Country western performers vie for talent show win

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Plainfield - posted Mon., Mar. 25, 2013
country-western talent show at Plainfield High School
Performers pose backstage before the annual country-western talent show at Plainfield High School. Photos by D. Coffey.

The 8th annual country-western talent show brought more than 1,000 fans to Plainfield High School on March 23 to see 10 local performers. The show was sponsored by the Plainfield Rotary Club and WCTY. The “American Idol” format featured CW artist Sean Patrick McGraw, Republic Nashville's Cliff Blake and editor Elissa Bass as judges. They gave each performer a critique of their performance, and at the end of the night selected first-, second- and third-place winners. The audience also voted on their favorite act.

Tim Cote and Chad Homiski won both the popular vote and first-place award. Alexis Buck and Nick Whitney won second place and Ellen Kane placed third. McGraw, who released “What I'd Do,” in 2012, wowed the audience with three songs while votes were being tallied.

The show has brought in an average of $10,000 to Rotary coffers in the last few years, according to Rotarian Terry Hood. The money is used for scholarships and a variety of community service events. Ticket revenues were bolstered by the auction of an autographed guitar that brought in an additional $750.

Hood helped out backstage during the show. “The performers don't realize how far the tentacles of what they're doing go out into our community,” she said. “Young people see what they're doing and it gives them hope for being able to do something challenging in their lives, too.”

The challenges were myriad. Putting dreams on display for 1,000 people, performing and then taking criticism gracefully, and waiting for votes to be tallied requires courage. But Hood said that the support they'd shown each other over the course of rehearsals and recording sessions was even more impressive. “The camaraderie they've put together goes out in ripples that are just tremendous,” she said. “What [director] Rebecca [Theriaque] has taught them will change their lives and their family's lives as well.”

Theriaque kept a close eye on the performers from the sidelines, cuing, encouraging and congratulating them in turn. The performers followed her example. They clapped loudly for each other. They offered praise and support to each other after the judges delivered their opinions. Not all the judges’ comments were positive, but that was the point of the show – to deliver constructive criticism as well as point out what each performer did well. Judges commented on song selection, vocal range, presentation, stage command and even clothing.

After listening to the judges comment through three performances, Cote muttered, “They're tough.” He and partner Homiski waited in the dark wings for their chance to perform. “Let's do this thing,” he said just before getting called to the stage. He went out to deliver a performance that brought a mountain of applause.

Emily Clark, who appeared first in the show, found the experience affirming. “I felt great,” she said, after her performance. “It was invigorating feeding off the audience.”

Tom Angelo admitted he was nervous before his performance with Melindee Waggoner. “It was nerve-racking,” he said. “But once I hit that first chord, it was straight-out performance.”

“I couldn't be happier,” Cote said after his performance. He and Homiski have only been playing together since August. “For them to say we meshed was great. I can't imagine anything better.”

McGraw called the talent at the show stellar. “It was a pleasure to judge,” he said. “If you didn't win, it's not over,” he told the contestants. “Follow your bliss. That's what I've done with my life.”


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