I HAD A lot of fun judging the Texaco Country Showdown at the Adams County Fair Thursday night. There were 11 entries and almost every performer was very good. It was an honor to sit with KHQA’s Rajah Maples and Jared Holbrook of the local band Jared & The Gentlemen. All three of us agreed on the three winners and though it wasn’t clear cut, I believe we got it right.

Contestants sang one song and were judged in several categories – overall talent, stage presence, originality, etc. The top three advanced to the second round, and then the winner was chosen. The winning entry, 3 Stones For Throwing, sang an original song in the second round, and that might have made the difference because bonus points were available for original material.

Three Stones For Throwing is Sami Bearden, Savanna Santos and Sam Backoff. Savanna plays guitar and all three meshed beautiful harmony vocals with interesting arrangements. Sami had an issue at the start of the first song when her microphone didn’t work, but she kept going and the other girls remained unfazed. That really impressed me, because it’s easy to stop or fall apart when something goes wrong, but these girls obviously have played before and they didn’t let it bother them.

I play in a band, as does Jared, and Rajah is a very good singer who performed the national anthem before we started. It’s no surprise that the final three all had instruments – the acoustic guitar. High school student Liz Bentley finished third and her rendition of “King Of The Road” was very cool. Craig Corzatt, 21, took second, and I loved his version of “The Man I Want To Be” by Chris Young. I had Liz and Craig with about the same scores, and gave Three Stones For Throwing a slight edge because of their original song and the way they harmonized.

If you take anything from Thursday night’s results, it’s that playing an instrument makes a big difference.

Three Stones For Throwing now advances to the state competition. I think they have a shot and best of the luck to the three young gals, who appear to be having the time of their lives.

Thanks to WCOY, Kohl Wholesale and the Adams County Fair for making it a great night!