Locals compete in Texaco Country Music Showdown

QCS photo: Steve Hansen Amanda Gasper, left, and Jessica Morey of Jalea belt out their first-prize performance at the Texas Country Showdown.

QCS photo: Steve Hansen
Amanda Gasper, left, and Jessica Morey of Jalea belt out their first-prize performance at the Texas Country Showdown.

By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor

The Pausewangs traveled from Goldthwaite, Texas, 120 miles west of Waco, Texas, to be there and the family band, the Pausitive Band, won second place among seven contenders in the Texaco Country Music Showdown in Tucumcari, cosponosored by KTNM/KQAY Radio, Saturday night.

Local favorite Olana Romero, who won last year’s challenge, placed third this year.

The winner was a duo called Jalea (JAY-lee) from Albuquerque.

Jalea now advances to the state finals to be held Oct. 19 at the Shuler Theater in Raton. Victors in state competitions go on to regionals, and then, national television exposures in the finals, where they compete for $100,000.

It was the kind of competition where no one can look like they’re competing. All the performers had to strike a balance between disciplined attention to technique–pitch, phrasing and power—and expression, from soft to brassy, with a sense of abandon and joy, all while making it look easy. That’s entertainment.

While this is the first step on a road to national competition, Tucumcari’s contest had some of the trappings of a contest in a small town. For instance, while all the performers were judged on their first selection, all had the privilege of singing two numbers, the second for show only. And that was because just about everybody had two songs ready and the crowd of at least 100 Tucumcari area residents and supporters of the contestants, didn’t seem to mind. During the shrimp-boil dinner before the performance, the artists sat with the patrons. The artists went through the line first, though.

QCS photo: Steve Hansen Olana Romero of Tucumcari croons her way to third place at the Texas Country Showdown.

QCS photo: Steve Hansen
Olana Romero of Tucumcari croons her way to third place at the Texas Country Showdown.

Jalea consists of Jessica Morey and Amanda Gasper, both of Albuquerque. They performed an original number written by Morey called “Goodbye Kind of Love,” with Morey strumming guitar as they sang. It was a song with complex feelings and a full dynamic range that showed the solo and blending skills of both performers.

The Pausitive family performed flawlessly, with 12-year-old Mikaela Pausewang providing lead vocals and playing bass. Her brother Derek, 14, did lead guitar duty while their mother Wendy provided back-up vocals, and a younger brother, Logan, 8, played fiddle, mostly in the background. Their competition number was “Independence,” by The Band Perry. Their show number was “Just Like Daddy,” written by Mikaela.

Olana Romero, a senior at Tucumcari High School, sang a version of “When You Say Nothing At All,” to the background used for Alison Krauss’ version of this country hit. She demonstrated confidence and poise and clearly enjoyed performing this country power ballad before a home-town crowd.

Among the acts that did not place, perhaps the biggest surprise was Arianna, a wisp of a 15-year-old girl from Las Vegas, N.M., whose voice filled the Tucumcari Convention Center as she belted out “More Like You,” a song that requires some big attitude, which she also conveyed. Arianna’s full name is Arianna Bustos-Duran and she’s been singing since she was 5 years old, she said.

Bob Gonzales of Peralta sang an original song for competition and with a soundtrack for his second number, displaying some showmanship along with a big, booming voice.

Ana Schmitt of Tucumcari performed with conviction, with her performance reflecting training she’s receiving a the University of New Mexico as a music minor.

Natalea Gallegos of Tucumcari performed with power and emotive gestures.

The judges were chosen from business and community leaders, including Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan, Kathi Silvas, Mark Fulton, Karen Alarcon and Jim Coulter.

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