Lovin’ Cup Idol: The Finale
Monday night, as I was standing in the front row at Lovin’ Cup Bistro and Brews recording the last performances of Lovin’ Cup Idol, I suddenly realized that it was Alphonso Williams standing by my side. Shocked I asked, “You changed?” Alphonso was no longer wearing his black suit but instead a t-shirt and sneaks. “Yes, I did,” he responded “Win or lose, I am going to end it on my terms.” In admiration, I watched him approach the stage with his guitar in hand for his final performance. Little did he know, he was about to be crowned the 3rd Annual Lovin’ Cup Idol.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge the people who worked behind the scenes to put on the show. This winter, Roctivities [I] has had the opportunity to follow Lovin’ Cup Idol from start to finish. This includes auditions to rehearsals to the finale. Personally, I can say both the singers, as well as the employees of Lovin’ Cup Bistro and Brews, work extremely hard to make this contest a successful event. Brother Wease stated it perfectly Monday night at Lovin’ Cup Idol’s Finale when he said, “Only Lovin’ Cup Bistro and Brews can pack a place like this on a Monday night.”
The owners’ preparation and judges’ commitment is why the contest runs smoothly. The owners truly enjoy hosting the Idol. One person I believe deserves a mention is the man behind the Idol, Willy O’Riley. Every weekend, Willy organizes rehearsals between the contestants and musicians. Working with 24 individuals with conflicting schedules is a tedious job, and he does it without complaint. He organizes auditions to each Monday night’s shows. Without Willy, Lovin’ Cup Idol would not exist. Also, I would like to give a shout out to each band member. They too, take time out of their busy schedules for Lovin’ Cup Idol. The musicians include: Johnny Cummings (keyboards/guitar), Mike Klock (bass), Tristan Green (drums) and of course, Willy O’Riley (keyboard, keytar and guitar). Other musicians who have played: Logan Van Epps, Chris Potter, Elliot Kirby and Lou Estrella. Finally, another individual who deserves a mention for her Idol dedication is co-host Jaime Barclay.
Monday night’s finale was an classy, red-carpet event. The audience, judges, musicians and contestants dressed to the nines making it a ‘one of a kind evening.’ The top ten contestants all returned to perform Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen and a Michael Jackson medley, as well as give a farewell performance. Christina Latone, third runner-up, performed ‘Use Somebody’ by Kings of Leon. Our wonderful judges Erik Ward, Leslie Zinck, Javian Rafus and Mike Lasaponara were there, all eager to declare the Lovin’ Cup Idol winner. The dynamic among the judges this year has brought laughs, sneers, and applauses. Judge Javian was the token funny guy, stating Evyn secretly had a black woman living inside her named Evita. Judge Mike was genuine and offered constructive criticism. Judge sweetheart Leslie always applauded each performance while Judge Erik detested each one (Simon?). The guest Judge was Brother Wease from The Wease Show on 95.1 The Fox. The two final contestants were Evyn Grassl and Alphonso Williams. Each one alternated to perform a total of three songs each. After a coin toss, Evyn was first to perform.
Evyn sang ‘What’s Up?’ by 4 Non Blondes, ‘Piece of My Heart’ by Janis Joplin and ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, the Eva Cassidy version. Judge Leslie appreciated Evyn stating, “You [Evyn] have such rawness to your voice. It cannot be manufactured. You’re an amazing performer.” Judge Brother Wease was pleasantly surprised that Evyn chose an Eva Cassidy version. He stated, “Not many people know about Eva Cassidy and you found her. To add to that, I think you sang that song better than she did!” Judge Mike wanted to note his gratitude towards Evyn’s personality, “Not only are you a great performer but an incredible person inside and out. Evyn earned second place.
Alphonso Williams sang ‘Living for the City’ by Stevie Wonder, ‘A Song for You’ by Leon Russell and ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley. Unanimously, all judges noted on his full-circle performances, with a guitar in hand for the first and the last performance. Judge Erik told Alphonso [responding to his last performance], “You [Alphonso] nailed it. Blown away and a fantastic job. That’s how you end a contest.” Judge Javian described Alphonso’s singing and performance in three words: smoky, smooth and soulful. Judge Leslie was impressed on how Alphonso grew throughout the contest, learning to captivate the audience. Judge Brother Wease, left speechless, could only manage “Phenomenal.”
Thank you to Keith Walters Photography for the capturing the Finale. You can find more of his work at http://www.keithmw.tumblr.com.
Pictures available on Roctivities Facebook