Local group competing in Battle of the Corporate Bands

The Cordovans

There are any number of music competitions out there, everything from karaoke contests on up to high-stakes televised competitions such as “The Voice” and “American Idol.”

This weekend, local band The Cordovans will be participating in one of the more unusual music competitions out there: Fortune Battle of the Corporate Bands.

Put on by Fortune Magazine and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the competition pits various bands whose members work together against one another in a battle for recognition of their workplace.

The Cordovans have been making music together now for almost a year, and in that short time, the band has grown by leaps and bounds.

In a recent interview with singer and guitarist Billy New, he revealed that he and the other Cordovans members, Beau Johnson and Nick Zareski, formed the band after their bosses asked them to play for a company function.

“We work for MIL Corp., which provides technical and business solutions for various government departments, including the Department of State,” New said. “Our bosses found out that the three of us played music and suggested we get together some songs for a company party.”

New, whose specialty is customer support and training, previously played with local bands Fuzzy Logic and Permanent Vacation.

Johnson, who works in accounting, and Zareski, who is a project manager, previously performed with the band Radio Flyer.

New said it was Zareski’s manager who initially told them about the Battle of the Corporate Bands competition and urged them to enter. The band submitted a three-song demo and waited.

The Cordovans’ mix of popular cover songs and original Americana music caught the ear of the competition’s judges. As a result, the band will be performing Saturday as semifinalists in the first of three elimination contests, this one set in New Orleans.

Later elimination rounds take place in Chicago in June and San Francisco in July.

The best two bands from each region get to play at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland in October.

“We’re really excited to have made it this far,” said New, who added that their workmates like to rib them about making it to the semifinals. “Our bosses are cracking up, and our friends at work joke that we’re superstars now. Everyone at MIL Corp. has been very supportive though. They’re really excited and are pulling for us.”

In New Orleans, The Cordovans will be competing against bands formed by co-workers from such companies as Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson.

“One of the major rules of the contest is that at least 50 percent of the band members have to work together,” New said. “There aren’t supposed to be any professional ringers helping things out. It’s meant for people who work together and play music together outside of work.”

While New says that the band has been urged to play familiar covers during the competition, he said that they may try to give judges a taste of the twang-filled Americana style that punctuates The Cordovans’ original sound.

If The Cordovans win, it means that MIL Corp. will get a two-page write up in Fortune Magazine. Each band that makes it to Cleveland is required to raise $8,000 for an entry fee, and that’s on top of the $2,000 entry fee for the regional competition.

All proceeds go directly to The Rock Hall’s education programs.

With any luck, the next time we hear about The Cordovans, it will be that the band has secured a place in the finals in Cleveland.