Idolizing music 

New Whistler event gives musicians one more reason to step from the shower into the limelight

Behind a retail counter, a grocery store cash register or even a mayor’s chair, a secret identity lurks – one that may express itself in the confines of a car or amid the sounds of a running shower. Wherever the outlet, the secret can only remain silent for so long. It’s not in its nature to do otherwise.

That is why at this Sunday’s Creekside Idol finals people finally tore back their day-job guises to reveal their true identities: a coffee barista was really an acoustic singer/songwriter, a server a female Axel Rose and a local nightclub bouncer a country rock star.

"If your music comes from you, your heart, it can never be bad," said Creekside Idol champion Brianna Bullock . "It’s timeless. There is so much talent in this town. This contest really lets people shine. We need more stuff like this."

Nadio Hachey, general manager of Joey Chan’s Creekside Eatery, presented the event: a three-week-long competition where singers competed every Sunday with the best of the best culminating in one evening, last Sunday night.

"It’s been packed every week," Hachey said, shaking his head in disbelief at the restaurant where there wasn’t an empty seat in sight. "We are thinking of doing an eight-week (Idol) sometime in September, October with a really big prize of something like a $1,000."

Finding a paying gig around town isn’t always easy. Most artists satisfy themselves as volunteers with community theatre or the occasional splurge at a karaoke night. Musician Katie Schaitel admitted Creekside Idol’s top prize of $500 was what originally lured her to the contest, although a more deep-rooted motive became evident as she ripped into her electric guitar for a crowd-screaming rendition of Sweet Child of Mine.

"This is fucking fun!" she cheered into the mic over the applause.

After eight years of practicing electric guitar the entertainer, who is no stranger to Short Skirt Theatre and ArtDrenaline productions, finally put her guitar to the mic for the first time. The event was the perfect opportunity, with plenty of friends shoved into surrounding booths to support her and a great stage set up with rock concert lighting and the quick witty banter of Idol host Steve Jiu.

"I think I might be out of a job," he joked, stepping off stage in between performances. "Soon all these talented people are going to be flooding the market."

Jiu, a proponent of the arts, is the voice behind many music events around town. In addition to hosting both Pemberton and Creekside Idol, he also hosts the Variety Show every Tuesday at the Pemberton Hotel and Karaoke Night every Monday at the Crystal Lounge. Jiu will also host kids karaoke at Dusty’s as part of the Whistler Children’s Art Festival next week.

"This is a great part of culture," he said of the event. "Everyone is having a good time using their talent."

Who would have known one of Whistler’s biggest bouncers, most famously known around these parts as simply L.J., could rock out with the best of them?

From Kenny Rodgers to Stone Temple Pilots, the massive man tipped his black cowboy hat at the mic.

"Your talent will be recognized and suitably rewarded," he joked, reading his fortune cookie at the mic to the judges.

His rich voice was both recognized and rewarded with the crowd jumping in on The Gambler lyrics and an outburst of applause thereafter.

L.J. signed up for Idol after a friend encouraged him to do so. He spends most of his time singing along to music at his work place. One work shift, L.J. was singing along to Whole Damn County when someone overheard his voice and encouraged him to pursue country music. The result was Broken Down Fort, a short-lived country band with two gigs at Moe Joe’s and two at Garfinkel’s, but a singing outlet just the same.

"Singing is about forgetting about all the bad stuff in your day," L.J. said. "It makes you feel good. That’s why I got started."

Everyone was feeling great by the end of the night. A few audience members tried their voices at the mic. Everyone sang along from his or her tables.

Eighteen-year-old Bullock took home the title and cash prize, winning with both original and cover sets. This was the young Australian’s Whistler debut. Not yet of legal age, she isn’t able to take advantage of the open-mic circuit around Whistler. However, her talent might be coming to a cup of coffee near you at Second Cup, where she works.

"I’ve been here all three weeks (at Creekside Idol) and am loving it," she says after her winning set. "It’s good to just get up there and have a bash on the guitar."

Idol runner ups were Alexandra McLean and Kayla Vickers.

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