Fans of local bands have one more reason to rejoice, as yet another stage has been designated with the intention of filling the air with the sweet sounds of original music.

“The Chickie’s and Pete’s Summer Showdown,” which began June 21, will run each Saturday night through July 19, with finals on July 26. Only original acts — all from the South Jersey area — will perform. The showdown will be in the amply spaced lot adjacent to the Egg Harbor Township restaurant, which will be sectioned off for festival attendees.

The project was spearheaded by Chickie’s and Pete’s General Manager Alvin Cintron. A South Jersey native who recently returned to the area after working at the Philadelphia location, Cintron says the main impetus was to inject some South Jersey culture into the restaurant. Although he’s only been back for about a month, he’s ready to hit the ground running.

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“We really want to give back to the community,” he says, citing the addition of local original bands to their lineup as a huge step in that direction. This is only the first step in what he hopes will be a trend within the establishment.

Cintron also hopes to capture some of the excitement surrounding outdoor music concerts which are becoming more and more popular.

“It’s going to be a real festival atmosphere,” he says, promising beer, great music and their infamous Crab Fries.

“It’s become a monster pretty quickly,” he adds, referring to the lightning fast pace with which the entire operation came together. Plans began only a few weeks ago, after a happenstance meeting inside Chickie’s and Pete’s itself.

Jerry Ryan, a local music advocate and concert promoter, ran into Cintron at the restaurant and the two began a musical conversaton. As a result, it was decided that Ryan would be organizing the acts for the event.

“I’m really excited to do this first one and see how it goes,” Ryan says.

As for future incarnations, “Well, the poster says ‘First Annual,’ so I guess there’s going to be a second one!”

For the festival, Ryan has set up a bounty of local talent, with singer/songwriters, reggae, experimental rock and all sorts of styles being represented.

“I tried to split it up into different genres, so we have a mix of styles each night,” Ryan says.

Area favorites Ill Rendition, the Choices and Jug Paradise are all scheduled to compete. More than 25 acts will perform throughout the summer session, with approximately six different bands each night.

In addition to giving back to the music fans of South Jersey, Chickie’s and Pete’s will also benefit a more specific audience. A portion of the proceeds from the event’s T-shirts, which are stylized like a classic tour shirt replete with all participating band names, will be donated to the Elephants for Autism nonprofit organization.

Ryan, who organized and runs Elephants for Autism, uses the money for music training for autistic and special needs students. He has already raised several thousand dollars for the organization and hopes that this event will bring in even more.

“Jerry is such a great guy,” says Cintron, “I’d love to be able to hand him a nice, big check.”

Ryan feels the camaraderie and kinship that local acts feel toward one another will prevent any hard feelings or negativity during the competition.

“It’s actually really good for the area to do something like this, especially when all the bands know what it’s for,” he says. “Everyone respects each other.”

As for the bands themselves, they’ll be competing for a slice of the $1,000 cash prize, along with gift cards, prize items and the possibility of booking some studio recording time.

“Even though they all respect each other,” Ryan says, “a lot of them are really competitive. It can get a little heated!”

Expect the fires to blaze starting 5 p.m. Saturdays. Check the event’s Facebook page for band lineups and any changes in the schedule.

Worked in public relations in Philadelphia and NYC on national pharmaceutical and consumer accounts. Owned an award-winning boutique in Philadelphia. Became a freelance writer for The Press, ultimately coming on board full time in May 2014.

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