The fifth and final qualifying round of the Sound Off competition took place on Wednesday, Feb. 3, at the Square Room on Market Square and saw Americana/folk crooners the Songbirds taking a spot in the finals, scheduled for March 3.
The Songbirds duked it out with singer/songwriters Ol’ Sweet Lou and Britta Adams, Michael Davis of Medford’s Black Record Collection, who was playing his first show with his new solo project, and Joey English and Gold Famine in what was one of the most consistent and evenly matched rounds of the competition so far. Each act performed two original songs and a cover from the Motown catalog.
The night started out slow; Davis and his all-star band, featuring Christina Horn of Sound Off finalists Hudson K on keyboards and veteran drummer Dave Campbell, delivered a surprisingly lackluster set, but the pace eventually picked up when the stage held its first choreographed dance routine, courtesy of Adams and her band.
Besides showcasing some of Knoxville’s newest local acts (Ol’ Sweet Lou had only been performing together for two weeks prior to the show, and Davis and his band have only been practicing together for a month), there was one more surprise: emo rockers Seeing Skies, who had the biggest crowd response of the entire contest (as measured by the Square Room’s sound board) in the second round, have been added to the final as a wild card. They’ll go up against the five other finalists—Taylor Brown and Company, Murfreesboro’s Vinyl Thief, Hudson K, Ellis Brown and Aftah Party, and the Songbirds—in March’s final showcase.