06/03/12 — Local band wins Facebook contest to open for Third Day

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Local band wins Facebook contest to open for Third Day

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 3, 2012 1:50 AM

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Matt Bartlett, who fronts the Matt Bartlett Band, practices at The Bridge Church. On Friday, his band was named the opening act for Third Day as part of a concert series later this month at Busch Gardens.

A local Christian acoustic band has been chosen as opening act for a special contemporary Christian music concert later this month at Busch Gardens.

Matt Bartlett Band won the honor through a Facebook-generated contest launched in early May. Headlining the event will be Christian band Third Day.

"We were narrowed down to one of 20 bands and we stayed pretty much in the lead in the voting," said Lee Stowe, bass guitarist for the band, which is based at The Bridge Church. "They had a page where you could visit each one of the bands and watch their video. You could vote once a day every day until the voting was done."

The nationwide search called for bands to submit a video of either an original song or one chosen from a list of Third Day songs listed on the website. The local band's entry was "Rise," one of five songs featured on the band's first extended play album, which was released in September 2011.

Bartlett, worship leader at The Bridge, wrote the song, which has also been chosen to be featured in "Worship Leader" magazine, which is featuring the top songs currently out around the country.

His five-member band has changed members several times in the four years since it was formed and also has a rotation of singers who perform with the group. The musicians all share a worship leader background.

Drummer Gage Haveri is also a member of The Bridge, while Stowe was formerly on the worship team at The Lord's Table and is now affiliated with The Bridge. Guitarist Kevin Gardner serves at Gateway Community Church and keyboard player Rich Holder worships at Bethel Church.

The video was fairly basic -- centered around the music as the band members performed on a stark stage.

"Mitch Hardison (of The Bridge) did our video," Stowe said. "It was pretty much just us. We submitted ours at the last minute, pretty much."

It paid off.

"It came down to three that were pretty much running neck and neck and we stayed ahead of them the whole time," he said.

Final day to cast votes was May 18, so since then it's just been a matter of patiently awaiting the outcome.

That happened Friday.

"We will be opening act for Third Day, one of the biggest Christian artists out there right now, at 'Glory at the Gardens' at Busch Gardens June 24," Stowe said after the announcement became official.

There were two levels of competition, Bartlett said -- a panel selection, plus the band was chosen as "fan favorite."

The upcoming concert is part of a summer series at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia. The band will get to do a 20-minute set before Third Day takes to the stage, Bartlett said.

He expressed appreciation to all who cast a vote and have support the band's ministry.

"We're very humbled and very honored to have this opportunity," he said. "We have to give all the honor to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We just appreciate the opportunity to bring the gospel and share the news of Jesus with more people.

"Who knows? You never know what might happen, where this could go."

More information can be found on Facebook through pages set up for Busch Gardens and Matt Bartlett Band. The winning video can also be seen on You Tube.