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When Eric Smith moved from Montgomery to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, he said the city’s live music scene was quite active. By the time he returned, that had changed.

Longtime hangouts like Head on the Door, Off The Wagon and others that hosted new original music and full bands had bitten the dust. He hopes to rekindle this musical fire between the artists and the public at Aura Lounge, 5480 Atlanta Highway

“Things are closed and there are no venues for these new bands to play,” Smith said.

Through his company Topbliss Entertainment, he is embarking on this path on Friday with a freestyle rap competition at Aura.

“My intention is to make it a smoother music scene than before,” Smith said.

Friday’s winners will return to Aura on Saturday evening to compete for prize money in the tournament final. They continue after two live bands perform, he said.

Friday is the deadline for freestyle rap acts to register, by calling Smith at 334-425-3311. He would also like to hear music acts of all genres. Along with the competitions, he is looking for numbers to play before the competition finals on Saturday.

“All musicians are welcome. I want to meet as many as I can,” Smith said.

There will be a cover charge for guests entering Friday and Saturday, Smith said. He hopes local artists will attract many local fans, friends and family. The bigger the crowd, the bigger the prize money for the winners, he said.

“Once I kick things off, we can promise more money,” he said.

The rap competition is just the beginning, with more music genres to come. Smith doesn’t want to limit the Aura events he hosts to a particular genre.

“What I’m trying to do there is bring back a music scene,” Smith said. “Get a place for the local bands to start playing – R&B, blues, folk music. Anything and everything.”

Aura also often features DJs and on Wednesday evenings there is karaoke. On Thursday they will feature three live artists – Rose Gold (R&B), Devin Carter (rap) and Karlito Sway (R&B pianist) – with doors opening at 8 p.m.

Follow Aura events on Facebook @auraloungemgm.

Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Shannon Heupel at sheupel@gannett.com.

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