Davis High School graduate Cass Olson’s pink and zebra-striped outfit wasn’t the only thing that caught the attention of the audience at the 2011 Community Idol competition Saturday at the Brunelle Performance Hall at Davis High School.
Olson’s performance of Florence and the Machine’s “The Dog Days are Over” earned her $50 and the People’s Choice Award of the night.
DHS automotive tech teacher Robbie Thayer also gave a noteworthy performance of the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses,” which earned him $150 and the title of Community Idol, which was granted by the event’s three judges: Nate Reinking and Meagan Pitcairn, both DHS graduates and member of the Madrigals while they were in high school, and David Vanderbout, choral director at River City High School in West Sacramento.
All of the judges agreed that Olson’s and Thayer’s song choices and connection with the audience are what stood them apart from the eight other contestants in the Advanced Treble Choir’s third annual fundraiser.
Olson’s version of “The Dog Days are Over” was “a powerhouse performance,” according to Reinking. “It’s always a big risk to do a song like that where it’s pedal to the floor half of the song. And there was no band accompanying her, but she was able to pull it off and carry herself well,” he said.
Pitcairn praised Thayer, saying, “Technically, he was very well trained and he held a confidence that carried out into the audience.”
Reinking also noted that although Thayer’s song selection was five minutes long, he was “able to captivate the audience the entire time, and that’s impressive.”
Thayer was excited to win, and said his hours of practice paid off. His passion for music was born in the late 1990s when he began writing songs, inspired by 1960s and ’70s rock and country music, and singer/songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Neil Young.
“Songwriting shouldn’t just be for certain people, it should really be for everyone,” he said. “I realized that if other people can do it, why can’t I do it?”
Thayer continued to write songs and advertised for band members, and in 1998 formed the Real Sippin’ Whiskeys. The band has played together for more than 12 years but will retire next month. One of its last performances will be Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Palms Playhouse, 13 Main St. in Winters.
Thayer continues his songwriting and will perform with local band The Bottom Dwellers.
Olson, who is a DHS Jazz Choir almunus, said she was surprised to be the People’s Choice winner because “there was so much talent and incredible performances” Saturday.
Dave Walters, a DHS grad and board member of the Blue & White Foundation, opened the night with an engaging and smooth performance of Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife.”
DHS graduates Kendra Smith and Elissa Basso both gave performances that “evoked emotion and created a sensitive, intimate connection with the story of the song,” according to the judges. Basso sang “Halleluia” by Rufus Wainwright and Smith performed her version of “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles.
The Community Idol competition raises funds for the Advanced Treble Choir’s annual spring educational tour; this year’s destination is yet to be decided, according to ATC member Emily Aumann.
The choir plans more fundraisers throughout the school year, including the Davis Idol competition for high school contestants only. Next up is a wine-tasting event at Rominger West Winery, 4602 Second St., from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6. The event is for adults only.