Arcada gives local acts a chance on the big stage

  • The Weekend Run Club made it through the first-round auditions in early February to perform in the "Are You the Next Big Thing?" battle of the bands finale on Thursday, Feb. 28.

      The Weekend Run Club made it through the first-round auditions in early February to perform in the "Are You the Next Big Thing?" battle of the bands finale on Thursday, Feb. 28. Brian Shamie | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted2/28/2019 6:00 AM

Hey, musicians, are you the next big thing?

Suzie Jessen, president and CEO of 1126 Entertainment, has been asking this question of Chicago-area musicians for the last two years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

On Thursday, Feb. 28, Jessen poses the question again as she and Ron Onesti of Onesti Entertainment host the finale of the latest round of the "Are You the Next Big Thing?" battle of the bands on the Arcada Theatre's main stage in St. Charles.

"I have a passion for what I do," Jessen said. "I love giving opportunities to local artists and to see them soar."

Over the last six weeks, Jessen gave more than 40 bands the chance to audition for the finale at the Club Arcada Speakeasy. Twelve made the cut: Black Bolts, Brian Maras, The Darling Suns, Double Ontendre, Invisible Cartoons, Jenna Bonelli, My Metal Heart, New Nights, Papa Squat and the Magic Treehouse, Salsa Del Norte, The Weekend Run Club and Wunderlich.

Each act will perform two songs each in front of a panel of judges -- Jessen; Onesti; Clarence Welton, strategic partner in artist development and management for INOJ Strategic Acquisitions LLC; Nick Rich, the grandson of legendary jazz drummer Buddy Rich; Ernie DiGioia, a musician and music teacher in the Fox Valley area; and Jamie Stump, booking and talent coordinator for 1126 Entertainment.

The prize package includes a headlining concert, the chance to open for a national act, 10 hours of recording or class time and music lessons from Absolute Music Academy in Geneva, a video shoot from Westmont's RiverSunStone and a photo shoot with Bennorth Images of St. Charles.

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Sponsors also include Gremlin Studios in Aurora and Rock Academy in Downers Grove, which provided the drum kit artists use on stage.

The all-ages evening, which is free and open to the public, will include a performance by Ask the Natives, the winners from the contest's last round. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

The next round of the contest begins March 5 at Club Arcada and ends with an April 17 finale. Jessen also runs a similar battle of the bands in the north suburbs, which kicks off March 6 at Onesti's Evanston Rocks. Musical acts interested in participating in the next round of auditions can contact Jessen via email at 1126ent@gmail.com or at 1126entertainment.com.

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Are You the Next Big Thing? Finale

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28 (doors at 6 p.m.)

Where: Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles

Info: Free; all ages; 1126entertainment.com

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