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August 8, 2017 - 10:39am
posted by Howard B. Owens in theater, arts, entertainment, news.

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Story and photos by Alecia Kaus/Video News Service.

Debbie Packard is well known in the Genesee County area.

She taught kindergarten at Jackson Elementary School in Batavia for a long time and has touched so many.

This past weekend Packard hosted her annual three-day trip to NYC for those interested in attending a Broadway play.

This trip, however, was not like the others. This year their flight was canceled at the last minute and they could not get another plane.

So the group of 24 women got creative real quick.

Taking to the rails on an Amtrak train, the group of women made their way to the Bernard Jacobs Theatre on West 45th Street to see "Bandstand," which opened on Broadway on April 27 after a successful run at Paper Mill Playhouse in the fall of 2015.

The Genesee County/Brockport assembly of women made their way past the excited fans and learned an after-show “meet and greet” was set up for family and friends of both Geoff Packard and Joey Pero, who are co-stars in the new musical which takes place in 1945 in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Tony Award winning musical is directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler and centers around the journey of a band made up entirely of veterans who are returning home from World War II hoping that things will be the same.

Lead character Donny Novitski (Cory Cott) is held with the responsibility of checking in on his friend’s wife, Julia Trojan (Laura Osnes), after he died in a friendly fire incident.

The two quickly form a bond as they share a chemistry through music and lyric writing. Julia joins the band as their singer and the band enters a nationwide competition where the winner will be featured on a live NBC televised segment and eventually a Hollywood movie.

“The Donny Nova Band” performs live jazz orchestrations throughout the show.

The musical gives a glimpse into the world of soldiers returning home who feel like underdogs that have been left behind battling for normalcy while fighting PTSD, loss, and the secrets of war.

“Just a lot of connections here tonight,” says Elaine Watson, of Batavia.

” I absolutely loved the show. I worked for years at the VA and PTSD is very very real and a sad thing. Good to have it addressed.”

In a stairwell, backstage near the dressing rooms, a memorial wall has been created for each soldier who has had a show dedicated.

There are eight shows per week.

In his dressing room before a show, Joey Pero reflected on his own battle to overcome being struck by a van on Feb. 12 and after three surgeries on his leg and countless hours of physical therapy was able to make a return to the show on June 30th.

“I’m getting stronger and stronger, going to take some time to be back to my old self, but I’m in pretty good shape right now.”

This is Pero’s Broadway debut.

“I hope the show runs until I’m 70,” says Pero.

“I kind of developed the role as Nick Radel over the past couple of years, I have been very fortunate and you know it’s kinda of tough because I’m not that gruff in real life.”

Pero says he draws a few things from family and friends and people he knows into the role. He has had a lot of support from his hometown of Batavia.

“It always makes me more nervous to perform in front of people from my hometown, I love it though, it gives me some good energy.”

Visit the Bandstand website 

Top photo: Geoff Packard, Debbie Packard and Joey Pero.  

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Bandstand cast members from left: Geoff Packard (Wayne Wright), Joey Pero (Nick Radel), James Nathan Hopkins (Jimmy Campbell), Laura Osnes (Julia Trojan), Cory Cott (Donny Novitski), and Brandon James Ellis (Davy Zlatic). Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

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August 3, 2017 - 10:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, music, news, entertainment.

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel is proud to announce that Grammy Award-winning American country and Southern gospel singer Larry Gatlin will be appearing at the Paddock Room Events Center on Saturday, Sept. 16th.

An original member of the legendary trio the Gatlin Brothers, some of Gatlin's biggest hits include "Broken Lady," "All the Gold in California," "Houston (Means I'm One Day Closer to You)," "She Used to Be Somebody's Baby," and "Talkin' to the Moon." In addition to being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1976, the trio has been nominated for awards by the Country Music Association, the Academy of Country Music and the Music City News Awards, among others.

Tickets will be available at www.BataviaConcerts.com beginning at 10am on Friday, Aug. 4th. Individual tickets will be $10 for General Admission while VIP tickets will be $15. Tickets can also be purchased in-person at the Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel “Made in America” store located in the lobby.

“Coming on the heels of our successful outdoor concert series, we’re excited to continue our live entertainment offerings through the fall and winter,” said Henry Wojtaszek, president & CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming. “We proudly welcome Mr. Gatlin to Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel as we continue to strive to be the region’s premier entertainment destination.”

Doors will open at 7 p.m. and the show will begin promptly at 8 p.m. Hotel room packages can be purchased at thehotelatbataviadowns.com by using the code: GATLIN. Hotel booking includes two General Admission tickets to the concert. 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. Additional information may be found at www.BataviaDownsGaming.com.  

July 28, 2017 - 2:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GO ART, art, entertainment, news, notify.

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For more than 100 years, there was a bar serving drinks at 201 E. Main St., Batavia, and GO ART! is looking forward to reopening the bar once the art council's application for a liquor license is approved.

"We're really excited because of our use of the old Batavia Men's Club," said Gregory A. Hallock, executive director of GO ART. "I can't wait till it's midnight and there are people walking on the street because the City applied for a DRI grant and they're hoping to get $10 million to do some arts and cultural stuff.

"So they're going to get that grant and people will be walking down the streets and they're coming here at 11:30 at night to get a glass of wine and walk around looking art. I'm really excited to have that happen."

Hallock made his announcement during GO ART's inaugural media dinner, with catering donated by Red Osier Landmark Restaurant, last night at Seymore Place.

The liquor license is just for beer and wine, but Hallock is working with an old friend, a bartender in Hawaii, to create cocktails that use beer and wine.

"We're actually going to have mixed drinks and we're going to have the bar open and we're putting in to open our back ally way," Hallock said. "It's going to be a beer garden so people can just hang out. It's just going to be incredible."

To start, the bar will just be open on weekend evenings.

Hallock's other big news of the night was an announcement of a planned showing for photographer Ryan Gustman. Hallcock discovered Gustman's working during the Sprout Film Festival and wanted to feature his work locally. Gustman has autism. He's from Winston-Salem, N.C. He also happened to be in town this week because he's doing a new series of photographs in Rochester and Buffalo.

Gustman specializes in art photos of old, decaying buildings (below, the video about him that was part of the Sprout Film Festival).

Through his discovery of photography and abandoned buildings, Gustman has found a way to focus and better manage his autism. Since then, he's been able to move out of his parents' home and take a job in IT with a company in Winston-Salem.

The process started when Gustman wandered into an abandoned building and sat for 30 or 40 minutes watching old lead paint fall from a ceiling like snow.

"There was this utter silence and I found out with the silence that I can actually calm down," Gustman said. "I'm not sure you understand how the autistic mindset works. There's always something clicking and everything --  that sounds a little crazy -- and normally and you can't basically focus. I was able to calm down and I took that feeling and I started taking pictures with it."

Hallock said he's hoping to draw wide attention for the show, bring in other autistic artists at the same time, and Gustman said he wants to use his newfound notoriety as a photographer to help other autistic artists.

"There's not enough programs or creative avenues for people with autism," Gustman said. There are plenty of classes you can go to for 30 minutes. But then there's nothing to show. So I'm trying to use this platform reaching out and actually helping these people."

That show should be in September.

Hallock also laid out a series of ambitious plans for the coming year, from a 1940s themed Picnic in the Park, more member shows, including one with theme of "Guilty Pleasures," a tea for children, a puppet show, a show by local artist Sean Madden (who has a regional following), and a return of the popular juried art show (which got 130 entries in its first year this year).

He's also very ambitious about what to do with Seymore Place. His goal is to get art on every wall.  

There are currently two shows at Seymore Place, one by Mary Ann Fritz, from Delavan, of her work of painted and sewn cloth, and Stacy Kirby's show of en plein air paintings and illustrations.

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Mary Ann Fritz

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Ryan Gustman

July 18, 2017 - 8:00am

The 178th annual Genesee County Fairgrounds turn out to be a great showing on opening night for the grand parade that marched through the grounds.  

For a complete schedule of daily events click here: http://gcfair.com/Home/FairInformation/DailySchedule.aspx

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July 15, 2017 - 8:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, music, entertainment, news.

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced that they will be donating 800 tickets to the upcoming Lee Greenwood concert to local Veteran Organizations. The concert takes place on Friday, July 21st.

“Lee Greenwood and his song 'God Bless the USA' are synonymous with our great country and we’re honored to have him play here," stated Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel President & CEO, Henry Wojtaszek.

“We work closely with other veteran agencies in the area and wanted to give back to all the local veterans who have fought to defend our freedoms.”

The tickets will be handed to representatives from various local Veterans agencies in a brief ceremony on Monday, July 17th, at 10:30 a.m. in the Batavia Downs Lobby by their Made in America satellite store.

Tickets to the Lee Greenwood show can be purchased at Bataviaconcerts.com or in person at the Made in America store in the Batavia Downs Lobby.

Three opening acts will play beginning at 5 p.m., including country recording artist Ricky Lee, Alyssa Trahan, and the band Gypsy Souls. Doors open at 4 p.m.

"To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan." (Abraham Lincoln)

July 12, 2017 - 12:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Concert Band, music, entertainment, arts, batavia, news.

Because of the rain, the Batavia Concert Band's regular Wednesday evening show at Centennial Park has been moved inside to the auditorium at Batavia High School.

Downbeat is 7 p.m.

July 8, 2017 - 8:05am

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Rochester native Lou Gramm packed in a large crowd of fans in Western New York at Batavia Downs racetrack last evening. 

On this warm summer night people gathered all around the local area to hear “Lou Gramm the Original Voice of Foreigner” and his band play classic hits like, "Cold as Ice," "Double Vision," "Midnight Blue" and "Juke Box Hero," plus many more from his days with his former band Foreigner.

Fans were singing from their lawn chairs, dancing on the lawn and jamming out those classic revival tunes from many years since the 1970s to now.

This was the fourth outdoor summer concert part of Batavia Downs concert series with two remaining, Marshall Tucker band next Friday, July 14th, and Lee Greenwood on July 21st.

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July 1, 2017 - 9:54am

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The trio Something Else played Jackson Square yesterday evening as part of the summer concert series downtown. There's live music in Jackson Square each Friday at 7 p.m. through August.

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June 30, 2017 - 11:51am

The Batavia Ramble and Arts Fest is tomorrow in Downtown Batavia.

In the case of rain, performances will take place inside Center Street Smoke House.

Here's the lineups for both stages:

Jackson Square Stage
  • 11 – 11:15 a.m. --  **Opening Ceremony**
  • 11:15 – 11:45 a.m. -- Ghost Riders
  • 11:50 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. -- KoKo & The Moon Crickets
  • 12:25 – 12:55 p.m. -- Ryan & Scott
  • 1– 1:30 p.m. -- Gridder
  • 1:35 – 2:05 p.m.  -- Bluesway
  • 2:10 – 2:40 p.m. -- Genesee Ted
  • 2:45 – 3:15 p.m.  -- Me & Red
  • 3:20 – 3:50 p.m.  -- TONK
  • 3:50 – 4:05 p.m.  -- * * * Memorial * * *
  • 4:05 – 4:35 p.m.  -- Sierra
  • 4:40 – 5:10 p.m.  -- PD3 & Co.
  • 5:15 – 5:45 p.m.  -- Rich Lullo Band
  • 5:50 – 6:20 p.m.  -- Lonesome Road
  • 6:25 – 6:55 p.m. -- Loosely Tight
  • 7 – 7:30 p.m. -- Trolls
  • 7:35 – 8:05 p.m.  -- Zero
  • 8:10 – 8:40 p.m. -- Driven
  • 8:45 – 9:15 p.m. -- Noah's Reign 
Center Street Stage
  • 11 – 11:15 a.m. -- **Opening Ceremony**
  • 11:15 – 11:45 a.m. --  Steve Kruppner
  • 11:50 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. -- Kruppner Brothers
  • 12:25 – 12:55 p.m. -- Mark Grover
  • 1  – 1:30 p.m.  -- Ryan Consiglio
  • 1:35 – 2:05 p.m. -- Dave Holnbeck
  • 2:10 – 2:40 p.m. -- Kevin Moyles
  • 2:45 – 3:15 p.m. -- Paul Almeter
  • 3:20 – 3:50 p.m. -- Jim Luttrell
  • 3:50 – 4:05 p.m.  --  * * * Memorial * * *
  • 4:05 – 4:35 p.m. -- Red Creek
  • 4:40 – 5:10 p.m.  -- Mitty & The followers
  • 5:15 – 5:45 p.m. -- Rock Soulgers
  • 5:50 – 6:20 p.m.  -- Bad Luck
  • 6:25 – 6:55 p.m.  -- Audibull
  • 7 – 7:30 p.m. -- Rhythm Collision
  • 7:35 – 8:05 p.m.  -- Eagle Creek
  • 8:10 – 8:40 p.m. -- Nichols Brothers Band
  • 8:45 – 9:15 p.m. -- Open Jam
June 29, 2017 - 8:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Concert Band, batavia, music, arts, entertainment, news.

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The Batavia Concert Band opened its 2017 season Wednesday evening in Centennial Park with John Bailey conducting.

The season continues with outdoor concerts at the park every Wednesday at 7 p.m. through Aug. 9.

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June 19, 2017 - 11:47am
posted by Maria Pericozzi in batavia, Ramble Music & Arts Fest, Ramble, music, entertainment, news.

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The Ramble Music & Arts Festival will be held on July 1 this year on Center Street, with music, vendors and activities.

The Ramble is an annual reunion of musicians and artists that at one time or another, called Batavia or the nearby areas, their home. The event includes craft vendors, food vendors, a designated kid zone with rides and activities, and music.

This year, there will be 33 bands and performers at the Jackson Square and Center Street Stage.

Paul Draper III, the event coordinator, said there will be a larger, second stage to look forward to.

“There have also been major expansions for vendors this year,” Draper said. “There’s a duck pond and a dedicated kid zone. It is very family oriented.”

The performers include Audibull, Bad Luck, Batavia All Stars, Bluesway, Dave Holnbeck, Driven, Eagle Creek, Genesee Ted, Ghost Riders, Kevin Moyles, KoKo & The Moon Crickets, Kruppner Brothers, Loosely Tight, Mark Grover, Me & Red, Mitty & The followers, Nichols Brothers Band, Noah's Reign, Steve Kruppner, Paul Almeter, PD3 & Co., Red Creek, Rhythm Collision, Rich Lullo Band, Rock Soulgers, Ryan & Scott, Ryan Consiglio, Savage Cabbage, Sierra, Soul Craft, TONK!, Trolls, Unruly, and Zero.

Draper said they are still accepting vendors and sponsorship opportunities. If anyone is interested, contact [email protected]

June 17, 2017 - 1:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in the ridge, Frost Ridge, music, entertainment, Le Roy, news.

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For the first time since 2011, Marty Stuart was back at The Ridge tonight along with his band, The Superlatives.

The Superlatives are:

  • Kenny Vaughan, lead guitar
  • Chris Scruggs, bass
  • Harry Stinson, drums

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June 15, 2017 - 9:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Smokin' Eagle BBQ and Brew, Le Roy, news, entertainment, arts.

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To kick off the third annual Battle of the Bands at the Smokin' Eagle BBQ and Brew in Le Roy last night, the owners and management presented a check for $2,600 to the Golisano Children's Hospital in honor the White Family.

The money was raised during last year's Battle of the Bands.

Trisha White, holding the check, credits Golisano's with saving the life of her daughter, Jamie, left, who was born at 25 1/2 weeks and weighed just one pound, seven ounces. Now 12 and doing well in middle school, she's holding a picture of herself at birth with her father's wedding band around her ankle.

"That's how tiny she was," Trisha said.

The Battle of the Bands runs all summer and into October with performances every Wednesday night at the Eagle. Last night, Invictra kicked off the series.

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June 13, 2017 - 8:28am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, music, entertainment, arts, news.

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The Batavia High School Drama Club is staging a showcase concert featuring songs from the musical "Les Miserables" at 7 p.m., Thursday, at John Kennedy School on Vine Street. Free-will donations will be accepted at the door.

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June 2, 2017 - 11:25pm

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Dan Clor, a military veteran, and frontman for Los Angeles-based Weapon-X, took the stage this afternoon with D-ZL, the band he started his career with in 1997 when it played its first show at the Eagle Hotel in Le Roy. 

Clor and Weapon-X have been holding an annual music festival in Southern California for five years and this year, Clor brought it home, to Le Roy, and The Ridge Campground.

The American Warrior Concert, with more than 60 musical acts taking the stage, opened today and continues tomorrow (for tickets, click here).

The music starts at noon tomorrow, on two stages, with Weapon-X scheduled to play at 8:15 p.m.

The Red Osier Landmark Restaurant in Stafford is sponsoring the weekend of music.

Proceeds benefit the Warrior House, which supports wounded veterans.

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May 27, 2017 - 11:54am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Joey Belladonna, batavia, Batavia Downs, music, entertainment, news.

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Joey Belladonna and his band Chief Big Way play the Paddock Room at Batavia Downs tonight.

The lead singer with Anthrax, nominated five times for Grammy awards, Belladonna is playing in Batavia for the second time this year. The show is free and starts at 9 p.m.

Pictured with Belladonna are his friend Tom Mazurkiewicz and band members Dave Michelson and Joe Precourt.

May 19, 2017 - 5:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GO ART!, arts, entertainment, batavia, news.

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GO ART! opened two shows at Seymore Place last night -- the member's show, with the theme, "Summer of Love," in honor of the 50th anniversary of the hippies' heyday --summer of 1967, and "The Dream of America."

"The Dream of America: Separation & Sacrifice in the Lives of North Country Latino Immigrants," is a display of the photography and writing of Lisa Catalfamo Flores. It originally was on display at the Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls. GO ART! is its first stop on a statewide tour. The show will be on display through July 7.

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May 11, 2017 - 12:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Players, Harvester 56 Theater, batavia, arts, entertainment, news.

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Amy Martin and Joe Kusmierczak star in the Batavia Player's production of "The Last Five Years," a musical written and composed by Jason Robert Brown and produced and directed by Kathy White, with performances this weekend at the Harvester 56 Theater.

Show times are 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m., Sunday.

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