‘Quest’ storms the tent for another year

Summer reporter
Marc Stuempfle

The audience went off the rails as “Quest for the Best” rocked the big tent at the Sorting Gap Marina here on Friday night.

As the evening geared up, the crowd waited with anticipation to see who the top singers from each set would be to face off in the final “Battle Song”–“Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne.

Emcee Jonathan Price from 93.1 The Border set the stage for all 20 participants vying for the $1,000 grand prize.

Besides the contestants, the next toughest seats in the crowd may have been at the judge’s table.

Diane Maxey, Kathleen Mueller, and Brittany Strachan (Hayes) were in charge of making the challenging decisions on who would be taking home all the awards and prizes.

The judges were looking at singers’ strong stage presence, entertainment value, their quality of performance, an “X factor,” the audience’s response, and originality.

In the end, the performances by Abbey Calder, who sang Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain,” and Brianna Eldridge, who sang Sass Jordan’s “High Road Easy,” took the top position in each set and launched the duel between the two women in the finals.

The deliberation was not easy but Eldridge’s vocals helped set her apart from the rest of the competition as the judges awarded her the 2019 “Quest for the Best” title.

“Ultimately, we sat outside deliberating for quite a while trying to decide,” said Strachan. “Both ladies were phenomenal.”

“They were [all] amazing and it was a really tough choice both for the first set and the second set,” noted Maxey.

There were a couple of things which stood out to Maxey about the entire evening.

“For me probably the energy, the excitement in their choice of song,” she remarked.

“I’m always interested in what they choose to sing. Because I don’t know a lot of them and so there were a lot of ones to me that really stood out,” added Maxey.

Calder was excited to sing in the finals alongside her friend and admired Eldridge for her performance.

“The right person won,” said Calder.

Eldridge said she plans on using her earnings to help with pay for her expenses for school in the fall.

She explained she has always loved singing and is thankful for the support she has received over the years.

“I’ve been singing since I was 11 and been in all the festivals here and so just the support from the community and everything has just helped me become the performer that I am today,” she added. “Thanks to everybody year after year that supports me.”

Meanwhile, Heather Newman earned second place in Set 1 as she sang “Bad Self Portraits” by Lake Street Dive.

In the second set, there was a tie between Joey Payeur and Lyz Klem for second place.

Klem also won the People’s Choice for Set 2 as she sang “Valerie” by Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse.

Payeur sang a heartfelt rendition of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” which he dedicated to his mother.

Jaykob Ryll had the fans under the big tent rallied up as he captivated the audience with his re-enactment of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” leaving no doubts as to the People’s Choice winner in the first set.

Ryall also received the Dark Horse Award from the judges.

Ronny Dean Hines from Nashville, Tn. took home the Show Stopper Award for his original song, “Kicking Bass And Taking Names.” By the crowd’s reaction, Price said it may make a possible future anthem for the FFCBC.

The last two awards– the Rookie Award and the Band’s Choice Award–went to Dan Bone.

Chris Denby (keyboard/bass/guitar), Rob Donaldson (guitar), Jim Newman (drums/mandolin), and Steve Denby (bass/guitar/keyboard) of The Faculty have been accompanying singers during Quest for the last 17 years.

As a band, they decide they wanted to hand out an award–the Band’s Choice Award. They wanted to recognize the person who is rock-solid from start to finish and work seamlessly with the band throughout the entire process.

The band explained the significance of “Quest” and why it has been such a hit around town for so many years.

“Around here, we kind of take every opportunity to celebrate this place to be during the summer,” said Chris Denby.

“Nobody wants to go anywhere during the summer because this is gorgeous.”

“This is where you want to go,” added Steve.

“People just really want the most of the summer and this has become tradition, the bass championship is giant in town and Quest has become part of that.” Chris added. “And to celebrate it with local talent is an added bonus.”