‘Yolo Idol’ contest still open; West Sac native setting the stage at fair

NEWS-LEDGER — AUG. 7, 2013 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

The Yolo County Fair starts Aug. 14, and West Sacramento native Marty DeAnda is on a mission. The sometime music-promoter and artist manager wants to upgrade the fair’s entertainment quotient, and he wants more West Sacramento musicians upon the fair’s various stages.

Those goals may take more than one year to complete, DeAnda told the News-Ledger.

MARTY DEANDA: If you're a good singer from West Sacramento or Yolo County, he wants you on stage for 'Yolo Idol.' (News-Ledger photo/copyright 2013)

MARTY DEANDA: If you’re a good singer from West Sacramento or Yolo County, he wants you on stage for ‘Yolo Idol.’ (News-Ledger photo/copyright 2013)

“They brought me in to change things up a bit, and bring in some higher level bands,” said DeAnda, 60. “I would also like to see more people competing in ‘Yolo Idol’ (the local talent competition). Last year, there were a thousand people watching. And I want to bring more bands to the forefront.”

Yolo Idol is, of course, modeled a bit upon the “American Idol” TV show.

“It’s all singing, all karaoke, to whatever music you choose,” he said. “It’s all over the board – we see everything from Jim Croce (songs) to real rock and roll for the younger kids.”

The cash prizes this year aren’t astronomical. Winners will vie for awards of $250, $100 and $50.

“We made steps to upgrade it this year so maybe next year, we can take it to a higher level.”

That higher level could include sending local champions on to compete in regional “Idol” challenges.

DeAnda says he is aiming to bring in better known bands to play on the fair’s stages.

“This year, our big band is Mumbo Gumbo,” he reports. “They play at 9 p.m. on Thursday night, the 15th.”

That puts Mumbo Gumbo right after “Yolo Idol,” in which local amateurs sing off from 6-8 p.m. the same evening.

And the “Idol” contest isn’t filled up, by the way. Interested singers can enter by contacting DeAnda at digmusic@sbcglobal.net.

The promoter points out that the competition isn’t about money and bragging rights. It could be a good place to get “discovered.”

“You never know who’s listening,” said DeAnda.

Case in point: some years ago, DeAnda was pulling down six figures a year as an insurance executive. One night, he went to a Sacramento club.

“I was at an ‘open mike’ event,” he recalls. “I have always been involved in the music scene. I was sitting at my table and the fellow running the open mike said ‘This next fellow is terrific, you should stick around.’ I still had a half a glass of wine, so I stayed. The kid came up to the mike – he looked like Bob Dylan at Newport. He was really something. And he just exploded.”

“I called him and we became friends. I quit my job – I just knew I had to represent him.”

The “kid” was Jackie Greene, who turned into one of the biggest singers to come out of Sacramento in the recent past.

So if you enter Yolo Idol, who knows who might be listening?

The free-admission Yolo County Fair runs from August 14-18 at 1250 E. Gum Avenue in Woodland. You can get information at www.yolocountyfair.net or (530) 402-2222.

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