A group of UA students and childhood friends earned bragging rights as Tuscaloosa’s Best Band 2023 in the Student Government Association’s second annual Battle of the Bands held Nov. 2 at Druid City Music Hall.
Jones Beavers, Henry Cardwell, Wilder Hines, Hudson Murrell and Harrison Wood, all sophomores from Mountain Brook, make up Wax Monkey, a jam/rock band that played its way through the student voting and won the finale to earn a $2,000 prize.
Wax Monkey has been together for a couple of years but started seriously performing at the beginning of the semester. They’ve played a few times in Birmingham and plan to get down to Auburn. But the musicians agreed that this competition felt like a catalyst for bigger things.
“We all went to the same school and started to play in Wilder’s garage,” said Cardwell, who plays guitar and sings. “We used to play at little parties in high school at the lake and a friend’s farm.”
“Druid City Music Hall had a stage setup we dreamed about years ago when we first got together. We’re finally making it happen thanks to all the support and hard work we put in. I can’t wait to keep playing and see where we go,” said drummer Wood.
“The stage and production were sick. It was really cool playing at the same place that some big-time bands play at,” said Beavers, the band’s bassist.
Hines, who plays guitar and piano, and Murrell, guitar and vocals, echoed their bandmates’ thoughts on how it felt to perform at teh venue.
“I really enjoyed playing at a big venue like Druid City Music Hall. Especially with all the people that came and showed us support. We aim to continue playing around Tuscaloosa and focusing on our jam band music,” said Murrell.
“Playing at a venue like Druid City Music Hall was an amazing experience,” said Hines. “The crew, lights, and sound quality were of a quality we had never experienced. We can’t wait to keep playing and see where it takes us.”
Wax Monkey wasn’t the only winner that night as the fundraising event brought in approximately $9,500 for the Joe Espy Needs-Based Scholarship, surpassing last year’s total of $7,500.
“Battle of the Bands was a huge success! My team and I are grateful to build on the successes of last year’s event,” said Samad Gillani, SGA vice president of external affairs. “With 725 tickets sold and four student bands competing, this event sought to bring students together to support one another while benefitting a deserving cause and I am proud to say we accomplished this goal.”