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The few, the brave — the Senior Idol competitors


The tattooed Scottish singer saw ladies grab tissue as he sang to them Wednesday.

Patrick Heavrin, 74, channeled Celine Dion — if Celine Dion wore plaid shorts and sandals — and strummed an electric-acoustic guitar as he belted out My Heart Will Go On:

Love can touch us one time

And last for a lifetime

And never let go till we're gone

Heavrin, front man of his band Famous Rocking Chair figured originality — an unplugged Titanic ballad with Celtic twang — would impress the two judges at Wednesday's Bright Stars Senior Talent Show at the Japanese Gardens mobile home park clubhouse in Clearwater.

Twelve seniors from the Pinellas auditions, ages 65 and up, will advance to the regional competition of the Bright Stars talent event at the Largo Cultural Center at 7 p.m. Feb. 6.

That night, the audience will vote for three Pinellas performers to compete with finalists from Pasco, Polk, Hernando, Citrus, Hillsborough and Manatee counties in the final round at 7 p.m. April 1 at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

The winner, the so-called Senior Idol, will receive bragging rights and a $1,000 prize from Bright House Networks — half to keep, half for a favorite charity.

Mathew J. Eberius, 25, who works for The Centre in Palm Harbor, was one of the judges the Pinellas auditions. He considers himself "a Simon."

"After three years of this, I know what to look for," he said. "I know what should be on stage and what shouldn't."

The ideal Senior Idol oozes personality, creativity, stage presence and sheer vocal talent, Eberius said.

Watching Heavrin, he said: "That guy sounds like he should be playing at an Irish pub."

Next on stage, a Land O'Lakes woman, donning her grandmother's straw hat and her mother-in-law's fur-lined cardigan, sang Second Hand Rose. Liz Cross, 77, prepared for her audition with weeks of Friday night karaoke at the Groves. Her husband, George, watched toward the back of the audience, tapping his leather shoe.

"That voice," he said. "She sounds like she's 30."

Cross ended her performance with a curtsy, waved to the applauding audience, and stopped by the concession stand to buy a dollar doughnut for George.

"You were marvelous," he said.

"Thank you!" she replied. "Did you see me shaking? I felt it but kept dancing."

The emcee, pacing the aisles, called for more singers. Open mike, she said. Anyone interested?

By 11 a.m., the four names on the sign-up sheet had been crossed off.

Heavrin rose, grabbed his guitar.

"I'll go," he said. "I've got a good one."

He stood again before the crowd, strumming. It was time, he thought, to lift the mood.

I stepped out of the shower and I got a good look at myself.

Pot belly, bald head, man, I thought I was somebody else.

People laughed and clapped. Some sang along.

I caught my reflection in the mirror on the back of my bathroom door.

I just don't look good naked anymore.

Danielle Paquette can be reached at or (727) 445-4224.

The few, the brave — the Senior Idol competitors 01/16/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 5:33pm]
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