While the chances of the Kansas City Royals making the World Series are about as likely as hitting a superfecta ticket at the Kentucky Derby, there is one area team that is heading to a similar finale.
Lawrence band Aubrey performs tonight at the Independent Music World Series (IMWS) in Chicago. The event is sponsored by Disc Makers, the nation's leading independent CD and DVD manufacturer.
"I'm not really worried about winning at this moment," says Aubrey drummer Jon Ulasien. "I just want to show up and play the best I can."
Aubrey was selected by the editors of Billboard Magazine from among 600 submissions. The group will deliver a 20-minute set tonight during a showcase at Chicago's Elbo Room. Competing acts include Jaded Era (Cuyahoga, Ohio), The Louie's (Ashton, Ill.), The Radio Hour (Chicago), Troubadours (Taylor, Mich.) and Treologic (Chicago).
While promotional material from the IMWS compares Aubrey to artists such as The Beatles, Coldplay and Sigur RÃ³s, Ulasien describes the ensemble's sound as "spacy pop music."
"We're really reaching a point in music where we don't really need to have labels for everything," he says. "So why try to give our band a label? We're just a band that plays music."
Winners of the IMWS receive a $35,000 grand prize package that features everything from an Alienware Digital Audio Workstation to Fender guitars to DW Drums.
"We're actually in our 10th year of putting on the IMWS," says Lisa Riegel, a senior marketing manager at Disc Makers. "The whole reason we do it is to give the independent artists in the region a chance to network with people in the industry and create a buzz in their own back yard."
Riegel says that regardless of whether Aubrey wins the contest, the group will be included on a compilation CD that will be nationally distributed to press, radio stations and A&R executives at record labels. The CD will be compiled from finalists of contests held throughout the year in four different regions of the U.S. (Aubrey is part of the Midwest batch.)
Aubrey's musical roots go as far back as Quail Run School, when Ulasien and bassist/cellist/keyboardist Robert Weinaug first met. An early composition called "Aubrey's Summer Air" inspired the unit's name.
"We kind of stole the idea from the band Travis, because they use a first name as their name," says Ulasien of the troop that includes Weinaug, Paul Becker, Alex Pierrelee and Jaime Netzer -- each of whom play a variety of instruments.
"Ever since we've named our band, it's been nothing but people coming up to us with the name Aubrey. I'd actually never met anybody with that name before we started the band. And afterward, it just seems everybody has that name now."