NEPA Scene Rising Talent open mic and talent contest returns to V-Spot in Scranton March 27-June 12
Kicking off NEPA Scene’s fourth year of hosting unique open mic events, NEPA Scene Rising Talent will return to The V-Spot in Scranton for another 12-week run starting this Tuesday, March 27. After receiving an overwhelming positive response from performers and audiences alike last year, the open mic and talent contest will be held weekly through June 12, culminating with the Finals Showcase on June 26.
Hosted by NEPA Scene and sponsored by Samuel Adams; LT Verrastro, Inc.; Fireball Cinnamon Whisky; After Image Studios; Karl Hall; 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 March 27 until June 12; sign-ups start at 6:30 p.m., and the open mic begins after 7 p.m. Every act gets around 8 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 performers. 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 June 26 in front of a panel of judges that will determine the winner of the grand prize – $250 cash, 15 hours of free recording studio time at After Image Studios in Scranton, a special headlining show at the brand new Wilkes-Barre music venue Karl Hall on July 28, and a summer prize package from Samuel Adams and LT Verrastro that includes concert and waterpark tickets, a mini fridge, and much more. The second place winner will receive $100 and, for the first time ever, five hours of recording studio time.
This season will also include the “scene stealer buzzer” added last fall 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 founder/editor Rich Howells can hit the buzzer to put them in the Finals Showcase. This happened once last season, allowing up-and-coming duo Always Undecided to play. These are limited and do not override the audience vote that week, so there could potentially be 13 or 14 performers in the showcase.
These fun and engaging open mic events were held in venues in Wilkes-Barre and Olyphant before moving to The V-Spot in September, which went over so well that it broke Tuesday night attendance records at the Scranton bar and was voted Best Open Mic in the Electric City’s Best of 2017 Readers’ Poll. Howells, who hosts every week, also won Best Local Blogger.
Jamaican reggae duo Myal Soul, who are currently living in Williamsport, entered the competition late in Week 12 and ended up winning the finals on Dec. 19 with a crowd-pleasing set that impressed V-Spot co-owner Vinnie Archer so much that he now regularly books them there; Always Undecided was also booked after the showcase. The goal of NEPA Scene Rising Talent is to not only give local artists a place where they can meet, perform, and develop their skills in front of a live audience, but to give them the tools and exposure they need to score paid gigs, so these success stories are driving another season this spring.
“The V-Spot ended up being the perfect fit for our events, which can get a little wild and crazy, especially for Tuesday nights. Not only did our regular performers enjoy those first three months there, but we met some amazing new artists too and stunned the crowds with things they had never seen before on that stage. Vinnie Archer and his awesome staff were nothing but supportive and loved having something new to see, so bringing it back there was a no-brainer,” Howells said.
“It’s always unpredictable, and that’s one of the best parts about it – you never know who will come in and just blow you away. I hope to see familiar faces as well as some newcomers now that we’re more established here, and while the Facebook Live stream is cool, I encourage people to come and watch the show in person. The talent around here deserves your support.”
In the past, each week has attracted crowds that are simply unheard of at traditional open mics, and attending artists have formed new bands, collaborations, shows, and even other open mics after meeting each other there. Local musicians and comedians also established a surprising bond that has led to friendships and mixed music and comedy events all over Northeastern Pennsylvania. Previous winners have included rock and classical musicians as well as comedians.
Photo of Myal Soul by Rich Howells/NEPA Scene