Teenage band Seasalt swept the competition Saturday in the 2018 finale of Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent, winning both the grand prize awarded by a panel of judges and the “Fan Favorite” prize chosen by the general public via online voting at dailyherald.com.
Seasalt’s double triumph was announced after the band was featured along with the other top 10 finalists in a concert at the Little Italy Fest-West in Addison’s Central Park. Seasalt’s members are Jon O’Brien of Richmond, Drew Zaremba of Richmond, Becky Sargeant of Woodstock and Kayla Seeber of Poplar Grove. Seeber also won the 2017 Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent Fan Favorite prize as a soloist.
Under a sweltering sun and temperatures in the 90s, Seasalt thrashed out their song “Tea Party for Teens.” It fit the four-member band’s pattern of performing original material at both the top 20 and top 15 competition rounds last month at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles.
First-time judge Carl Giammarese, a founding member and lead guitarist of The Buckinghams, was impressed overall by the largely young talent that made it through to the top 10 round after 95 acts initially auditioned in June.
“These kids are the future,” Giammarese said. “It’s nice to see these kids carrying the torch.”
“For me, Seasalt was the best entire package. They had stage presence, they had a good song and good musicality,” said Bobby Poynton of The Lettermen, stepping in for Jim Peterik of The Ides of March, a judge in the earlier competition rounds.
Joining Giammarese and Poynton on the finale panel were veteran Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent judges Ron Onesti, president and CEO of Onesti Entertainment and the Arcada Theatre, and Daily Herald reporter and critic Barbara Vitello.
As the grand prize winner, Seasalt receives a Development Package (custom video, website development, a mentor, a photo session and 10 hours of studio time at The Jam Lab in Brookfield), a trip for two to either Nashville or Cleveland, a headline concert and an opening act slot for a national act at Schaumburg’s Septemberfest at 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1.
Seasalt’s Fan Favorite prize features a performance at Club Arcada in St. Charles (the venue’s third-floor cabaret space), a $200 gift card to Chords in Stratford Square Mall in Bloomingdale, and $200 worth of dining gift cards.
Seasalt formed in 2017 after its core founders met in Wisconsin at the Lake Geneva House of Music band camp.
“With Seasalt, we were growing as a band and we had never done a competition before, just gigs,” Seeber said. “So I wanted to come back stronger with all my friends in a band.”
The last time the same act won both of Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent’s top prizes was in its debut season. The 2012 winners were the beatboxing duo iLLest Vocals, featuring Shawn Kurian of Wheeling and Sanu John of Skokie.
Videos of the finalists performing at the Arcada can still be viewed at dailyherald.com/entertainment/talent, and many acts will be performing at Randhurst Village’s Street Fest in Mt. Prospect at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8
The seventh season of Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent is co-sponsored by the Daily Herald, Onesti Entertainment, Amita Health, Zeigler Auto Group, Salon Lorrene and the village of Schaumburg.