Mitchell-based student jazz band to take part in Battle of the Bands on Friday
The TriTones have been making waves in the Mitchell area with their jazz and blues beats since their inception in the summer of 2019, gaining visibility and notoriety while playing sets in the Mitchell area.
The group is led by Zach Van Meter, a senior executive at Mitchell, who said the group has grown significantly in its first two years.
“Over the past year, in particular, we’ve improved exponentially,” Van Meter said. “Over the past year, we’ve really started to take it more seriously. It has really improved us a lot as musicians.
The TriTones are made up of 10 members, each bringing their own talent to the pool. Other band members include Ella Mutziger, senior guitarist; James Payne, a senior trombone player; Drex Martinek, junior trombone; Jesse Dodd, senior drummer; Aiden Beckstrom, a senior bass player; Maddi Gerlach, senior pianist; Izzy Lambert, senior flautist and singer; Mason Buenzow, second year baritone saxophonist and Christian Kremer, senior tenor saxophonist.
The band started playing smaller gigs for school events, but expanded to more public events, including twice at the Amphitheater Thursdays in Parkston.
Now the band are ready for their biggest performance yet on Friday night at the SDRRMA Youth Battle of the Bands at the Ramkota Exhibit Hall in Sioux Falls.
The Group Battle will see five groups from South Dakota, each consisting of school-aged children, compete for a chance to play a set at the SDRRMA Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday.
Van Meter said the group submitted an entry – and a video submission – without expecting to be selected for the event.
“The week before (the submissions) were due, we thought ‘oh, we should be working on this,’” Van Meter said. “So we submitted a video, but we didn’t think we would go into it. “
A few months later, the group received a phone call, informing them that the TriTones would be performing.
Despite the surprise, the group is ready to play hard at the event.
“(The other bands) are amazing bands, I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little nervous, but I’m so excited to go,” Van Meter said. “It’s gonna be such a good gig, they’re all so good.”
Local jazz combo TriTones made up of band members, left to right, Jesse Dodd, Christian Kremer, Aiden Beckstrom, Zachary Van Meter and Drex Martinek perform on stage at Corn Palace Plaza at the latest Farmers Market on Friday September 23 (Matt Gade / Republic)
Other bands about to perform come from all over South Dakota, but the TriTones are the only non-rock band. Van Meter said it might make the TriTones stand out, but not necessarily give them an advantage.
“In the official rules, it says that the scores will not be manipulated by prejudices towards the personal musical preferences of the judges,” Van Meter said. “We’re the only band with brass and the only band that plays jazz, but the set we have is definitely the most rock set we’ve ever had. “
Each group has twenty minutes to play, and each performance will be marked by a jury. At the end of the evening, the jury will choose which group obtained the highest score. This group will be selected to play on Saturday during the organization’s Hall of Fame induction.
The group plans to perform a version of “St. James Infirmary”, “Quarter Master” and “Where Y’at” in their 20 minute set.
Two of the competing groups will perform rock sets, while the other two will perform pop rock sets. Samples of the TriTones competition can be found on the SDRRMA Youth Battle of the Bands website.
The very first SDRRMA youth groups battle will begin at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6 p.m.
The TriTones would like to express their gratitude to Mitchell High School Group Director Ryan Stahle and Assistant Professor of Instrumental Studies Dakota Wesleyan Bethany Amundson for their support of the group.