Suburban Chicago's Got Talent: Top 15 perform in St. Charles
It was originality versus interpretation for the top 15 round of Suburban Chicago's Got Talent on Sunday at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles.
More than half the contestants in the summer talent competition proudly performed their own material. Meanwhile other acts, like Johnny Don't of Aurora and the band HIP POCKIT, all wowed the crowd by putting their own personal stamps on beloved ballads ("Hallelujah") and other rock songs ("September").
Either way, the judging panel offered up plenty of praise to all the performers. They also gave some technical pointers on how the contestants could improve.
Judge Jim Peterik, a founder of the bands Survivor and The Ides of March, was particularly taken with the young Geneva band LiveWire. During the top 20 round they performed Rush covers, but for the top 15 show, LiveWire unveiled their newly written song "Someday."
"I'm blown away. I really I am," Peterik said. "Every member of the band held their own. The song is great -- I think it's world-class. Don't get a big head because it's really good."
Singer and songwriter Morgan Etnyre of Elgin had it both ways by singing a Jackson 5 snippet before launching into his own song "I Miss You." The routine came complete with a pantomimed phone call and a dance break.
"You're a cut above, and you can really sing," said judge Carl Giammarese, a founder of The Buckinghams. "You're kind of a storyteller up there, and you're doing it all."
The top 15 show was hosted from the judging table by returning judge Ron Onesti, the CEO of Onesti Entertainment and the Arcada Theatre. He was also joined by retuning judge and Daily Herald critic and reporter Barbara Vitello, who took time out during one of the transitions to stress how some contestants can impress by putting a fresh interpretive spin on other songwriters' material.
One act, the Wayne duo Rane, was given a second chance to perform the Academy Award-winning song "Falling Slowly" from the film "Once." They recovered from a technical snafu that had silenced Trisha Goddard's guitar the first time around.
All the acts in Suburban Chicago's Got Talent are vying for the grand prize. It consists of a Development Package (custom video, website development, mentor and photo session), a trip for two to either Nashville, Tennessee, or Cleveland, plus a headline concert and an opening act slot for a national act at Schaumburg's Septemberfest on Saturday, Sept. 1.
But there's also a Fan Favorite prize, which is voted on by the general public online at dailyherald.com/entertainment/talent. Not only does the Fan Favorite get an automatic advancement to the top 10 round, but the prize package features a $200 gift certificate to the music store Chords in Stratford Square Mall in Bloomingdale, plus a performance at Club Arcada and other gift certificates. Online voting begins at 11 p.m. Sunday, and closes at noon Tuesday.
Both winners will be announced at Suburban Chicago's Got Talent's Top 10 show and finale at Addison's Little Italy Fest-West, 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4.
The seventh season of Suburban Chicago's Got Talent is co-sponsored by the Daily Herald, Onesti Entertainment, Amita Health, Zeigler Auto Group, Salon Lorrene and the village of Schaumburg.