Annual BandJam rocks The Ridgefield Playhouse

RIDGEFIELD — On June 6, The Ridgefield Playhouse hosted the finals of the 11th annual BandJam competition for local middle and high school bands.

Over the past few months, bands submitted original and/or cover recordings for consideration to BandJam’s panel of judges. After two rounds of judging the field was narrowed to three middle school and five high school bands.

The finalist bands competing at the middle school level were Fortuna, Skynet and Speed Limit, and Electric Jane, Freedom Rockets, Gremlin Daycare, Groove Haven and Hablo Pescobar at the high school level.

After an electrifying evening of jazz, funk, pop, classic rock, alternative rock and punk music, the judges crowned Speed Limit and Gremlin Daycare the winners of their respective categories.

Speed Limit is a four-piece rock band that met at School of Rock in Ridgefield and formed for the purpose of entering BandJam. The band members are drummer Ben Axen, of Ridgefield, guitarist/bassist Finn LoFaso, of Brookfield, guitarist/bassist Aidan Murphy, of Brookfield, and vocalist Will Falconetti, of Ridgefield. Speed Limit won over the audience with its lively stage presence and explosive versions of “Manic Depression” by Jimi Hendrix and “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath.

Gremlin Daycare is a five-piece rock band that came together at Lagond Music School in Elmsford, N.Y., based on the members’ shared affinity for ‘70s rock and electric fusion. The band features bassist Toby Dorfman, of Chappaqua, N.Y., guitarist Julia Levin, of Teaneck, N.J., keyboardist Noah Lin, of Pleasantville, N.Y., guitarist/vocalist Alicia Sang, of Irvington, N.Y., and drummer Jonah Weinstock, of Brewster, N.Y. Gremlin Daycare energized the crowd with “Do It Again” by Steely Dan and “Jessica” by The Allman Brothers Band.

Other local musicians participating in the finals included Electric Jane’s vocalist Juliette Axen and bassist Beck Silverman, both of Ridgefield, and its guitarists Marc DiGiacomo, of South Salem, N.Y., and Rodrigo Galavis, of New Canaan. In addition, local punk rock band Freedom Rockets features guitarist/vocalist Jimy Bishop, of Ridgefield, and guitarist/vocalist Andrew Diaz, of Danbury.

The judges for BandJam 2021 were singer/songwriter and former “American Idol” finalist Kimberley Locke, multi-platinum record producer and songwriter Aaron Accetta, president and senior agent of Entourage Talent Associates Wayne Forte, and i95 morning radio show host Ethan Carey. The event was hosted by comedian Christine O’Leary and included a performance by legendary guitarist Richie Scarlet.

Founded by a group of Ridgefield students in 2010, BandJam began as a charity event and has since grown into a much-anticipated annual competition. It provides middle and high school students the opportunity to perform on the Playhouse stage in front of celebrity judges and music industry insiders, and embraces the venue’s mission to “entertain, enrich and educate our community and surrounding areas and to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds.”

All BandJam proceeds support the Playhouse, a nonprofit performing arts venue.