Answer: The Neighborhoods, ‘Til Tuesday, Gang Green, The Sheila Divine, The Dresden Dolls.
Question: Who are some of the bands that have won the Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble?
Local music is a linchpin in any thriving art scene and Boston has long had a thriving art scene, one that embraces and promotes local music. A cornerstone to the city’s local music community is the Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble, begun in 1979 and sponsored by two legendary Boston radio stations, WBCN and WZLX, which has become a showcase that every local band wants to be part of, the bands that did not win being almost as impressive as those that did. Bands that have not taken the winners’ bow include iconic Boston acts like The Del Fuegos, The Dogmatics, O Positive, Treat Her Right, Bim Skala Bim, Letters to Cleo and Morphine. Collectively, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble might be the greatest collection of local bands any music scene has ever produced.
Through the years, the Rumble has taken over local haunts such as The Rat, The Metro, The Paradise, The Middle East, T.T. The Bear’s Place and most recently the ONCE Ballroom. Steve Morse, music critic extraordinaire of The Boston Globe, called the 1979 debut competition “nine nights of exhilarating grass-roots rock.”
These days, the Rumble begins in April with six preliminary rounds of 24 acts. Each night, four bands perform a tight, thoroughly rehearsed set that is judged by some of the luminaries of the Boston music scene. A winner and two wildcards are selected from each preliminary round and those eight lucky acts move on to the semi-finals. A special guest, typically a national act, headlines the finals and performs while the judges make their cases for a winner. Some of the national acts to have headlined the Rumble include Peter Wolf, The Alarm and Joan Jett. In recent years, the Rumble has brought back past participants to headline the finals, including The Gravel Pit, The Dogmatics and The Neighborhoods. Today, the Rumble is hosted and produced by Boston DJ Anngelle Wood, host of Boston Emissions.
The Rumble has become one of Boston’s most celebrated musical events. When it comes to the city’s underground rock ‘n’ roll scene, there are certain people, places and things that everyone who has been involved in one form or another looks back upon with reverence and fondness – The Rat, The Channel, The Noise, WFNX and The Rumble. It is in the DNA of every band that’s come up through Boston and something that the fraternity of groups which have performed at the Rumble can look back on. Win or lose, the bands that got a chance to Rumble will never forget it.
(by Chris Hinckley)