A couple of Midcoast bands are headed to the preliminaries of the 2010 Rock Off competition. Rockland District High School’s Tastes Like Chicken and Medomak Valley High School’s Above Our Rivals both will play a competition set Saturday, April 10.

After 25 years of giving Maine high school bands a chance to shine, Rock Off was in jeopardy when Reindeer Records’ Louis Philippe, Rock Off’s founder, announced 2009 was the last year he would produce the event. But the nonprofit Maine Academy of Modern Music and Portland Music Foundation have stepped in to keep the popular battle of the high school bands going.

All band members have to be currently enrolled in a Maine high school or alternative program. The MVHS-based Above Our Rivals features three students from Union who have been going to school together since the first grade: Trevor Winchenbaugh, lead guitar and lead vocals; Joseph Murphy, drums and backup vocals; and Zachary Wallace, bass. Winchenbach and Murphy also are members of Below Creation.

The RDHS-based Tastes Like Chicken began as an after-school project at the middle school. The band plays rock, blues, metal and punk, with rock and blues being their main styles. In May, Tastes Like Chicken will defend it Trekkapalooza title. The band features Cole Barbour and Aaron Clarke on guitar, Jake Nagy on bass and Joe Njache on drums; all four provide vocals.

The April 10 preliminary round will run from 12:30 to 6 p.m. at Empire Dine and Dance, 575 Congress St. Although the schedule can change, Above Our Rivals is assigned to Slot 5 (3:20 to 4 p.m.) and Tastes Like Chicken to Slot 6 (4 to 4:40 p.m.). Admission is $12, $10 for students; participating bands have unlimited $2-off vouchers to distribute.

A second round will start noon Sunday, April 11; special guests Holy Boys Danger Club, hot off the release of their new EP “The Boo Box,” will play a set as judges make their selections. During the preliminary rounds, professionals in the local club, radio, print media and recording studio industries serve as the panel of judges that will select five bands to participate in the finals Saturday, May 1 at Port City Music Hall in Portland.

In addition to the five bands selected by the panel, the general public is invited to participate by voting in an online poll on the MaineToday Web site. One Wild Card band, chosen through this poll, will proceed to the finals along with the five selected by the judges. Local favorites Paranoid Social Club will make a special appearance during the finals.

The Rock Off winners will be recognized with the title Best Young Band in Maine, 2010 and will receive $1,000 in cash, as well as a prize package that includes an array of professional services such photography, logo design, recording studio time, radio time and a professionally written band profile. The winners also will be invited to tour the legendary Gateway Mastering Studios, a world-class recording studio based in Portland. The winning group also will receive the coveted opening spot for Paranoid Social Club at Port City Music Hall the night of the finals.

The Rock Off winners will be recognized with the title Best Young Band in Maine, 2010 and will receive $1,000 in cash, as well as a prize package that includes an array of professional services such photography, logo design, recording studio time, radio time and a professionally written band profile. The winners also will be invited to tour the legendary Gateway Mastering Studios, a world-class recording studio based in Portland. The winning group also will receive the coveted opening spot for Paranoid Social Club at Port City Music Hall the night of the finals.

All entrants will receive public exposure, opportunities to perform at professional music venues, and a constructive critique of its performance and presentation, with recommendations for achieving its future goals.

The Rock Off is designed to provide young, career-minded musicians with an educational platform through which to gain performance and business experience, professional acumen, industry exposure, and promotional and career networking opportunities. During its 25-year history, the competition has provided hundreds of local bands with opportunities to further their music career goals and has provided crucial support for a number of acts that have gone on to regional and national acclaim including Aces Wild (1991 winner), which became Rustic Overtones and secured record deal with Arista; Jeremiah Freed (1999 winner), which went on to secure a contract with Universal Records; and Pozer (2001 finalist), which became Sparks the Rescue, winners of the 2009 “I want my music on MTV” competition.

For more information, visit maineacademyofmodernmusic.org/rockoff.html.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.