The second annual Lake Country Open Mic Has Talent contest held its finale last Wednesday and the top five performers made it tough on the judges, throwing down outstanding performances of original music at the Lake Country Coffee House.
The top performers were so close, judges ended up choosing a tie for first place, which comes with recording time and appearances at music events around the Okanagan.
Justin Dueck and Jeff Kouwenhoven were named co-winners of the open mic contest, which took place over several months and ended with performances from the top five finishers. Other singers who took part in the finale were Luke Atherton, Rigel Seedhouse and Timely Wonders.
“It was a fantastic night,” said organizer Jennifer Boal. “The performances were outstanding and the judges had a tough time choosing which two performers would go away with the prizes offered this year.”
Boal held the event for the second straight year and it became a popular night in Lake Country, with a wide variety of talented singer-songwriters stepping up to the mic.
“Thank you to all of the performers who entertained us at our March, April, and May Open Mic nights,” she said. “The talent was simply exceptional and has been celebrated throughout this competition. Thank you to everyone who came out to support our musicians. As well, a special thank you goes out to all of our judges including Kathy Scott, Neil Macritchie, Louise Boisvert, Grant Lawrence, and special guest judge, Alexandria Colter.”
Regular open mic nights will continue throughout the summer on the first Wednesday of every month at the Lake Country Coffee House with the next event coming up July 3.
Boal says the contest increased in popularity this year and she sees interest growing.
“I believe this contest is only going to get bigger and better,” she said.
Boal said the events success was a true community effort and wanted to thank the owners of the Lake Country Coffee House, Carol and Sean Sproule, for “providing a welcoming and beautiful venue to showcase our local talent.”
Winners were provided with studio recording time at DMA Studios and Boal also thanked Dan Marcelino of DMA for running the sound system as well as photographer Alicia Gregori.
From age 12, Jeff Kouwenhoven began a dedicated journey of picking up the guitar and doing his best to strum out a song or two, but when he was 14, he got more serious, writing his own songs and starting a high school band. Later he played coffeehouses and in 2007 went to Australia where he was heavily involved in music for churches and school liturgies. He also busked on street corners as well as at pub open-mics and found himself as a feature artist in a newspaper playing for a homeless shelter fundraiser. Over the past four years he has been recording original music and writing new music, anything from punk-rock to folk to alternative and a mash of whatever he’s inspired by.
From an early age Justin Dueck had a musical ear but it wasn’t until his college year that he discovered how music truly resonated with him. That was when he discovered his ability to learn to play the guitar. Anxious to relay his thoughts to paper he began writing songs Even in his songs’ infancy it was apparent that it came naturally. Scribbling his aspirations, frustrations and dreams onto an old note pad gave his life meaning and for the last 10 years he has been eagerly pushing himself to become a skilled guitar player, vocalist and song writer.