Perfect Pair puts talent on the line

It didn’t take long for word to spread about Perfect Pair.

The pop music duo — Michael Kermec of Girard on guitar and Ashley Miller of Austintown on vocals — has been together less than a year but already can’t keep up with the demand for bookings.

The Mahoning Valley has been quick to recognize the appeal of this club act.

The rest of the country might come to a similar conclusion next summer.

Perfect Pair auditioned in New York last weekend for “America’s Got Talent,” and will find out in February if it has been accepted.

Season 9 of the NBC reality show starts in June.

Kermec and Miller got invited to the audition after submitting a video performance of “Black Velvet,” the 1990 hit by Alannah Myles.

For their 90-second audition — that’s all each act gets — last Sunday morning they did Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man.”

Kermec said they nailed it. “Ashley holds that killer high note real long,” he said.

The duo takes pop songs and puts their own spin on them. They will take a tune such as ’70s Motown hit “Band of Gold” and give it a modern, acoustic sound. And Robin Thicke’s summer smash “Blurred Lines” gets a more relaxed treatment in Perfect Pair’s hands.

Kermec sets the pace with his acoustic guitar, providing a canvas for Miller’s powerful voice and expressive delivery.

“AGT” accepts all types of acts. Musicians, dancers, magicians, contortionists, comedians, singers, jugglers, animal acts and some you can’t even imagine appear before judges Howie Mandel, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Howard Stern.

So the trick to auditioning for the show is to give a taste of your stage personality with your performance.

That’s one aspect in which Perfect Pair differentiates itself.

Miller is a sexy knockout with a showy voice who would be at home in Las Vegas. Kermec is the guitar-wielding other half who can’t help but fade into the background in Miller’s presence.

Think of country duo Sugarland — widely known as Jennifer Nettles and that other guy (for the record, his name is Kristian Bush) — and you get the idea.

Only Kermec turns this dynamic on its ear by pretending she’s the anonymous one. “I know you’ve all come here to see me,” he’ll tell the audience, which recognizes the self-deprecating humor and responds with a chuckle.

How tough is it to compete with Miller on stage? Kermec shares a story that illustrates just how invisible he becomes.

“At one show earlier this year at Shotz [in Austintown], I went outside between sets to take a smoke break,” he said. “When I started to walk back inside I was stopped and told to pay the cover charge. I said, ‘I’ve been up on stage all night!’”

Kermec has been playing guitar in bands for a long time, most recently in Cherry Wine, an ’80s dance band.

He also bought the Brickhouse bar on Youngstown’s South Side last summer and has been reinventing the place as a live music venue.

Miller was formerly the singer in the polished nightclub act Redline.

Kermec knew he wanted to team up with Miller since the first time he saw her perform at the old Rosetta Stone in downtown Youngstown, and kept asking her.

When she finally agreed, she was nervous at first because she wasn’t backed by a full band. That quickly subsided as the duo found its groove.

Perfect Pair’s wealth of experience has given it another unique quality. The act has become known for is its ability to play just about any song. Audience members often yell out titles at shows, and the duo almost always obliges.

Though the duo maintains a busy schedule, it will take this weekend off. The next chance to catch Perfect Pair in the area will be Nov. 29 at Shotz, 3731 Oakwood Ave., Austintown.

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