Six bands to vie for title in CBJ’s second-annual Corporate Battle of the Bands

By Adam Moore & Kassie Kilpatrick

Back after a successful 2016 edition, the CBJ’s Corporate Battle of the Bands is ready to rock the Corridor with three new acts and three returning favorites.

Six bands will vie for the championship at a live competition from 6-9 p.m. on Aug. 24 at the new Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City. The bands offer something for most musical tastes, ranging from country to pop to hard rock.

The CBJ’s competition has only a few re­quirements: at least half of the band’s mem­bers must work at the company the band represents, and the lead singer must work at the company.

Similar to the Fox hit, “American Idol,” the bands will perform a 20-minute set and then receive feedback from judges Alex Beamer of West Music, Rob Cline of Hancher, Tim Hankewich of Orchestra Iowa and Vaughn Halyard of The StoryLounge.

Tickets are $40 and include one free drink, appetizers and a T-shirt. Register online at Registration closes Aug. 17; shirt sizes cannot be guaranteed after Aug. 14. This year’s event is presented by West Music, with support from Shive-Hattery and Big Grove Brewery.

The following is a look at the six bands a look at the six bands set to compete later this month:


Clickstop Inc.: 5 Second Rule

Playing music isn’t quite like riding a bike, says Clickstop CEO Tim Guenther. Back for a second year, 5 Second Rule spent its offseason tuning up in Mr. Guenther’s steel-lined barn for the 2017 competition. While the barn’s acoustics leave something to be desired, the band has the most fun when their music is fast and loud. They can often be found jamming out to songs like “Enter Sandman” by Metallica and “Santeria” by Sublime. The band also listed Thrice as a musical influence, and teased that they may be playing one of their songs at this year’s battle. The group’s members all have different musical styles, Mr. Guenther noted, “but as long as it has some distortion guitar and a good rock beat, we’re in.”

Tim Guenther, Lead Vocals
Nate Merrifield, Bass
Scott Kelling, Drums
Matt Hummel, Rhythm Guitar
Ethan Miles, Lead Guitar


Nelson Electric: The Hubcaps

Nelson Electric’s band, The Hubcaps, will be deploying the same strategy they used during last year’s Battle of the Bands. Vice president, lead singer and guitarist Jim Jones says the band considers itself “a traditional country band, influenced by icons like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings,” adding it’s all about “three chords and the truth,” to quote songwriting legend Harlan Howard. The band’s classic rock and country tunes can be heard pouring from the windows of the Community Bible Church in Mt. Vernon where the band practices. Songs include “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” by Alan Jackson and “Neon Moon” by Brooks & Dunn.

Jim Jones, Lead Singer and Guitar
Steve Murray, Guitar, Banjo and Vocals
Grady Zangerie, Lead Guitar
Jim Applebee, Bass Guitar
Darryl Studt, Drums and Vocals
Kirk Dighton, Steel Guitar


UFG: Catastrophy

United Fire Group “insures” a great time when its corporate band, Catastrophy, takes the stage. “If the band does poorly, we might be a ‘catastrophe,’ but if we win the trophy, we’ll be a ‘catastrophy,’” joked Sarah Walsh, a senior communications specialist with the company and a band representative. Hailing from a variety of backgrounds, the band is influenced by myriad genres and ideas; some of their favorite artists include Grace Potter, KT Tunstall and the Pistol Annies. They hinted at having a few tricks up their sleeves for that Aug. 24 performance, but Catastrophy’s main goal is to just go with the flow and have fun. “Even people who don’t play instruments can sound great on a cowbell, tambourine, etc.,” Ms. Walsh said. “Everybody pitches in and makes a contribution.”

Phil Gervais, Bass Guitar
Brian Klinger, Lead Guitar
Brent Garrett, Rhythm Guitar
Ash Stiles, Drums
Hillary Holub, Singer
Amanda Larson, Singer
Kathie Green, Singer


MediRevv: Jessa and the Reps

Managing revenue cycles by day and music notes by night, Jessa and the Reps have a style all their own. Their band name was suggested by accounts receivable specialist and guitarist Max Clark, with the other band members approving wholeheartedly. Older fans may be reminded of Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets,” but the band says it is a callback to “Jesse and the Rippers,” a fictional band featured on ABC’s “Full House.” Their music tastes range widely, from classic blues by B.B. King to modern alternative from Radiohead, all of which feeds into their unique sound. They fine-tune their songs in an Iowa City home, thankful that their neighbors don’t mind hearing them play songs like “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga, or “What a Wonderful world” by Louis Armstrong on repeat.

Jessica Uszak, Vocals
Caitlin Cross, Lead Guitar and Vocals
Nick Hipper, Bass Guitar
Max Clark, Guitar
Aaron Wells, Drums


ProCircular: fsociety

ProCircular’s band, fsociety, draws its name and inspiration from the fictional hacker group on USA Network’s “Mr. Robot.” Although influenced by artists that performed under an alter ego, such as Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie), Makaveli (Tupac) and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles), fsociety will largely stick to the classics, with songs by The Stones, Neil Diamond and Pink Floyd. “We’re just hoping to get our message out and enjoy the evening with our friends and colleagues from the Corridor,” said Aaron Warner, ProCircular CEO and fsociety vocalist and guitarist. 

Patrick Quinn, Guitar and Vocals
Eric Schlichte, Guitar
Solomon Smith, Percussion
Abby Goodpaster, Percussion
Aaron Warner, Guitar and Vocals
Brian Kirschling, Drums and Percussion


Solon Community School District: The Hopping Iguanas

After the final bell rings, this group of educators can be found blasting songs like “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison in the high school band room. Their unique name is a direct quote from one of the member’s children, who mistook his toy dinosaur for a “hopping iguana.” As a self-proclaimed “laid-back band,” the Hopping Iguanas love all kinds of music – but especially those songs with power chords. “We just like to get up and jam,” said Aaron Farnsworth, guitarist, vocalist and a Solon High School language arts teacher. Founded in 2003, this will be their first gig of this size. “We are excited and nervous to be up on a big stage,” he added. Previous performances include the school’s yearly talent show and occasional appearances at Solon on Main, a concert series in Solon.

Jim Erickson, Guitar and Vocals
Aaron Farnsworth, Guitar and Vocals
Ken Beck, Bass and Vocals
Matt Messenger, Drums