Top 20 acts compete in Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent at the Arcada Theatre

Musicians both young and old did their best to impress in the top 20 round of Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent on Sunday. The summer talent competition, now in its seventh season, featured many changes, including a venue switch to the historic Arcada Theatre in St. Charles and some higher-profile judges.

Music industry veterans Jim Peterik of the Ides of March and Carl Giammarese of The Buckinghams were featured as first-time judges. They were joined by veteran panelists Ron Onesti, CEO and president of Onesti Entertainment and the Arcada Theatre, and Barbara Vitello, a Daily Herald critic and reporter, to critique each act.



Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent

Top 15 show: 7 p.m. Sunday, July 29, Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles, (630) 962-7000 or

Top 10 show and finale: 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, at Little Italy Fest-West at Centennial Park, Lake Street at Rohlwing Road, Addison

Admission: Free, but reserve your tickets now at


The suburban band Cap’n Funk & The Groove Machine kicked off the competition with a medley of Chicago songs like “Beginnings” and “Saturday in the Park,” plus the Ides of March hit “Vehicle” for good measure.

“I’m really mad because you hit higher notes than I could hit,” joked Peterik during the feedback session, though he did add that he would like to hear some original material if the band advances to the top 15 round.

Another musician covering classic rock was 14-year-old Leo Sclamberg of Highland Park. He accompanied himself on guitar while singing The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and Prince’s “Kiss.”

“You’re one soulful little dude,” Giammarese said. “In reality, you can never fool an audience. If you’re not having a good time, they’ll know, and he was having a good time.”

Many contestants went the other route by performing original material, some of which also hearkened back to other eras. There was a peppy 1980s pop sound to “Find Your Way” by the St. Charles band Tommy Bravos, while judges noted a 1960s groove to the song “Kool Girl” by the teenage band Seasalt, which featured Kayla Seeber of Poplar Grove, the “Fan Favorite” winner for Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent in 2017.

Also new for Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent were co-hosts Cathy Rich, daughter to the legendary drummer of the Buddy Rich Band, and the band’s current drummer, Greg Potter. Tickets were made free for the first time to the top 20 and top 15 competition rounds, while Onesti livestreamed Sunday’s show from his personal Facebook page.

But as in past seasons, the general public will have a say in Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent via online Fan Favorite voting. Starting Tuesday, videos of the top 20 Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent contestants will be posted at

The act with the most votes is guaranteed a spot in the Top 15 round set for 7 p.m. Sunday, July 29. Meanwhile, the overall winner from two voting rounds will win a prize package of gift cards valued at $300, plus a performance at the Arcada Theatre’s intimate Club Arcada on its third floor.

But the ultimate grand prize that the contestants are vying for features a Development Package (custom video, website development, mentor and photo session), a trip for two to either Nashville or Cleveland, plus a headline concert and an opening act slot for a national act at Schaumburg’s Septemberfest on Saturday, Sept. 1.

Both winners will be announced at Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent’s Top 10 show and finale at Addison’s Little Italy Fest-West, 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4.

Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent in 2018 is co-sponsored by the Daily Herald, Onesti Entertainment, Amita Health, Zeigler Auto Group, Salon Lorrene and the village of Schaumburg.

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