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National Peoples Gang Will Appear in Festival as Talent Contest Winner

Times Staff Writer

National Peoples Gang will play at the closing show of an upcoming music festival in Toronto--the local rock group’s prize for winning a recent talent competition among bands from Orange County and Long Beach.

The contest, sponsored by the Pacific News & Review, an area alternative newspaper, was decided by public balloting, with voters choosing from among six finalists.

National Peoples Gang received 309 votes, to 261 votes for Chain Gang, Randy Matin, the News & Review’s publisher, said Friday. Vote totals were negligible for the other finalists: one vote each for Tender Fury and the Swamp Zombies, and none for Metal MC and Ann De Jarnett. The six had shared the stage for a “Finals Showcase” on Sept. 4 before a sold-out house at Bogart’s in Long Beach.

“It’s a very strange business. I don’t have an explanation for it,” Matin said of the results.

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From the tally, it is apparent that all but the two top finishers decided not to mount a get-out-the-vote campaign. Matin said many of the ballots cast were delivered to him in envelopes from members of the two competing bands. All the ballots appeared to be in order, he said, with no evidence of ballot-stuffing by individual fans voting more than once.

National Peoples Gang will play Oct. 2 at the concluding party for press and music industry guests of the Molson Canadian International Festival of Independent Music, Matin said.

The fledgling festival, devoted to concerts and seminars for bands not affiliated with major labels, sponsored best-band contests in five U.S. metropolitan areas, with winners receiving air fare, lodging and a chance to perform. David Swinson, Bogart’s promoter, said National Peoples Gang will also receive the proceeds from the “Finals Showcase” as expense money for its trip--about $650.

National Peoples Gang, which records for the local Dr. Dream label, will release its debut album, “The Hard Swing,” on Oct. 3. Manager Sam Lanni said the Orange County band will leave on its first tour in late October, a three-week swing up the West Coast, then through Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. An eastern tour is planned later this fall.

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As for the contest victory, Lanni said: “We thought, ‘It’ll be a great thing if we can go, it’ll motivate us even more (for the coming tour), but if we don’t win, we won’t be let down from it.’ It’ll be good for the band. They’re waiting for the album to come out and for the tour to start. They’re antsy to play.”

The performance in Toronto will give National Peoples Gang a chance to make an impression on music industry figures who could help in promoting the band as it tries to make a national name for itself.

The group’s approach balances the avant-garde inclinations of theatrical front man Chad Jasmine with a physical, direct instrumental attack supplied by guitarist Chad Forello, bassist Chuck Morris and drummer Anthony Arvizu.


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