American Idol audition experience among tales shared at monthly River Road Talent Night

Michael Tortorich
Regina Mistretta, right, talks about bead art during the second installment of the River Road Talent Night at Minnie's Place in Donaldsonville. Shown at left is organizer Mary Gehman, who brought back the event last month.

The second edition of the River Road Talent Night drew a larger crowd and more creator presentations.

Held on the third Wednesday of each month at Minnie's Place restaurant on Railroad Avenue in Donaldsonville, the event is a reboot after a six-year dormancy.

The organizer, Mary Gehman, said all varieties of artists, musicians, writers, and creatives are welcome to participate in the monthly showcase.

"Please spread the word," Gehman said in the opening remarks.

The Wednesday installment brought new faces, as well as a few regulars.

Previous participant Dorothy Lear returned to share her American Idol audition adventure. The local singer said her recent tryout in Baton Rouge was "very interesting" but also "intimidating."

"It's nothing like what you see on TV," she said. "It's lots of waiting and nerves."

The audition day began for her at 2 a.m. After a long wait, the actual moment of truth was "in and out."

"It was fast and scary," Lear said. "They kind of stare at you and make you nervous."

While she did receive compliments on her voice, the judges also offered a few things to work on. She plans to work with a vocal coach to improve her skills.

While at the audition, Lear said she met a fellow singer who's amassed quite a following through Youtube. But when the time came to perform, the streaming sensation seemed to simply freeze from nerves.

"It's a whole different ball game when you get up there," she said.

Partial to country music, Lear chose to sing Deana Carter's "Strawberry Wine" and "Better Than You Left Me" by Mickey Guyton.

Next to speak was Regina Mistretta, who showed and discussed her bead art.

She said she has created a variety of art pieces, including birds, flowers, and lighthouses. She's also recreated notable buildings and churches from around the area. The process can last days, and even weeks, she explained.

"I just enjoy doing it," she said. "Everything I do is a challenge. I just like to see if I can do it."

Gehman pointed out that Mistretta discovered her talent for bead art despite never taking any formal classes.

"I think it's remarkable how much talent we have here," Gehman said.

The third individual to take to the mic shared a couple of talents - poetry and comedy.

Juanita Pearley began with a poem written on Memorial Day about sacrifices. She then followed with some light-hearted humor.

"I'm also a stand-up comedian . . . though sometimes I sit down," she quipped.

Next, came author Eric Trujillo, who shared part of his upcoming mystery novel. The book focuses on a boy accused of murder in a dark, seedy side of Chicago.

Trujillo said the story came to him initially in a dream. From there, he elaborated and completed the story. As a single parent, he chose to write instead of simply passing time watching television.

"I'm a mystery writer and reader. I love mysteries," he said.

Local artist Alvin Batiste attended once again, and briefly shared a few sketches he's been working on.

Minnie's Place owner Joyce Carter closed the event by expressing appreciation to all of the participants.

"I want to thank each and every one of you for coming out and enjoying this night with us," she said.