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‘American Idol,’ Turning Stone-Style

If the next Kelly Clarkson is singing gigs in Upstate New York, talent scouts at Turning Stone Resort Casino are sure to find her next month as part of our open auditions for live bands to perform at three of the venues within Exit 33.

The auditions don’t take place until May 10-12, but bands must submit their demo tapes for evaluation by May 1, which is right around the corner.

According to Vinny Belfiore, Nightlife and Bar Quality Manager at Turning Stone Resort Casino, the audition is a chance for local bands and musicians who haven’t quite made it big to gain a larger audience and the opportunity to play at a venue larger than most of the other places they’ve played previously. The venues: Turquoise Tiger, Tin Rooster, and The Gig.

“This is a big deal,” Vinny said. “For some bands this could be make or break.”

Logistically, once bands submit audition tapes May 1, Vinny and his staff will review them and invite two dozen bands to audition over the three nights.

Auditions will be “open” in the sense that any Turning Stone employee can pay admission to sit and listen. Vinny said he expects to audition about 21 different bands, or seven per night. Auditions will go from 6-9 p.m., and will be held in a different venue each night.

Each band will have 15 minutes to play three or four songs total.

Vinny noted that his team will be evaluating bands for placement anywhere across the Oneida Nation Enterprises portfolio.

To put that into perspective, a “winning” band could be selected for a run at Fireside Lounge at Point Place Casino—or one night at The Gig. For this reason, Vinny said bands need to “bring the heat” when they audition next month.

“It’d be great if we can grab 5 or 6 new bands out of this process and work them into the rotation on a long-term basis,” said Vinny. “Some of these bands have played nowhere or in their garage or in small local bars and this gives them a chance to dig deep and work harder and expand their setlist and strive for more.”

Technically this is the second time Turning Stone has held open auditions like this; the last time was in 2019, before the Covid pandemic.

This year, the entire process will be bigger, Vinny said.

“I have noticed that bars are using the same four bands over and over,” he said. “There is a plus side to that approach: You know what you’re going to get. But we must be a few steps ahead. We need to diversify constantly. This approach keeps us fresh and keeps us relevant, which is what we want to be.”

Talk about staying relevant; Vinny said he’s practicing his best Simon Cowell voice and may use it when evaluating bands. May the best bands win!

 

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