Tuesday, September 29, 2009

3 Redneck Tenors cancel Stanley show

For those of you who were planning on attending the Stanley Center of the Arts performance of the 3 Redneck Tenors, stop planning. The show has been canceled. More information to follow.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Skynyrd, Allman coming to Turning Stone

This just in from Turning Stone:

Lynyrd Skynyrd will perform at 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22, in the Event Center. Ticket prices are $65 and $85/$100 for inner circle seating.Tickets go on sale Saturday, Oct.10.

Gregg Allman will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, in the Showroom. Tickets start at $35 and go on sale Saturday, Sept. 26.

Despite hard times, polka band sees joy through music

I want to send a little bit of love out to Fritz's Polka Band.

They're known as the only polka band sponsored by Jagermeister as well as the polka band to have performed at Woodstock. But things have been less than celebratory lately in this band's world. Band member Fred Scherz, Sr., and father to band leader Fritz Scherz has been battling cancer for the past few months. Fred recently was able to perform with the band after months away, prompting Fritz to send me this e-mail, which he gave me permission to share with you:

"My dad, Fred Scherz, Sr., jammed with us tonight on four tunes at the J.D. George Elementary School 'Back to School' event in Verona. My Dad has been bravely battling cancer and hadn't performed with us since July 25. It was so AWESOME having him play again with us. He played the last four tunes of the gig with us: 'Golden Star Polka,' 'Tribute,' Good Hearted Woman,' and 'Pay Me My Money Down.' When we played the 'Golden Star Polka,' I had tears in my eyes as it was so touching to look over at my Dad and see how happy he was, not to mention how great he sounded!!"

Fixin' for Nixon?

A little something from those boys who call themselves Dashboard Nixon. Not only are they a super fun party band, but they're just all around good guys. Really.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Two legends hit Stanley stage

Looks like Saturday's performance by the Levon Helm Band, at the Stanley Center for the Arts, just got a whole lot better.

Steely Dan's Donald Fagen just joined the bill, according to Stanley officials. Fagen is best known as the co-founder, lead singer, and principal songwriter for the jazz-influenced rock band Steely Dan. His use of complex jazz harmonies, elaborate arrangements, and exacting attention to detail in the pop-rock genre have made Fagen legendary.

There are still tickets left for the 8 p.m. performance.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Keller takes on Moxy

Check out this video of local musician John Keller doing a cover of Moxy Fruvous' "Pisco Bandito." You don't hear a cover of this every day.

Keller frequently performs locally and regionally, mostly in coffee shops, but he's best known for his quiet encouragement in collaborating with other musicians.

His most recent album, "Captive Audio," featured nine local musicians. You'll often find Keller performing at the Tramontane Cafe, 1105 Lincoln Ave., during its Sunday open mike night or monthly Songwriters' Circle, which Keller organizes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Phantom comes, goes, will be back again

Those of you who are familiar with the "Phantom of the Opera" might recognize the name Franc D'Ambrosio. He was the longest-running "Phantom" of the Broadway production and performed the role more than 3,000 times. I was able to meet D'Ambrosio this week while he was in town choosing a "Christine" and "Raoul" to perform during his solo show at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27, at the Stanley Center for the Arts.

I spent some a little bit of time chatting with D'Ambrosio and then observed him while he auditioned the Christines and Raouls. About two dozen locals vied for the spot of Christine. About a half dozen shot for the spot as Raoul. While I wasn't able to stay for the entire auditioning process, I was lucky enough to hear the two chosen as the winners - Audra Cramer, of Sherrill, and Scott Rutledge. You might recognize Rutledge as a member of Classified. Each of these vocalists are bound to make our area proud during their moment as Christine and Raoul next weekend.

And if that isn't enough to get you to Sunday's show, you should know, D'Ambrosio is one of the nicest "celebrities" I've ever met (besides Alice Cooper, who seriously is the sweetest guy ever). He has a very natural air about him that makes you automatically like him - and the thing is, it's natural. You can tell he really is genuine in his interaction with you. (And if he's not, he's a super good actor.) Either way, you'll want to check out this Italian boy from the Bronx's show next weekend. He'll be performing music from the "Phantom of the Opera" and other much-loved Broadway shows.

Click here for tickets.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fest creates musician, Utica bond

While milling around Varick Street, I caught up with a few returning bands.

The Jay Wiley Band from Pittsburgh and IMI from Albany both played last year's fest and have subsequently returned to perform in Utica throughout the year. They both point to the music festival as a means for garnering a fan base in Utica.

"If we didn't play Utica Music Fest last year, we wouldn't have played Utica so many more times, and wouldn't know there were cool people who dig music in Utica," said IMI band member Justin Metz.

The festival has created gigs and fans for IMI and a bond with Utica, said member Johnny Smith.

"We were looking for Utica, we just didn't know where it was," Smith said. "The festival helped us find it."

Musicians love U

OK, just left Varick Street. Loved what I saw and heard. Bands and musicians are filling the streets and bars. Whether they're performing, chatting or drinking, they're bringing a flavor to the street that you don't want to miss.

And they have nothing but love for our town. The common sentiment from the bands is: Utica rocks. I've probably talked to 10 bands just in an hour and every one wanted to share with me how much they loved Utica and its people.

Friendly people. Accommodating people. Good food. Smiling faces. Supportive audiences. All-around good people. These have been only some of the descriptions I've heard about you all.

So, Uticans, be proud, give yourselves a pat on the back, and get out there and give these guys a listen.

Head down to Tiny's, get funky

Just stopped by Tiny's Bar & Grill. The State Street venue is hopping thanks to a performance by Boston band The Hornitz.

You'll be pleasantly surprised by this band's funky sound that blends beat box, horns and keyboards.

You do not want to miss this unique sound. It's nothing like you've heard 'round these parts before.

Next stop: Varick Street.

Day two of music fest starting off right

Today marks day two of the Utica Music and Arts Fest, and my walk down Varick Street at about 5 p.m. showed things heating up pretty quickly. The street was lined with cars and most of the bars were filling up with patrons and performing musicians. Besides the 250 bands filling the 20 different venues, here's what else is happening:

For those of you with kids, you'll want to make your way down to the Arts Festival happening now in Hanna Park. It's going on through 11 p.m. I'll be stopping there soon and let you know what you can expect.

Also, you won't want to miss the Tattoo Convention. That's happening now and goes on through 10 p.m. If you miss it tonight, you'll have a chance tomorrow and Sunday to make your way over.

Here are a few bands I think you might want to check out tonight:

Sickenberger Lane has a bunch of must-see acts on their lineup tonight. At 7 p.m., check out pop-punk band Julia Marie Band, then don't move because you'll want to check out rock/hip-hop group Belikos, followed by funky hip-hoppers Hypen One and Daylow. Sweet set.

If spin is more your style, you definitely want to head down to Space 26. DJs all night.

For something a little more mellow, check out singer-songwriter Rebecca Angel from 10:15 to 11 p.m. at the Tramontane Cafe.

Keep checking back for more as I head downtown to check out what's happening.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Vesper is rocking. Seriously.


East Coast connections

I caught up with Brian Severn and Those Victorious, a pop-rock band from Maryland, waiting in the Hotel Utica lobby before their show at Utica Club House. They’d just arrived in Utica after a 7-hour drive and looked forward to performing several sets over the next three days.

So how did this Maryland band find their way to Utica? Last year’s festival performers Fools and Horses couldn’t stop talking about the festival. And, well, the band had enough coaxing, so they jumped in their “murder van” (which Severn described as “a white van that looks like you might abduct children in it”) and headed to New York.

In the next three days, they hope to reach new fans and bring some Utica love back to Maryland.

Utica Music Fest kicks off

I'm hanging out at the Utica Music and Arts Fest kickoff party at the Hotel Utica. If you're reading this, you need to stop and get here. More than 100 musicians, volunteers, sponsors and organizers are filling the Saranac Room backed by the rockin' riffs of Kevin Thompson.

With Saranac brews flowing and wine being poured, there's a buzz in the air I can only imagine will get louder as the weekend continues.

You can get your tickets in the lobby of the Hotel Utica. A weekend pass is $30. A day pass is $15.

Get on the bus to Utica Music and Arts Fest

If you're going to spend the weekend having a few Saranacs during Utica Music and Arts Fest, you'll want to be safe. Two buses will be circling the music fest route from 6 p.m to 1 a.m. each day. They'll make 20- to 30-minute stops at each venue and both sides of Varick Street throughout the three days. A bus also will be available to take people to the Eric Hutchinson concert Thursday from Hotel Utica's kick-off party. Here's a schedule of stops:

Bus One
From 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. in 20- to 30-minute intervals
First stop: The Electric Company
Second: Kozar's Grill
Third: Tiny's Bar and Grill
Fourth: Tramontane
Fifth: Hanna Park

Bus Two
From 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. in 20- to 30-minute intervals
First stop: The Electric Company
Second: The Finger Bullet
Third: Space 26
Fourth: Utica Clubhouse
Fifth: 257 Steakhouse
Sixth: Griffin's Pub
Seventh: O2
Eighth: Hotel Utica
Ninth: Tiny's Bar and Grill
Tenth: Tramontane Cafe

Three days of music starts now

It's finally here. Three days of music and arts all in one place - Utica. It starts today at 5 p.m. in most of the venues. A kick-off party in Hotel Utica will start off the tunes. At 8:30 p.m. up-and- coming pop singer-songwriter Eric Hutchinson will headline the festival at Mohawk Valley Community College. The concert is $5. Hop on the bus from Hotel Utica to get you there and back.

If you're not into "Rock 'n' Roll" with Hutchinson, by 7:30 p.m., the 20 other venues from Varick Street to downtown Utica will be pumping with music from artists hailing from Texas to Buffalo.

Here's a few ideas to get you started:
  • First, head to Hotel Utica to get your ticket. A $30 wristband will give you access to every venue throughout the weekend.
  • Utica Club House will feature rock, reggae and funk today, starting at 6:30 p.m. with Sloppy Joe-N-Da Juice.
  • Or if you dig a more casual, coffeehouse vibe, check out Emma Weiss (pictured above) at 6:30 p.m. at the Tramontane Cafe, 1105 Lincoln Ave.
  • Head down to Varick Street to the Stiefvater and check out young local Emilee Smith. I've written about her in this blog before and I can't say enough good things about this budding talent.
  • Speaking of local talent, you definitely want to catch local guy Brian Premo at 8 p.m. at Nail Creek Pub and Brewery. His cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" never ever fails to send chills up my spine.
  • Head immediately to Space 26 where some of the region's best DJs will spin all weekend long.
  • Make sure you end your night rockin' your face off. Vesper, a four-piece band from Brooklyn, rocks so hard and well, they do it with cellos. Yup, cellos. Their sound is unique, haunting and riveting. They'll perform at 1 a.m. at The Electric Company.
Check back often for more music fest updates. I'll be out today and tomorrow checking out the scene.

Make sure you pick up a Fusion at any venue for everything you need to know about the fest including a schedule of performers. That schedule, by the way, is subject to change. Don't blame us, blame the bands. Sometimes they cancel. Sometimes they don't show. But, dont' worry, organizers say their slots will be filled with something just as good.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Local musician speaks her mind through clay

I've been meaning to share this claymation video made by local singer-songwriter Candice Jarrett. The video spoofs what seems to be a common thread among the thoughts of music executives: female musicians can only find success by being sexy. Jarrett created and produced this video entirely on her own. I think you'll be impressed and entertained.

When you're done watching, check out the article I wrote last year about the obstacles women face in the music industry. Other local female musicians Lisa Romano and Nancy Kenyon added their insights to the issue.

Hollyrock will rock through the Labor Day weekend

Oops. Today's article about Hollyrock says the Sylvan Beach venue will close for the season Thursday.


The Sylvan Beach Hollyrock will stay open through the Labor Day weekend. The Varick Street venue will shut its doors for the season Thursday.

So, if you're looking for a place to eat, drink and shake this weekend, check out the Sylvan Beach restaurant and bar.

There's a sweet lineup of local favorites. Square Pegs will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, Gridley Paige at 8 p.m. Saturday and DVD, the band, at 1 p.m. Sunday.