“If you’re stumbling through it tonight, you ought to be able to run it on Thursday,” said Mike Bartram, one half of the directing team for “Lodi’s Got Talent!” He and Sabrina Willis-Bartram have organized the second installment of the annual Lodi area talent show. There are singers, dancers, guitar players and one young performer who looked to her mother’s kitchen cabinets to find an instrument. All are looking for their shot at a bit of Lodi fame.
“We’re going to be concerned if this rehearsal is rough tonight,” said Willis Bartram last week, during the show’s first rehearsal on stage. “The show is basically one week away, and it should be pretty polished.”
Eighteen performers, ages 9 to 50, will take center stage tonight for their performance.
Everyone either works or lives in Lodi, or attends schools in Lodi Unified School District.
The show is named after the popular TV contest “America’s Got Talent.” But the Lodi version is more of a showcase than a competition.
There’s no judging, and no prizes aside from bragging rights and the confidence boost of performing on stage.
Nearly all of the acts are vocalists, though they’ve selected quite a range of music styles.
“I don’t know if it’s because all of the singing shows right now, if that’s more popular, “ said Willis-Bartram. “Also, it’s easier to put that together than a whole act of dancing or magic tricks.”
Wrangling such a range of performers might seem like a whole act in itself. But Willis-Bartram said it’s gone smoothly.
“Since they don’t know each other, everyone is quiet and shy,” she said. “They’re an easy group and they take direction well.”
Last year, the performers appeared from youngest to oldest, but that’s been mixed up for the second annual show to give a better variety of songs. Each act will be introduced by emcee Dave Simmons, a popular personality known for his acts in the February Senior Follies shows.
Three guitarists will take part in a finale performance of “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show.
Rhett Hill, 10, Callie Grace, 11, and Riley Richmond, 12, all take lessons from the same guitar teacher and learned that song together.
Tonight, the audience will find out just how talented these young performers and the rest of the lineup are.
Little drummer girl
Jacklyn Sandvik, who goes by her middle name, Paris, picked up a trick to playing percussion with a drinking glass from friends at Reese Elementary School. She sings along in her act, performing “When I’m Gone,” by Lulu and the Lampshades. It’s also known as the “Cup Song,” made popular by Anna Kendrick in the movie “Pitch Perfect.” The film is about the trials of an a capella chorus. But Sandvik is onstage alone, clapping and tapping a clear acrylic tumbler to make her own beat.
“It seems hard to do, to tap and sing at the same time, but it’s easy with practice,” said the nine-year-old with ginger curls. “I have to practice a lot, and my brothers get annoyed.”
This is her second time performing in the show, and she says she’s gotten all the nerves out of her system.
“I just have to remember to look up and smile,” she said.
Rhett Hill, a 10-year-old who attends Lodi Seventh Day Adventist Elementary School, looked to country radio to select “Like Jesus Does,” by Erik Church.
For such a young man, Hill has a raspy low voice that fits perfectly with the dusty twang of country music. He sits onstage with a bright smile and a guitar in his hands that he only started playing this last summer.
One line is a bit over his head, age-wise. Church sings “Drinking whisky and rye on the levee,” while Hill is more likely to sip Dr. Pepper on a park bench. But Hill says he’ll keep the lyrics that way.
“I’m not worried about it,” he said. “That’s just how the song goes.”
Crouched on a narrow black stool, a 13-year-old girl in skinny jeans and a military-esque jacket flashed a look at the audience before beginning her rehearsal.
The sound that came out of Mistique Davis was much smoother and richer than many teens are capable of. The lyrics to “Who are you?” by Fifth Harmony rolled out like honey.
Davis has performed in musical plays at First Baptist Church in Stockton, and sees music as her way to lift her mood.
“When I sing, it can’t bring you down,” she said. “It only lifts.”
At home, her aunt, grandmother and mother encourage singing. Davis’ mother especially has a rich, easy listening voice, said Davis.
“I just want to sing like her,” she said. “Or like Whitney Houston, if possible.”
One singer has a more traditional instrument, but she’s only been playing it for four months.
Riley Richmond, 12, perches on a black stool on stage with an acoustic guitar in her arms as she belts out “Wasted All These Tears,” by Cassadee Pope.
“I played the piano for years, but you can’t carry that with you,” said the Stockton student, who easily strums and plucks along as she sings. “Now the guitar is much more portable. It gives me something to hold onstage, and I’m less awkward when I have something to do with my hands.”