By Lisa Snedeker

A friend asked me recently what my secret is to discovering some of the great new music out there. My answer was easy and immediate: Music festivals. The key to discovering new music is to search out the bands that you have never heard or heard of, those tiny names at the bottom of the poster.

I especially appreciate festivals that support local musicians such as FloydFest‘s annual On-the-Rise Band competition during which fans pick their two favorite up-and-coming bands, which earn the right to play at the next FloydFest and MerleFest’s Chris Austin Songwriting Contest and the MerleFest Band Competition. Bonaroo holds a similar “play off” as do a number of other festivals across the country.

And while I haven’t had a chance to make it Lockn’ yet, I am really excited to share the Rockn’ to Lockn’ 2017, the festival’s annual battle of the bands contest that allows fans to vote for their three favorite local Virginia bands to perform at LOCKN’ Festival 2017. One of the reasons I wanted to share this particular contest is that votes are accepted from anywhere in the country (and beyond) through March 1.

“As a Virginia-based festival, it is important to us to support our local music scene,” Lockn’ organizers say. “In 2017, our fourth year of Rockn’ to LOCKN’, our mission is to find the top local talent here in our home state of Virginia, and then let the fans choose who they want to see play at LOCKN’ this year.”

How it works

Bands register between Jan. 12 and Feb. 12 and the voting, which began Feb. 15, continues through March 1. Head here to listen to the top 20 bands and cast your vote for who you want to see perform at LOCKN’. As a bonus, each person who votes for Rockn’ to LOCKN’ will be entered to win two 4-day GA passes to LOCKN’! Fans can submit up to one vote per day.

But it doesn’t end there. On March 7, festival organizers will announce 12 bands who will proceed to the next round and perform in three live showdowns in Virginia  (dates and details TBA). Your in-person votes at these events will decide the final six bands. Finally, at Community Day at Infinity Downs Farm on June 17 the top six finalists will provide grand finale performances where fans can select the final picks for the top three bands to perform at LOCKN’, Aug. 24-27, 2017, on the big stage. Each winning band will also take home a $500 performance fee.

This year’s Top 20 bands are:

Adar

Afro-Zen Allstars

Anthony Rosano & The Conqueroos

Bended Light

Big Mama Shakes

http://www.bigmamashakes.com

Born Crooked

Cultivated Mind

Delirious George

Devil’s Workshop Big Band

FeelFree

Galaxy Dynamite

Jon Spear Band

Kendall Street Company

Mighty Joshua

Strong Water

https://www.reverbnation.com/strongwater4/song/26969867-reaper

Sun Dried Opossum

The Atkinsons

Threesound

Virginia Man

Will Overman Band

Cast your vote here.

The 2017 Lockn’ Festival will take place at Oak Ridge Farm in Arrington, Virginia. The initial lineup for the fifth annual Lockn’ Festival include The Avett Brothers, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Brandi Carlile, Keller Williams, Phil Lesh, The Terrapin Family Band, Warren Haynes, Gov’t Mule, The String Cheese Incident, Widespread Panic, moe, JJ Grey & Mofro, Eric Krasno Band, John Butler Trio, The Revivalists, Los Colognes, Margo Price, Greensky Bluegrass, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, TAUK, The Suffers, Marcus King Band and Umphrey’s McGee.

From JamBase, Lockn’ is co-produced by Peter Shapiro and Dave Frey. The first installment of the festival was held in 2013 and it has returned each year since. In 2016 Lockn’ moved from its traditional early September weekend to the final weekend of August.Tickets and passes for Lockn’ 17 are available now via the festival’s website.

Who are you voting for?