October means RocktoberFest in Middletown
Battle of the bands competition for $1,000 prize

You can bet your sweet keister the first weekend in October is going to be a rockin' one, thanks to the second annual RocktoberFest on Friday.

RocktoberFest will run Friday through Sunday and will be located in the parking lot of Middletown's Home Depot.

It's going to be three days of live music, with nine local and regional acts as they duke it out in a battle of the bands contest, featuring: Chris Lewis, Crash Course, Remnants, Wicked Wayz, As October Fades, Moment of Truth, 3 Day Weekend, Milo and Fishbowl Project. Five additional live acts will perform throughout the weekend: Payton Taylor, It Is What It Is, Stone's Throw Band, Due West and Chasing Thea.

Here fishy, fishy

Having performed at the Big Ball Marathon in September, keyboardist and singer Dave Fisher of the Fishbowl Project will return to Middletown with his veteran bandmates for their RocktoberFest debut.

Inspired by the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Heart, plus a wealth of other acts from the '80s, there's no telling what cover songs the Fishbowl Project might conjure up during their set, since the guys have about "nine hours of material we can do," Fisher said.

Fisher, 44, of Middletown, is keeping mum on the songs his Newark/Wilmington-area band will perform, but added there's "absolutely" a good chance Fishbowl's set may include one or two of the band's original tunes.

One of the originals might be "Back to School," which is "definitely a Texas-blues-infused song," said Fisher, who added most of the band's original tunes are about "finding the right girl, losing the right girl and then coming back together with the right girl."

Whether Fishbowl's fate is to win the grand prize or leave the competition empty-handed, Fisher and his crew are mainly in the contest to win new fans and spoil their existing ones with whatever songs they perform.

"For us, it's really not about winning," Fisher said. "We just want to go out and have fun and play the music and sit there an hear the other bands play."

Milo's revenge

Performing in last year's RocktoberFest gave Milo bassist Chris Pirhalla, 16, and his teenage bandmates a good idea of what it takes to win the contest. For instance, Pirhalla's biggest takeaway from last year's event was that it's not wise to play a list of "obscure" cover songs — something the guys in the were guilty of.

Pirhalla — whose band (based in Chesapeake City, Md.) was eliminated in the first round of last year's competition — doesn't recall the three songs Milo performed, but he does remember one of them being "Heart of Glass" by Blondie — a song that most of the crowd apparently hadn't heard prior to their performance, said Pirhalla, of Wilmington.

For this year's contest, Milo will cover Jimmy Eat World's familiar tune "The Middle," in which the band will tweak the song to give it more oomph.

"I feel this is a little more raw than the original one," said Pirhalla, a junior at the Charter School of Wilmington. "We're just going to put a lot of energy in it and it's going to be a little more simplified. I'm playing my own bass part for it and it'll still fit, but it's just a little different."

The other two songs Milo will play in RocktoberFest will be a surprise.

The rundown

Tonight will feature performances by up-and-coming country singer Payton Taylor and band It Is What It Is.Saturday will see round one of the battle of the bands competition, which will be entirely judged by the audience. Bands are required to play three songs and allotted a maximum of 20 minutes.

During Saturday, the Stone's Throw Band and Due West will also grace the stage.The top three bands will advance to the second and final round held Sunday.

On the day of the final round, each competing band will be given a maximum of 45 minutes to perform. After the final band performs, reigning RocktoberFest winner Chasing Thea will perform while the event committee tallies the votes. After Chasing Thea's set, the reigning band will then crown this year's champ.

The first place winner will earn a grand prize package that includes $1,000 ($500 in cash on the day of the final round and an opportunity for the band to play a paid gig for $500 at Sully's Irish Pub in the coming weeks).The winner will also receive the opportunity to play in the fourth annual Middletown Delaware State BBQ Cook-off in 2013, the 20th annual Middletown Old-TymePeach Festival in 2013, and the opportunity to close out the third annual RocktoberFest in 2013.

In addition, the winner will have a conference call with Eugene Foley, founder and president of Foley Entertainment, Inc., a New York-based music industry consulting firm and licensed entertainment agency. The firm provides a variety of professional services, including artist development and publicity.

The runner-up in the competition will receive $500 and the same benefits as the winner, minus less prize money and the chance to close out the third annual RocktoberFest.

WHAT RocktoberFest 2012
WHEN 5-11 p.m., Friday, Oct. 5 (Payton Taylor and It Is What It Is in concert); 11-11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6 (battle of the bands round one and additional performances by Stone's Throw Band and Due West); 11-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7 (final round of battle of the bands and additional performance by Chasing Thea)
WHERE Home Depot, 350 Auto Park Drive, Middletown
COST $5 each day; $3 senior citizens; $10 three-day wristband
INFO middletownareachamber.com or 378-7545