I was a judge today for WGEM’s local version of “X Factor” today that was held at John Wood Community College. “X Factor” is popular former “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell’s new singing competition show that will focus on vocalists and vocal groups.
Due to some scheduling conflicts and other issues, only 61 participants showed up out of 88 that signed up for today, maybe it was the weather or maybe it was cold feet that kept them away. Either way, there was still a lot of great talent.
Contestants were 12-years-old and up and from the tri-state region.
The judging criteria was:
We saw every type of singer from Gospel to country to Broadway and more. After each of the 61 contestants sang in front of only two judges and no audience in a classroom, then 12 finalists were chosen. The 12 finalists then performed an entire song in the auditorium in front of an audience and the four judges, which besides myself, were Josh Houchins, Carrie Butterfield and Andreas Mannhardt.
Four winners were chosen to make the trek to the Chicago audition and skip the lines of thousands to perform in front of producers of “X Factor” April 26.
And the winners are:
• Jared Keim, 17, of Hannibal
His mother signed him up for the local contest and didn’t tell him until last night that he would be competing today. He plans to sing “When I believe,” by David Archuletta at the Chicago audition.
“I thank God for the opportunities that I’ve been blessed with and the family and friends that support me,” Keim said. “I hope I do good.”
• Terry Russell of Quincy
Russell has previously won a local “American Idol” contest with WGEM and is excited for this opportunity.
“I was really kind of surprised when my name got called, because I was under the weather today,” Russell said. “A lot of good talent today, I could count six or eight contestants where I was like, I’m going home.”
He plans to take a popular song and arrange it to make it his own for the Chicago audition.
• Thadd Gray of Milton, Iowa
His wife signed him up for the local contest a couple days ago.
“It is pretty wild,” Gray said. “To hear my name called and tell me I was going, it was cool. I’ve never done anything like this.”
He plays with a country band in Southeast Iowa called Midnight Blue. “I’ve done contests, but nothing of this scale,” Gray said. “I’ve never sang in front of that many people in my life that we are going to in Chicago.”
He is unsure of which country song to choose from, possibly Jamey Johnson, Johnny Cash or many others.
• Aspen Gengenbacher, 12, of Quincy
“I was definitely scared and have never been so nervous,” Gengenbacher said. “When they called my name I teared up, I’ve never been so happy before.”
Gengenbacher’s vocal coach suggested she try out and she plans on singing the same song in Chicago that she sang today, which she sang in a jazzy tone, and was “Summertime,” saying “my grandma used to sing it to me when I was younger and it seems like good luck.”
“There was definitely people that I thought were going to knock me right out of the competition,” Gengenbacher said. “I’m really nervous about going to Chicago and if it is anything like the people who try out for ‘American Idol’ the first time around, it should be fun and maybe I can get a laugh out of it.”
Jessica M. Martin-Cate
This weekend was packed with activities, so if you missed the wide array of live music available, below are a couple tidbits of news that I found from Facebook and in my email.
THE DAY OLD BASEMENT
Overman performed Saturday at The Day Old Basement in Macomb, Ill.
“It actually ended up being one of the best shows I’ve ever played,” Aaron Kelly, Overman member, said. “I’m going to try to bring us to Quincy soon, very soon.”
He also said, the group just released “The Future Is Gonna Be Great,” a 13-song album, available on iTunes and streaming on our site: www.overman.info.
KIX CLUB SHOW
Quincy act Huckabutt Trio performed at the Kix Club Saturday and said on its Facebook page, “to everyone who came to our show last Saturday thank you it was amazing.”
Watch video of the Huckabutt Trio performing Saturday here: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150394723770136
GOOBIES, NEW CANTON, ILL.
Predawn Hour reported on its Facebook page, that “Goobies’s in New Canton rocked last night. Go check out the awesome Goobie Brothers this Saturday at The Blind Pig, 12th & Lind-Quincy.”
Jessica M. Martin-Cate
Area music lovers showed their patriotism at the Patrons for Patriots Fundraiser at Turner Hall Saturday, you can read Thursday’s story on this event here. Below is video of all the event had to offer, with interviews from organizers and performers.
embedded by Embedded Video
To read the story on Staff Sgt. Derek Jennings, click here.
Jessica M. Martin-Cate
St. Louis area loop artist Phil Stendek will be performing Saturday at the Kix Club, he has already won the national portion of the Boss Loop Competition and will be performing in the World Championships this month. Find out more from the performer in an interview below and be sure to watch the video at the end of the blog featuring a performance of his original “Nuclear Fusion.”
“When I turned 8-years-old, my mother started me on drum lessons. From that point forward, I was pretty obsessed with music. I picked up guitar at 13, and by the time I was 18, I was recording my own music on a 4-track tape recorder. After 12 years of playing in various bands with varying success, I tried my hand at solo acoustic and found the experience to be both gratifying and terrifying. While I had no band mates to shoulder the burden of performing the music, I was giving myself the freedom to play whatever I felt like playing. This new-found freedom coincided well with my discovery of live looping.”
“My sound has a distinct reggae influence, however, I tend to play many styles of music depending on my mood. I grew up listening to a lot of different styes of music, and it comes out in both my original and cover music.”
“Well, since I’ve never played Quincy before, I’m not exactly sure what I’ll play. I tend to decide my setlist the day of depending on who shows up to the show.”
“I’m going to the World Looping Championships in January, and if I win that, I hope to travel as much as possible. My stepson Xavier has recently expressed a keen interest in learning how to DJ, so I’ll probably be doing some teaching, and if possible recording some more music for another album. I also have a crazy wish to someday be the musical guest on Saturday Night Live, so hopefully that might happen this year!
VIDEO of Phil Stendek at the Boss Loop Competition in 2010 performing his original “Nuclear Fusion”:
Jessica M. Martin-Cate
WHY DO A CHRISTMAS ALBUM?
“My family members have been asking me to do a Christmas album for a few years now, so I thought I would give it a try and put together my first one! I actually had a blast putting this together and it really got me in the Christmas spirit this year.”
“It’s basically a family-oriented traditional Christmas album with a Cheeks McGee twist. I picked out some Christmas songs that i really liked, I also put in a few traditional Christmas songs as well as a few newer Christmas songs and then kind of made my own versions of those Christmas songs. I also incorporated my flugelhorn quite a bit.”
PRODUCTION AND SALES
“Its funny because my original plan was to record this for my family as a gift so I decided to keep it a grass roots style and record the whole album from my home studio as well as produce and manufacture the CDs from my home office, because I thought I would be making maybe 30 CDs at most, but my students that I teach and teachers that I work with, caught wind of this Christmas album and wanted to purchase copies. Also, before the album was even finished I had over 50 pre-orders.”
“I am really excited and proud of this album, because it is my first ever album that I recorded and released from my studio, Electric Fountain Productions. It was also a fun challenge for me, because this was the first album I’ve played and sang all of the parts.”
“So I finished recording all the parts Wednesday, Dec. 8, and then basically turned my studio into a CD making warehouse. I made a handful more of CDs for my show with the YP Christmas Party on Dec. 10 and ended up selling all of those quickly. So far we have sold 150 CDs in a about a week and a half.
“My graphic artist lives and works in Austin, Texas, and made the cover of the album for me. It was an idea from an old Macy’s Christmas theme with my logo thrown in.”
“The CDs are $10 per CD and they make great stocking stuffers if you need a last minute gift idea.
1) Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how many copies you would like to order and your shipping address and we will send it out to you. (If you live in Quincy area it is free shipping! all other states $2 shipping!)
2) Also the album is for sale Spirit Knob Winery (www.spiritknob.com <http://www.spiritknob.com>) and Jed’s Brewhouse, 18th and Chestnut.
“First off if your looking for New Year’s Eve plans, I will be playing a “New Years Eve PRE-Party” at Spirit Knob Winery from 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 31. Then that night I will be playing another show to ring in the new year at “Martinis at 515″ starting at 8 p.m. This is the place to be New Year’s Eve, they have all sorts of specials as well as party favors and limo rides to get you home safely.”
“As for 2011, I look to be playing quite a bit around the area as well as venturing to other cities. On select shows, I will be playing with a full band, but will continue to perform the ‘one man band setting’ frequently. I am in the works of planning my annual Spring Tour, which falls around Easter and will take me through Chicago, Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville and for the third year in a row will continue my tradition by ending the Spring Tour on Beale Street in Memphis, Tenn., on Easter Sunday. Im also looking at doing my fifth nationwide tour this summer and looking at getting back in the studio in 2011 to record my second full-length studio album.”
TO HIS FANS
“Thank you all for your continuous support and look forward to seeing you at a show soon. Have a safe and fun-filled holiday season, Merry Christmas and I wish you all a Happy New Year in 2011!”
Jessica M. Martin-Cate
I recently interviewed a fellow Local Q blogger, Eric Greenwell, about his former band Endsmet that is performing Saturday at the big music event, Afrok 2010.
The event is a music and art show designed to raise funds for African children by Jordan Sparrow. The popular rock act Endsmet is reuniting purely for this show, so fans are in for a treat. Read the story here.
To read Clinton Begley’s blog on Afrok 2010, click here.
Below are Greenwell’s answers:
THE BEGINNING AND END OF ENDSMET
“Endsmet performed all around the Midwest for about three years, from 2002 to 2005. We started as a four-piece. The best way to describe our sound was like a clash between Deftones and Poison the Well. We had melody, but for the most part, our music and performances were very aggressive. Our guitars were tuned down and harshly distorted, beats ranged from hip hop to some of the fastest double bass in this area, and the vocals were raw. In 2004, we added a fifth member, and we were able to layer lead and rhythm guitars. The truth is that Endsmet stopped performing under the name Endsmet in 2006 due to several lineup and style changes. Drummer Jared Flora remained the backbone, and the band evolved into The Dread Corsair in 2006, which had influences from 80s metal, hardcore and death metal. Unfortunately, The Dread Corsair announced its end on its website on Aug. 29, 2009.”
WHAT HAVE MEMBERS BEEN UP TO?
“Jared Flora works and lives in Quincy with his girlfriend, Kelly. He still plays drums, and he has helped lay down tracks with various local artists, including the hip-hop act Double Vision. He also plays hockey every Sunday night. Zach Stolberg is engaged to be married and lives with his fiance in Quincy. He’s going to school at John Wood Community College and has more shoes than any person on the planet earth. Jordan Sparrow graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2009. He is an independent graphic designer living in the Chicago area. He spends too much time complaining about the price of cigarettes and wanting to be as hard as he used to be. Eric (that’s me) graduated from SIUC in 2008. Soon after, he got Netflix, so he doesn’t do much except watch documentaries with his girlfriend, write blogs for The Local Q, and occasionally plays country and folk songs. He very recently took up talking in third person.”
“We were all contacted by Jordan Sparrow, the original singer. He organized the benefit concert and art show called AFROK, which takes place on November 20th at the State Room. He asked if we would be interested in playing a reunion with the original 4 members to raise money for an organization called CommonThreadz that provides uniforms for poor children in Africa so they can go to school.”
Expect “energy and dynamics. If you have seen us live before, then you know that we like to move, and we like to get the crowd moving. We are playing some original songs and some covers that show how our taste and skill has evolved over the years. We will be playing some songs from the original EP, but with added grit and groove. We also have a special guest guitar player, Zac Patton, to add a level of intensity no one has ever seen, heard or felt before.”
“I think we are most excited about playing music together again, and most of all, playing for the kids that supported us so loyally back when we started out. We had a good local following, and I can’t even count the number of kids that have approached me since this show was announced, excited about getting to see us play live again.”
ENDSMET FUTURE PLANS
“This question will remain unanswered. The suspense must be unbearable!”
Jessica M. Martin-Cate
In 2007, I was on my lunch break at work surfing through some videos on YouTube, because I have a weakness for random covers of popular music via the acoustic guitar, I was finding a lot to look at. I happened to find a video of Kina Grannis playing some really great covers and the noticed several links to her original songs.
In 2008, the independent singer/songwriter won the “Doritos Crash the Super Bowl” contest and more than 90 million people saw her music video. Her video was seen by nearly 90 million viewers when it aired during the big game.
She was then offered a major record deal directly after and declined to accept as the label wanted to put her through development, which is when executives help develop the image and sound of a new artist. She told the “Today Show” that she had been developing herself for eight years and felt like she should go it alone.
In July, she released yet another album independently, “Stairwells,” and is on a headlining tour to promote it. Last Saturday, she was in St. Louis and this Saturday she will be in Champaign, Ill., at the High Dive. I was able to ask her a few questions and her answers are below:
SAYING NO TO A RECORD DEAL
Of course. There was a lot of positive feedback, some negative, and a good amount of people just being confused. I can see how it would confuse people that I’d walk away from a major label, but it was clear to me that it was the right thing for me to do, and as time has gone by, I think my supporters would all agree that it was a good decision. Making and releasing my album Stairwells independently was a huge challenge but worth every second of it.
“It’s been amazing. I love that I’m finally getting to see the people that allow me to do what I love face to face.”
DIY AND SUPPORT
“From the beginning, my supporters have been incredibly involved in everything I’ve done, from getting my music video played in the Super Bowl, helping me make my album, or spreading the word about my music. It’s very important to me that everyone knows just how much it means to me that they’re allowing me to do what I love. Then there’s the fact that so many of them are just wonderful, generous, inspiring people and I have a lot to learn from them. I do my best to answer as many emails as I can, respond to people on twitter, youtube, myspace, facebook, etc., to let them know I’m listening and I care — without them I am nothing. Plus, it’s fun!”
“Getting recognized will always be a strange — but awesome — thing for me. I’m sure most of the time I’m more surprised and excited when someone recognizes me than the person themselves. It just happens at the oddest moments. At the beginning of the tour, I flagged down a guy at the Denver airport to help me with my bags and asked if he could assist me his answer was ‘you’re Kina Grannis!’ A few months ago, I was in an online customer support chat for my iPhone and after about an hour of problem solving the man says — “You aren’t by any chance the same Kina Grannis who sings ‘Gotta Digg?’ Things like that make my day, I love connecting with people.”
NO MATTER WHAT
“I know that I will always write music that is true to myself, always be grateful, and always do what I can to show that gratitude to the people that support me.”
“It’s my first time in Champaign! I like to have fun with the shows. My goal is to perform with the audience, not to them, I feed off their energy.”
Check out Kina Grannis on the “Today Show,” with a performance and interview about the record deal:
Jessica M. Martin-Cate
The seventh annual Cheeks and Friends Freedom Fest (Halloween Edition) is back this year with more bands, stages, vendors and sponsors starting at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Adams County Fairgrounds (Read more here). I recently got a chance to ask Cheeks “Ryan Christian” McGee about the event and more, his answers are below:
WHAT IS FREEDOM FEST?
It is an all day music festival that promotes local music and brings together all genres of local music and their fans to one location. The festival also promotes a peaceful environment to listen, appreciate and hear new music.
To me its like a holiday, like Christmas morning, and the night before your head is filled with all the magic and anticipation of the next morning. Then the morning comes and you run to the Christmas tree but in this case the Christmas tree is the fairgrounds and the gifts under the tree is the awesome local music, and you’re surrounded by love and you eat tons of good local food and get to see family and friends. Christmas morning is a memory that sticks with you forever and that is what Freedom Fest is all about to me. Its my favorite holiday!
I like to think of it as our own little “local Woodstock.”
ORGANIZING THIS YEAR’S FEST
This year things have been falling into place quite nicely, which makes me sleep a little easier at night. Last year, along with the past couple of years I have started to just feel kind of overwhelmed, because I had to tackle this and organize it by myself. I have a pretty hectic schedule with teaching and playing in two different performing groups, so having The Local Q on board helping sponsor this year has been a huge relief. Also, after playing at Summer Camp this summer, I got to see firsthand how they ran their festival and all the behind the scenes stuff. It gave me tons of new ideas and definitely convinced me to utilize the multiple stages this year. I also feel we got the word out early and I have been working very closely with Tom Van Ness of The Local Q. We are on the phone daily talking about new ideas or getting things lined up for the festival. It’s awesome having his input and I feel we work well together and make a pretty good team.
I am really excited about the things we have in store for this year’s festival.
Well originally I was talking with some bigger acts from out-of-town that really wanted to be a part of this year’s festival, but I really wanted to feature LOCAL music and wanted to stick with the reason I started this festival. I wanted to bring all genres of local music together in one place, one big event and showcase all music.
NEW THIS YEAR
More bands, two stages, Halloween costume contest with prizes sponsored by The Local Q, County Market food vendor and pepsi products vendor. Also, proceeds from the Fest will benefit Cheeks McGee’s Music in Our Schools Foundation.
As a musician and a music educator, I know firsthand that music programs are being cut across the nation and there is little money to help fund these programs. It is very important to me that music is a part of each child’s complete education. This foundation is my way to help give back to our local music programs, because every little bit helps and you can help too by purchasing a ticket to Freedom Fest. A generous portion of the proceeds from the festival will be donated to a local school music program. My goal is that each year, schools can apply for this based on needs for their music departments.
Jessica M. Martin-Cate
Web television, which are shows filmed and released only on the internet, are gaining in popularity. It goes along with the DIY (do-it-yourself) mentality, of shooting, editing and posting things yourself. Recently, I had a local web show creator contact me about his show.
Derek James Hauk, 25, of Warsaw, Ill., went to college at Quincy University and recently lost his job, so he thought a web series was a good way to fill his time. He started “Music Video Theatre 3000″ about a year ago and it runs on AudibleUnderwear.com.
I checked out a couple of his episodes and I must say, it is creative, silly and fun. Each show must be watched all the way through to catch all of the craziness, so it is definitely worth checking out.
Hauk answers some questions about the show below:
MARTIN-CATE: Why did you start the web series?
HAUK: I had a full-time position teaching music at a small school south of Jacksonville, Ill. I lost it and had to move back home. Unable to find other full-time employment, I decided I needed something to occupy myself with and since I was a fan of other online shows, it was an easy decision to start my own.
MARTIN-CATE: What inspires your show?
HAUK: My inspirations are my love of music and my time in the Quincy University drama club. While I was at QU, the members of the Brother Sun Sister Moon Players encouraged me to write plays, so I’m very comfortable with scripting the series. Probably the most well-known of the online shows that I draw inspiration from would be the Angry Video Game Nerd.
MARTIN-CATE: Please describe the series.
HAUK: Every episode reviews a music video and finds humor in all the strange things artists do to try and grab our attention and each episode is part of an ongoing story with recurring characters all played by myself. There area also cameos from other online hosts and even the occasional cliffhanger.
MARTIN-CATE: What are your plans for the future of the web series?
HAUK: I will be branching out into reviewing more movies in the second year, and also trying to include more musical analysis in each video. I also hope to upgrade the camera and special effects eventually, and make the episodes feel more like short films.
MARTIN-CATE: What can viewers expect from the show?
HAUK: People can expect a lot of mostly clean humor, a lot of wacky characters and even a little bit of education. If you’ve ever sat through a movie cracking jokes to your friends the whole time, you’ll feel right at home.
“Music Video Theatre 3000″ can be seen anytime at AudibleUnderwear.com or on YouTube. Also, a teaser of the series featuring “I’m Not Okay,” by My Chemical Romance is below:
Jessica M. Martin-Cate
Utah’s Royal Bliss is returning to Quincy Friday for a show at Backwaters with local act Antidote. The guys are putting the finishing touches on their next big studio album in Nashville, breaking in a new bass player and going through label and management changes. To find out more about the album and Friday’s show, click here. To find out more from the group’s guitarist Taylor Richards on the management and label changes, read below.
“We have left Capitol Records, but have stayed with EMI, who owns Capitol, we have kind of skipped the middle man. They want us to stay in the family and distribute our record, what we basically have become with EMI is our own label with major label distribution. There’s still that option of reverting back to a record deal with them or staying independent.”
What this means is that Royal Bliss is in charge of its direction in terms of music.
Because of this, “this was the first record where we went in with the songs we felt comfortable with and recorded them. We are working on a kind of one big game plan for the new record. We want to make sure that when we come out we come out firing on all cylinders, we want to make sure the campaign behind it works.”
“We are right in the middle of separation with our management. They were wanting us to do some things we didn’t want to do, and we decided it was best for us to part ways. We’ve been talking to a new management company, The Union Group, and they manage bands like Candlebox, Nickleback, Steven Tyler and more.”
RANDOM SIDE NOTE
Royal Bliss performed at Steamboat Days in June this summer with Buckcherry and local act TNT (read here), and Richards said that was the biggest crowd they have every performed in front of, which ended up being around 16,000 people. Richards couldn’t believe that out of all the cities they’ve performed in with big bands like Stone Temple Pilots and even large shows in their home state, that they couldn’t believe that the biggest show they have ever performed at was in Burlington, Iowa.
To listen to audio of an interview by Jessica Martin-Cate with Royal Bliss lead-singer Neal Middleton on previous label issues and how the band started, click here. To read the last Royal Bliss show blog, click here.