s drummer, describes the band’s sound as a mixture of folk, Southern roots Americana and blues-rock.

"When you think about folk music, you don’t really think about heavy bass and percussion," he said. "But when you throw that into the mix, it’s kind of like folk 'n' roll, if you will."

The band insists that the most important aspect of the music is the song itself.

"To sing Jack’s praises, all of these songs are his babies, and they all start off like singer-songwriter stuff," Rogers-Jones said. "And he lets us all take his baby and do whatever we want with it. None of them sound like what he wrote, but it’s his template." 

"It also relieves me of responsibility after the fact," Corey said.

Treider feels lucky to sing his songs.

"At the end of the day, sometimes I hate him, but I love him even more," she said. "And he writes a hell of a song."

Corey acknowledges that when they play Saturday night, they’ll be playing against some of the city’s best musicians. That’s not what really worries him, though.

"I know the night that we play we are competing against some very dear friends of mine: Jordan Hallquist and Ryan Oyer," he said. "Both are very fine songwriters and are very good friends of mine. If I have to compete, I’d much rather be competing against friends." 

For a complete list of bands performing, read Sean Phipps’ coverage of the event.

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