For most Harley-Davidson enthusiasts, the sound of a motorcycle’s purring engine is music to their ears.

The Battle of the Bands at the McAllen dealership’s grand opening is a bonus.

As part of the grand opening for the dealership, a weekend’s worth of festivities, raffles and celebrity visits will also include a band battle, featuring at least 10 local musical acts from several genres.

The new Harley-Davidson, which opened for business March 22, is the former site of La Villa Real Special Events Center, which closed its doors in July 2006 after 29 years in the concert business. According to Harley-Davidson general manager Mario Cavazos, he and other Harley-Davidson staff wanted to keep music as a central part of the building’s theme.

“It’s because of the history of the building,” Cavazos said. “With the grand opening, we wanted it to tie into music somehow. We wanted to keep the spirit alive.”

The Harley-Davidson battle will not only give props to music, but to local musicians of several genres, as well. At the moment, there are six bands signed up to play, said general manager assistant Allison Castillos: hard rock bands Lock n’ Load, Anything Goes, Stillborne and Bloodshot, and Latin music groups Grupo Imposible and Los Ultimos 4.

Bands paid $150 to sign up for the competition, which has been advertised on several area radio stations. The payoff is huge: the winner, who will have to make it through Saturday’s preliminary round into Sunday’s final three bands, walks away with a $1,050 prize and the opportunity to perform at future Harley-Davidson events. The bands will be judged by independent music industry professionals, Cavazos said, and each band has 30 minutes to play original music for the battle.

Because of the entry fee and the prize money, most of the bands who will participate in the Harley-Davidson battle have only entered because they have a good chance of winning, said Matthew Rios, lead vocalist for alternative rock band Stillborne. Rios — with band mates Frank Salinas (guitar), Steve Alfaro (lead guitar), Isaac Rojas (drums) and Tony Morales (bass) — has performed in “20-some” battles with Stillborne in the two years they have performed together, but the group only has lost two. There are also other road and battle-hardened bands performing, like Methmare Motorcade and Driving the Nails.

“I know there are some really good bands,” he said. “Methmare Motorcade and Drive the Nails, we’ve toured with them around Texas, and we know each other’s tricks. We know what’s up each other’s sleeves.”

Regardless of who takes home first place, Rios said the battle will be a worthwhile entertaining event, and one that will earn the respect of many people within the community.

“I think this is a great move,” he said. “La Villa Real was known as the special events center way before Dodge (Arena) was ever thought of. Everyone went to La Villa Real for entertainment, and now that Harley bought it out, it’s good of them to show the Valley some respect. For them to stay true to what the building stood for for so long is a huge sign of respect, and I think a lot of people will pick up on that.”

Harley-Davidson Battle of the Bands
WHEN: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday, 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Harley-Davidson at La Villa Real, 1201 S. Bentsen Road, McAllen
COST: Free
FOR MORE INFO: Contact Harley-Davidson at (956) 687-4646


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