Local Matters

Community Sponsors


October 10, 2021 - 11:04am
posted by Joanne Beck in Batavia Downs, music, arts, entertainment, news.

Western New York Singer Marsha McWilson was 6 years old when she learned the ropes of performing. Her brother Roger was choirmaster at a large church, and he was a stickler for accuracy.

 “I had to hit every note and look presentable … he groomed me,” McWilson said during a phone interview from her home in Niagara Falls. “It hit me when I picked up the mic, and everyone started clapping.”

That prep in St. John’s AME Church paved a musical path for her to follow, she said. She attributes the 100-voice choir, led by Kathy Jordan Sharpton (former wife of Al Sharpton), and pianist Bruce Parker, and related teachings for her gradual rise in the music industry. 

McWilson plans to dazzle spectators during her first appearance at Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel. The show goes on at 7 p.m., Oct. 14 at 8315 Park Road.

Expect glitz, glamour, a combination of jazzy blues, country, and Motown, plus assorted diva costumes. A full band, backup singers, and everything from Etta James and Tina Turner to Patsy Cline and Aretha Franklin will be featured.

“I’m bringing Vegas to Batavia,” she said. “Tell ‘em just get ready.”

The licensed beauty salon owner knows many facets of the industry, so the audience will get the full package of presentation, she said. Is there a connection between her beauty business and entertaining? Well of course there is, she said.

“That’s the biggest part of everything; I have the foundation already,” she said, adding a bit of snap to her voice. “I am the total package. I sing, write, produce, do hair, make-up and pick the clothes.”

The concert will be dedicated to her sister Vanessa, who succumbed to COVID, and to her high school music teacher and longtime friend, Marva Frails, for whom McWilson just sang during her funeral this past Thursday. Frails taught her young student the ABCs in music, which are the words Every Boy Does Fine and FACE to cover the musical notes on a staff. Frails also instilled the importance of being on time and not complaining, which McWilson intends to honor.

“She taught me so many things,” McWilson said. “I’m going to stop complaining.”

After losing many friends and family members to COVID, the energetic vocalist penned a song, “Rona Mae Blues,” which can be heard on her website. Accompanied by son Cameron Connor, she genuinely sings the blues with lines such as “If only I knew it was going to be the last time I saw you” and “You tore our lives apart.” Of all the uncertainties of the pandemic, she knows one thing for sure: “You won’t believe about coronavirus until your family dies,” she said. “My sister died Christmas Day. She didn’t think she had the virus.”

It’s hard to imagine McWilson being down, given her vibrant personality, but she has definitely walked through the blues, she said. Losing six family members in a short period of time, struggling with obesity, and knocking on doors that just wouldn’t open for her could have beat her down for good. But she got back up with a mission to benefit others, she said. She advocates getting the Covid vaccine and has an undying trust that she can do all things “through Christ who strengthens me.” As for those venues that wouldn’t book her, she believes, for being a black entertainer, she knows that better objectives are in her future. 

“It’s not about the money; the message I have is to uplift them,” she said. 

McWilson recalled seeing her brother Larry on the living room floor after he had died from a heart attack. Her brother Maurice tried to nudge her into reality.

“He said that if I didn’t change my life, it could be me,” she said, noting that other siblings had died of heart attacks. “I prayed, and I walked. I called it the mind, body, and soul program. I began to get up every day and walk around Hyde Park and I prayed that God would help me.”

She prayed for help to lose weight, gain inspiration to write and sing songs and forge a path toward a successful musical career. Two hundred pounds lighter, she hit a local pinnacle as the first black female inductee for the 2020 Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame and has performed in jazz and blues festivals, at Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, fundraisers and for a yearly 10-day Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage cruise.

Had she not lost weight, McWilson knows she would have missed out on so much, including flying because she couldn’t squeeze into an airplane seat and giving birth to long-awaited “miracle” children. As one of a dozen siblings, she had a tight-knit family, though McWilson has been determined to do the work all by herself, she said. She was told that her gospel couldn’t be played on the radio and that she would never be able to fly in an aircraft. She found a way. 

“I’m morphing through the pain … pain is what gets us through life,” she said. “My mother inspired me to go after what I want. She had 12 kids and none of them got in trouble. She’s my role model.”

Her favorite genre is Gospel, though she admits “the blues is getting me to the green.” She has appeared in three movies and sees herself doing more television work. Actually, her visual is much more specific than that.

“I see myself winning Grammys and Emmys … being so wealthy that I’ll be a blessing to help someone else,” she said.  

For more about McWilson, check out her website at www.marshamcwilson.com. Concert tickets are $10 and may be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/marsha-mcwilson-tribute-performance-at-bata... 

Photos submitted by Marsha McWilson.

October 7, 2021 - 10:01am
posted by Press Release in music.
Event Date and Time: 
October 14, 2021 - 7:00pm to 10:00pm

Marsha McWilson, the first black female inducted into the Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame, will be singing at the Casino in Batavia on October 14th at 7 pm. $10 tickets are available here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/marsha-mcwilson-tribute-performance-at-batavia-downs-gaming-hotel-tickets-170476676328 She'll be singing some of her originals, as well as hits from Aretha, Tina, Gladys, and other notable divas. 

September 28, 2021 - 12:00pm

Click here
for more information!

September 19, 2021 - 11:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crossroads house, City Church, music, arts, entertainment, batavia, news.


Past and present came together Saturday night at City Church in a 15th-annual "Musical Memories" concert in support of Crossroads House in Batavia.

This year, the free concert honored COVID caregivers and honored victims and survivors.

Performers this year included: The Rochester Hitmen, The Park Avenue Brass, St. Joseph’s Batavia Brass Ensemble, The Hamburg Kingmen Drum Corps, and Mighty St. Joe’s Drum & Bugle Corps.

Photos by Alecia Kaus/Video News Service.










September 18, 2021 - 11:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in music.
Event Date and Time: 
September 19, 2021 - 4:00pm to 8:00pm

Genesee Valley Band playing for the Saloon's German Festival from 4-8 pm

September 14, 2021 - 12:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in music.
Event Date and Time: 
September 18, 2021 - 5:00pm to 8:00pm

The finale of the Old Hippies and friends concert series has been rescheduled and redubbed the 'Farm' to Home Concert Series #4 For the Common Good.

It will be live-streamed from Dublin  Corners.

It can be found on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnXn6qLDtERUu0GhWo7d1gw

September 14, 2021 - 11:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in music.
Event Date and Time: 
September 16, 2021 - 5:00pm to 8:00pm

DSP Jazz Trio at T.F. Brown's

September 8, 2021 - 8:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in music.
Event Date and Time: 
September 12, 2021 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm

Deanna Spiotta, The Ghostriders (with special guests), and the Old Hippies (with Leah Ford) will perform in the fourth and final Home to Home Concert: For the Common Good in Jackson Square.

The concert is free and open to the public.


August 26, 2021 - 8:08am
posted by Press Release in Jam at the Ridge, The Ridge NY, Le Roy, music, arts, entertainment, news.

Press release:

Randy Houser, a long-time friend of Tracy Lawrence, is picking up this date as a favor from one artist to another.  Due to unforeseen circumstances, Lawrence is unable to keep this date, so his buddy Randy Houser is bringing his full crew to put on the show of the summer.

Jam At The Ridge is your Family Concert and Recreation destination, according to their guests and concert fans.   With plenty of space to distance and a kid-friendly environment (children 17 and under are free when accompanied by a paying responsible adult).

Tickets are available through the http://www.jatrny.com website, by calling their store directly 585-768-4883, or directly at: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4542083

August 25, 2021 - 10:08am

Click here
to purchase tickets.

August 24, 2021 - 10:36am
posted by Joanne Beck in Laura Kauppi, music, education, news.


In a new world of all things virtual — from business meetings and telemedicine to therapy sessions — it may be no surprise that piano teacher Laura Kauppi took to this new existence with the same passion she has for her craft. She has evolved from private individual lessons to group sessions online.

“I really like virtual camps,” Kauppi said during an interview with The Batavian. “They’re very parent-led. I’m just giving parents an opportunity to do things with their kids. It’s not fair that extracurriculars are only for people with money.”

Enter Zoom, the popular online meeting room for groups of people. Kauppi’s Zoom camps opened up creative opportunities for children and parents alike, and at a price that fits everyone’s music level: free.

The camps were an extension of Kauppi’s virtual piano lessons. In an effort to reach more children, the lessons were done in groups for kids 5 to 14. They learned the basics using both hands, she said. Kauppi, a resident of Corfu, drew attention through online posts and handing out flyers at special events and with candy at Halloween. More than 40 students from Batavia to Buffalo have reaped the benefits so far.

Kauppi’s hope is to instill some musical aptitude before kids get older and move on to college. Her latest endeavor is to begin even earlier with a toddler program for 1- to 5-year-olds. Those lessons involve fun activities such as dancing and clapping to music and playing rhythm games, she said. Kauppi instructs the parents so they in turn can assist their children during and in between sessions.

“So the parent can replicate the lessons ... putting music in their days,” she said.

As for the cheap price tag of the program — all free — Kauppi’s intent is sincere, she said. Going virtual incorporates music into the lives of kids who may not otherwise be able to participate. It also alleviates the need for transportation to her home, she said. 

“I just want to be able to offer kids this experience,” she said.  “I get a lot from teaching these kids. I've learned so much about hope, strength, tenacity and hard work from them. They make me remember why I love teaching.”

You may remember Kauppi when she first offered piano lessons to low-income children four years ago. It was formerly called Every Child Music School, which has been changed to The Arts Are For All. The veteran teacher of more than 15 years wants to continue the career she has loved while paying it forward.

“I want others to have the same opportunities I have had,” she said. 

The virtual music class for toddlers will run two Sundays a month beginning in September. Class for ages 1-3 is at 2:15 p.m. and for ages 3-5 at 2:30 p.m. For more information or to register, call Kauppi at 585-861-0153.


August 16, 2021 - 10:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, music, arts, entertainment, news.
Video Sponsor

Music, music, and more music, along with food and refreshments (some of the adult kind), are in store for those who make their way to the Village of Elba and its charming central park on Sunday.

The fun sets off at noon with Elba's own Front Porch Pickers plucking out old favorites.

Then the Simon Fletcher Trio takes the stage, starting at 1:30.  Simon Fletcher is a substitute teacher at Elba Central School and the trio plays jazz and bebop.

At 3 p.m., the Old Hippies, featuring Bill and Kay McDonald, will stroll down memory lane with Vinny Pastore along with Liam and Emma Raines on guitar, violin, banjo, and vocals.  There might even be a surprise artist or two joining the Old Hippies.

There will be food and drink vendors such as Lori's Delectable Edibles, Center Street Smokehouse, Los Compadres (besides tacos, margaritas!), and Pub Coffee Hub. Cirlcle B Winery and Eli Fish Brewing Company are bringing the wine and beer. For dessert: Lori's Delectable Edibles and Ice Cream and Chill. 

"In all, this is going to be more music, food and fun than should be legal in NYS!!," said co-organizer Pauli Miano.

Keep in mind, the Village Park is a no-alcohol park.  You can't bring in your own adult beverages but can consume what is available from licensed vendors.  

These concerts are made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a re-grant program of the NYS Council on the Arts with the support of the NYS Legislature and administered by GO ART.

VIDEO: A Elba Village Park picnic earlier this summer.

August 16, 2021 - 9:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in music, batavia.
Event Date and Time: 
August 19, 2021 - 5:00pm to 8:00pm

From a play written in 1697 by William Congreve comes the phrase "Music Hath Charms To Sooth A Savage Beast".  Are you in need of "soothing"?

We can help!  Come to T. F. Browns in Batavia on Thursday, August 19 from 5-8 pm and be "soothed" by Derek, Skip & Pete....AKA.....the DSP Jazz Trio.
Check us out on YouTube from Jackson Square by searching: DSP Jazz Trio Hello Dolly.
August 7, 2021 - 9:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, video, music, arts, entertainment.
Video Sponsor

Rockin' The Downs: Pink Floyd tribute band The Machine plays "Welcome to the Machine"  at Batavia Downs

August 5, 2021 - 12:45pm


The Batavia Concert Band and its patrons finished the 2020 season with its seventh straight perfect Wednesday evening in Cential Park and presented some of its supporters and musicians with awards.

The Batavia Rotary Club was honored with the band's annual Friend of the Band Award and Dr. Marlin Salmon accepted the award on behalf of the club.

The band also present a donation to Rev. Ivan R. Trujill, Resurrection Parrish, for allowing the band to practice at the church for the past seven weeks.

Scholarships were presented to 

  • Katie Dessert (flute), receiving the Conductor's Choice Award. She starting her senior year at SUNY Fredonia studying Music Education with a concentration in Voice and General Music.  
  • Lydia Geiger, currently majoring in Music Performance in Music Education (on flute) at SUNY Potsdam. 

Photos by Liz Bailey.








July 27, 2021 - 3:14pm
posted by Press Release in music.
Event Date and Time: 
August 8, 2021 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm

The Old Hippies, Bill and Kay McDonald, will perform at Jackson Square starting at 1 p.m.  The concert is free and open to the public.

July 24, 2021 - 10:35am


With many music traditions in Batavia, the Ghost Riders continue playing over 30-plus years and highlighted last evening's Jackson Square concert series with a packed crowd. Mild Bill Pitcher and Wild Bill McDonald founded the band decades ago and would play 100 plus concerts from May to August. 

Since COVID-19 came present in 2020, they cut it down to about a dozen gigs in the summer months and traveling back and forth to Florida has increased for some members also. 

For the last eight years, Bill and Kay McDonald continued in the winter months as the "Old Hippies." With some changes, the duo decided this summer to perform a home-to-home concert series. Wild Bill said, they plan two mini jam series on Aug. 8th and Sept. 12th in Jackson Square, and Aug. 22 in Elba.

Photos by Steve Ognibene.










July 21, 2021 - 8:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in UMMC, music, news, batavia, Dr. Harry McCrea.
Video Sponsor

For most of the day, Dr. Harry McCrea is a cardiologist, but on some days, during his breaks, he's UMMC's troubadour, singing and playing his guitar outside the hospital's main entrance.

Last year, during COVID-19, for a little stress release, he started bringing his guitar to work with the intention of sitting outside when weather permitted just so he could relax and practice.

Soon, he started drawing an audience. Other members of the UMMC staff found his music enhanced their own breaks.

July 11, 2021 - 4:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, video, music, arts, entertainment.
Video Sponsor
July 8, 2021 - 1:19pm


Glenn Adams shared these photos of yesterday's concert in Centennial Park by the Batavia Concert Band.


Subscribe to



Copyright © 2008-2020 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service

blue button