Thursday, September 23, 2010

Last Night At Beaner's Central

Last night was an exciting event at Beaner's Central, their annual Singer/Songwriter Competition. Beaner's is a homegrown coffeehouse founded by Jason Wussow about a dozen years ago. Jason and partner Dan are the famed duo who conceived Cooking on the Car, a film about travel and cuisine rolled into one.

It was my privilege to be one of the four judges in the competition, which was comprised of two ninety minutes sets involving fifteen very talented singer/songwriters. All were guitar players, which seems to be the instrument of choice for troubadours this past half century.

The first prize in this competition was impressive. It included being a featured gig at Beaner's, promoted by Jason and team, and recorded for a CD which would also be sold by Beaner's. As they say, America's got talent, and a lot of it was on stage last night here in Duluth.

I found myself moved by the lyrics of more than one song, including a heartfelt piece by Patty Ryan about the invisible/visible needy in our community, whom we see but don't see. And another written by a performer who rode past a woman on the bridge just before she jumped (she survived), as a metaphor for all the people whom we pass on by who are hurting.

There were many songs about relationships, about life to be lived, and life already lived. In short, it was a wonderful cross section of talent here. My only regret is that all my notes about each performer were scribbled on the tally sheets I handed in to have my votes counted based on lyrics, melody, stage presence and originality.

When all was said and done, the third place award went to Leane Perius-Flynn, second place to Caitlin Robertson, and the grand prize to Lance Benson, who really did wow us. One young singer was only fifteen, and she performed with remarkable maturity. The hardest part for the judges was that there were no loopers. The one judge, from KUMD, felt like he wanted to give elevens and twelves because he gave a ten for one of the categories right off the bat to the first impressive singer Heidi Feroe.

All in all, an entertaining evening for the Beaner's crowd and especially the friends of all that talent. Thanks, Jason, Dan and crew, for what you do.

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