The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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October 5, 2012

Singers can use only one microphone in Barnyard Days contest

NEOSHO, Mo. — The organizers of a festival dedicated to historical entertainment have tried every year to introduce a new feature, from an archery contest to a mountain man camp.

Though talent shows are a current trend, Barnyard Days organizer Steve Roark has an angle that roots his competition in the past. Several musicians will perform using only a single microphone to broadcast their music.

“Silver Dollar City is where we saw this first, and we knew that it would be a good fit with people here,” Roark said. “Our tradition is to step back into the past, and this goes back to the days when we didn’t have complicated sound systems.”

The Single Mic Showdown is the centerpiece of this year’s festival, running from today until Sunday. Twelve acts will sing on Saturday; four finalists will compete on Sunday for up to $500.

The rules are simple: The musicians can sing or do whatever they want. But the only allowed amplification of their sound will come from a single, stationary microphone at the center of the stage. That means musicians will move toward and away from the microphone in order to feature different parts.

The acts include eight soloists and four groups. Those groups will have to move cleverly in order to ensure that their songs sound they way they intended, Roark said.

“It adds a significant amount of choreography,” Roark said. “This hearkens back to old radio programs where the performers move to the mic.”

The contest will begin at 9 a.m. and last throughout the day. Performers will get 30 minutes to sing a minimum of five songs, which means that sets will feature a variety of music, from country to folk, gospel to Americana, Roark said.

The long sets are so judges can get a better idea of the musicians’ talent and audience interaction.

“A number of acts have said they appreciated the long sets,” Roark said. “Some competitions give the acts one song, but we wanted to have a little better taste of their musical abilities.”

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