This Thursday, Rusty’s Surf Ranch will host another group of bands in its fourth week of the preliminary round of its 15th Annual Emerging Artist Competition.

This week’s bracket includes four bands, each playing a 30 minute set, starting at 8 p.m.: Young Creatures, Cuñao, The Smoky Knights and The Freedom Ledges.

Continuing a tradition that began in 2011, when the Rusty’s EAC winner opened for the band Dawes, the winner of the competition will open one of this year’s 10 Twilight Concert Series summer dates. The EAC first runner-up will win a $500 showcase gig on Rusty’s stage.

Young Creatures will kick things off at 8 p.m. The band is comprised of Mikey Escalante (drums), Spencer King (bass), Andrew Gleason (guitar and vocals) and Mike Post (guitar and vocals). King, Escalante and Post started the band in 2011 and Gleason joined in 2013, having been a college classmate of Post’s. “Our influences are pretty varied from member to member, but I think we’d say our biggest as a band has to be Vinny,” Post said. “Beyond Vinny, we all like Pink Floyd, The Beatles, and Iron Maiden a great deal.” While Post said that it’s always tough to describe their sound, he did say that Young Creatures sounds “a lot of like space on a good day.” Post said the band “can’t wait to rock the EAC with a whole bunch of new songs!” For more information on the band, go to http://www.youngcreatures.com/.

Cuñao will be coming in at 8:45 p.m. Cuñao’s band members include Julio Montero (vocals and guitar), Gabriel Ramirez (vocals, violin and percussion), Severin Behnen (vocals, accordion and keyboards), Craig Shields (vocals, percussion and xylophones) and Josel Cruz (vocals and bass). Since coming together, Cuñao has focused on developing their Latin folk sound, which is filled with influences from all over the world including African rhythms, Eastern European melodies and American Rock aesthetics. The band itself is from all over the world, with members coming from Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Germany, Minnesota, San Gabriel Valley and Torrance. “However, our sound is very much influenced by the Los Angeles landscape,” Montero said. “From the desert to the ocean.” Montero compared the band’s sound to “a South American traveling band of gypsies.” When asked about competing at Rusty’s, Montero said the band is looking forward to, “making new fans and seeing some familiar faces in the audience, as well as meeting the other musicians that also make part of the Los Angeles Musical quilt.” “We’re always amazed by the talent and dedication that musicians of this city put into their work and the quality of the performances show it. Looking forward to a great show.” For more information on the band, go to http://cunaomusic.com.

The Smoky Knights will hit the stage at 9:30 p.m. The Smoky Knights band members include, Jesse Cross (guitar), Andy Fischer (bass), Seth Sylvester (drums) and Adam Brooks (guitar), with all band members on vocals as well. The band got together in Los Angeles. Brooks, Fischer and Sylvester had played together previously in other bands and existed as a trio version of Smoky Knights. Cross joined the band around October 2014. When asked about their influences, the band groaned at the difficulty of answering the question, though they all like The Beatles, Motown and “everything you hear on the classic and oldies stations growing up.” They also describe their new record as “somewhere between California surf rock, 50’s dinner club fluff and 70’s drug binge fuzz”. “The thing we are most excited about is competing for a spot opening for Dawes at the Twilight series on the Santa Monica Pier – not to mention winning the money and turning what could be just another gig into a cool stepping stone for Smoky Knights,” the band said. “We are coming to win this thing and get some great exposure at the Twilight series and invest the money back in the band. Keep on keepin’ on.” For more information on the band, go to https://www.smokyknights.com.

The Freedom Ledges will wrap up the night at 10:15 p.m. The band says they play “American music – bluesy rock n’ roll with infusions of jazz, country, gospel, punk and funk.” The band’s members include Deacon Ledges (piano, guitar and vocals), Juan Lozano (lead guitar and vocals), Alli Catt (vocals), Andrew Dunn (bass), Lunchbox (drums), Adam Gertler (harmonica), Ben Childs (saxophone) and Frank Gallegos (electric washboard). Ledges and Lozano founded the band around 2008. Some of the band members have changed over the years, but Ledges and Lozano remain the core songwriters and have written an entire rock opera together (“Dis Pater’s Aberrant Traveling Show”), as well as branching into film scoring. They list Tom Waits, Dr. John, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Queen, Jack White, Dead Weather, The Rolling Stones, The Faces and David Bowie, as some of their influences. Ledges said the band is “really looking forward to rocking the Pier, and hope to be back to do it some more in the summer!” For more information on the band, go to http://www.thefreedomledges.com.

Rusty’s Surf Ranch is located at 256 Santa Monica Pier. There is no cover charge for the preliminary round shows.

jennifer@www.smdp.com