NEPA Scene’s Got Talent spotlight: Steve Werner, Dan King, Matt Montella, and Chet Williams
Every week of NEPA Scene’s Got Talent, our free open mic and talent competition at Thirst T’s Bar & Grill in Olyphant, we feature a quick Q&A with the latest audience vote winner, which was a group of four local musicians who came together just for that night on April 7.
The weekly winner receives $50 in cash and the headlining slot for the following Tuesday, and all other performers are encouraged to compete again as often as they’d like or simply show off their talents for fun.
After 12 weeks, the 12 winners will face off against each other in front of a panel of local celebrities who will determine the winner of the grand prize – a vacation package that includes $500 cash, three days and two nights in Cleveland, Ohio to tour the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Great Lakes Brewing Company, tickets to a Cleveland Indians baseball game, and a free recording session at TwentyFiveEight Studios in Scranton when they return home.
Handpan player Steve Werner, 32, cellist Dan King, 25, drummer Matt Montella, 22, and guitarist Chet Williams, 24, are all from Scranton, though Williams currently lives in Philadelphia and happened to be in the area that day. They didn’t decide that they would play together until they arrived, improvising a soothing instrumental mix that swelled into a full-blown jam session unlike anything the packed audience had seen before.
We asked Werner about how it all came together and why he feels they won Week 3 of the event.
NEPA SCENE: What brought you here to this event?
STEVE WERNER: Dan called and asked if I wanted to go up to Rich’s [Howells, NEPA Scene editor and Got Talent host] open mic. I said, “Of course I do.”
NS: Did you guys practice or plan at all beforehand?
SW: We didn’t practice. Me and Dan played together before. I think Dan has played with Matt. I never met Matt before that night. Nice kid, though. I met Chet a few times before.
NS: How long have you been playing music?
SW: I’ve been playing music for about 20 years.
NS: What interested you in music in the first place? How did you get started?
SW: I don’t really remember. I just always loved music.
NS: Is this something that you’re pursuing as a career or is it just for fun?
SW: We all would love to do this as a career.
NS: What was your immediate reaction or feeling when you won?
SW: Shocked. Happy. We just love to play.
NS: Why do you think you won the audience vote?
SW: I’m not sure. We had a good night; everything aligned musically. People seemed to dig it. It’s nice when that happens. Sometimes I fall flat on my face when I try to improvise. I guess that says a lot about the guys I played with that night.
NS: How will you spend your $50 prize?
SW: We all got drunk afterwards and decided we would start a Christmas tree farm. Or maybe it was a nail salon. I don’t know.
NS: Where can people see one of your performances next?
SW: We all play in bands that gig all over Scranton. [Werner plays in Blinded Passenger, King plays in A Fire With Friends, and Williams is a solo artist.]
NS: Where can people find your music online?
Photo by Robb Malloy/NEPA Scene