Canopy Club hosts Idols

By Julia Kline

On Tuesday, the Canopy Club hosted its first installment of “U of Idol,” a takeoff on the popular television reality show, American Idol. Participants were invited to shake off their inhibitions and belt out their favorite songs to the accompaniment of a live band. The competition will be held every Tuesday from 10 p.m. to 12 p.m. over the next six weeks.

The backing band, aptly named, “Live Karaoke Band,” is comprised of members of local bands, “The Brat Pack” and “Ex Crush.” The three-member ensemble provides a wide repertoire of songs for the contestants to choose from.

Live Karaoke Band kicked off the night’s festivities with a rendition of Kiss’s “Rock And Roll All Nite.” After a two-song performance by the band had incited the audience’s enthusiasm, the first of the contestants took the stage.

The first contender began the competition with a confident performance of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” eliciting cheers from the crowd.

Next to perform was Jesse Johnson, a sophomore in LAS, and frequent singer at the Canopy Club. Jesse performed his version of the Tom Petty tune, “Running Down the Dream.” The singer/songwriter delivered an enthusiastic performance, while swaying to the beat provided by the back-up band. Jesse explained that he had happened upon the competition by chance.

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“They cancelled open mic night here, but they had songs I liked on the (U of Idol) list,” Johnson said. “I thought I’d come here and have some fun.”

A few performers later, sophomore in marketing, Ashley Wilson, took the stage, decked out in boots and a cowboy hat. Wilson belted out the popular Shania Twain song, “Man I Feel Like a Woman.” Wilson expressed her hope that the performance would earn her a spot in the U of Idol competition. However, Wilson would be satisfied with any chance at a repeat performance. “If I don’t make it into the competition right away, I’ll try for a wildcard slot,” Wilson said.

The night concluded after approximately 30 hopefuls had performed. Jeff Markland, drummer for “Live Karaoke Band,” looked forward to seeing how the rest of the competition would pan out. “It’s nice to see people who haven’t had a lot of stage experience get up and rock the crowd,” Markland said. “And when it’s over, it will be great to see someone walk away with the grand prize.”

Tuesday’s performance was the first of two preliminary rounds to determine which contestants will be contenders for the title of “U of Idol.” After two rounds of open auditions, the following three Tuesdays will be qualifying rounds, in which the 30 contestants that are selected from the open auditions will compete. Ten contestants will compete each week, over the span of three weeks.

In true “Idol,” fashion, a panel of judges will critique the vocal stylings of the contestants between songs. Members of the local musical community will comprise the panel. A local musician and the program director of a local radio station will fill two of the four judge positions.

Although the judges will be a main force in determining the contestants’ fate, audience participation will also be a factor. Mike Armintrout, marketing director of the Canopy Club, explained the importance of a good rapport with the crowd.

“You can be terrible, but still do well in the competition if you have 200 friends to come out and cheer for you like you’re a rock star,” Armintrout said.

The grand finale of U of Idol is set for March 14. On this day, the winner will be announced. The grand prize for our U of Idol will consist of a five-day cruise for four through the Bahamas. Additionally, the winner will have the honor of singing the national anthem at a Schaumburg Flyers baseball game.

Tom Grassman, lead guitarist for “Live Karaoke Band,” hopes that the U of Idol will receive even more benefits from the victory. “I want to see someone come out of this with local recognition,” Grassman said. “I want to see their picture in the paper and hear them on the radio.” According to Grassman, this is all definitely within the realm of possibility.