The Clark Brothers -- lead vocalist Ashley, who also plays fiddle and guitar; mandolin and guitar player Adam; and backup vocalist and resonator guitar player Austin -- were crowned The Next Great American Band based on home viewer votes cast following the show's penultimate December 14 episode broadcast.
"Thank you so much, we can't believe it," said Ashley after host Dominic Bowden revealed he and his two siblings were the winners. "It's just an honor to be up here with all these bands. They're all amazing... We're freaking out right now!"
The Clark Brothers bested The Next Great American Band runner-up Sixwire, a country band from Nashville; and Denver and the Mile High Orchestra, a big band/swing band that finished third. Like the finale's other two finalists, Denver and the Mile High Orchestra also hail from Nashville.
The Clark Brothers' victory was not unexpected. In addition to receiving weekly accolades from the show's judges, the band had also emerged as a favorite of The Next Great American Band executive producer Nigel Lythgoe.
"The Clark Brothers, I think, can open for anybody when they leave this show," Lythgoe told reporters during a December 13 conference call. "I think they're going to be hugely successful. I think they're going to record well, and I think they're going to have a very, very long career."
"I am so happy, I'm so proud. I prayed for this moment, I really, really did," judge and musician Sheila E. said after The Clark Brothers were revealed to be the competition's winners. "I can't even begin to tell you how much you have blessed us every single week... thank you so much."
"I just have to say, I knew it all along," joked fellow judge and Goo Goo Doll's frontman John Rzeznik. "No, nobody deserved it more... your heart and your soul and your ability and your passion for what you do is so obvious and so real... that kind of sincerity can't be faked... you guys are the real deal."
"With all due respect to all of the other bands... you guys -- week after week -- brought the magic," said The Next Great American Band's third judge, Australian Idol judge Ian "Dicko" Dickson. "And to me, that's what music is about... and you've got in spades. I'm so proud of you guys, so proud."
In addition to performances from each of the show's final three bands, The Next Great American Band's finale also featured performances by the Goo Goo Dolls, Sheila E. and C.O.E.D., as well as a special holiday medley by the show's Top 7 bands.
According to Bowden, home viewers cast "over two and a half million" votes after The Next Great American Band's penultimate broadcast, the show's "biggest vote yet."
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Despite Bowden's inference, the show -- which has delivered extremely poor ratings in its Friday night time period -- is unlikely to return for another season.
In addition to his belief that "it's much harder for an audience to get to know and get to like a band," Lythgoe -- who also produces both American Idol, television's most popular show, and So You Think You Can Dance, an established summer hit, for Fox -- blames The Next Great American Band's lightly-viewed Friday night time period for the show's poor ratings.
"If you've really got any common sense, instead of watching television [about bands] on a Friday night... you're actually out enjoying yourself watching bands," Lythgoe told reporters during the conference call. "And if bands are your thing, you actually go out and see live bands, so I think there's a huge difficulty in going out on a Friday night."