The annual Road to Nightfall contest highlights some of the best musicians in and around Chattanooga, and this year, the winning artist will receive a grab bag of amazing prizes. Besides the various rewards, this chance to headline at Nightfall gives the winning artist or band the opportunity to spread their music and name to a much wider audience than they might ordinarily have. It also gives Nightfall patrons the ability to hear some of the extraordinary music that Chattanooga and the surrounding areas produce.

Nooga.com will briefly explore the music of the bands/artists performing each night. This will give you a chance to hear some of their work before heading out to Granfalloon March 10 to catch the opening night of the contest. The first band starts playing promptly at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door.

Walrus
Indie rock quartet Walrus embrace the conventions of their chosen genre but draws from a wide range of associated influences. They veer between a chiming rock noise and a blurry-eyed pop reserve with ease. Their work owes a debt to the early ’90s college rock scene (with hints of dream pop thrown in for good measure) but also stands on its own, wresting a clever and affecting perspective from these familiar sources.

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Heatherly
Singer-songwriter Heather Leigh Holt records gentle folk story-songs that resonate with an inner warmth. Her affecting voice and acoustic guitar casually carry each musical thread of her influences through a spacious and emotional interior where experience and memory meld to create a constantly shifting set of rhythmic perspectives.

Sam Killed the Bear
Built around a muscular alt rock sound, the music of Sam Killed the Bear is raucous and melodic, pitting ferocious rock influences against the band’s dynamic inspirations. Guitar riffs slice the air while drums threaten to cave in your chest. It’s loud, complex and serves as a rebuttal to anyone who says that there isn’t anything of importance left to say in rock ‘n’ roll.

Genki Genki Panic
As contrarian to typical rock expectations as you can get, Genki Genki Panic creates vivid horror-themed landscapes of surf punk theatricality. Working through some vicious fretwork while exploring a luchador fashion sense, the band bucks convention and embraces a succinct rock volume that makes for an exhilarating and involving musical experience.

Stone Cold Fox
Stone Cold Fox is a trio of musicians bound by the idea of classic rock ‘n’ roll as a transformative experience. Their ability to transform the perceived banality of rock music into something truly dizzying and devoid of artifice is a testament to their innate understanding of the viability of these volatile rhythms and the inherent power of a six-string.

Afternooners
Wandering through an eclectic expanse of rhythm and tone, the Afternooners concoct a variable brew of pop and rock sounds, with brief and complex dalliances through some jammier environments. They generally circle back to the pop side of things before their songs resolve as the band fervently clings to their bright melodic underpinnings.

Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.

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