36 Bands to Compete in This Year’s Tri-C High School Rock Off


  • Emanuel Wallace
When the annual High School Rock Off launched some 20 years ago at the Odeon, the promoters at the locally based Belkin Productions (now Live Nation) saw it as a way to reach out to area high schools and provide the kind of outlet that students might not have.

Two decades later, the event, now held at the Rock Hall, continues to thrive.

Earlier today, organizers announced that 36 bands will participate in this year’s competition. A total of 147 band members, including six solo artists, will represent 64 schools  Three performance rounds will take place at the Rock Hall, leading up to the Final Exam that takes place on Saturday, Feb. 16 where the 2019 Best Band in the Land will be awarded by music and entertainment industry judges.

Prizes include three scholarships to study in the Creative Arts program at Cuyahoga Community College. PNC Bank will help high school seniors launch their careers in music by providing the scholarships.

“These scholarships help young, talented musicians access training designed to sharpen their skills and continue on the path to success,” says Paul Clark, PNC regional president of Cleveland, in a press release. “It’s rewarding to help hard-working students achieve their goals while further enhancing our community.”

“These scholarships will help create an unparalleled opportunity for Tri-C to help students who have competed in the Rock Off to jumpstart their careers in music performance, marketing, promotion and recording technology,” adds David Kennedy, director of Tri-C’s Recording Arts and Technology program. “We help focus their passion and provide training, degrees and job opportunities. Rock Off alumni work in the music industry, in recording studios, in concert halls and arenas, on tour, in equipment manufacturing, in broadcasting, in marketing and promotion, at the Rock Hall, at the House of Blues and with Live Nation. The partnership gives Tri-C students the opportunity to connect with artists and professionals in many meaningful and productive ways.”

Rock Hall President and CEO Greg Harris calls the event “an incredible opportunity” for students.

“Rock Off alumni have launched successful music careers, and we’re providing opportunities for them to perform live at the Rock Hall and during the celebrations around the induction ceremony’s return to Cleveland in April 2018,” he says.

During the three performance rounds, each act will play a 15-minute set. Four bands from each round will move on to “The Final Exam.” All finalists will record one original song at Tri-C’s Gill and Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts. Jim Stewart Recording and students from Tri-C’s Recording Arts and Technology program will handle production duties.

The first round takes place on Jan. 19.

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