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April 13, 2021 - 3:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Dianna Spiotta, music, arts, entertainment, batavia, news.

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Batavia native Deanna Spiotta moved to Nashville, Tenn., in 2013 to try and make it as a recording artist but found, she said, that she was unprepared for the music business and felt alone in trying to navigate it.

But that experience didn't diminish her drive nor dampen the dream of making music her career.

She returned to Western New York in 2015 and started renewing and building connections locally and as a result, this week released her first EP, "The In Between," a collection of six songs she wrote and arranged.

It was produced by Dave Drago in Macedon. Spiotta sings and plays guitar and piano on the tracks. She is joined by Drago on bass, electric guitar, and backing vocals, Alex Northup on keyboards, and Javi Torres on drums.

"It is my hope to share this music with our community and that it will resonate with people and help them feel through difficult emotions," Spiotta said.

This is Spiotta's debut release. She said it was tough making connections in Nashville without any professional recordings under her belt. She hopes the EP is a step toward realizing her dream of writing and performing music for a living.

Her influences include, she said, The Beatles, Shawn Colvin, Miranda Lambert, and Leslie Odom Jr.

She provided a Spotify link to music that inspired and influenced her.

"I'm also inspired by Motown, which makes sense as The Beatles and Shawn Colvin were heavily influenced by Motown artists and Black artists who founded rock 'n' roll and country music," she said.

"Miranda Lambert was very influential to me at the beginning of my career about 10 years ago, and now I find myself growing from her style to create my own. Leslie Odom Jr.'s album, Mr, serves as a big inspiration to me.

"Our sounds don't sound anything alike, but I love that he fuses many different styles, genres and sounds to make something unique. I find it fascinating to fuse all of the musical experiences in my life into my own unique sound."

Her EP is available on Apple Music, Spotify, and her own website, DeannaSpiotta.com.

Photos by Taylor Rambo Photography. All rights reserved. Used with permission of Deanna Spiotta.

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April 9, 2021 - 2:05pm
Video Sponsor

For National Poetry Month, we asked several local school superintendents to read a poem for us. The first submission comes from Matthew Calderon, superintendent of Pembroke Central schools. He's reading "Sick" by Shel Silverstein.

April 8, 2021 - 2:45pm

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The Batavia Society of Artists held its first -- and they hope it will become an annual event -- Tabletop People's Choice Awards at Eli Fish Brewing Co. in March.  

More than 400 people voted.

The winners and prizes: 

  • 1st Place $100:  Joan D'Alba
  • 2nd Place $50:  Bethany Zimmerman
  • 3rd Place $25:  Brian Kemp

Photos of winning pictures posted in order. Submitted photos.

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March 25, 2021 - 10:11am
posted by Press Release in oakfield-alabama, musical, arts, entertainment, news.

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Press release:

As with all things this year, everything is different because of COVID-19. Some activities cannot currently run and those that can happen look much different than in past years.

Although many aspects of a live stage performance had to be adjusted, we were very excited to still be able to provide this opportunity for our students. In an attempt to remain as healthy and safe as possible, while also following the regulations, we were able to get our students on stage (and on screen) using masks and as much social distancing as possible while interacting with each other.

We, unfortunately, had to make decisions to have a smaller cast, have our ensemble prerecorded, and scale down much of our sets and props to less than normal. However, it allowed our actors and actresses to focus more on their emotions and character portrayal in order to bring this touching musical to both our live audience and our supporters online.

It has been amazing to work with our students this year – to see their passion and joy, to take them beyond what they thought was possible, and to have them shine on stage. It is truly wonderful to still be able to create opportunities and live performances with our talented students.

Our cast and crew put on three amazing performances. And although most of the general public could not attend the performances in person, there is still an opportunity to catch these outstanding performers.

The performance has been uploaded online and is available to watch through April 18th. You can purchase access to the performance by going to www.OACSDramaClub.weebly.com and following the link on our homepage. From there you can either purchase single viewer access for $10 or access for the entire household for $25.

All money helps to offset the cost of rentals and royalties for producing the musical. You can purchase the access at any time before April 18th, an email link will be sent to you, and once you hit play you will have 48 hours to view the entire performance before your access runs out. Please sit back and enjoy the show from the comfort of your home.

Photos by Kristin Smith. For more, click here.

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March 23, 2021 - 12:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, arts, entertainment, schools, education, covid-19, coronavirus, news.

Pandemic restrictions won't disrupt one of the most important traditions at Le Roy High School: the annual musical.

This year, music and drama students at Le Roy are presenting a virtual performance of "The Theory of Relativity" by Neil Bartram and Brian Hill.

Streaming tickets are available at leroycsd.org with performances at 7 p.m., April 8, 9 and 10.

The video above explains how the students brought the production together and the new technology skills they learned in the process.

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March 9, 2021 - 6:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, arts, music, news, video.
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Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced the lineup for their fourth Rockin’ the Downs concert series, which will take place outside on the racetrack, with eight Friday dates, starting in June and running into August.

Kicking off the series on Friday, June 25th is former Journey frontman Steve Augeri. Steve returns after playing one of the most enjoyable concerts from 2019’s series. The lead vocalist for the rock group from 1998-2006, Steve headlined an eight-year tenure that included three albums, and will perform hits such as "Don’t Stop Believin’," "Separate Ways," "Wheel in the Sky," "Faithfully," and "Anyway You Want It."

Next up, on Friday, July 2nd, Batavia Downs welcomes Southern Rock legends Molly Hatchet. Originating in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1978, the band has gone on to release 14 studio albums. They’ll be performing hits such as "Flirtin’ with Disaster," "Dreams I’ll Never See" and "Whiskey Man" among others.

Friday, July 9th will see Don Felder, formerly of The Eagles, perform at the Downs. As a renowned former lead guitarist of The Eagles, one of the most popular and influential rock groups of our time, Don has helped write and perform many iconic classics. His 2008 memoir was a New York Times bestseller. Don will perform solo and Eagles’ hits during his set including " Heavy Metal (Takin’ a Ride)," "Hotel California," "Life in the Fast Lane," "The Long Run" and "Tequila Sunrise."

Performing on Friday, July 16th is Tommy James and the Shondells. Hailing from Niles, Mich., Tommy rose to stardom after his song "Hanky Panky" went to #1 in Pittsburgh. Other hits in his catalog include "I Think We’re Alone Now," "Mony Mony," "Crimson and Clover," "Sweet Cherry Wine" and "Crystal Blue Persuasion."

Rocking the stage on Friday, July 23rd is Heavy Metal Rockers Skid Row. After forming in New Jersey in 1986, the band has performed all over the world with hard guitars and a unique songwriting style. They’ll be performing their hits "In a Darkened Room," "We Are the Damned," "Youth Gone Wild," "18 And Life," and many more.

Legendary Rock Band The Sweet performs on Friday, July 30th. Hailing from London, the band has sold more than 35 million albums worldwide since forming in 1968. Original member Andy Scott handles lead vocals on such hits as "Little Willy," "Ballroom Blitz," "Fox On The Run" and "Love Is Like Oxygen."

America’s top Pink Floyd Show, The Machine hits the stage on Friday, Aug. 6th. Over 30 years they have extended the legacy of Pink Floyd while creating another legacy all their own. Over the years, The Machine has touched the hearts and souls of many with its stellar musicianship, dramatic lighting, and video performances.

Closing out the series on Friday, Aug. 13th is rock band Queensrÿche. With more than 30 million albums sold worldwide, Queensrÿche continues to tour the globe to sold-out audiences. The band has earned multiple Grammy Award nominations and won the MTV “viewer’s choice” award for the #1 chart-topping hit "Silent Lucidity." Even with 11 gold and platinum plaques and several Top 10 hard rock anthems under their belt, Queensrÿche consistently delivers high-octane live shows combining the hungry fire of a new band with the tempered experience of master showmen. 

Tickets for all eight concerts will be available at www.BataviaConcerts.com beginning sometime in late March or April. Tickets will also be available for purchase at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel at the Lucky Treasures Gift Shop located in the lobby. 

“Preliminarily we’ll be looking to have a “POD” setup, which has been utilized in many other locations. It allows patrons to be with those in their circle and socially distanced from other concertgoers," said Henry Wojtaszek, president and CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel.

“If restrictions are lifted, then we will adapt as necessary with our concert setup. Tickets will go on sale once we have more guidance from the state about how we can safely conduct these events.”

Debuting this year will be a chair rental option. There will be 500 chairs available for rental for $5 each. All net proceeds for chair rental will benefit Make-A-Wish Western New York. Volunteers from Make-A-Wish will also be distributing foam drink holders in return for a donation.

“We are eager to welcome music lovers back to the facility,” said Ryan Hasenauer, director of Marketing for Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel. “We’re looking forward to bringing musical icons back to Batavia Downs for all to enjoy.

"After not having shows last summer, we’re excited to finally launch our partnership with Make-A-Wish Western New York to help raise funds to help them transform lives.”

Other concerts will also be announced outside of the Fridays mentioned above. Ticket prices will vary based on concert and capacity. Each concert ticket is also redeemable once at Player’s Club in the three days following the concert for $10 Free Play to be used on one of Batavia Downs Gaming’s 800+ gaming machines.

Concerts are held rain or shine. Additional information may be found at www.BataviaDownsGaming.com.

March 6, 2021 - 3:32pm
Video Sponsor

The Batavian Sessions Live: Evan Anstey and James Robert Kibby

You can find their latest release on Amazon, Spotify, Apple Music, and Bandcamp.

February 27, 2021 - 3:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in the batavian sessions, music, arts, entertainment, livestream, video.
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This afternoon, we're featuring WNY musician and songwriter Tom Mullen. He's from Buffalo and his wife is from Le Roy.

Here's some background:

Tom Mullen has been making music for over 30 years. During the 1990s, he was lead singer, guitarist, and principle songwriter for The Skeptics, an alternative power pop band that enjoyed regional acclaim and CMJ charting. Tom has opened shows for national acts The Tubes and 10,000 Maniacs and appeared twice on A.M. Buffalo with The Skeptics, as well as Nickel City Scene. He released his 2nd solo CD, Unfamiliar Ground, in 2018.

Tom’s music has been compared to Elvis Costello, R.E.M., The Wallflowers, and Fountains of Wayne. His influences include Buddy Holly, The Beatles, Elvis Costello, R.E.M., and much more.

Tom's new full-length CD, Into the Twilight, is receiving significant airplay and is climbing the College Radio Charts. He has released a music video for the lead single off the album, “Invisible Hand.”

More information can be found at www.skepticsongs.com.

Tom is originally a native of Buffalo and a graduate of Canisius College. He earned a master’s degree in English from Buffalo State College. He lives with his family in Western New York.

December 16, 2020 - 8:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in OHMS Band, Christmas, arts, entertainment.

The OHMS Band recorded The Band's Christmas Must Be Tonight and asked us to post it for you.

December 7, 2020 - 12:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in justin williams, Le Roy, music, arts, entertainment.

Le Roy musician Justin Williams has been spending his free pandemic time writing and recording new material. Here's his latest release, "Back in a Hard Place."

November 25, 2020 - 9:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Upton Monument, news, video, music, arts, entertainment.
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Two days ago, I happened across Dan Sprague jamming on a little death metal on his way to band practice. Sprague said he's a member of three bands, including the folk-rock band he was practicing with that day.

November 14, 2020 - 5:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in music, batavia, arts, entertainment.

This is "So Beautifully" written by John Del Plato and recently recorded by Sage Melcher and The Laura Dubin Trio of Rochester. Carmen Del Plato said The Laura Dubin Trio is a regular performer regularly performs at the Rochester International Jazz Festival.

September 13, 2020 - 3:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, news, Elba Betterment Committee, music, arts, entertainment.

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The Old Hippies and What About Jane teamed up Saturday for an evening of memorable music as part of a summer concert series sponsored by the Elba Betterment Committee in the Elba Village Park.

Food venders included Dubby's Wood Fired Pizza (pictured below), Los Compadres, Lori's Delectable Edibles (desserts), and Bubble Tea.

The final concert of the season will be Wednesday featuring the Corfu Pembroke Community Band in an All-American-themed evening that will include the Betterment Committee hot dogs and hamburgs and serving Mom's apple pie. And, of course, there will be ice cream. Showtime is 7 p.m.

Photos by Kelly Dudley. 

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August 31, 2020 - 12:16pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, NYS Choreographers' Initiative, dance, arts, DanceForce.

Press release:

The New York State DanceForce, in partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts, announces the fourth cycle of the Western New York Choreographers’ Initiative (WNYCI).

The program provides professional development for choreographers living in New York’s 17 westernmost counties: Chautauqua, Niagara, Erie, Cattaraugus, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Allegany, Monroe, Livingston, Wayne, Ontario, Yates, Steuben, Chemung, Schuyler, and Seneca.

The application deadline is Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. EDT.

The WNY Choreographers’ Initiative is designed to help WNY resident choreographers develop their choreographic skills by providing them with appropriate resources that are generally unavailable or unaffordable.

These resources include a minimum of 24 hours of creative time, professional dancers, the guidance of a mentor chosen by the artist, and a $2,500 stipend.

The exact design of the project will depend on COVID-19 health recommendations at the time of the project.

Two choreographers will be selected for the award in 2021.  

“This initiative is open to choreographers working in all dance genres," said WNYCI coordinator Lois Welk. "Each project is basically a mini-residency, designed to fit the specific needs of each artist. In 2020, the artists were doubly challenged to reinvestigate their choreographic habits -- first by the mentor and then by COVID-19.”

The New York State DanceForce is a consortium of 19 dance activists committed to increasing the quantity and quality of dance activity throughout New York State. Each of our members receives an annual allocation to create projects that bring dance artists to Upstate New York communities in customized residencies.

Since its founding in 1994, the DanceForce, through the work of its members, has funded more than 400 projects, raising more than $3 million in support of these endeavors.

Complete guidelines and application forms, can be found at www.danceforce.org. For more information contact WNYCI coordinator Lois Welk at [email protected].

July 25, 2020 - 2:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Dave's Ice Cream, news, video, batavia, music, arts, entertainment.
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In the age of COVID, when many indoor activities are curtailed and we're supposed to keep our distance outside, Debra Webster decided she could use the park-like area behind her business, Dave's Ice Cream, on West Main Street, as a place to give people something to do.

This week, she kicked off a summer concert series featuring Austin Wahl, a guitar performance student at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester.

Webster plans free concerts from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday nights during the summer.

July 21, 2020 - 2:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in music, arts, entertainment, news, Le Roy.

With no live gigs to play, Le Roy's Justin Williams has been using his time at home to write some instrumental tracks. Today he released "July Morning."

The song was mixed by Joe Lambert, of Batavia.

Williams said the song is inspired by the need to have a bright spot in our daily lives in these times.

"I've written several instrumentals during these strange times," Williams said. "It just felt natural during these divisive times to let the music do the talking. The video was fun to make as well. More on the way. Just gonna keep releasing as singles for now. May put out as an EP at the end of the year."

Williams is a singer/songwriter/lead guitarist and he has released music with Butterscotch, Exit 47, and a pair of solo EPs, as well as playing on other artists' albums (BC Psychos, JJ Lang Band, among others). Additionally, he has written music for advertising (Ryan Heating and Plumbing, The YNGodess Shop, among others). Typically, he can be found performing with Justin Williams & Forward Progress, The Shaking Bones, as a solo acoustic performer, and occasionally with The BC Psychos.

Since we are currently not in ordinary times, you can find Justin and Laura Williams performing on Tuesday evenings at 7 on the Justin Williams and Forward Progress Facebook page.

June 16, 2020 - 9:16am

Madison Hoerbelt is a 2018 graduate of Batavia High School and a winner of a John Mikalski Scholarship from the Genesee Wyoming Music Educators Association. Hoerbelt is attending Ithaca College for Voice Performance and is a mezzo-soprano.

What is her favorite musical experience?
When I was in high school I was very lucky to attend Conference All-State as well as All-Eastern in Atlantic City, New Jersey! During my freshman year of college, I went on tour with the Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers to Virginia, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C. This past year as a sophomore I went to sing the National Anthem with the Ithaca College Choir at MetLife Stadium right outside of New York City! 

What is your musical goal?
My goal is to be an opera and musical theater actress in opera houses and companies around the world. Mainly in New York City, Germany, and Italy. My goal also includes going to graduate school to get my master's degree in Voice Performance and eventually a doctorate. 

What is your favorite performance venue?
My favorite venue I've ever performed in would be the Kodak Theater in the Eastman School of Music. I performed there for two concerts during my time in Conference All-State and three more times with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in their Holiday Pops Concerts throughout high school! Some of her main performance influences are Renee Fleming, Isabel Leonard, and Anita Rachvelishvili. 

Other exciting musical fun facts:
I would have been attending Songfest, a prestigious art song program, in May and June but unfortunately, it was canceled. I'm a member of Mu Phi Epsilon, which is a coed professional music fraternity, for which I have just been elected the vice president/pledge mom. I also play many instruments including clarinet, saxophone, flute, guitar, ukulele, and piano.

June 9, 2020 - 9:19am

Statement:

Amidst the societal and scholastic change that our country has had to adapt to during the current Pandemic of 2020, the Genesee-Wyoming Music Educators Association (GWMEA) had to cancel their annual All-County Festivals that highlight the top 500 musicians from out combined counties.

 

The 12 schools that makeup GWMEA consist of Alexander, Attica, Batavia City, Byron-Bergen, Elba, Le Roy, Notre Dame, Pembroke, Pavilion, Oakfield-Alabama, St. Joseph, and Wyoming schools.

 

Students between the grades 5-12 would have been highlighted this year in March during performances at Pembroke and Le Roy High Schools.

 

In honor of all students who auditioned for the six ensembles who will never get to perform as a group, the GWMEA would like to thank all students who individually put in the time preparing for these great music festivals.

 

Lastly, we would like to honor all the seniors who will never have the honor of performing again at another GWMEA Festival. Some of our seniors would have been making their first appearance in an all-county ensemble, and some would have been appearing for their ninth year, committing hours and hours to their craft. Regardless of years committed, we would like to honor you one last time. Congratulations.

June 8, 2020 - 2:20pm

Le Roy graduate Kathleen Dessert received a John Mikalski Scholarship from the Genesee Wyoming Music Educators Association in 2018. She is currently studying Music Education at SUNY Fredonia. She is a vocal major, a soprano who also plays piano, flute, guitar and ukulele.

While at Le Roy, her favorite music experience was performing as Ariel in "The Little Mermaid." So far while at Fredonia her favorite musical experience was performing Verdi's "Requiem" under the direction of David Rudge, Ph.D.

Dessert is looking forward to singing with the Fredonia Choirs at a celebration for Stacey Gibbs' 100th composition in Washington, D.C., in the spring of 2021.

Her favorite performance venue is when she performed with the 2017 NYSSMA Conference All State Treble Choir in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. One of her favorite pieces they performed that night was Holst's "Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda."

Her main role models have always been her teachers. The most influential being Patricia Corron, Ph.D, and Jacqueline McLean.

She would love to teach elementary general music while also keeping herself involved in choirs and musical theater.

She recently put together a Virtual Ensemble for the Fredonia chapter of the National Association for Music Education! It was a lot of fun, and she is hoping to do more in the future that will involve chapters from all around the state.

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