On Saturday, four bands will play for the chance to win not only bragging rights but also numerous prizes including a music video and album cover in the inaugural Battle of the Bands competition at Ector Theatre.

The winner of the show will also perform at the final Hot Summer Nights on July 29.

The event, which will be put on by Odessa Arts, will start at 6 p.m. at The Ector Theatre and will be a part of Firecracker Fandango.

The four bands that will play are Never Too Young, Soulstrum, Gone by Nin9 and Murder Monroe.

There will be three judges at the show including Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer Kathy Valentine of the Go-Go’s.

“It’s exciting and it’s a great way to promote the fact that Odessa is a certified music-friendly community,” Odessa Arts Executive Director Randy Ham said. “This is a great way to add a little bit of professional development and get some professional feedback to our local musicians through our judges which are top-notch. We have a representative from the Texas Music Office and another who is the director of The Ector and then Kathy Valentine from the Go-Go’s coming back to judge our Battle of the Bands so I think that’s awesome that we have a rock ‘n’ roll hall of famer here.”

It’ll be the second time in three months that Valentine will be at Ector Theatre. She stopped by Odessa in April to talk about her new autobiography.

“I think it’s important, especially for the bands, to be critiqued by people who have made it in the music business and have some pointers on style, performance, presentation, musicianship,” Ham said. “Kathy has done all of these things and travelled the world with her band so being able to impart that wisdom and knowledge to the musicians is a benefit that’s just unparalleled.”

The band Gone By Nin9 will be among the four finalists competing for a chance to win at Battle of the Bands July 2 at Ector Theatre. Courtesy Photo

Eight bands originally applied for the Battle of the Bands competition.

Online voting was held to determine all four finalists which wrapped up on June 15 and the winners were announced soon after.

“One of the things I like about our finalists is the wide variety of music that they represent,” Ham said. “It’s not just four heavy metal bands. There are a variety musical styles but also in the age range as well. The people that are coming to see Battle of the Bands are going to see the diverse nature of the music here in Odessa.”

While the finalists are eager to perform, some were surprised that they made it to finals.

“We’re pretty excited,” Robin Murray of Murder Monroe said. “We haven’t played in a while. We got a new band member. We’re just ready to get out there.”

Along with Murray, the members of Murder Monroe include Taylor Jones on guitar, Felipe Sotelo and Edward Garcia.

“We play our own music and write our own songs,” Murray said. “We do some covers but we do them our own way. We’re just ready to get back on the scene. After we started practicing, we saw the competition was going on and thought we might as well try for it.”

Lead guitarist for Gone By Nin9 Nick Hooper and his fellow band members are also eager to get on stage and perform.

“We’re super stoked,” Hooper said. “We’re really excited that our hard work is starting to get noticed. We have an opportunity to show off some of our skills. Our efforts are starting to provide fruition.”

Based out of Monahans, Gone By Nin9 has been around since 2020.

The members of the group include Hooper, Eron Saenz, BJ Thompson and Nathan Montes.

“We’re a country-influenced rock band,” Hooper said. “Our lead singer Eron Saenz has a diverse background in singing. He comes from playing in some tejano bands. He’s a fan of R&B and country. I come from a hard rock background. When we put our styles together, it’s pretty cool.”

The band Soulstrum will be among the four finalists competing for a chance to win at Battle of the Bands July 2 at Ector Theatre. (Courtesy Photo)

Consisting of members from both Odessa and Midland, Soulstrum has been around since 2005.

“We’re super excited,” rhythm guitarist for Soulstrum Erik VanCuren said. “This gives us an opportunity to share our music. It’s songs that are well thought out that we’ve been really working on. It’s a chance to be creative and put something new out there. We’re just really ecstatic about it.”

The Christian rock band consists of Stephen Stroope on lead vocals and bass, Weston Jordan on lead guitar, Stroope on drums and VanCuren.

“We have a wide array of influences,” VanCuren said. “I would say, our sound, you can probably pick versions of Alter Bridge …. There’s also some U2 in there. Our lead guitarist is about U2. I also like Explosions in the Sky and Shinedown. Steven’s influences is a lot of 90s rock and some post grudge. I love anything 80s including 80s pop and 80s rock.”

The band Never Too Young will be among the four finalists competing for a chance to win at Battle of the Bands July 2 at Ector Theatre. (Courtesy Photo)

One band that has already won a competition from earlier this year is Never Too Young.

The group, consisting of Leon Carrasco, Ian Chavez and Adrian Rivilla, recently competed at Odessa’s Got Talent back in April and took first place in the youth category.

“We’re very eager,” Carrasco said. “We’re keeping God first. We love playing our music. We wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Battle of the Bands will be going on at the same time as Firecracker Fandango in downtown Odessa.

“This is something that we approached Downtown Odessa with to see what we can contribute to with fandango and (Downtown Odessa Executive Director) Casey Hallmark has been a great partner in this in letting us be able to offer programming at The Ector Theatre during Firecracker Fandango.”

Ham is hopeful that Odessa Arts will be able to continue doing Battle of the Bands in the future.

“I think we have plenty of talent out here every year to be offering this to the public on a regular basis,” Ham said. “I can’t thank The Ector Theatre and Downtown Odessa enough and Young Guns Entertainment which is offering a prize of a professionally shot music video to the winning band and I think that’s a great deal. I just love how the music community has come out to support this.”

Tickets are $5 and can be purchased online at tinyurl.com/3t2j9ytm.

If you go

  • What: Battle of the Bands.
  • When: 6 p.m. July 2.
  • Where: Ector Theatre.
  • Where to purchase tickets: tinyurl.com/3t2j9ytm