New Galaxy Wins ‘Last Band Standing’ with Fun Funk and Soul

An enthusiastic crowd turned up at the Mt. Pleasant Wild Wing Café for the finale of the fifth annual Last Band Standing, a seven-week “battle of the bands” series that featured a variety of local and regional acts over the fall.

Metronome Charleston joined the gang of judges at the back table to assess and score performances by the two finalists — country-rock combo the Brady Smith Band and funk/soul band New Galaxy.

The judge panel included Charleston-based singer/songwriter Mark Bryan (of Hootie and the Blowfish, Occasional Milkshake), local radio vet Jim Voigt (a.k.a. the Critic of the Bridge at 105.5), concert promoter Marshall Lowe (of All In Entertainment and the Music Farm), studio staffer Casey Wolfe (of Charleston Sound), and Wild Wing sound engineer Curtis Flewelling.

Each judge scored the bands in four categories: originality, creativity, stage presence, and audience participation.

Both groups performed well and earned excited applause from friends and fans. The Brady Smith Band, led by singer/guitarist Brady Smith, played a mix of classic and modern country covers (Keith Urban, George Jones, Zac Brown Band, etc.) with a few melodic originals. Smith’s banter with the crowd was upbeat and amiable.

New Galaxy, a newly formed six-piece group, hit the stage next, opening with an extended rendition of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love?” Their set was also fairly heavy with standard cover songs, including a Stevie Wonder double-shot, and a fast-tempo version of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” but they delivered three steady funk jams of their own. Vocalists Ryan Janeiro Alston and Jasmaine Smalls traded verses and shared harmonies. Six-string bassist Justin Harper and drummer Andrew Thomas shined of fancy solos during the closing number, a three-chord jam that drew heavily from Prince and the Revolution’s “Little Red Corvette.”

The final scores were close. By a very narrow margin, New Galaxy snagged the top spot, earning $1,000 worth of gear from the Guitar Center, a three-song EP session at Mt. Pleasant recording studio Charleston Sound, airplay on 105.5 the Bridge, and a handful of gigs on the Wild Wing circuit.

Click these links for more info on New Galaxy and the Brady Smith Band. Congrats all around!

Photos by Ballard Lesemann and Jessica Mickey.



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About the Author

Ballard Lesemann

is a musician and writer. Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., he spent years playing in bands and working for Flagpole Magazine in the bustling music town of Athens, Ga. He returned to his hometown and served more than seven years as the Charleston City Paper's music editor. He's better at drumming than he is at playing guitar.

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