Beamer Wigley

Beamer Wigley

These kids rock!

Vernon band The Shags win top prize at fourth annual Our Kids Have Talent.

If this weekend was any indication on where music trends are heading, it’s safe to say that retro rock still rules.

Take the Junos. Saskatoon boogie-blues rockers The Sheepdogs topped the weekend awards ceremony in Ottawa with five Junos, including Single of the Year.

In Vernon, a young band who have an affinity for ‘60s and ‘70s groove and fusion rock caught the ears of the judges at the fourth annual Our Kids Have Talent (OKHT) competition.

Held in the ballrooms at the Prestige Hotel Saturday, a sold-out audience enjoyed music performances by all 12 OKHT finalists as well as appetizers served up by Ora Restaurant.

“Out of over 60 applicants this year, the judges (Jackson Mace, Betty Anne Northup and Nancy Nash) painfully decided their top 12, and again it was very hard to choose the top three,” said OKHT founder Kath Raeber of Vernon’s Rarearth Music Festival.

Calling their band The Shags, guitarist Evan Aasen, 16, drummer Ryan Boesel, 17, and bassist Derek Rush, 16, who all attend Vernon Secondary School, took home the first place prize of $1,500, presented by Kal Tire.

“We’re really into the ‘60s music, which is where we got the name from,” said Aasen, adding shag carpets, which were popular in the day, also had something to do with the band’s moniker. “We pretty much play every genre, and experiment with a lot of different kinds of music.”

Gathering almost daily to practice in Boesel’s basement, The Shags have been playing music together for one year. Ninety percent of their material is original, and the band demonstrated that Saturday playing two of their self-penned songs.

“We recently finished our demo, and are going to start selling those at our shows,” said Aasen, adding he and his bandmates are interested in eventually going on to Nelson’s Selkirk College to study music.

But first they have a few gigs coming their way, thanks to OKHT.

Along with the prize money, The Shags have also been automatically entered to perform at the Interior Provincial Exhibition Talent Show in Armstrong, and will receive $2,000 to perform at the IPE next year.

“We’d like to thank all the people for giving us the opportunity,” said Aasen.

The OKHT judges also recognized 16-year-old Salmon Arm singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Jesse Mast with second place and also as best marketer.

Mast received 638 votes from the 1,824 views of his audition video on YouTube to determine the prize, which gives him the opportunity to perform at the Back to Earth Community Harvest Festival in Lavington this summer.

“In three weeks there were 12,419 views of all the audition videos,” said Raeber, adding Mast also won $1,000, sponsored by Dr. Kim Daniel, as part of his second overall placing.

Penticton’s Beamer Wigley, a nine-year-old guitar whiz who is no stranger to the OKHT, took home third prize of $500, courtesy of Bannister GM Vernon.

All 12 finalists will receive numerous performing opportunities this year, including appearances at the YAA (Youth Achievement and Appreciation) Festival in Vernon in May, as well as Vernon’s Sunshine Festival and the Summerland Action Festival in June.

“Part of getting into Our Kids Have Talent is that I get them gigs all year round,” said Raeber, adding “A big thank you to all of you that helped to make Our Kids Have Talent 2012 a very successful event.”

For more results and information on the competition, visit