At only nine months old, The Backstays have won the Stingray Music Rising Star Competition at the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival on Sept. 14.
The prize was $1,500 and an opening slot that evening with bands Joyful Noise, Stephen Lewis & The BIG Band of FUN and Five Alarm Funk in the Barracks Tent.
The Backstays are an indie-folk rock band that are “a little rootsy,” said band member Serenna Chapman.
The band is based out of Saint John, but two of their members, Chapman and Keith Whipple, live in Fredericton. Chapman sings, plays violin and piano. Whipple plays bass.
Chapman is a transfer student from the University of New Brunswick Saint John campus who started going to St. Thomas University this year.
She drives down to Saint John to practice with her band a few times a week.
“My life’s all over the place – but at least I have the band,” said Chapman.
“It’s kind of nice that it’s not crazy far away, but I miss being right next to the place we used to practice.”
Other members in the band include Derek Hilchie on the synth, Lorne Kirkpatrick on drums and Pete Johnston on guitar and vocals. Johnston is the primary songwriter for the band.
A new ‘Rising Star’
After the last performers played the stage on that sunny and muggy afternoon, performers and audience members were told to wait while the judges made their final decision. Congratulations and good luck wishes were shared from band-to-band, while everyone waited anxiously to hear.
After a half hour wait, the winner was announced.
“We couldn’t believe it, [when] we were all backstage waiting, everyone [let through this] unfiltered emotion for a second and we kind of had to catch ourselves. But it was really fun,” said Whipple.
The band said the money they won from the competition will help with their upcoming October to November tour, as well as the purchase of a new keyboard for Chapman.
Chapman is excited for the band’s future.
“We’re all very committed to [the band], it’s really important to all of us… I know it sounds cliché, but our goal really is to just do what we love, make music, have fun, and like if it leads us anywhere, that’s great,” she said.
“I haven’t really had any expectations for it. So even to be able to play these different shows and be given these opportunities, it’s been an absolute thrill.”
Disclaimer: The Aquinian’s Jerry-Faye Flatt competed in the Rising Star Competition.