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Aug 21st
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Durb Watch

james-durbinJames Durbin Update with video
Talk about a curveball! Last night was Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame night on American Idol, and while everybody else was rocking out all over the stage to Elvis, Aretha, and Tina Turner, resident rocker James Durbin made the gutsy move to sit on a stool and croon "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" with power and restraint. It's an emotional song for James, his signature solo at many local gigs with the White Album Ensemble, and even though he had to sing a shortened version in competition, he still built it to a thrilling conclusion. The judges loved it. "That's the side (of you) that makes the rock 'n' roll side work," said Jennifer Lopez. Randy Jackson said, "That's how to be an artist," while Steven Tyler told James, "That's really a proud moment for you." Country boy Scotty McCreery had fun with "That's Allright, Mama." Diva Pia Toscano (in an unfortunate capri-length jumpsuit) hit every note right-on in "River Deep, Mountain High," but still looked a bit stiff attempting to move around the stage. Nice guy Casey Abrams delivered a respectable, if unexciting "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" accompanying himself on upright bass. (Although Randy exclaimed that he was "making the upright bass cool!," it would have been cooler had Casey stuck to his original plan and sung "Every Little Thing.")

Haley Reinhart gave a showbizzy rendition of "Piece of my Heart," that totally lacked the necessary grit. Lauren Alaina's attempted Aretha cover, "Natural Woman," was also sung more than felt, a performance not improved by her Dog the Bounty Hunter 'do (high on top, upswept on the sides, long in back) and hideous short shorts. (This is why no woman with any meat on her bones should ever wear extreme shorts; even over leggings, they ride up and create a ghastly line across the hips.) (Although, to be fair, all the ladies were styled this week by Gwen Stefani, who deserves some of the blame for their wardrobe malfunctions.)

Weirdest moment of the night was peppy Paul McDonald—who last week couldn't even hit the high notes in "Rocket Man" with his wispy falsetto—singing (I'm not kidding) Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues." Sure, he had plenty of energy, pickin' and grinnin' across the stage, but seriously, is this a guy you believe would shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die?

So far, James and Scotty have the most unerring sense of picking material that's right for them. Tune in tomorrow to find out how America voted.

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The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

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