A local talent show with big prizes

Photo by Caylena Cahill

The Lazy Swan Golf and Country Club village is  a monument to swank. It sits in front of mountains, and stars hang above them as it darkens into a blue night. The smooth white walls of its outdoor bar and the glowing pink and purple borealis lights shine across the adjacent courtyard, where scores of beaming kids, and one older dude in a cowboy hat, are crowded around a Subaru, all smiling and laughing and striking a pose. A guy in front of them is wigging out, jumping in the air, trying to get them to let it all hang out, trying to get them to yell and wiggle like they’re at the world’s greatest party.

He’s not the Lazy Swan’s resident hype man. He is, in fact, the co–producer of the upcoming Hudson Valley Voice competition, a titanic singing contest to be held at the Lazy Swan this summer. They’re shooting a commercial, and he’s trying to get the potential contestants revved up for a shot.

His name is Stephen Tenner. He’s from the Kingston-based Stella’s Productions group, which is helping organize Hudson Valley Voice for the Lazy Swan, alongside SID Productions. When he’s done jumping around, he directs me into the Lazy Swan’s ballroom. It’s like something out of a Disney movie – the Beast would definitely want a ballroom like this in his castle if he wasn’t so into baroque.


“It started out slow, but people began showing their interest and it began to grow,” says Tenner of the competition. The contest, he says, will “give a lot of local people the opportunity to strut their stuff and, at the same time, draw a lot of people into the area.” Tenner says competitors are coming from as far away as Manhattan and Connecticut.

Registration ends the first week in June, and the competition starts in the middle of June, and finishes in October.

The competition will be an American Idol, panel-style show, and will commence after Hudson Valley Voice cuts the applicant pool , which, according to Bacchi, will likely end up being “around 1,500 to 2000 people,” to 300 somewhat-lucky, all-talented contestants.  The singers will be accompanied by a live orchestra.

Those who enter into the first round will each pay a registration fee of $35.

Don’t be mistaken. Hudson Valley Voice isn’t some rinky-dink talent show. There’s cash on the line – serious dough – and some absurd perks. The winning contestant stands now to make $10,000 for his or her victory, and also, courtesy of Colonial Subaru, gets a two-year lease on a 2013 Subaru Impreza. Oh yeah, and exposure to major record companies.

The competition is sponsored by Idol Roc Entertainment, a subsidiary of Maloof Music and Interscope records, as well as Maloof Entertainment and Upper Eleven Music. Hudson Valley Voice is also in sponsorship discussions with the songwriting division of Sony Records, as well as EMI Music.

This could really work. There’s an obvious musical presence in the valley, but it’s untapped and, insofar, uncontrolled. The Lazy Swan, again, that monument to swank, will be the perfect home for Hudson Valley music in the summertime, and if the competition goes as planned, it could vault Saugerties, or Ulster County in general, into a place where it hasn’t been for decades – a place of musical relevancy.

For Lazy Swan owner Tony Bacchi, the contest isn’t really a business move. It’s a labor of love, an attempt to showcase the area’s young talent. “I was thinking of a creative way to bring people into the county. And I happened to be in Miami and I was watching ‘American Idol’ and I said ‘Gee, what a cool concept.’ And here we are, ten miles away from Woodstock, and we have talented waitresses and waiters that can break out and sing any time they want to, and yet no one has really developed the talent in the area.”

“I’m going to make this village rock this summer,” says Bacchi. “I spent five years building this baby, and now it’s time to rock.”

Looking to compete in the Hudson Valley Voice? Registration is online at www.thehudsonvalleyvoice.com. Applicants have to be over 16 years old. You can also reach the competition through its Facebook page or through @stellamayproduc on Twitter.

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