Rock Star hopefuls shake off cold rain
Tue, March 14, 2006
TORONTO -- Wielding umbrellas to fend off a heavy downpour and doing jumping jacks to stay warm, hundreds of aspiring singers turned out at a downtown bar yesterday for the chance to perform for talent scouts from reality TV's Rock Star.
Producers expect to hear from more than 2,000 hopefuls during their three-day visit to the Horseshoe Tavern, one of two dozen stops on an audition tour to find a lead singer for a still-unnamed band.
"It was totally raining, but it was totally worth it," said a soggy Jason Taylor, 31, of Rockwood, as he prepared to sing one of his original compositions for the judges. "I get to play at the Horseshoe, meet some cool musicians and get some more experience."
Fresh on the minds of many in line was J.D. Fortune, who won last year's contest, in which finalists competed to become the lead singer of INXS. As winner, the Nova Scotia-raised singer went on to record a CD with the band and is currently on its world tour.
Hopeful Amanda Robb said she was confident the judges would once again see promise in local contestants.
"Canadian talent is the best there is out there," proclaimed the 28-year-old, who drove in from Peterborough. "It wouldn't surprise me at all if they picked a Canadian."
Singers began queuing Sunday evening for the chance to audition. By yesterday morning, the line snaked along the city's trendy Queen Street West, despite periods of heavy rain.
Inside the venue, one of the most popular live music spots in the city, singers were lined up around a pool table and along the bar waiting for their turn to perform one song for the judges. Songs ran the gamut from AC/DC's Thunderstruck to Heart's Alone and David Bowie's Rebel Rebel. Many brought guitars. Others sang a cappella.
Unlike last year, when the members of INXS participated in the talent search, unknown producers stood in for the unnamed band.
Those auditioning were only told judges were open to hearing a range of singing styles, giving as examples John Mayer, Chester of Linkin Park, Joss Stone and Amy Lee of Evanescence.
The man behind the hit TV show, Mark Burnett, promised the group would be revealed by week's end.
"(They are) very complicated agreements. You have a TV agreement, record agreement, a tour agreement, and there are a few people in the band," the reality TV impresario said yesterday from Los Angeles.
The Rock Star outfit will be a brand new group comprised of members from existing or defunct bands, he said. Tommy Lee and members of Van Halen are among the rumoured participants.
"Last year was the year to prove ourselves and the integrity that we stood for to the rock community. We're gonna really, really grow this year," said Burnett, adding competition for Season Two will be fierce.
"I want more great Canadians. It was great last year. The American audience loved it and look how far they got. . . . J.D., honestly, was absolutely perfect for INXS. He's doing a great job." Aside from looking overseas to Europe and Australia for talent, he expected some of last year's contestants to return for a second go at fame, including Toronto singer Suzie McNeil, who finished the last competition in fourth place.