Idol Finalists Very Impressive

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Do the names Scotty, Pia, Stefano and Thia ring a bell with you?

If they do, then you’re probably sitting in front of the boob tube (like me) every Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m., rooting for your favorite Top 10 finalist in this year’s American Idol competition.

I’m really impressed with this year’s finalists — as I was with all the young, aspiring singers who made the cut into the Top 24. This season’s competition seems to have vocal talent and stage presence far superior than the last few — save for Adam Lambert two years ago.

I was worried that with the departure at the end of last season of “love-to-hate-him” judge, Simon Cowell, the show would take a plunge. But just the opposite appears to have happened. Jennifer Lopez has added a wonderful touch to the three-member panel, bringing warmth, class and her always constructive critique. Steven Tyler, former lead singer of the rock group, Aerosmith, requires an occasional “bleep” during his commentary, but is kind and supportive with his reviews. (And his make-up looks good, too!) And now with Simon gone, Randy Jackson really seems to have come into his own.

Three weeks ago I came up with my own prediction of who would make it into Idol’s “Final Three” this year. I picked Casey, Pia and James — with Lauren possibly sneaking in as a dark horse. I’m still holding to my prediction, though Scotty appears to be gaining favor in a lot of people’s eyes.

This season’s American Idol finalists have a 10-year age span. Thia is the youngest, having just turned 16 in January. Paul is the old man of the group at 26. The finalists represent eight different states, from California to New York.

This week’s music trivia question is for the die-hard American Idol junkie: Which of the following American Idol finalists does NOT reside in California: A) Casey, B) James, C) Thia, or D) Scottie?

If you’re caller number four this week and have the correct answer, you’ll win a $10 gift certificate to La Sierra Mexican Restaurant in the Swiss Village — where the food is always great and the service is outstanding.

Now, let’s check out last week’s music trivia question, which was: Which of the following movies featured the Sons of the Pioneers’ last charted hit, “Ride Concrete Cowboy, Ride?” A) “Pure Country,” B) “Smokey and the Bandit,” C) “Last of the Pony Riders,” or D) “The Great Mesa del Water Treatment Plant Saga?”

The correct answer was “Smokey and the Bandit,” a 1977 movie starring Burt Reynolds, Sally Fields, Jackie Gleason and Jerry Reed.

“Pure Country” (which I finally got around to watching for the first time last month), is a 1992 dramatic film starring country music megastar George Strait, Lesley Ann Warren and Tim McCranie.

1953’s “Last of the Pony Riders” starred Gene Autry (and his horse, Champion) in his last film as a singing cowboy.

Kudos to last week’s first-time music trivia winner, Mike Lootens, who won two complimentary tickets to this Saturday night’s Sons of the Pioneers concert and a “Best of Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers” CD — featuring their top original hits.

A little about Mike: He was born in Kankakee, Ill. When he was a toddler, his family moved to Kenosha, Wisc., where he grew up and finished school. Mike recalled that growing up as a Minnesota Viking football fan in the heart of Green Bay Packer territory was not easy — as you can imagine.

Mike met his future wife, Jean, on a commuter train they both rode to their jobs. Their first date was to a popular local restaurant, “The Brat Stop.” When I asked Mike what he recalled most about their first date, Mike replied, “I remember Jean accidentally putting her cigarette in my eye.” Ouch!

The couple obviously got over that first-date mishap, and after a two-year engagement, said their “I do’s.” They’ve now been married for 41 years and have five children and eight grandchildren.

Mike and Jean are 26-year residents of Payson. He just retired this past January after working for many years as a carpenter and for 10 years as a Payson firefighter. The two are members of St. Philip’s church.

Mike enjoys motorcycles, woodworking and listening to classic country music and 1960s and ’70s classic rock. His three favorite artists are the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and the Sons of the Pioneers. (It’s hard to get much more eclectic than that!)

Lastly, congratulations to Jewell Nitsche, who won a three-hour “DJ Craig Party Package” at last weekend’s Business Showcase. Jewell said, “I’m a senior citizen, so I might pass this package along to my granddaughter, who is turning 13 at the end of this month.” (You can check out pictures from last weekend’s showcase on my Web site.)

Hope to see you at the Sons of the Pioneers concert!

DJ Craig

Phone: 468-1482

Web site: www.DJCraigInPayson.com

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