NOMaD wins online contest
When Luke Zacherl registered his band in an online contest earlier this year, he didn't really tell the other members the details.
“I just said, ‘I need you guys' date of birth and address,'” he said.
Five months and many online votes later, the local band North of Mason-Dixon, known as NOMaD, was announced as the winner of a $25,000 cash prize in the “One Track Find” contest sponsored by the Mello Yello soda brand.
“We were all just flabbergasted, really,” said Zacherl of Ellwood City, who plays fiddle in the band. “My heart was racing a good four hours after that.”
The winner was announced at midnight on Oct. 1 after five phases of competition, said Dave August, the band's lead singer who is a West Newton native now living in Monroeville.
“We've participated in a lot of these,” he said. “It was nice to come out on top for once.”
The country-rock band, which has played local events like the Greensburg SummerSounds series and Westmoreland County Fair, had to submit a video to the contest in May.
Mello Yello then selected 50 semi-finalists, which were narrowed down to five finalists in July.
The soda brand, a part of the Coca-Cola Company, then sent a film crew in August to re-record a video for each finalist, including an alt-country guitarist from Lancaster, a solo acoustic rock singer from Tennessee, a blues rock band from Boston, and an alt-rock group from Maryland.
Jason Pfeifer of Latrobe, who plays lead guitar in the band, said he was honored to be among the other finalists.
“All the people out there are so talented and it's very humbling to think all of the fans out there would pick us,” he said.
After the last round of voting was completed in early September, NOMaD was announced as the winner for its song “American Boy,” an upbeat and optimistic song praising simple pleasures like summer sun and blue skies. The song is from the band's second album, a self-titled CD released last November.
Traveling to cities like Nashville, Atlantic City, Rehoboth Beach and Ocean City, the band has opened for the likes of John Michael Montgomery, Bret Michaels and Lonestar just within the last year.
Pfeifer said the band will use the prize to pay off debts from the album, as well as purchase some storage gear for their lights.
NOMaD may also pursue a management company that can help them expand to their new fans across the country, August said.
“Now we have a little room to breath and a little room to work with,” he said.
The band members —including Bobby Kunkel of Greenfield on drums, George Elliot of Washington on bass and “Suitcase” Johnny Waclo of Dormont on rhythm guitar — have a camaraderie and respect for each other as musicians that has helped them as they travel and perform, Zacherl said.
“It's almost pushing you to make yourself better, to keep up with everybody in the band,” Zacherl said.
Pfeifer said he is thankful for everyone that voted and continues to support their music and other local acts as well.
“We can't do it unless the fans come out to see it and support the music,” he said.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724- 836-6660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.