Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Checkin' in with Critter

For this week’s Fusion music column, I hung out with local rapper Christopher Maldonado – better known as Critter.

I’m always impressed with local hip-hop and rap artists for their tenacity. Besides the struggle of succeeding as an independent artist, they have to contend with the area’s lack of performance options catering to the genre, as well as the negative stereotype that some people tend to associate with rap or hip-hop. The result seems to be that these musicians have to work that much harder to be noticed.

With that in mind, I became intrigued by some of Critter’s methods of getting noticed:

Critter TV: Critter films a very rudimentary show about what he calls his “rise to the top” and posts it on YouTube each week.

Video phone message: Critter films funny scenes – such as throwing a whipped cream pie in someone’s face – and adds his marketing information at the end, such as where he’s performing that weekend. He sends that out to every phone number he has with the idea that it will be mass forwarded, not because of his blurb about performing, but because the preceding scene is so comical.

Less is more: Critter isn’t one of those musicians who is plastering bumper stickers on your car, flyers in your window and blasting a CD in your ear. During our interview, he noted that one of the main things he’s concerned about is over-saturating to the point where people are sick of hearing about him, so he tries to maintain a careful balance with his marketing.

Check out his MySpace page at

Monday, April 27, 2009

In browsing MySpace this afternoon, I came across a bulletin from Sons of the Queen – a Camden-based duo who appear to be expanding.
According to a MySpace bulletin posted by the guys, they’re looking for a drummer – one who’s “kind of funky/jazzy and maybe (with) Latin percussion ability.”
They have a unique sound and style mixing funk, folk, country and rock – and sometimes hip-hop.
For more on the Queens, go to
This was a pretty kick-azz weekend for local music, but I have to give you all a heads-up about one particular band — Dashboard Nixon. I interviewed these boys in March and immediately loved them for their fun, quirky, good-time sense of humors. I found out those traits carry to the stage after seeing them live this weekend.

If you want a party (and I did this weekend), this is the band to make it happen. From Toto to Michael Jackson to Van Morrison, the guys played the stuff you forgot you wanted to hear but jump up and down and “woooooo” when they remind you.

They’re all pieces of former popular local bands Gridley Paige, Cosmo and Morning After, but sound brand new.

OH!! Watch out for the occasional guest vocals from Molly Schlotterer who sang a version of Evanescence’s “Call me When You’re Sober.” This chick sings with a power that’ll make you notice – no matter how many Utica Clubs you drank. Hands down, one of the best female vocalists I’ve heard in the area since I’ve been on the scene.

You definitely want to make this band a part of your rounds of summer sounds. They’ll be at Route 69 Steakhouse in Whitesboro Saturday, May 2.

Click and hear them for yourself.

Just heard: Kid Rock is set to perform at the state fair this year. He’ll be there at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5. Tickets are $45 and $50, and go on sale Saturday, May 9. Click on Also to hit the fairgrounds: Kelly Clarkson, Kenny Chesney, Jeff Dunham, Crue Fest 2 and Big & Rich.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sweet Caroline, it’s National Karaoke Week.

It’s almost over, but “Don’t Stop Believin,’” you have ‘til Saturday to get your “Friends in Low Places” to go all out rock star karaoke with you.

To get you in the mood, I chatted with Nancy Kenyon of Lyp Service Karaoke for a few lip syncing tips:

- Dude, lighten up. Don’t be that guy who has to start over 10 times or flips out if the CD skips. You scare people and karaoke shouldn’t be scary.

- Don’t be Celine. Yeah, so “My Heart Will Go On?” No. That song basically represents a movie where a whole bunch of people drowned. Not happy. Not fun. Not karaoke.

“You want to pick a song you can raise your beer mugs and sway back and forth,” Kenyon said.

- So, if you’re new to karaoke, go the familiar route – pick songs you know. Don’t go for TuPac if your CD collection solely consists of Miley Cyrus and boy bands.

- Oh, and do not be the mean guy. Making fun of karaoke rock star wannabes will get you nowhere. Applaud everyone – even if they’re not American Idol worthy, Kenyon said. Plus, no one likes mean people.

Here are a few local spots where you can get your karaoke on this weekend:

THE BOGIE North Genesee Street, Utica: Club Dance Party with Guest DJ, 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday
CROSSROADS BAR & GRILLE Route 5, Schuyler: Karaoke with Dennis Day, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday
THE DOGHOUSE 500 Columbia St., Utica: DJ/Karaoke with Rated PG Productions, 9 p.m. Wednesday
JUNIORS 1401 Erie St., Utica: Karaoke with Jon Phoenix, 10 p.m. Friday
LA PUB 819 E. Dominick St., Rome: Karaoke with DJ Studge, 10 p.m. Wednesday
PACKY'S PUB 9281 Kellogg Road, Washington Mills: Karaoke with Lynn, 9 p.m. Thursday
PARK INN LOUNGE, Richfield Springs: Lyp Service Karaoke, 9 p.m. Thursday
ROADHOUSE 6611 6611 Martin St., Rome: Karaoke 500 Qualifying Round with KJ’s Start & Finish, 9:30 p.m. Friday
SILVERADO INN 135 Marginal Road, Herkimer: Lyp Service Karaoke with Phil and Nancy, 9 p.m. Wednesday
VALLEY BROOK MOTEL 8463 Seneca Turnpike, New Hartford: Karaoke with Jon Phoenix, Sunday and Tuesday
THE VENUE NIGHTCLUB 2127 Whitesboro St., Yorkville: Rockstar Karaoke, Thursday
VISTA LOUNGE 550 Oriskany Blvd., Yorkville: Sound Investment DJ-VJ and Karaoke, 9 p.m. Saturday

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Utica music scene: 'You have to have perseverance'

I recently hung with the boys from Modus and The Bourbon Mothers. Well, some of The Reuben James boys were there, too. But they’re also Modus and Bourbon Mothers boys.
Confused? I’ll explain.
Two of the boys – Ryan Miller and Dom Cecconi are actually The Reuben James boys. A year ago, TRJ started “seeing other people.” Cecconi now plays drums with the Mothers, Miller with Modus.
Got it?
OK, so my intention for meeting the boys in Miller’s bar/recording studio basement was to find out more about their Saturday show at The Electric Company for this week's
Fusion music column. Modus and The Bourbon Mothers are performing together. The conversation turned from the topic – as it sometimes does with musicians — to the viability of a music scene in Utica.
“You have to have perseverance in this area,” Cecconi said. “If you can’t stand playing for four to five people who hate you, then you can’t survive here.”
Even after I left, I couldn’t stop thinking about what Cecconi said. What he said about the often sparse support for local talent got me thinking: I’m lucky. As the area’s entertainment reporter, I’m very aware of the great talent that’s out there. In theory, I’m forced to find it. I don’t, however, necessarily have to support it. But, I do.
So, why do I? That’s easy. I’m stubborn, and I like being right. I love rattling off the list of weekend attractions happening in the area to the whiny resident who says “there’s nothing to do.”
And if you don’t believe me that there truly is something to do, call me (792-5013), e-mail me, pick up a Fusion (they’re in the paper every Thursday).
I’m happy to be right - again. ;)


Monday, April 20, 2009

Introducing: Talk of the Tune

I'm the girl in the office with headphones in her ears and two (and a half) towers of CDs strategically stacked on her desk, because I know I can add just one more to the tower.

I'm the one on the phone asking about sex, drugs and rock n roll (or at least groupies, gigs and Utica Clubs.) I'm the one who gives you the low-down on local music every week in Fusion.

But sometimes, there's more to the story. Sometimes, I've got little bits of juicy musical morsels that just don't work in a newspaper article. Sometimes, it's really juicy, like who's breaking up and who's throwing drum sticks at each other. Sometimes, it's just delicious, like who's got a rad new song that needs to be heard.

The music scene is thriving in Central New York and now, I have one more way to give you the beat. Stay tuned.