Kaila DakotaAvenger Joe. Front: Kaila Dakota, Brent Michael. Back: Trent Aman, Trent Johnson, John Pettigrew. Special photos. Two Hicks and a Chick: Jeff Becker, Ali Gray and Mark Knoll.

American Idol ‘Golden Ticket’ winner set for Bug Days

Kaila Dakota, who once received a Golden Ticket on American Idol, will be showcasing her singing talents during Boxelder Bug Days on Sept. 8 in Minneota. Dakota, a native of Aurora, SD, now resides in Nashville, TN in an attempt to further her country singing career.

Dakota and Brian Michael, who also lives in Nashville, have performed as a duo called “One the Run” for the past six years.

They have performed on stage with notables such as Sawyer Brown, Rascal Flatts, Jake Owen and Hairball.

During the summer months the past few years, Dakota returns to her home state to perform around 30 dates.

“I love coming back home to perform,” she said.

“There’s nothing quite like returning to the area that you grew up in.”

While they perform in South Dakota and Minnesota, On the Run teams up with Avenger Joe, which features Trent Johnson, Trent Aman and John Pettigrew, all of Aberdeen, SD.

“Kaila has an amazing voice, amazing range, and can sing anything,” said Johnson, who is the booking manager and drummer for the combined groups. Dakota, whose real last name is Tingle, began singing on stage for thousands of people at age 10.

By the time she turned 13, Kaila was writing her own music. She then took up the guitar when she was 17. She now goes by her stage name Kaila Dakota to reflect her home state.

She performed on American Idol in 2014 and was a Golden Ticket winner to advance to the next round.

Although Dakota didn’t advance after that, her career is taking off with two albums and a third in the works. The following year, Dakota beat out 1,000 singers to earn a spot on the main stage at WE Fest with Blake Shelton. Now it’s time for that talent to take the stage in Minneota beginning at 8 p.m.

“We were asked to play a few years ago, but we were booked,” said Johnson. “We had an opening this year so I called Scott Josephson and told him Kaila was coming back this summer to see if he was interested. We were booked before I got off the phone.”

Avenger Joe will also run the sound and lights for the other acts on stage during Boxelder Bug Days. “We have a 35,000-watt PA system,” Johnson said. “So we will run that and the lights for the other acts.”

With Dakota as the lead singer and Johnson the drummer, Pettigrew lends his talent on the bass guitar, Michael sings and plays acoustic guitar, and Aman sings and plays lead guitar.

Johnson said the five entertainers will perform a three-phase act during their four-hour performance. “Everyone has different tastes and come from different backgrounds,” he said.

“So we try to play music that everyone will like.”

“For the first phase of the show we start out with some country songs. Then Kaila sings some Katy Perry and Taylor Swift for the kids. They really get into that.”

“And then as the night wears on, we sing some Journey, Bon Jovi and things like that. Then we get into some music like Sweet Caroline, Fishin’ in the Dark where people like to sing along.”

Other musical acts ...

•Kayla Daniels returns by popular demand to Boxelder Bug Days. The Tracy native was a Nashville recording artist for a time before returning to the area. She recently performed in Ghent for Belgian American Days.

•Ali Gray, Jeff Becker and Mark Knoll form the classic and modern country group Two Hicks and a Chick that will also perform at Boxelder Bug Days this year. They have been fixtures on the Minnesota scene for years.

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