Winners shift up a gear!

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Four teenagers who were working backstage lugging musical equipment about at last year’s debut BerkoFest will be opening the show later this year.

Parka Club – formed by Tom Harris, Leo Donlan, Jake Scarborough and Tom Redburn – have been given the chance to perform in front of thousands after winning Saturday’s Battle of the Bands.

Battle of the Bands 2013'Parka Club - winners.

Battle of the Bands 2013'Parka Club - winners.

A total of 10 bands performed at Berkhamsted’s Centenary Theatre in the hopes of winning the unique opportunity.

The panel of five judges – Andrew McCrorie Shand, Jane Clucas, Logan Murray, Simon Messenger and Gazette news editor Victoria West – had a tough job of choosing just one band from the night and agreed that all of the performers were worthy of a slot on the big stage.

But after much deliberation it was decided that Parka Club, who have been performing together for around two years, stood out from the crowd and would be perfect to open BerkoFest on Saturday, September 14.

Drummer Jake Scarborough said: “Last year we were shifting gear for the entirety of the festival. It will be nice to have someone shift stuff for us.”

Bass player Tom Redburn added: “Usually we don’t get any kind of recognition.”

Lead singer Tom Harris added: “It was a nice surprise.”

Three of the band – Tom Harris, Leo and Jake – are Year 13 students at Berkhamsted’s Ashlyns School, while Tom Redburn is studying at college.

Lynn Hendry, who runs Berk-hamsted’s Greene Note, which hosts live music gigs, at the King’s Arms and sourced all of the bands for the night, said: “Bearing in mind some performers were only 15 or 16 the level of professionalism was astounding.

“It was a joy to witness and it was the judges I felt sorry for – having to choose a winner.

“Highlights of the evening for me were the brilliant music, head judge Andrew saying Atlantic Shore’s drummer Eddie Juniper at 16 was as good a drummer as Stuart Copeland – and Andrew should know, he played with him – and seeing the winners Parka Club faces when they won.

“They nearly gave up and left early to go to a party, convinced they couldn’t possibly have won.”

Jane Tillotson, from the BerkoFest organising committee, said: “All the bands were brilliant and everyone was impressed with their talent at such a young age.

“Thank you to everyone who came and supported the first BerkoFest event of 2013 – Battle of the Bands – and thank you to all the judges. All of them gave helpful and useful comments which will help the bands future live performances and promotion.”

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