The Top 20 contestants for Suburban Chicago's Got Talent at the Arcada Theatre represent a diverse roster of music makers. Drawn from a field of 95 hopefuls, these performers specialize in different musical genres including blues, metal, pop and more.
The general public can watch these artists prove their musical mettle at a free show at 6 p.m. Sunday, July 8, at the historic 900-seat St. Charles theater. The finalists must impress a panel of judges, who will choose which acts advance to the Top 15 round set for 7 p.m. Sunday, July 29.
Yet fans will also have their say via the Fan Favorite portion of the competition. Following the Top 20 and Top 15 performances, online videos will be posted at the Daily Herald website at dailyherald.com/entertainment/talent. The act with the most online votes will be guaranteed a spot in the next round.
For 2018, the grand prize has been expanded to include a Development Package (custom video, website development, mentor and photo session), a trip for two to either Nashville or Cleveland, a headline concert and an opening act slot for a national act at Schaumburg's Septemberfest on Saturday, Sept. 1. The Fan Favorite Prize is being finalized.
For the Top 10 show and finale, Suburban Chicago's Got Talent shifts to Addison's Little Italy Fest-West at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4. That's when the grand prize and Fan Favorite winners will be announced.
For its seventh season, Suburban Chicago's Got Talent is co-sponsored by the Daily Herald, Onesti Entertainment, Amita Health, Zeigler Auto Group, Salon Lorrene and the village of Schaumburg.
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Suburban Chicago's Got Talent
Top 20 show: 6 p.m. Sunday, July 8
Top 15 show: 7 p.m. Sunday, July 29
Top 10 show and finale: 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, at Little Italy Fest-West at Centennial Park, Lake Street at Rohlwing Road, Addison
Admission: Free, but reserve your tickets now at events.dailyherald.com
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THE TOP 20
Hometowns: Jeremy Benshish of South Elgin, Tommy Bravos of St. Charles, center, and St. Louis-native Ryan Donlin
Influential artist: Florence and the Machine -- she inspired me to start writing during my parent's divorce, and after seeing her perform multiple times, I'm even more enthralled with her vocals and stage presence.
Cap'n Funk & The Groove Train
Hometowns: Tom Schuett of Cary, Fred Cantou of Naperville, George Gersch of Bartlett, John Erst-Bass of Schaumburg, Jay Howard-Trombone of Chicago, Rick Ippilito of Palatine, Mark Beck of Orland Hills and Paul Howard of Niles.
Talent: pop/rock band
Influential artist: Robert Lamm of the band Chicago -- a music major graduate from Roosevelt University, he had a dream, worked to accomplish that dream and endured all the many hardships and challenges that stand in the way of success.
Talent: vocalist/songwriter/funny guy
Influential artists: I love Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Local Natives, Prince, Stevie Wonder, George Gershwin, Billie Holiday, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys ... the list is quite long.
Hometowns: Dannie Schramm, Tom Wilson, Ken Schultz, Douglas Ehrhardt and Scott Thompson of McHenry
Talent: rock band
Influential artists: Rush, Randy Rhoads, Queensryche, Mr. Big and Y&T
Influential artist: Michael Jackson -- he was the first artist that made me feel something when he sang.
Hometown: Tommy Rey, Donnie Love and Allen Win of Chicago
Talent: rock band
Influential artist: Elvis Costello -- my parents raised me on his music from a young age. I was very drawn to his youthful attitude and his more somber pieces as he aged.
Influential artists: Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys, Aretha Franklin, just to name a few. The most influential singer/performer to me is Mariah Carey.
Hometowns: Brad Repplinger of Glendale Heights, Tom Lucia of Skokie, Lou Thoms of Lindenhurst, John Ozcomert of Bartlett, Tom Skawski of Elgin, Phil Ganka of Rolling Meadows and Joe Fanelli of Elk Grove Village
Talent: R&B/soul band
Influential artists: Chicago -- their music inspired me to go back to college and earn a music degree because learning music theory helped me grow as a musician.
Influential artist: I always cite Bob Dylan as my idol. He proved a point that you don't have to be a savant on guitar, or a master vocalist to create powerful, moving music.
Talent: rock band
Influential artists: Guthrie Govan, Hannah Welton, Arnel Pineda, Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson
Influential artist: Carrie Underwood
Hometown: La Grange
Talent: blues singer-songwriter
Influential artist: Elmore James
Influential artist: Justin Timberlake -- he has such a genuine love and passion for what he does and the art behind making music.
Hometown: Arlington Heights
Influential artist: Fiona Apple -- her complex piano parts, the raw emotion in her voice and her impressive lyrics are such an inspiration to me. She is authentic and talented and has reaffirmed for me that as an artist I can be more than enough as one woman on a piano bench.
Hometown: Chelsea Behrens and Trisha Goddard of Wayne
Influential artists: Various artists like Brendon Urie, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry
Hometown: Highland Park
Influential artist: Pat Monahan from Train, because he writes amazing music and does what he loves for a living.
Hometowns: Jon O'Brien of Richmond, Drew Zaremba of Richmond, Becky Sargeant of Woodstock and Kayla Seeber of Poplar Grove
Talent: indie rock band
Influential artists: Paramore is the only band we collectively listen to and draw inspiration from. Jon and Becky look to the guitarist Taylor York for spunky riff ideas, Drew looks to the drummer Zac Farro for poppy drum fills and Kayla looks to Hayley Williams for energetic performance skills.
Influential artist: Sara Bareilles -- because her music is so easy to connect to. It always lifts me up when I'm feeling low and is a great source of inspiration.
Talent: rock band
Influential artists: Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple and Guns N' Roses
Hometown: St. Charles
Influential artist: Ed Sheeran -- He has showed me a lot about stage presentation and how to be on a stage live. He has also been an inspiration to me on how to write a good song that people want to listen to and has helped a lot with my songwriting process. He is the reason I started to play guitar and write songs.
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Top 20 Judges
Jim Peterik: The founding member of Survivor, the vocalist and songwriter of "Vehicle" by the Ides of March, and a co-writer of the anthem "Eye of the Tiger" (the hit theme from the motion picture "Rocky III").
Carl Giammarese: A founding member and lead guitarist and vocalist of The Buckinghams. Starting in 1965, The Buckinghams were an important part of creating the sounds of American rock music after the British invasion had changed everything.
Ron Onesti: President and CEO of Onesti Entertainment Corporation, which runs the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles and outdoor concerts and festivals throughout the area.
Barbara Vitello: A Lisagor Award-winning reporter, the Daily Herald's principal theater critic and legal affairs writer.