Our Kids Really Do Have Talent!
This weekend, 95 young musicians descended on Vernon to audition for the second annual “Our Kids Have talent” contest. Once again, the level and variety of talent was quite extraordinary.
The contest, which is open to ages 8 to 18, drew Valley entries from Penticton to Salmon Arm, and even from Vancouver. Perhaps because the event is associated with the Rarearth Jazz and Blues Festival, there were blues and jazz acts, but the two days of non-stop entertainment also featured classical music, hard rock acts, soulful balladeers, and country and western performers.
Some acts created their own classification. For example, The Bridge’s four young Vernon cellists played the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” and a Metallica song, as they “bridged” the two solitudes of rock music and classical music.
Once again, the overall talent level was “just amazing,” said organizer Kath Raeber. “What’s even more remarkable is that only about 10 percent of the performers were in the contest last year, so we have a whole new crop of really talented young people.”
One of the acts, a jazz/blues trio from Salmon Arm named Black and White, impressed Raeber so much that she immediately signed them to perform at Rarearth this summer.
The weekend’s youngest performer was a singer-songwriter from Penticton. He’s known as “Beamer” because his initials are “BMW.” He loves country music – his hero is Keith Urban – but he wrote and performed a blues song called “Beamer’s Blues” because “it’s for the Jazz and Blues festival in Vernon, so I couldn’t do a country song!” Playing an electric guitar on “Beamer’s Blues,” he was accompanied by his 15-year old nephew Landon Wigley, who later played two solo guitar instrumentals.
For his second song, Beamer switched to acoustic guitar for another original song, “In The Valley,” a tribute to the Okanagan. The diminuitive charmer seemed totally at home on the stage, even though it was his very first public performance. Perhaps that’s because he’s been playing music since he was four, when he started on a drum set. He took up guitar one and half years ago, “and there’s been no turning back” says his mother, Heather Wigley. “He drags us to all sorts of concerts, something we never did before.”
Mrs. Wigley says that Beamer has plans to perform his first concert in the near future. He vows that his concerts “will have a kid’s row right in front of the stage, so the kids can see what’s going on.”
Clearly, Beamer has the music in him – songs just come to him. This kind of natural affinity and passion for music seemed to characterize all the performers at the “Our Kids Have Talent” auditions this weekend. With few exceptions, the performers told the judges that they’ve been making music for “a year or two,” but they sounded like they’ve playing and singing forever.
One of the exceptions was The Flu, a hard rock band from West Kelowna. Guitarist and vocalist Steven Roberst told the judges “we’ve been playing for most of our lives … and we’ve just finished recording a demo CD.” The power trio, which includes percussionist August Corbach and bass player Alex Nuyten, showed plenty of polish to go with their youthful energy.
Another talented rock band, The Clones, include four 14-year olds from Vernon. If you were to close your eyes when they play, you’d swear that ZZ Top are on the stage; these kids are that good. They were followed by Lumby’s Danielle Howe, a golden-tressed 15-year old singer who sounded a good deal like Carrie Underwood.
And so the two days went, as 56 acts vied to be among the 10 chosen for the March 20 “Our Kids Have Talent” show at the Vernon Recreation Centre. Betty Anne Northup, one of the three talent judges, admits that “choosing the top 10 from all this talent is not easy. So, we’re being very careful to use the same objective criteria for each one of the contestants, and we’re treating these auditions like an adjudicated music festival. Our detailed judging comments will be available to all contestants who wish them to receive them.”
The winner of the March 20 show will receive $5,000, courtesy of radio station KISS FM, 107.5. The runner-up will get $2,000 and the third-place finisher will receive $1,000. Each of the other seven finalists will receive $300.
But that’s not all. Kath Raeber has invited all of this weekend’s contestants to perform on Stage Right at this August’s third annual Rarearth Jazz and Blues Fest.
‘Our Kids Have Talent’