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Crowd pleasers Buena Hermano win Tommy’s Unplugged in Banff

“Even if we win or not, [we’re] bringing music from our country and making the people happy and dance."

BANFF ­– One of the loudest and largest crowds ever at Tommy’s Unplugged couldn’t stop singing and dancing when Buena Hermano rocked the stage with its competition-winning performance.

With a lively setlist of mostly audience-pleasing covers and some originals, Buena Hermano, Spanish for “Cheers bro”, won the crown at the ninth battle of the bands on April 27 at Tommy’s pub in Banff.

“We play for people,” said Daniel Parades, the band’s hand drummer. “That’s why we do it. We don’t do it for money or other reasons, we do it for having fun and sharing with our friends.”

The four-piece Banff band – Santiago Leobó (vocals, piano, guitar), Victor Segovia (vocals, bass), Felipe Toro (güiro, percussion), and Paredes (hand drums) – formed a few months ago to enter Tommy’s Unplugged and showcased a fun Latin style unseen at previous Banff battle of the bands contests.

“It all started in these chairs,” said Leobó sitting inside Tommy’s with the band. “We met and tried to get some songs to play in the jams. Some songs worked better than the other songs. I don’t know why, but some people starting come when we played and from one week to another there were so many people in here.”

With all members originally from Chile, they said they’ve sang in English before, but the response wasn’t the same.

So the four-piece kept true to its South American roots with singable hooks and cheerful vibes and thrived on the energy from the radiating crowd.

“Even if we win or not, [we’re] bringing music from our country and making the people happy and dance,” said Segovia, also known as DEEJAYZORROW.

“Especially after the COVID happens," Toro added. "We can feel the Latin community and kind of hear music from where we are coming from. After a few years, they can enjoy Latin music again – it’s a different sensation.”

For winning Tommy’s Unplugged, Buena Hermano took home $500 and will get the call for future gigs in town such as Banff Harvest Festival in September.

Musicians and bands were given 30 minutes per set to perform their best stuff and were judged on musicianship, stage presence, X-factor, and how wild they could get the crowd going.

Known for its strict rules of originality, one difference at this Tommy’s Unplugged was that bands were allowed to play covers. This was due to many musicians and bands being unable to practice during the pandemic, said host and local music legend Garry Gonis in a previous interview with the Outlook.

After the competition, Gonis noted it was the busiest Tommy's Unplugged ever.

The runner-up was punk duo Bow Valley Bandits and third place went to four-piece alternative band, Jermyn Ermino.

Solo artists Arn Smit and Liam Cowan rounded out the finals.

“The hardest part for me was facing very good musicians,” said Paredes. “They were true musicians because we were playing just for having fun, a bit unorganized, a bit disordered about everything. These guys were pristine musicians, you know? I thought we’re not going to win this, they’re too good.”

To sweeten the pot, one of the top bands/musicians at Tommy’s Unplugged will be offered a paid gig at an upcoming Town of Banff civic event, which includes Canada Day and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

If you missed Buena Hermano light up the stage at Tommy’s Unplugged, then don’t worry, you can catch the local band playing at the Banff Latin Fiesta at Mel’s on May 18. Doors open at 10 p.m.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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