Bands expected to rock riverfront during Roar on the River weekend

Fifty Amp Fuse is one of the bands performing Friday night at 8 p.m. as part of A Taste of the Races the concert at Elizabeth Park in Trenton.

TRENTON — The process of putting together this year’s live entertainment lineup for the PNC Roar on the River actually began back in March, when several area bands entered into a spirited competition to be part of the new Rock the River concert set for Saturday at Elizabeth Park.

When the three-part Battle of the Bands concluded in early June, a Detroit-area group called Hidden Agenda Band proved to be the winner, earning the right lead off an evening that will see Category 5, a favorite from last year’s Saturday concert at the Roar, serve as the headline act.

All this follows a Friday evening concert that again will feature popular cover band Fifty Amp Fuse.

The battle was an idea originated by Linda Francetich, who serves as the volunteer entertainment coordinator for the Roar on the River on behalf of Trenton Rotary Club, the event organizer. She said the effort, which began as a nine-band competition at Southgate’s Crystal Gardens in March, was conceived as a fundraiser to help offset some of the costs associated with staging high-quality entertainment for the Roar. By the time Hidden Agenda was named the winner of the finals, held at Riverview’s Rack & Roll in early June, the effort had raised nearly $5,000.

“The Battle of the Bands was not only a way to raise funds, but also provided an interesting way to seek out new entertainment,” Francetich said. “We were so impressed with the amazing talent that graced our stages, and we appreciate every band for their participation.”

Returning for the third straight year, Fifty Amp Fuse has proved to be a Friday-night crowd pleaser, capping off the Roar’s traditional kickoff party, A Taste of the Races, which this year will feature a record 42 restaurants and caterers.

A Taste of the Races is a ticketed event, but the performance by Fifty Amp Fuse is free and open to the public. The band is expected to take to the stage around 8 p.m. and play until about midnight.

“Since we are a cover band, our style is anything and everything that the crowd wants to hear,” singer Remy Lambert said. “We do just that — we play everything from Sinatra to Queen and AC/DC to ABBA. Just come to one of our shows and you won’t believe the diversity.”

Saturday evening’s concert is expected to get under way as soon as the day’s power boat racing schedule is concluded, typically about 6 p.m. Battle of the Bands winner Hidden Agenda Band will open the evening and last year’s Saturday favorite, Category 5, is the evening’s headline act. The Saturday show will run until midnight.

Francetich said both bands are “exceptionally professional” and will bring high-quality rock, dance and R&B music to the riverfront.

“The crowds can expect high-energy rock and dance from Category 5,” she said. “Hidden Agenda Band brings its ‘dance on’ with powerful R&B and tunes of today. Both bands will leave the crowds wanting more.”

Hidden Agenda is a Motown- and R&B-influenced group hailing from the Detroit area that features a strong rhythm section, horns and male and female vocals. Additionally, organizers say, members’ strong stage presence combines with other virtues to make it one of the most entertaining live bands in the area.

While the band cites Motown and R&B as its main influences, individually, the members are influenced by everyone from Marvin Gaye to Chaka Khan, organizers say, and any listener can clearly hear the large variety in influences in the band’s sound and performances.

“We were very surprised that we won (the Battle of the Bands), given the fact that all the competing bands were very good, pro bands that had more of a local Downriver following than we did,” band member Larry Pinho said. “Everyone was welcoming and friendly, including the headlining band, Category 5. We were also the only R&B band competing, so we understood sometimes that could work against us if the crowd was strictly into classic rock and not open to a little something different.

“Lucky for us, we connected and the crowd was into it. It was a morale booster for everyone in Hidden Agenda Band to gain fans in a newer area, which coincides with our other performances at Downriver nightclubs for the past two years.”

Category 5, one of five bands to play the Saturday concert last year, is a Detroit cover band that either can rock the arena or make listeners dance their hearts out, organizers say, with musical offerings include something for every age group, covering acts like Led Zeppelin, the Eagles and Van Halen — and everything in between.

While the Friday and Saturday night concerts are free, a $5 donation is requested for parking inside the park.