Free For All

Two days, sixty bands: The Ultimate Music Xperience is a little bit of everything -- talent search, sneak preview, audience-participation event and free-entertainment spectacle. But when the annual Capitol Hill People's Fair music tryouts are over, musical careers will be cinched -- or crushed -- as the stage is set for the massive June-apalooza in Civic Center Park.

This year's UMX event, which will showcase sixty bands, takes place from 9 to 5 Saturday, March 22, and 11 to 5 Sunday, March 23, at a new venue, the Blue Mule, at 1624 Market Street. Finalists were whittled from a total of 300 that submitted demos; all are competing for a chance to shine this summer on one of the fair's five stages. Spokeswoman Jodi Long says the judging, both by local music-industry figures and audience votes, has been expanded to include a lengthy list of musical genres. This year, she adds, the competition also has more clearly defined balloting categories, allowing bluegrass bands to compete for a specific slot, and so on, rather than forcing bands to cast musical apples against oranges for any spot at all on the final fair roster.

So let the music flow. And make a weekend of it: Competitors on two stages include anyone from a Native American flute player to an Elvis impersonator. Bigger names include Saturday's culminating act, Otis Roach, and Acoustic Circle, a changing, non-electric aggregate of members from some of the area's most popular bands that performs on Sunday at 2. For information, call 303-830-1651 or log on to www.peoplesfair.com. -- Susan Froyd

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd