Going into this year's Road to Nightfall competition, Darren Self didn't like the chances for his band, Function.
Despite being one of four artists to reach the final round in this 2013 battle of the bands, Self and his bandmates in the funky sextet weren't able to focus fully on the competition, which took place in March.
They were too busy learning material off Marvin Gaye's magnum opus, "What's Going On," for a tribute concert at The Camp House. On top of that, they were randomly selected to play first during the popular vote semifinal round, which pitted them against the likes of Ryan Oyer, Rick Rushing & The Blues Strangers and the debut appearance of Bexy Ribeiro's new group Decibella.
¦ What: Nightfall concert series featuring Road to Nightfall winner Function.
¦ When: 8 p.m. Friday, July 25; Roger Alan Wade & Sparkle Motion opens at 7 p.m.
¦ Where: Miller Plaza, 850 Market St.
¦ Admission: Free.
¦ Phone: 423-265-0771.
¦ Website: www.nightfallchattanooga.com.
Sparkle Motion is the latest project by local songwriting legend Roger Alan Wade. Wade's songs have been covered by some of the biggest names in new and outlaw country music, including Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Jr. He is the cousin of actor/professional masochist Johnny Knoxville. For more information, visit Facebook.com/RogerAlan WadeMusic.
"The odds weren't in our favor to progress on," Self admits. "I'm pretty sure we only won [that round] by seven votes, so it was definitely a close race."
Having progressed yet again to the finals, however, the musicians of Function committed themselves fully to the competition, which concluded on March 21. That show saw them playing against SoCro, Pack of Wolves and Jordan Hallquist & The Outfit, another 2013 finalist.
"The energy ramped up, and we started getting more excited about the competition," he says. "After that, we were like, 'Let's hit it hard and bring it up to 11.'"
Their victory that night earned them a cash prize, recording time at a local studio - which they hope to use later this year, Self says - and a headlining slot on this year's Nightfall concert series.
Following in the footsteps of past Road to Nightfall champions such as Amber Fults & The Ambivalent Lovers and Strung Like a Horse, Function's members committed themselves to making the most of their Nightfall show, which will take place Friday, July 25.
Self and his bandmates have spent the last several months writing and preparing new material, and he says the audience at Miller Plaza will hear about six new songs, in addition to a mix of covers and older original material.
"We want to progress and have more to offer," Self says. "We didn't want to pay the same stuff we always have. That was a priority."
This new material will embody the same danceably funky grooves and catchy hooks that earned Function the win in March, but hopefully, Self says, listeners who pay closer attention will hear new layers beneath the surface.
"In our maturity as a band, as we grow, one thing we want to focus on is a message of positivity and enjoying life," he says. "One thing we want to drive home is that not only are we writing good songs but they have depth to them in their meaning."
Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.