There's a battle brewing in northeast Oklahoma.
A battle of the bands that is, with the ultimate prize, fame, glory and a spot among the Saturday Night Live line up at the Grand Lake Casino.
The competition, which began in December, and included an online portion, wraps up on Saturday, March 8, as the six finalists take to the stage to determine who earns the title as "people's choice."
Elle Franklin, with the Grand Lake Casino, said the contest developed late last fall as a way to fill the entertainment spot with the re-start of the Saturday night live entertainment venue.
The six bands tapped for the the upcoming finals won their spots by earning the most votes during the two preliminary rounds, held in December and January, and through the online voting using YouTube videos of their performances.
Ultimately, Franklin said, the bands are competing to earn a spot in the 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday concert venue. The top band will receive a one year contract to perform at the casino. The remaining bands can will earn six month contracts.
Franklin expects all of the bands will have the opportunity to play at least once every two months at the casino, along with other emerging musical groups.
The concerts will begin at 2 p.m. on March 8, at the casino and continue until 11 p.m. The lineup starts with Fishbone Gypsy, a band based in northeast Oklahoma, at 2 p.m., followed by Stowaway Gypsy, from Joplin, Mo., at 3:30 p.m.
Other bands include the Joplin area band, Diversity at 5 p.m., Whiskey Poet Society from northeast Oklahoma at 6:30 p.m., Tanner & Company, also from northeast Oklahoma, at 8 p.m. and Shiloh Station at 9:30 p.m.
Franklin said the vote to determine the ultimate finalist will include a mix of votes cast during the competition and crowd response to performances.
Franklin described the mix of bands to play everything from Red Dirt Country to Classic and Soft Rock.
"There's a whole variety within each band," Franklin said, adding that several switch between the musical genres during their sets.
Casino officials were surprised at the response the contest has drawn from bands seeking to find a new outlet for their music.
"We were looking for new, fresh talent that people hadn't heard of," Franklin said. "We were looking for bands that play at bars and smaller venues, who wanted to transition into a casino environment."
Nineteen bands took part in the "battle" since the opening round. Franklin said, bands continue to call, asking to be included in the next competition, tentatively set for October 2014.
Officials hope the competition will become an annual event, to help them find new talent for the upcoming year's line up.
Franklin said officials plan to set up tables near the stage area at the casino, so people will have places to sit during the various concerts.
"Word has definitely spread about the competition," Franklin said. "We think [the first year competition] has turned out great."
Videos from the early rounds of competition of each band remain on the Grand Lake Casino YouTube channel. Persons interested may view it at http://bit.ly/1giwQSS. Additional information about the competition can be found online at www.facebook.com/grandlakecasino.
Admission to the concerts is free, however persons must be 21 years of age. For more information, or to get on the list for the next round competition this fall, persons interested may contact Franklin at 918-786-8528 or email email@example.com.