The time honored Montage of Horror tradition took a backseat to legitimate talent when America's Got Talent parked its entourage in Austin, Tex., to scope out the next big million dollar act. It was refreshing, though somewhat disappointingly stereotypical, what with all the cowboy hats and God Bless the USA's.
Still, Texas gave us David Smith, the human cannonball. I don't know if it can get much bigger than that. I'm actually curious as to how his act can possibly be topped in Vegas. I mean, after you shoot yourself out of a giant cannon... where else can you go?
Also jumping on a Vegas-or-Bust bus was Joe Castillo, a patriotic performance artist who told a story by drawing in a pile of sand to Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American." Yawn.
The Bandbaz Brothers added another balancing act to the America's Got Talent program. There were some wobbly moments, but the uncertainty only served to up the thrill. Stern commented that the shakiness made the act look more difficult than the performers claimed that it was. There's truth to that sentiment, especially now that we've seen a few balancing acts in the various auditions across the country.
So many of the performers we have seen were smooth and steady, and I'm certain that's what the Bandbaz Brothers were aiming for, but with one half of the act fresh out of a decade-long retirement, understandably, not everything is as tight as it should ideally be. However, sometimes the apparent ease with which many of the balancing acts perform serves to gloss over just how incredibly difficult their routines are. I personally find the balancing acts to be absolutely amazing, completely stunning, but I'm definitely guilty of forgetting the inherent danger of those routines from time to time. While I wish the Bandbaz Brothers all the luck in tightening things up before they perform in Vegas, I have to say that I appreciated the reminder their clear efforts tonight provided.
Texas also revealed itself to not only be the land of big acts, but the land of big voices as well. One of those voices came wrapped in a very small package. Sebastien de la Cruz is the 10-year-old lead singer of El Charro del Oro mariachi band. That kid has some serious pipes, a giant stage persona and a great backing band. I can't wait to hear more.
Finally, Timothy Michael Poe took the stage with what was easily the most affecting story of the night. I'm not typically one to embrace the sob stories on these sorts of shows because I think they have the tendency to turn exploitative very quickly, but in the case of Timothy Michael Poe, his tragic past was important, but not his most defining trait. It didn't overshadow his real and wonderful talent, rather it enhanced it.
Poe stuttered through his introduction to the judges, guitar waiting on his lap, and revealed that his stutter was the result of a brain injury received in Afghanistan. He told our three judges that he would be singing for them and in a rare case of taking sides, I hid behind my notebook like a wuss and chanted, "Please be awesome. Please be awesome. Please be awesome." I really didn't want to see that guy get buzzed.
And the human brain is... well... it's a pretty amazing thing. It turned out that not only does Timothy Michael Poe not stutter at all when he sings, but he has a warm, pleasantly deep voice as well. He sang Garth Brooks' "If Tomorrow Never Comes" to a well-deserved standing ovation and I let out that breath I had been holding all through his performance.
Which performer stole your breath tonight?
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