I think I’ve found my new favorite band: Quadrant 44, a bunch of grade-school kids playing covers of your favorite classic rock hits. Q44 sure knows how to bring the house down.
I met these future rock stars on Sunday evening in my role as a “local celebrity judge” for the first semifinal auditions of Oro Valley’s Got Talent, hosted by the Gaslight Music Hall.
They were a little nervous when they first took the stage, but it didn’t take long before the quartet was fully rolling into a cover of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll,” complete with the sold-out crowd clapping along as the pint-sized musicians let it rip. While these kids haven’t yet mastered the perils of middle school, they sounded like a high-school garage band playing in the talent show.
Q44 was just one of nine groups or solo acts competing for $1,000 this August at the finals. While most of the acts were comprised of singing and instrumentation, there were a few surprises: an aerialist, a standup comedian and even a woman with a gift for funny voices. (I won’t spoil the surprise.)
Each of the acts were given roughly three minutes to strut their stuff—and I, for one, wish many of the contestants were booked for their own shows. Each of the acts were judged via crowd noise, with a little help from the judge’s panel. Joining me at the table were the lovely Tina Jennings from KGUN 9’s Morning Blend and 106.3 The Groove’s Krystal Pino. Judging the performances of local talent is no easy task, but working with these women was a blast. I can’t wait for us to reunite for the next semifinal.
Before the show, I took a few minutes to chat with the music hall’s producer and artistic director, Robert Shaw, about how such a competition came to be.
The talent contest was not a new concept for Shaw, who said he’d previously found success with a similar event in Phoenix. Shaw told me that he and Gaslight founder/owner Tony Terry had been kicking around the idea of a local talent contest for some time. One evening after a national contest held auditions in town, Shaw received a phone call from Terry telling him the time was right to host a contest.
Shaw said he soon found himself with roughly 50 excited contestants who tried out during a series of open auditions earlier in the summer. The field has since been whittled down to 36, with the first 18 taking to the stage over the weekend.
With so many potentially undiscovered talents walking through the door, Shaw said Oro Valley’s Got Talent is the perfect opportunity for the music hall to share the stage with the community.
“It’s a really great opportunity for community outreach,” Shaw said. “A lot of these people have never been on stage before, and some of them are really good. They’ve just never had that forum to showcase what they can do.”
While first-time nerves were apparent for some of the performers, we at the judges’ table were blown away by not only the skills of each audition, but also the courage it takes to perform in front of a room packed full of strangers.
So congratulations to each performer for having the guts to put it all on the line, and a special congratulations to those lucky enough to make it through to the big finale! The next seminal takes place on Sunday, July 22 at 6 p.m. at the music hall, 13005 N. Oracle Road, #165. Make sure you get your tickets as soon as possible, as this is one popular show. Give the Gaslight a call at 529-1000 or gaslightmusichall.com.
Make sure to say “Hi” at the next show.
Now, get on to reading this week’s paper!
P.S.: My apologies for incorrectly listing Amanda Jacobs as Oro Valley’s town manager in last week’s story on political drama. Mary Jacobs (no relation) is the town manager.