By Jacob Katel
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By Nate "Igor" Smith
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Yes, there are more local band battles than groupies at Churchill's. But the Fort Lauderdale-based Ghost of Gloria is poised to win a big-deal national one. The Hard Rock chain has, over the past few months, sponsored its own "Ambassadors of Rock" series. Its locations across the country held their own local battles, with the competitors aiming at a performance slot on a major festival in London.
The Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood held its first installment this past April 16. The radio-ready active rock quartet Ghost of Gloria won the first heat and then again came out on top at the regional finals April 30.
The band's strategy, says lead singer/guitarist John D'Angelo, was not to pack the venue with fans but to concentrate on giving the best performance possible. "With these kinds of battles, you can put all your eggs into it and say it's the biggest thing in your life," he says, "or you can treat it like a gig. We didn't have any expectations and performed the best we could."
A tape of Ghost of Gloria's winning April 30 performance was sent, along with videos of the 21 other North American finalists, to a panel of judges. And these are people known for their taste in music: Live Nation VP of promotions Toby Leighton-Pope, Planet Rock DJ Nicky Horne, Spin magazine editor Doug Brod, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, and the awesome "Little" Steven Van Zandt, who was head judge of the whole thing.
They watched the tapes and chose the five best. Not surprising to fans, Ghost of Gloria came out among the finalists. And here's where the band needs a local push. The Hard Rock "Ambassadors of Rock" official website is now hosting performance videos of all five finalists. Check them out and then vote (local, please). The prize package is a serious deal: round-trip airfare to London, three nights in a hotel there, cash, and a slot in the Hard Rock Calling festival in London. Also on that bill: some little acts you might have heard of — the Killers, Dave Matthews Band, Neil Young, and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, among others.
At press time, Rudy Vaughn, from Atlanta, leads in votes, with Ghost of Gloria in fourth. To watch the band's performance video and cast your vote, visit battle.ambassadorsofrock.com.