Art & Culture

Local bands sought for Motorcycle Rally entertainment

Auditions to be held in April, early May

With the 2015 Hollister Freedom Motorcycle Rally just months away, local bands and musicians are prepping to fill the event’s entertainment schedule.

That is, if Michael Smith has anything to say about it.

Smith is the man behind this year’s new auditioning process, which utilizes Concert Window—a website that streams live video of bands—to give local musicians a chance to perform not only for fans, but for new rally promoter ConVexx.

“This is a new idea, a new concept,” Smith said. “ConVexx can tune into the website and qualify bands that perform. It’s something of a win-win scenario for everyone.”

By using Concert Window, ConVexx can remotely view local bands from its Las Vegas headquarters.

“If you want to hire a band, and you’re out of Las Vegas, you’re probably not going to want to travel to Hollister to determine whether these bands are qualifiers,” he said. “And you probably don’t want to do it based on a YouTube video.”

Instead, Smith plans to schedule a series of auditions this month at the top of the Briggs Building parking garage at 4th and San Benito streets for local bands to broadcast live at He anticipates the auditions to occur on successive Saturday afternoons in April and early May.

“I went up there and took photos and we can get bands to set up—three at a time—give them 15 minutes to introduce themselves and perform about three songs,” he said, adding that he contacted his councilman, Ray Friend, who is involved with the Rally, and explained the idea. According to Smith, the Hollister Downtown Association has agreed to apply for the permit to the City of Hollister to use the space.

As bands perform, those viewing the concerts can “vote” for their favorites.

“Audience members have the opportunity, if they’re a fan of the band, to leave feedback or ‘tip’ them basically in real time,” Smith said.

According to Smith, 70 percent of the tips go to the band and the remaining 30 percent goes to

“ConVexx tells me they have an email database of between 20,000 and 30,000 Motorcycle Rally fans,” he said. “They want to take a sampling of that database and say ‘Hey, let us know what band you want to see.’ They could ask the fan base to go to Concert Window and view and vote for which band they want to perform by tipping them, say, $1 at a time.”

Zachary Freitas said his local band, Kizmet, which hopes to play at this year’s rally, recently signed up on

“It was simple enough,” he said. “I had help from (San Benito High School teacher) Rob Campbell, and we used a snowball mic to capture the sound. The band did make money and it’s not entirely tips from the audience. Concert Window will pay you for having an audience and building followers.”

ConVexx will also offer compensation to bands chosen to perform a 90-minute set with a 30 minute breakdown and setup for the next band.

Aside from planning the Rally auditions, Smith said he is in talks with local musicians to perform as opening acts for the Rally concerts.

“These are people who have been in the business for 10 to 40 years,” he said “They’re really top-notch professional musicians. … ConVexx really wants to have the best regional and local bands perform at the event, in order to make the rally experience the best for the customers who attend.”

To help test out the new process, retired music teacher Joe Ostensen, with Mr. O’s Academy of the Arts, will broadcast a rehearsal on tentatively scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday, April 9. Smith said local bands, musicians and former students of his can tune in to the performance and donate to his cause through tips.

“I’ll be involved in broadcasting it. It’s sort of a maiden voyage for everyone,” Smith said, adding that he’s a non-paid volunteer auditions chairperson simply because he loves the arts and wants to assist in promoting them as much as he can.

“I’m just a music enthusiast. I’m not a Motorcycle Rally fan per se, but I do have an interest in music and I want to see our local bands and musicians get an opportunity to perform at an event of this caliber.”

If you or someone you know is interested in performing at the Rally, email [email protected] for further details about upcoming auditions.


Andrea "Andi" Joseph is a freelance editor, writer and photographer with a journalism degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She was the Lifestyles Editor for the Hollister Free Lance, Gilroy Dispatch and Morgan Hill Times for nearly 11 years, and has also worked for the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian and the Arroyo Grande Times-Press-Recorder. Andi enjoys hiking, traveling and exploring with her dog, Bailey.