J's Daughter's Birmingham Audition Recap

For those who don't want to read a long post, my daughter auditioned in Birmingham but didn't make it past the first round :).   For a few more details, read on. :)

We got an early start on Fri, Aug 8th from our Ohio home to make the 8 hour trip to Birmingham for the auditions.  I was a bit worried about our hotel and hoped it would be better then our Chicago one we had last year (located 12 miles out of Chicago and still not the best location).  Thanks to the hotel help and advice I received here we switched our original hotel (which is located downtown not far from the BJCC) to one located on HWY. 280 S which was a wonderful hotel and a great location!!!!  So thanks again!!!!!  We were only 6 miles away from the BJCC (Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center).  Fri night we made a dry run to the BJCC from our motel to make sure we knew the route.  My husband who generally has a good sense of direction decided to miss as many exits as possible and take us on the 'scenic' tour of greater Birmingham's neighborhoods, all of which I'm quite sure aren't listed on any Birmingham official  tour guides :)!!  We even checked out a place (drove by) on 21st S, that a poster on the AI boards recommended for karaoke (thought we might meet some other AI people there).  It wasn't the best neighborhood and the building was interesting looking (trying to be nice) not knocking it as it just might be the place to hang out.  From what I read, they have lot's of good bands playing there.

On Sat. Aug 19th (my birthday BTW) we arrived at the BJCC at 5:30 am to stand in line to get our seat tickets and wristbands.  I don't know why the standing in line part is so much fun but it really is.  News crews are always roaming around and you never know when you will have the chance to be on TV or print.  After a four hour wait we got inside.  Getting the wrist band and seat tickets takes only a few moments.  Yeah, we had section 21, seemed like a good place to be.

FUTURE AUDITIONERS: check the line area out to see which side of the line has access for people walking (TV cameras and so on) and position yourself in your row so you are standing on that side of the line, make sure you are standing on the outside of the line, not the middle!!). This may seem obvious to you but many people are content to stand in the middle of the row. Oh, and SMILE :).

The only reason it takes so long in the line is that AI wants to have as many people lined up to show how popular their program is and how many people want to get on it.  It's all hype, most of us know this, but it's still fun.

*   I'm sure you've read postings on some boards that in Birmingham that seat tickets were given out randomly.  All other audition cities, it was first come first served (earlier audition).  Actually it was the same in Birmingham.  Yes, they were given out in a funny order (backward) (we noticed this while  talking to some people in line Mon who signed up Sun but got what we first thought were closer seats to the start of the auditions).  In Birmingham they started out with section 31 and went backwards.................go figure, so same thing, different method.

Had plenty of time to kill on Sat so visited Alabama's biggest Mall (daughters suggestion).  Guess what?  It was a big mall.  LOL.  A Mall is a Mall is a Mall......
We had planned on finding a karaoke place to go on Sat night but found out that most places you have to be 21 to enter (even with parents).  The previous mentioned place on 21st street said we could come but we never made it.  I didn't feel all that comfortable about it plus we were all so tired we all just conked out.

Sun, Aug 20th my daughter and husband decided that the perfect thing to do on a 90 plus degree bama day would be to visit the Zoo.  Nice Zoo, pretty.  Only had one Elephant (my fav animal, I'm a big time elephant collector).  The gorilla was the coolest.  My daughter took this great PIC when the gorilla climbed on a rock to better stare at all of us!!!!!

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Sunday night we decided to eat at a place called Logan's which was directly across the street from our hotel.  Had a very friendly waiter and when the conversation got around to AI (doesn't it always :)  we found out that he knows Bo Bice!!!!!  Bo's band has played there on numerous occasions.  Guess when Bo told them he made it on AI no one really believed him.  Which seems, for some reason, to be the norm around there.  We ran into an auditoner on Mon who also knows Bo and this kid also said that he didn't believe Bo at first either.  Guess it's sometimes hard to believe that someone you actually know can have something that great happen to them.  :).

So, Sunday night we planned on early to bed so we could be up extra early for the auditions on Mon.  Guess what?  My husband discovered that we didn't have water.  He called the front desk and found out that the main water line in our hotel had broken!!!!  Yikes, no water!!!!   The hotel was telling guest they could move out and wouldn't be charged for that day.  So, at 11:00 Sun night we called a place suggested by our hotel and booked a room.  The new hotel was just down the road but not nearly as nice (not even a fridge!!!!) but had the important things in life like water and beds :).  So we packed up and moved in. 

Got to the BJCC at 5:30.  We were wayyyyyyyyyyy back in line.  AI tells you to be there between 5am and 6am but since you have seat tickets you really just have to make sure you get there b4 8am.  The only advantage of being one of the first in line is you get to see and take part in the hype part of the show.  Ryan and Ruben were there.  We were around the corner and missed everything.  Some girls in line did walk around to see what was going on and came back very excited to have seen Ryan.  My daughter couldn't care less about Ryan but would have ran up there had she know Ruben was there :). 

Almost forgot this.  My husband who was waiting for us in the hotel room saw my daughter on the news!!!!!  He said she was leaning against the railing, profile shot (just a random shot as the news crew was walking by).  Husband was very excited. I'll never get to see it, darn it!!!! 

While waiting in line I spotted someone we've met before.  Anyone remember Jordan Southerland from last year?  He auditioned in Chicago (was told he was too polished) and in Greensboro where he dressed up as a Fireman (to honor his Dad and other Firemen).  He made it to Hollywood last year but not past the Hollywood rounds.  (We met him in Greensboro last year outside our motel room.  My daughter practiced singing with him and some other kids).  Anyway, I couldn't believe that out of that crowd (believe 7,000 people) I saw him.  He was carrying a firehat/mask but didn't seen any fire suit so not sure if he used the complete outfit this year (I really hope not).  Didn't see him again the rest of the day so not sure if he made it this year or not.  Just seems so weird that out of so many people we keep on running into him.  Oh, saw this post on the AI board last night, Jordan is going to Compete in Christian Idol www.exaltinghim2006.com We wish him the best of luck!!!!

I never did look at our watch, so not sure exactly what time the line started moving, but when it did, it moved fast.  This year you found your seat and the producer talked to the whole place to let us know what they expected.  (Chicago the pep talk was given by sections).  What I was shocked to see is that there weren't any tables to be seen!!!!!!!  (Usually this is all set up before hand).  We were told NO GOSPEL, and not a good thing to sing At Last unless you were better then Etta James.  Then the whole AI staff sang a very bad reddition of the song.  They mentioned if you did sing it they would ask you to sing a 2nd song.  We were also told NO HANDSHAKING with the judges, whatever they told us was the final word...no begging, no trying to change their minds.  The Alabama group song was, of course, Sweet Home Alabama.  The whole crowd had to practice and practice and practice.  Finally the director in charge was satisfied and it was filmed. 

Then the tables were brought out.  There were 14 tables were set up.  Tall black curtains were put in place to separate the tables.  Two judges at each table.  Guy/Girl.  The 'judges' were all so young looking.  Most of these judges were the ticket takers/crowd control AI staff members.  This was called their other job.  As usual, auditioners were lined up 4 in a row as deep as they had room.  As I mentioned above, they started in section 31 and went backward. Sections were called down one at a time and unlike previous season, you did not get in any particular order from your section.  You had to line up 2x2 in this line and they (producers) were fooling around.  Another Mom and I saw a producer yell at some kids to either line up by 2's or not audition.  Hey, were are the fun guys from last year?  The noise level in the center is very loud so you can't actually hear the singers unless your section was facing them and the auditioners was singing really, really loud. 

Before we knew it my daughters section was called down.  One of the few photos I have, taken far away and only of her back. (A professional photographer I'm not) She is standing on the left side of the photo, just left of the #5 sign.  Her line was tall big guy, 2 blond girls and her.  (Long dark hair, backless top, Capri pants).  Also you can see the kids lined up 2x2 in the front of the picture (they are getting ready to get into the 4x4 lines).

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The 'judges' at my daughters table were 2 young kids.  No one in our entire section got to the second round (that I saw).  My daughter sang something she felt (was recommended by a friend) might never have been heard before or at least not sung. As I told MJ before it's a country song with a blues sound.  A Mandy Barnett song called, I've Got A Right To Cry.  Mandy Barnett sings it very country with a twang but my daughter brings the blues side (she said that is all she heard the first time she listened to the song, and wanted to bring the blues side out more in the song) out and made it her own. (Daughter is an R&B kind of singer).  She said she nailed it but it didn't make any difference.  When her line was cut my daughter said she just gave them a big smile and said "Thanks".  She wasn't expecting as much this year so she did handle it like the pro she is.  :).

Her wristband was cut and she was out the door.  My husband and I are willing to take her to Memphis but she doesn't want to go (I'm hoping she changes her mind).  She knows it's all luck and not really wanting to go through all that again this year.  We never push, so we will wait and if she wants to go we will hit the road. 

Normal trip back till we were in KY and the car made a funny noise.  Seemed OK till we hit Cincinnati and all the lights went out, and power for windows and everything.  We, were on 75 at the UC (University of Cincinnati, my daughters college) exit.  A cop just happened to be behind us and held each lane till my husband could pull over on the side.  Then the very nice policeman gave us a number for a local towing service who towed us to our small town just outside of Dayton, Ohio.  Only cost $140 and we got to ride in the flatbed tow truck.  (An hour trip) The guy drove like a maniac but it was cool cause I figured if he hit anyone we wouldn't be hurt since we were in the big truck.   (not that I wanted anyone hurt, just stray thoughts to keep me sane :).  My daughters boyfriend met us at the garage where our car was towed, we unloaded and loaded all the luggage and finally arrived home. 

Found out today that whatever is wrong with car (something to do with the AC stuff, husband knows) will cost over $1,000 (do all car repairs cost that...lol).  Found out that the original hotel charged us for 1 night saying we hadn't canceled.  We did cancel in plenty of time and even called back later in the day (FRI) to verify.  They said no problem but then went ahead and charged us.  Believe my husband has this one straightened out. *Note, car is fixed, they are fast :).

Just a few stray things for your reading pleasure:

* Saw this post on the AI board.  A girl who made it to Hollywood before auditioned in Birmingham yesterday.  Guess she didn't like the line/table she was in so she went up to a producer and she was switched with another girl at another table.  I saw the switch but didn't know what was going on as I didn't recognize the girl mentioned.  Oh, yes, she made it to the 2nd round.  Just proving what has been posted before on the boards and what has been witnessed by people who audition.  There are good tables and bad tables.  You (normally) have no control on which table they send you to (this is where the luck is).  The only helpful hint here is to watch the tables to see who gets sent to the 2nd round.  At least you will know what your chances are.

*They were selling water outside but when you got near the door you have to leave all water bottles since you couldn't bring in your own drinks/water/food.  Hmmmm!!!!!

* For Future Auditioners:  Please remember that they are casting for a TV show.  The first round has NOTHING to do with how good you sing.  There are thousands of good/great/awesome singers there.  The first round is an elimination round only.  It's really awesome how efficient they are in doing this round.  In order to keep up the hype of  the show, AI must show the most auditioners they can, giving everyone a chance and showing the world how popular the show is.  The tables are set up with the staff (not real producers) who are doing one of 2 things....they qualify or disqualify.  As mentioned above some tables never send anyone to the 2nd row.  If you happen to get a bad table, then go to another city or try again next year.  If you are really good.  This is worth your time.  The experience is invaluable.  You never know when you will be one of the lucky ones.  If you do get a good table, and if you are the type, have the look, can sing (not talking about the bad ones here), then you will be on your way to Hollywood.  Good luck to all who audition.  Remember to smile like you'll never smile again, own the song, and most of all HAVE FUN!!!!!