‘Song Stage MidWest’ returns for second season


Photo courtesy of Ken Carden from “Song Stage MidWest” | The Daily Eastern News Paula Polfliet was a first season contestant on “Song Stage MidWest” which will be returning to Eastern next week. The second season of “Song Stage MidWest” will be filmed in the Doudna Fine Arts Center with the help of WEIU-TV and the television producers and camera crews from Chicago and St. Louis.

Angelica Cataldo, Entertainment Reporter

After working on a documentary on a musician and composer in Utah, producer Roy Wells and his partner Ryan Wiggins got the idea to take their music initiative to a higher level.

That is when the idea for the music competition, “Song Stage” was born.

“After (working on the documentary) we thought it would be fun to do more features or documentaries like this,” Wiggins said. “We (wanted) to do it in more of a show format, and Roy thought it’d be fun to put (the musicians) head to head.”

During the week of Friday Sept. 9, the second season of “Song Stage” will be filmed at Eastern in the Doudna Fine Arts Center with the help WEIU and television producers and camera crews from Chicago and St. Louis. In the spring, the finale will be broadcasted on regional PBS stations. Ryan Wiggins will be hosting of the finale live show, as well.

“(This year) is going to be a bigger production, a much bigger venue than last time with more crew (members) and more cameras,” Wells said. “Everything will be a little bigger this season.”

“Song Stage” is a music competition, similar to “American Idol” and “The Voice,” but the focus is not just on vocals. This competition takes into consideration songwriting, singing and playing instruments.

“(American Idol) is almost like a karaoke competition,” Wells said. “I was adamant about having original music (for this show).”

This season, eight contestants will be showcasing their musical talent during the week, and will perform during the finale that will be filmed Friday night. Interviews and other behind-the-scenes features will be filmed all throughout the week until the live performance.

“We get to know these artists and know why they play music and where their inspirations come from,” Wiggins said.

Before coming to Eastern, Wells and Wiggins put up advertisements online for submission to enter the contest for season two. Wiggins said that due to the wide audience they reached in season one, a lot of this year’s submissions came from people who saw the show last season.

“We have a really diverse group that brings something unique to the table,” Wells said. Genres featured range from hip-hop all the way to country music. Wells and Wiggins stressed that vocals are not the only things that they look for, and will not be the only talents judged during the show.

“People need to be exceptional songwriters, as well as singers and musicians,” Wiggins said. “We want people who have the whole package.”

The contestants will not be evaluated by judges, but by the entire audience. All eight competitors will perform two songs, and will be at the mercy of the taste of the audience.

“An audience is a better indication (of what should win). At the end of the day the listeners decide if they like it or not,” Wells said. “(We) get to see how you can impact people through music and connect with the audience.”

Wiggins, as the host, finds ways to get the audience involved with what happens on stage, as well as interact with the performers on and off camera.

Wells said there was a comedic element to the show itself, especially when Wiggins tries to get, not only the performers, but also the audience, out of his or her comfort zone.

“(We do) weird stuff with the artists to let their personalities come out a little bit. (We) just do a lot of goofy questions; some stuff related to music and some stuff related to nothing,” Wiggins said. “We have fun and poke fun at the artists and even the audience. It’s all very interactive.”

Wiggins said this season will be a memorable show that he hopes audience members and performers will look back on.

“We take the music very seriously and everything else not very seriously,” Wells said. “We try not to take ourselves too seriously. We have fun with it and let the music speak for itself.”

The live audience viewing and voting for the finale of “Song Stage” will be filmed promptly at 6p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9. Tickets can be purchased online at www.eiu.edu/doudna for $7.


Angelica Cataldo can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].