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Student Band Gets to Contest Final Four

By Juice Fong, Contributing Writer

After winning an online contest, the student band North House will head to San Francisco this weekend, one step closer to its big break.

The Internet company iuma.com (Internet Underground

Music Archive) is holding a nationwide "battle of the bands" tournament that will culminate with the four final bands opening for Primus this Saturday night.

North House--whose members include Alfred Bennett '00, Andrew C. Eggers '99, Altay M. Guvench '03, Jose L. Sandoval '01 and Wellesley College student Becky Warren--could win $10,000, a contract with a small record label and the chance to be published in Rolling Stone magazine as part of the "MusicOMania" online contest.

The contest, which drew entrants from more than 80 colleges nationwide, began with small "battle of the bands" competitions at each campus. From there, bands faced off online. Iuma.com posted links to each band's website so voters could listen to mp3 samples of their music. The highest vote-getters advanced.

"It's kind of like an NCAA tournament," explained Dan F. Aquino, artist support manager for iuma.com. "Now we're down to the final four, who will be flown out to San Francisco to open for Primus on

Saturday at the Fillmore Auditorium before nearly 1,500 fans."

North House members campaigned by knocking on doors and passing out flyers asking for support in the contest.

"My mom helped us get votes back at home, spreading the word to friends," said Sandoval, the band's keyboard player.

The opportunity has changed the band's outlook on music as a career, members say.

"We've gotten a more serious attitude about it," Sandoval said. "Now that it's about to happen, there's an attitude of excitement, there's more of a push, like a runner that can see the finish line."

North House is turning up the heat since news of their online victory. In addition to its nightly practices, the band has become closer, more serious and more in touch with their music.

"We've definitely gotten closer," said Guvench. "We've been hanging out together all the time."

Band members were optimistic about the publicity the contest will bring them.

"This could really accelerate things," Sandoval said. "It's an incredible kick-start. It could put us a year or two ahead in the music industry."

But band members are quick to add that their big break hasn't happened yet.

"Becoming a performer is a one in a million shot," Bennett said. "It's a matter of having, at that time, what people want to hear."

"It's great that this has happened, but I have a tremendously long way to go to make it as a performer," he added.

The online poll results and a panel of members from the music industry will decide the final winner. Fans and supporters can watch the performance live on iuma.com at 11p.m. Saturday and cast their votes afterwards at musicomania.com.

Iuma.com, which offers free websites for independent musicians and helps distribute their mp3s, has already planned a similar MusicOMania contest next year based on the success of the current competition.

North House, which was named after the former name of Pforzheimer House, started with just Bennett and Warren. Since, the band has grown, played a few gigs and produced its own CD, entitled "Two Stories."

For more information about the band, visit their website at www.northhouse.com.

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