Rich Howells

NEPA Scene Rising Talent open mic and talent contest comes to V-Spot in Scranton Sept. 19-Dec. 5

NEPA Scene Rising Talent open mic and talent contest comes to V-Spot in Scranton Sept. 19-Dec. 5
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After two years and four seasons of NEPA Scene’s Got Talent culminated last October, the 12-week open mic and talent contest is getting a new name, new location, and some fun new features when it comes to The V-Spot in Scranton for the first time on Tuesday, Sept. 19 due to popular demand.

Hosted by NEPA Scene and sponsored by Samuel Adams; LT Verrastro, Inc.; Fireball Cinnamon Whisky; SI Studios; and The V-Spot (906 Providence Rd., Scranton), NEPA Scene Rising Talent takes the format of an open mic night and turns it into a friendly competition. This free weekly event gives up-and-coming and established local musicians, comedians, poets, actors, performance artists, magicians, dancers, and more the chance to showcase their talents and meet other artists while rewarding the best standout acts with prizes and publicity.

NEPA Scene Rising Talent will run every Tuesday from Sept. 19 through Dec. 5; sign-ups start at 6:30 p.m., and the open mic begins at 7 p.m. Every act gets 8-10 minutes of stage time. At the end of each night, audiences who have enjoyed the show will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite act. The weekly winner will receive $50 in cash from Fireball and the headlining slot on the following Tuesday; all other performers are encouraged to compete again as often as they’d like or simply show off their talents for fun. (Artists must be 18 or older, and those who are 18-20 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Parents or legal guardians with an 18, 19, or 20-year-old must provide valid IDs for both parent and child in order to enter the venue.)

Everyone participating will be featured in photos and videos on NEPA Scene, and parts of each night will be live streamed on Facebook. Samuel Adams will serve $3.25 pints and have merchandise giveaways for audience members on select weeks.

After 12 weeks, the 12 winners will face off in the Finals Showcase on Dec. 19 in front of a panel of judges that will determine the winner of the grand prize – $250 cash and a “staycation” prize package with ski passes, concert tickets, and more from Sam Adams and LT Verrastro, 10 hours of professional recording studio time at SI Studios in Old Forge, and a guest spot on an episode of the NEPA Scene Podcast. The second place winner will receive $100 cash.

New to the contest this season will be the “scene stealer buzzer” that could “save” a performer and put them in the finals. All too often, an artist will give a great performance but not get enough votes to advance, so NEPA Scene editor Rich Howells or V-Spot owner Vinnie Archer can hit the buzzer to put them in the Finals Showcase. These are limited and do not override the audience vote that week, so there could potentially be 13 or 14 performers in the showcase.

“NEPA Scene as a whole had to step away from hosting live events for a while to concentrate on revamping our podcast and securing website sponsors, among other things, and whenever I talked to local artists, many of them would ask, ‘When is the open mic coming back?’ After almost a year since the last Finals Showcase, it was time to return,” Howells said.

“Vinnie made the offer and I accepted. Not only is The V-Spot an integral part of the NEPA music scene, hosting original local musicians almost every day of the week, but they just built an extension and a brand new stage with a beautiful light and sound system that will be perfect for these events. I also responded to feedback from artists, audience members, readers, and polls we took by moving to Scranton and making some slight changes while maintaining the things that people love. I hope everyone comes out to support Rising Talent and see all the talent that this area has to offer.”

In the past, each week of these unique open mic events has attracted crowds that are simply unheard of at traditional open mics, and attending artists have formed new bands, shows, and open mics after meeting each other there. Local musicians and comedians have formed a surprising bond that has led to friendships and mixed events all over Northeastern Pennsylvania. (Even a marriage has come out of NEPA Scene events!) Previous winners have included rock and classical musicians as well as comedians.

Join the event page on Facebook and participate in the conversation throughout Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by using #NEPAtalent and tagging us @nepascene.