Viewers of Tuesday night's episode of "America's Got Talent" will see some familiar faces. Two Connecticut acts are competing in the NBC reality show. Shoreline band Beach Avenue and Windsor Locks standup comedian Darik Santos will show their talents to judges Howie Mandel, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Howard Stern, on the audition show hosted by Nick Cannon.
They and other performers, who did their auditions at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, are competing for a chance to perform at Radio City Music Hall and win the $1 million top prize.
Nick Fradiani, Nick Abraham and Ryan Zipp make up Beach Avenue. They named their band after the street they used to live on in Milford. Beach Avenue first got local recognition when it won a Battle of the Bands at Mohegan Sun in 2011, which got the band a gig at the Wolf Den. National recognition came after they began posting videos of cover songs on YouTube.
"We were trying to grab new followers," Abraham said. "It turned out a talent scout from 'America's Got Talent' saw one of our YouTube cover videos and asked us if we wanted to audition."
Fradiani, Abraham and Zipp are the core of the band. When they perform in Connecticut — they're scheduled for Downtown Thursdays Bridgeport on July 17, Hamden Summer Concert Series on July 25 and Bar New Haven on July 30 — they are helped by two other musicians: Jonah Ferrigno on bass and Fradiani's father, also named Nick, on keyboards and vocals.
"My father was a full-time musician my whole life. I was playing music on stage when I was 2 years old, at different lounges with my father. My first time singing in front of people was in the 5th grade," said Fradiani, a 2004 graduate of Guilford High, who went to Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. He does keyboards and vocals.
Zipp, the band's drummer, was raised in Hamden, and graduated from Notre Dame High in West Haven in 2000. He went to Fairfield University, majoring in information systems. But music was always his love. "I played in bands since I just turned 14. It's what I wanted to do," he said.
Abraham, who does lead guitar and vocals, graduated from Fairfield High in 2005 and went to Western Connecticut State University, then Southern Connecticut State University, majoring in music. He has taught music, and works at Lupe's Drug Store in Fairfield.
The guys — who have released two EPs, "Something to Believe In" and "Driving That Road" — are having a watch party with friends and family on Tuesday. But it's not on Beach Avenue. It's at the new house they share, on Ocean Avenue in West Haven.
One of the guests at Beach Avenue's party will be Darik Santos, who met Nick Fradiani on the "America's Got Talent" van from the airport in Los Angeles. "We sat in the way back together, squished together, practically sitting on each other's laps. We became friends," Santos said.
Santos, 26, a native of Providence, lives in Windsor Locks with his girlfriend's family. Until recently, he has been doing standup comedy on the side from his job, until he got laid off from that job. "I was a security guard. I patrolled an empty parking lot. They gave me a flashlight and it didn't even work," he said.
Now he's doing just stand-up. He's performed at Strange Brew in Norwich, Brew Ha Ha in Hartford, Comics at Foxwoods, the Joker's Wild in New Haven and other area bars and nightclubs.
Santos got his start in standup doing goofy things on stage. "I would do karaoke or sleep on stage. ... I would go up and take my shoe off and then take my sock off and then blow my nose in my sock and then put the sock back on," he said. "They thought I was just this crazy person."
When he moved into more verbal stand-up, he favored puns. "Fozzy Bear [from 'The Muppet Show'] was the first comedian I ever saw and is still my favorite comedian ever," he said. "I wanted to write jokes like that ... really short, quick one liners that keep people interested."
He calls himself a "commodian," because he tells a lot of toilet jokes. "I'm feeling very flushed right now," he said.
Unlike Beach Avenue, "America's Got Talent" didn't seek him out, he sought them out. "My mother called me and said 'they're doing auditions in Providence, you should go.' So I called out of work and went. I waited in line for six hours," he said. "I was delirious. I had the flu. I went anyway. I don't know what they saw in me but somehow they liked me."
He's suspending his job search to see how "America's Got Talent" turns out. "Maybe somebody will see me on there and like what I do," he said.
"AMERICA'S GOT TALENT" featuring Beach Avenue and Darik Santos will be broadcast on Tuesday, July 1, from 8 to 10 p.m. on NBC.