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Passing the torch : Valley musicians win Best Rock, Best High School awards for second year

Friday, February 8th, 2008
Issue 06, Volume 12.
Peter Surowski
Valley News Staff

Call it a winning streak. Jan. 31, Temecula Valley musicians took home two awards from the Fourth Annual Inland Empire Music Awards, which took place at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium. Last year, the same awards went to neighbors and friends of the current winners.

Three Temecula Valley bands and one solo musician were nominated for awards: 15 North was nominated for Best High School, Fellguard was also nominated for Best High School and Best Live awards and Souljourners and Antonio Pontarelli were both nominated for Best Rock.

Murrieta-based rock band 15 North and Temecula-based progressive metal band Souljourners won Best High School and Best Rock, respectively, and performed at the awards ceremony.

Neither Souljourners nor 15 North took home awards, but their titles went to musicians went to musicians from the same cities.

15 North passed on the title of Best High School band to their fellow Murrietans Ė and personal friends Ė Fellguard.

"Itís kind of nice that itís friends," Sam Larsen, 16, the singer of 15 North, said of Fellguard winning their former title. He added that he took guitar lessons from Jake Parker of Fellguard.

"Itís kind of ironic that they used to come to us for advice," he said.

Fellguard, which has only existed for four months and performed live six times, was encouraged by the award.

"Feels amazing because 100ís of teenagersí bands entered," said Parker, Fellguardís singer and guitarist.

For the bandís first performance, which was at the Murrieta Battle of the Bands in October, the group won first prize.

"This is even more of an encouragement, because itís not just Murrieta bands [in the competition]," said Dillon Baker, 16, Fellguardís guitarist, said of winning Best High Advertisement
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School award.

Antonio Pontarelli, a 17-year old violinist from Temecula won the award for best rock, took the title of Best Rock from Temecula Valley-based progressive metal band Souljourners.

Paul Ellingson, Souljournersí keyboardist, said he was glad to pass the best rock award to Pontarelli, who is a friend and former band mate.

"Iím really happy for him," he said.

Pontarelli, who was supposed to perform that night, failed to show up and forced the staff to find a last-minute replacement act.

Nobody came to the ceremony to accept Pontarelliís award.

Martin Brown, the founder and producer of the IEMA as well as numerous other music award events in the US and Europe, started the event in response to the number of submissions he received from the area for his Orange County Music Awards.

"First year was a total sell-out. There was obviously a need," he said in an interview after the event. "Itís like the Grammys, but itís chaotic and for indie musicians."

Brown donated $400 of the money made through ticket sales to the Life through Art Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to funding arts and music programs for disadvantaged children.

"The governmentís been doing a pretty good job of getting rid of [music and art programs] in schools," said Brown.

Child benefactors of the Life through Art Foundation decorated the musiciansí awards with drawings, which were framed with the certificates.

Performing at the show is better than winning an award, according to several band members who performed that night.

"We donít feel too bad. We got to play in front of 1,000 people," said 19-year-old Taylor Lucker, 15 Northís guitarist.

"Thereís a lot of producers, promoters here. Iíd rather be playing," said Parker.



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