By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Mar 29, 2008 at 5:07 AM

Fans of the Bryan Cherry Band know that when it plays live, it does so with fierce soul and panache, making damned sure its presence is permeated throughout the venue.

But if you happen to catch vocalist Bryan Cherry and guitarist Sean Williamson perform this Thursday, April 3 at the Miller Time Pub, chances are you'll get to see them in a different light.

Cherry and Williamson kick off the debut of Miller Time Pub's Unplugged Music Series, a two-month competition that invites local musicians to perform acoustically for cash prizes.

"Initially, we thought about having an open-jam session, but thought it would be more fun to have a competition-style event and award cash prizes," says Blue Horse's Jaime Buege, who helped coordinate the event. "The competition is also a great way for the musicians to encourage their friends and other guests to attend in support of their music."

Miller Time Pub Unplugged starts Thursday and continues through mid-May. Each Thursday in April, two artists or bands get half an hour to woo the audience, which then votes on its favorite performer. The musician with the most votes wins of $100 and advances to the next round. Two of the four winners perform May 1, with the other two performing May 8 at Miller Time Pub, 509 W. Wisconsin Ave., inside the Hilton Milwaukee City Center.

Each week's finalist goes on to compete on May 15, with the final winner emerging $500 richer. Miller Time Pub is donating the cash prizes and Miller Brewing Company, a sponsor of the music series, is contributing to promotions.

Thursday, April 10 features folk musician Frank Karioris and acoustic indie rockers Joseph Capacete. First acts begin at 8:30 p.m., the second at 9:30 p.m.

"The response has been so incredible that we are planning to make this a regular event," says Buege. "So watch for another series in the fall/winter."

Miller Time Pub is looking for more local musicians -- specifically blues, bluegrass, rock and folk -- to play acoustically. All performing artists are treated to a free meal and free parking in the attached parking structure at the Hilton.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”