Tri-Community talent lovers were treated to a showcase of local K-12 musical artists on Saturday, April 1st, 2023, at the Wrightwood Place Performance Center. A break in the weather offered some relief from the current stormy conditions for the seven finalists. Wrightwood Blues Society developers have opted for a multi-finalist winner competition format, breaking away from the traditional talent show scenario of a first, second, and third-place contest. No fooling, all seven talented musicians were winners on this April Fool’s Day.
After reviewing submitted video audition tapes from potential contestants, the Wrightwood Blues Society Judges’ choices were announced. The seven winners were invited to perform their craft in front of a live audience with the backing musical support of the Wrightwood Blues Society House Band. This tight rhythm section is adept in most genres of music. The band would feature Irwin Williams on Bass Guitar, Jeff Mitchell on Drums, David Larkin on Guitars, and John Burcher on Woodwinds for tonight’s performance. Truly, this was a golden opportunity for these local K-12 students to get up on stage and play their hearts out. All of the finalists will be to be paid for their efforts as part of the prize. The interior of Wrightwood Place had a “Grand Old Opry” characteristic. Each of the seven finalists was introduced by Master of Ceremonies, Comic Artist Conor O’Farrell, and entered the stage from the backstage “Green Room,” mostly unassisted.
First was Jayde Burgan, setting a record with her fourth appearance on this talent show. Not a stranger to the stage, Jayde has performed live in several local venues. One of her original tunes, “Work Of A Mother,” was performed with the well-rehearsed quality of a seasoned veteran. Accompanied by the Wrightwood Blues Society House Band, Jayde Burgan as a show is a solid act. Master of Ceremonies, Conor O’Farrell, did a masterful job segueing from one act to another.
Selah Hale was next with a Billy Steinberg & Tom Kelly composition, “True Colors.” Accompanied by Irwin Williams on Bass and fellow talent show member Lincoln Hale on Acoustic Guitar, Selah painted a beautiful version of this popular ballad. Selah and her performance were well received by the supportive audience. As with all these performers, Selah performed well in a large room with people watching her sing. She was very professional and had the audience in her hands.
In a heartwarming performance of “Lost Boy,” written by Ruth B, Josephina Green returned to the Wrightwood’s Got Talent stage as a 2023 winner. Accompanied by Wrightwood Blues Society House Band Clarinet player John Burcher, she seemed very comfortable on stage. Josephina paraded easily through the many verses of this beautiful song about one of Peter Pan’s friends and the life of a “Lost Boy.”
With a guitar as big as his heart, Luis Perez defied the laws of stage calamity and emerged triumphant with a beautiful version of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.” No talent show is without a hick-up or two, But Luis and his 12-string Takamine acoustic guitar pulled out an excellent concert performance to the delight of the near-capacity crowd. Luis left the stage with the sound of applause ringing in his ears. After a short intermission, Conor O’Farrell announced the remaining three contestants.
Brierlyn Budd performed “The Story” accompanied by Wrightwood Blues Society House Band and was joined onstage by Wrightwood’s own Gayle Dowling on Acoustic Guitar. Lighting Tech Alex Bryson engineered the stage lighting brilliantly, changing moods and scenes shiftlessly. Shiloh Hale, returning this year from the 2022 show, tried out the house band on one of her original songs, recently published on Spotify, “Cutting it Close,” to close the acoustic side of the show and bring out the rock and roll.
With electric guitar in hand, Lincoln Hale took stage left with Davey Ray Schneider on keyboards and Vocals and Jayden Muller on the Saxophone to raise the roof with a classic rock/blues medley arranged by Davey Schneider. Lastly, with the backbeat of the Wrightwood Blues Society House Band, Davey, Jayden, and Lincoln closed the show together stupendously.
The Wrightwood Blues Society and Producer Dr. Greg Jones would like to remind Phelan, Pinon Hills, and Wrightwood that “Wrightwood’s Got Talent” is open to all of the Tri-Community and hopefully will present this terrific event again in the coming years.
Special Thanks to Tommy Dowling on Sound, Alex Bryson on Lighting, Stage Manager John Mark Veazy, Production Assistants Sandy V. Jones, Publicity, Lisa Mihalko, Photography by Judy Bryson, and volunteers Melissa Vondra, Suzi McKinney, Kelly Swain, Kathy Martin. Also, thank you to Wrightwood Place for their hospitality and beautiful venue.