The Sweet Sounds of Music

[Read more…]

Trinity Concert Series hosting award-winning harp player

JOE LARONGA
Katherine Siochi will perform a harp and piano concert Sunday at Trinity Episcop-al Church in Watertown.

[Read more…]

Snow Ridge welcoming back moe.down after two-year hiatus

JUSTIN SORENSEN / WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES Members of the band Conehead Buddah perform in 2014 at moe.down 15 at Snow Ridge Ski Resort in Turin. The music festival is slated to return next year after a two-year hiatus.

JUSTIN SORENSEN / WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES
Members of the band Conehead Buddah perform in 2014 at moe.down 15 at Snow Ridge Ski Resort in Turin. The music festival is slated to return next year after a two-year hiatus.

[Read more…]

Waydown Wailers take a baby step on way to Grammy Award

waydown-wailers

By CHRIS BROCK
CBROCK@WDT.NET

It’s a baby step as far as the Grammy Awards go, but the Waydown Wailers have left footprints to track.

The Potsdam-based band’s 2016 album “Empty Promises” has made the Grammy nomination ballot for best Americana album. Two songs on the album are also up for voting: “Jealously,” for best Americana roots song and “Suzie Q,” for best Americana roots performance.

The Americana Music Association defines the genre as “contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues.”

Grammys are given annually by the Recording Academy to recognize outstanding achievement in music. According to the academy’s website, the process for awards “begin with (academy) members and record companies submitting entries, which are then screened for eligibility and category placement.”

Entries that meet eligibility requirements are then voted on by academy’s voting members. The results of those votes are the nominations.

The Waydown Wailers consists of brothers Dave Parker (guitar/lead vocals) and Christian “Moe” Parker (lead guitar), along with Michael “Scruffy” Scriminger (drums/percussion) and Connor Pelkey (bass, backing vocals). Their debut album, “State of the Union,” was released in 2013.

“We were entered through channels other than ourselves,” Mr. Scriminger said of the Grammy balloting, adding he had to be careful as to commenting further so as “not to appear to influence voting members.”

“If we ever got nominated, it’d be huge for us,” Mr. Scriminger said. “It’s huge for us just knowing that we are good enough to compete.”

The Grammys have five finalists in each music category.

“To know that we have a product that is good enough to be entered, and people want to enter, does build our confidence,” Mr. Scriminger said. “It also makes us go, ‘Wow! We didn’t know this was going to happen.’ But it is what musicians and bands do to get to the next level.”

Mr. Scriminger said the band will begin recording its third album Nov. 28. Like the first two, it will be produced by Aaron “Professor Louie” Hurwitz on Woodstock Records. Mr. Hurwitz has been nominated for five Grammy awards.

Songs on “Empty Promises” are receiving airplay nationwide and internationally. For example, the song “Whiskey & Cornbread,” which closes out “Empty Promises,” last week was at No. 17 on the IndieWorld Country Record Report.

The Waydown Wailers are scheduled to perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 18, at Westcott Theatre, 524 Westcott St., Syracuse, with bands Donna the Buffalo and Annie in the Water and at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 23, at the Upper Deck, at the Stadium Sports Bar, 35 Main St., Canton, with special guest the Gathering.

Seraph Brass quintet performing Sunday as part of Trinity Concert Series

HALI ROSE PHOTOGRAPHY Mary Elizabeth Bowden, center, and horn player Katy Ambrose, far right, created Seraph in 2014. The quintet has a roster of eight it can choose from.

HALI ROSE PHOTOGRAPHY
Mary Elizabeth Bowden, center, and horn player Katy Ambrose, far right, created Seraph in 2014. The quintet has a roster of eight it can choose from.

By CHRIS BROCK
CBROCK@WDT.NET

The celestial sounds of Seraph Brass will fill Trinity Episcopal Church Sunday afternoon when the all-female quintet performs as part of its national tour.

Seraph Brass draws from a roster of America’s top female brass players. It was formed in 2014 by trumpet player Mary Elizabeth Bowden and French horn player Katy Ambrose. Sunday’s concert is part of the 2016-17 Trinity Concert Series.

“We had this idea at graduate school at Yale that we wanted to form a female brass ensemble,” said Ms. Bowden. “It’s not something you see very much.”

The quintet’s name refers to an angelic being of the highest order.

Ms. Bowden spoke on the phone last Friday, as the quintet was finishing up its fourth week on tour. She spoke as the group’s van was journeying between shows in North Dakota.

The members find that they are inspiring to young female musicians. Ms. Bowden recalled the previous night’s show in Crosby, N.D.

“There was a handful of really young female brass players,” she said. “They were so happy and excited and that was great to see.”

After the concert, quintet members posed for photos with the students.

“I’m glad we can be an inspiration to the next generation of brass players,” Ms. Bowden said.

Even though there are five in the touring quintet, Seraph Brass draws from a roster of eight musicians.

“We get to know each other well and call ourselves the Seraph family,” Ms. Bowden said. “It creates a little bit of flexibility in our schedules.”

For example, she said Ms. Ambrose is expecting twin boys.

“I don’t think being in a van for five weeks would have worked out,” Ms. Bowden said.

Ms. Bowden is traveling with six trumpets on the tour. Each, she said, has a different “color.”

“Throughout the show, we love talking to the audience about the different trumpets and other instruments,” she said.

For example, Ms. Bowden will perform Mozart’s “Queen of the Night” aria on her rotary valve piccolo trumpet.

A popular set the quintet performs, which they plan to do in Watertown, is one featuring medieval and Renaissance music.

“It deconstructs the brass quintet,” Ms. Bowden said. “It starts with solo tuba, then it adds each instrument, one by one. It’s a really nice way for the audience to hear the different colors of the quintet.”

Also for Sunday’s Watertown concert, there will be selections from “West Side Story” and part of the popular “William Tell Overture.”

“It’ll be a diverse selection of music,” Ms. Bowden said.

The trumpet player performed last season at the Trinity Concert Series as part of The Brass Hoppers. She frequently performs in recital both in solo programs and in a duo with her husband, David Dash, a professional trumpet player with the Naples (Fla.) Philharmonic. The couple also make their home in that city.

Ms. Bowden has performed nationally and internationally, including serving as principal trumpet of the Sarasota Opera Orchestra, New Zealand’s Auckland Philharmonia and the Daejeon Philharmonic in South Korea. At the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, she held the principal trumpet chair in Pierre Boulez’s performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, which was released on CD in 2011.

Ms. Bowden released her debut album, “Radiance,” last year. All tracks on the album, except for one, were written by living, “innovative” American composers.

“I wanted to showcase the new works being written for trumpet and I wanted to choose works that I found compelling,” she said.

Ms. Bowden, who grew up in a suburb of Chicago, earned her master of music degree in 2006 from the Yale School of Music, New Haven, Conn., where she studied on a full scholarship with trumpeter Allan Dean.

She originally was inspired to pick up the trumpet because of her two older brothers. When it was time for them to join the school band, one picked the trombone and the other brother selected the French horn.

“I heard the sound of the brass in the house with my brothers practicing,” she said. “When it was my turn, I wanted to stay in the brass family. I picked the trumpet.”

Rounding out Seraph on Sunday at its Watertown concert: Katie Miller on trumpet, Alexis Smith on trombone, Rachel Velvikis on French horn and Beth McDonald on tuba.


The details

WHAT: Seraph Brass as part of the 2016-17 Trinity Concert Series.

WHEN/WHERE: 3 p.m. Sunday at Trinity Episcopal Church, 227 Sherman St., Watertown.

COST: Ticket prices range from $9 to $16, with discounts available for senior citizens and members of the military. The concert is free for students in kindergarten through college.

MORE INFO: On the web at trinityconcerts.org or call the church at 788-6290.

Music is their ‘agenda’: Inspired by loss of friend, musicians come together

Wagner’s Agenda performs during the 2013 KeithFest at Coyote Moon Vineyards, Clayton. The music festival is a benefit concert for Keith E. Brabant, a Clayton resident and lifelong musician who died at the age of 33 in April 2010 and a friend of the members of Wagner’s Agenda. Now in its fourth year, KeithFest raises money for the Keith Brabant Music Scholarship for students who live in Jefferson County. Courtesy Melody Brabant

Wagner’s Agenda performs during the 2013 KeithFest at Coyote Moon Vineyards, Clayton. The music festival is a benefit concert for Keith E. Brabant, a Clayton resident and lifelong musician who died at the age of 33 in April 2010 and a friend of the members of Wagner’s Agenda. Now in its fourth year, KeithFest raises money for the Keith Brabant Music Scholarship for students who live in Jefferson County. Courtesy Melody Brabant

In the past three years, rock band Wagner’s Agenda has made a rapid rise to fame in the north country, now a mainstay at such popular venues as O’Brien’s Restaurant, the John Hoover Inn and Time Warp, and a frequent face at benefit concerts, known for their energetic and lively performances.

The band formed after a benefit concert for friend Keith E. Brabant, a Clayton resident and lifelong musician, shortly after his death at the age of 33 in April 2010. Wagner’s Agenda still performs at the summer benefit, now called KeithFest and in its fourth year, which raises money for the Keith Brabant Music Scholarship for students who live in Jefferson County.

Wagner’s Agenda was originally composed of Ian Wagner, who left shortly after its inception and now plays acoustic guitar locally under the name Ian Wagner Unplugged, Robert Perkins, still the band’s guitar player and violinist, Tom Contino, Justin Reynolds and Gino Cappuccetti—all members of the jazz fusion band Queen August, through which Mr. Cappuccetti and Mr. Perkins have been playing together for about six years. [Read more…]

A sound all their own

Fred & the Eds perform at the Paddock Club, Watertown, while the crowd dances on a recent Friday night. The band has been playing for nearly 20 years. Amanda Morrison/ NNY Living

Fred & the Eds perform at the Paddock Club, Watertown, while the crowd dances on a recent Friday night. The band has been playing for nearly 20 years. Amanda Morrison/ NNY Living

North country favorite Fred & the Eds stands test of time [Read more…]

The music man: WHS music director Russell Faunce leads dynamic, successful program

Members of Watertown High School’s Select Choir rehearse their production of “Forbidden Broadway” under the direction of Russell J. Faunce, who has been a powerful force in students’ success for more than 30 years. Amanda Morrison/ NNY Living

Members of Watertown High School’s Select Choir rehearse their production of “Forbidden Broadway” under the direction of Russell J. Faunce, who has been a powerful force in students’ success for more than 30 years. Amanda Morrison/ NNY Living

It’s almost impossible not to smile in the presence of Russell J. “Russ” Faunce, director of music at Watertown High School and a stalwart of musical and theatrical productions both in the district and in the community for the past three decades. Maybe it’s because he himself seems to be perpetually smiling. Or that, even carrying a stack of Scantrons and a red pen through the music department on a recent Friday afternoon, he seems easy going and exudes his philosophy, with an encouraging yet serious demeanor: that, simply, with hard work and dedication, success will come.

And come it has to the students in his choirs, though Mr. Faunce himself is quick to self-deprecating laugh off almost every mention of his role in it. In his 32 years of teaching at the high school, he’s never not had a student make it to the New York State School Music Association All-State Conference for choir, the most prestigious and competitive competition for a high school band, chorus or orchestra student. Selection requires a near perfect score on the highest, most grueling level of NYSSMA solo — even three points below 100 usually doesn’t make the cut.

And it’s not just one student. In 2003, he sent a record eight. Last year, he sent four. [Read more…]

A quarter century of classical brilliance

Crane School  of Music professor Kenneth B. Andrews has conducted the Orchestra of Northern New York for all of its 25 year history. Courtesy ONNY

Crane School
of Music professor Kenneth B. Andrews has conducted the Orchestra of Northern New York for all of its 25 year history. Courtesy ONNY

ONNY maintains vibrancy after 25 years of performances [Read more…]

A variety of cultural events this fall at JCC

Acclaimed pianist Isaac James, Champion, will present an evening of classical piano music Dec. 6 at SUNY Jefferson. Photo courtesy Isaac James Piano Studio

A variety of talent, ranging from plate-spinning, foot-juggling acrobats, a classical Indian dancer, a classical pianist and a former child star of the television show “Diff’rent Strokes” will highlight cultural events this fall at Jefferson Community College.

The events include shows hosted by the Student Activities Center and three shows that are part of the Campus Activities Board’s Cultural Arts Series.

All events are free. Unless noted otherwise, they take place at 7 p.m. in the Robert R. and Jean S. Sturtz Theater, McVean Center.

The lineup:

Sept. 20: An Evening of Dance

This show, part of the Cultural Arts Series, will feature a classical Indian dancer and a Russian dance-and-song ensemble in separate performances.

Bharati Jayanthi was born in Bombay, India, and when she was 8 began training in classical Indian dance. She graduated from Bombay University with a master’s degree in fine arts, majoring in bharata natyam, one of the classical Indian dances.

After immigrating to the United States, she became active in cultural arts in this country and in Canada. Most recently, she has worked on a fusion of Eastern and Western performing arts by choreographing bharata natyam dance movements to Big Band orchestra music.

The ensemble Barynya presents Russian, Cossack, Ukranian, Jewish, and Gypsy Roma traditional dancing, songs and virtuoso performances on instruments including the balalaika, garmoshka (Russian folk button accordion) and balalaika contrabass.

Barynya has been invited to perform at some of the most prestigious cultural venues in the United States, including Carnegie Hall and the United Nations in New York City, the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, the Smithsonian Institute of America and the Russian embassy in Washington D.C. Eacch dance is performed in a different set of handmade costumes made especially for the numbers.

Each performance includes audience participation.

Oct. 4: Todd Bridges from the television show “Diff’rent Strokes.”

This former child star, best known as Willis Jackson on “Diff’rent Strokes,” shares the details of his struggles with addiction, brushes with the law and his fierce fight to carve a path through the darkness to find his “true identity.”

One of the first African-American child actors on shows like “Little House on the Prairie,” “The Waltons,” and “Roots,” Mr. Bridges, 48, burst to the national forefront on “Diff’rent Strokes” as the subject of the popular catchphrase, “What’chu talkin‘ about, Willis?”

When the show ended, he was overwhelmed by the “off-camera traumas” he had faced. Turning to drugs as an escape, he soon lost control.

But he never relented in his quest to fight his way back from the abyss, establishing his own identity — separate from Willis Jackson.

Mr. Bridges’s talk begins at 7:30 p.m. in Sturtz Theater.

Oct. 23: Frank Warren, founder of PostSecret

Mr. Warren is the creator of the blog phenomenon the PostSecret Project, a collection of personal and artfully decorated postcards mailed anonymously from around the world, displaying soulful secrets.
PostSecret is one of the most popular sites on the Internet and has been featured in USA Today, on “The Today Show,” “20/20,” CNN, MSNBC, CBC, National Public Radio and FOX News.

In 2009, Forbes listed Mr. Warren as the fourth most influential person on the Internet.

Since November 2004, Mr. Warren has received more than 500,000 postcards, with secrets spanning from sexual taboos and criminal activity to confessions. He has written several books on the project.

Oct. 24: Rock ’n’ roll painter David Garibaldi

Mr. Garibaldi had always combined his passion for music and color into his artwork. But it wasn’t until viewing performance painter Denny Dent’s portrait of Jimi Hendrix that he discovered how his passion for paint and music could be an inspirational experience for more than just himself.

He will strive to amaze the audience as he transforms canvas into a work of art — usually a 6-foot portrait of a pop icon — on the Sturtz Stage.

The show takes place at 12:30 p.m. in Sturtz Theater.

Nov. 22: Chinese Acrobats

Chinese cultures and customs will be narrated throughout this show while contortionists perform amazing stunts. Children will especially enjoy this high-energy acrobatic performance. The group will be accompanied by an interpreter.

The show is part of the Cultural Arts Series.

Dec. 6: An Evening of Classical Piano Featuring Isaac James.

Isaac James, Champion, has received acclaim from audiences throughout the United States. He made his Carnegie Hall debut last year. He is the founder of the annual P. Owen Willaman International Piano Competition, named after his late friend and Shapiro Award recipient of Watertown who died in 2009.

Mr. James’s performance is part of the Cultural Arts Series.

-Chris Brock, Watertown Daily Times