By John Balch
Did he or did he not win a Golden Ticket?
That was the question on everyone’s lips after Ethan Kuntz’ audition footage did not air on the season premiere of the talent television show “American Idol” Thursday night.
Sharp-eyed viewers already know the answer.
During Thursday night’s episode, a short promo aired and it briefly shows the Kuntz family – Michale, Damon and Joshua – all smiles and hugs as Ethan approaches. The 16-year-old guitarist/singer is holding something above his head that resembles the Golden Tickets awarded to those previously on that night’s episode.
Ethan announced on his Facebook page after the episode aired that the Little Rock auditions had actually been split into two episodes and that his audition would be aired Thursday, Jan. 14. “So stay tuned to watch next Thursday for my audition,” he wrote.
The Kuntz family held a “watch party” Thursday night at Black Pearl in Mineral Springs and have now set another one for Jan. 14 from 7-9 p.m. (For more information about the event, contact Michale at (870) 200-1187.)
The young Nashville guitarist/singer auditioned for “American Idol” back in August when the show’s traveling auditions made a stop at North Little Rock’s Verizon Arena. On hand for the auditions were celebrity judges Jennifer Lopez, also known as JLo, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. The show is hosted by Ryan Seacrest.
Just how the audition process went down and how Kuntz did and even what songs he performed, will remain a secret until after Ethan’s audition actually airs. “We can’t comment on the audition process yet,” Michale told The Nashville Leader earlier this week. “We have a contract that says we can’t give out any details until after the show airs.”
Ethan did say he was nervous before the audition, but once he got the chance to perform, it came natural and was “like playing for anyone else.” He is curious and excited “to see how they show me on TV going through the audition process.”
Performing is somewhat “old hat” to Ethan. He is a member of the Spa City Blues Society and is the lead singer/guitarist in the the Spa City Youngbloods, a band which features other young players and performers and plays at least one show a month.
The group practices every Sunday in Hot Springs and has performed shows at blues festivals all over Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Spa City Youngbloods recently opened for the Los Lonely Boys at the Oaklawn BBQ and Blues Festival.
In January, the group will return for a second time to compete in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.
Ethan, who cites the late guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn as a major influence, also plays drums and harmonica. He also into the music of Chris Stapleton, Ian Moore, the Allman Brothers and Johnny Lang.