So this will be a bit different. Instead of me blogging on performances you saw with your own eyes on TV, I will be bringing you into the wonderful world of youth talent shows. (Unless you were there last night, in which case, GO PISTONS!) I briefly considered entitling this blog "The Good, The Bad, and The Weirdly" (my spell check confirms that weirdly is an actual word, not that this have ever stopped me before) because this is what these type of things always turn out to be. Along with the great performances and the ones that are purposefully strange, are the ones that you just feel sorry for. These are the hardest to deal with internally. There were a few times last night where I really could have pulled a Simon and just told them how awful they were, but that's not why I was there. The truth, however, is that somebody does need to have a heart to heart with these kids and tell them that singing is just not their thing, and that's OK! Whose responsibility is that? I'm guessing not some stranger MC who is hosting an open mic talent show. More likely it's a close friend or family member. If you are close (and I mean close not casual) friends with someone who needs this talk, lay it on them. It will be difficult, but in the long run, could save them a lot of misdirected energy and unneeded hurt.
The good news is that out of 30 or so performances there were only 3 or 4 that fell in that category. The rest were either really good, pretty good, or just plain strange. Here is a brief running time-line of the 3 hour event, with all the highs and whoas.
9:08 - The evening kicks off with a very cool piano solo. Knowing that I have to pick a winner at the end of the night makes these first performances difficult to judge. It's a great version of "Music of the Night" from phantom, and I wonder if it's possible that the eventual winner might have been our first out of the gate.
9:12 - 2 people later and that question has been answered, Amber Leffel hops up and sings so well, that she gets that American Idol applause in the middle of the song thing, TWICE. She then proceeds to hold the final amazing note for what seems like forever (I swear I left, watched an episode of The Office, came back and it was still going strong.) Anyhow, it will be tough to beat that. She had the entire 700+ crowd on their feet.
9:25 - Drummer Percy Washington starts setting up his double bass pedal on the wrong drum set and then has to borrow sticks. Despite this he plays a pretty great solo, not quite enough to unseat Amber.
9:43 - Humphrey the singing camel does his version of "Long Black Train" with a little help from Brittany Jackson's well place hand.
9:55 - The only name that stumped me all night, Alope Villarreal, comes to the stage. I must have asked her 5 times to say it for me, and I still couldn't get it. Her and her friend Tyffani Jewell (got that one right first try) do a nice duet.
10:02 - Katherine Grabher hits the stage and does a great interpretive ballet. It was beautiful and completely God honoring. Man we Christian's really blew it with that "no dancing" thing. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
10:13 - TBUS (The Boys Upstairs) hits the stage and does a pretty rockin' original song, including a rippin' guitar solo. These kids are from my church in Michigan so I know how young they are and if they keep at it they will be an incredible band in the next few years.
10:32 - Jeremy Latham jumps up and does an acoustic version of an Emery tune called "Studying Politics". I think somebody could make an entire career out of doing acoustic Screamo tunes, I really do.
10:45 - Staci Oliver does some Irish Dance (you know, the Riverdance kind of thing). Just cut and paste my dance comments from earlier, here again they apply.
10:52 - Max and Aaron do a crazy loud and wonderful drum duet. The give and take and complexity of it are made even more amazing knowing that the guys just met 2 hours before then.
11:06 - Jarred Nordon hops up and does a slam poem called "I am a Manly Man". I immediately identify.
11:19 - Roxanne and Charly get the crowd on their feet for a lip-sync of Family Force 5's "Love Addict", some of the best "mop guitaring" I've ever seen ensues.
11:25 - My name reading is redeemed when Mary Wenskunas says I'm the first person to ever get her name right on the first try. I'm surprised, because I honestly didn't think Mary was all that difficult of a name. Oh, and then she rocked a drum solo.
11:40 - We finish up 20 minutes early, and now the only thing that remains is to crush the dreams of 29 people which making 1 moderately happy.
The Top 5
5. TBUS - Very impressive instrumentals, and a well written song, could use just a bit more expression and presence on stage.
4. Max and Aaron - Their drum duet was tight and intense, enjoyed it quite a bit. Give 'em another day together and they might have won this thing.
3. Katherine Grahber - Her ballet was beautiful and heart felt. Man, I can't wait for "So You Think You Can Dance" to come back.
2. Rylon Kazinsi - His piano solo was wonderful, and you could tell that he was making music not just playing notes.
1. Amber Leffel - Nobody could match the performance or response from this early entry.
There you have it. Back next week, looking forward to the season finale of Survivor with Lost and Idol coming right on it's heels. It's gonna be a great May!