“Where Are My Panties?”

and other hit singles

| Scene Reporter

The Delta Gypsies. Number Two. Mix and the Dudes. The Backsliders. Moose Knuckle. Patchwork Dove. Repeat Offenders.

If you have never heard of these bands, don’t worry—just a few weeks ago, they had never heard of themselves.

On Jan. 8, a group of 35 strangers was divided by lottery into seven completely new bands. On the night of Jan. 31, less than one month later, each group performed three original songs at the sixth annual Chippewa Chapel Band Scramble.

The Band Scramble is a spin-off event of the Chippewa Chapel Traveling Guitar Circle, Medicine Show, Musicians’ Networking and Open Mic Night (yes, that’s the title of one event), a feature of Frederick’s Music Lounge. Originally called the Noiseday Hootenanny, the Chippewa Chapel show earned the religious nickname because Frederick’s did not have a Sunday liquor license.

After six years of mixing it up musically, the Band Scramble presented its most highly-attended show to date this past weekend.

The performers ranged in age from 13 to the late 50s, including not only drummers, guitarists and vocalists, but also musicians specializing in the tuba, mandolin and Theremin, an unusual electronic instrument with two antenna that control radio wave frequency and volume by sensing the position of the player’s hands.

Though composed of complete strangers, the bands each took on a style or genre identity, from the Black Sabbath-influenced Repeat Offenders to the western-tinged rock band Number Two (which, ironically, was the first band to play).

The winning group was Moose Knuckle, an eclectic reggae/blues/Irish rock band.

“It’s not about the winning of the contest,” said Alvy Caby, the mandolin-playing member of Moose Knuckle. “It’s about meeting musicians… Chippewa Chapel [not just the Band Scramble] is a great thing for local musicians that don’t have bands.”

Caby described his own band, Rusty Nail, as “Flogging Molly meets your [Irish uncle’s] favorite church band.”

Each member of Moose Knuckle comes from a different musical background, from rockabilly to honky-tonk to blues. Instead of fighting over the direction of their music, they decided to combine their talents.

“We sort of melded a bunch of different parts together on one song,” Caby said.

Each member also agreed to dress according to his own style of music. Caby wore his pirate garb: a plastic sword tucked into his belt loop and an eye patch under his glasses, along with a less theme-appropriate oversized felt top hat.

Since scoring was based on stage presence and audience response as much as technical ability, Moose Knuckle’s creative costuming lent something important to their performance. More than anything, it showed that they were there to have fun.

To learn more about the past, present and future of the Chippewa Chapel Band Scramble, visit the event’s MySpace page.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening at Washington University and beyond.