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Ramble Music & Arts Fest

Music and open containers go hand-in-hand at Ramble

By Joanne Beck
Woman with beer at Ramble

There was at least one slight twist to this year's annual Ramble Music & Arts Fest for the portion that took place in Jackson Square. And that was the ability for people to enjoy their suds outdoors in the Square without concern of violating a city code. 

City Council had recently approved a request from the downtown Business Improvement District, GO ART! and business establishments to allow for open containers on the premises of the Jackson Square that is neatly contained by Eli Fish Brewing Company, Bourbon & Burger, Center Street Smokehouse, and The Coffee Press, plus other businesses. 

Matt Gray, a partner in Eli Fish, said that the event reaped "all positive reviews from our end."

Photos by Steve Ognibene.

Man with drinks at Ramble
Couple with drinks at Ramble

Batavia Ramble brings music entertainment on through the evening

By Steve Ognibene
Members of High Pines continue on the Center Street stage. Photo Steve Ognibene
Members of High Pines continue on the Center Street stage. Photo Steve Ognibene

Bass guitar and kick drums replaced the thud of thunder the rest of the day on Saturday, allowing the rock to keep on rolling the rest of the day and into the evening for the 2023 Ramble Music and Arts Fest.

Previously: After thunder roars, Ramble rolls on with bands schedule to hit two stages into evening

To view or purchase photos, click here.

Photos by Steve Ognibene

Drummer of High Pines on the Center Street stage. Photo Steve Ognibene
Drummer of High Pines on the Center Street stage. Photo Steve Ognibene
Indigo Flow
Indigo Flow on Jackson Street stage. Photo Steve Ognibene
Ross Chua Indigo Flow on Jackson Street stage. Photo Steve Ognibene
Ross Chua Indigo Flow on Jackson Street stage. Photo Steve Ognibene
Face painted girls loved the activities for kids and the festival.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Face painted girls loved the activities for kids and the festival.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Members from Remedy Three. Photo by Steve Ognibene
Members from Remedy Three. Photo by Steve Ognibene
A young girl, listening to music at the Ramble.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
A young girl listens to the sounds of music in Jackson Square.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
The Cowboy Vampires. Photo by Steve Ognibene
The Cowboy Vampires. Photo by Steve Ognibene
The Cowboy Vampires. Photo by Steve Ognibene
The Cowboy Vampires. Photo by Steve Ognibene
The Cowboy Vampires. Photo by Steve Ognibene
The Cowboy Vampires. Photo by Steve Ognibene
Sons of Luther band.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Sons of Luther band on Center Street Stage.  Photo by Steve Ognibene

After thunder roars, Ramble rolls on with bands schedule to hit two stages into evening

By Howard B. Owens
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Paul Draper, with his band Shotgun Pauly, gets the Ramble going again after a rain delay on Saturday.
Photo by Howard Owens.

An unexpected thunderstorm at about 1 p.m. on Saturday couldn't keep the Batavia Ramble and Arts Fest from rolling on, though it did put the music on pause for about an hour.

Paul Draper, one of the festival's organizers, said the music will continue throughout the day, pausing only for more thunder if it comes back.

Bands will continue to take the stage as scheduled, Draper said, just before his band, Shotgun Pauly, started its 2:20 p.m. scheduled set about 10 minutes late, giving him and his guys only 10 minutes to perform.

"We just keep an eye on it," Draper said. "We'll pause and pick up as the weather dictates.  We can only plan so much, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to the weather."

He said plenty of people were sticking around, and the sun had come back out, so, he said, "I still think it's going to be a good day."

Photos by Howard Owens.

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More than two dozen acts set to entertain music lovers at the Ramble on July 1

By Howard B. Owens
paul draper 2017 ramble
File photo. Paul Draper, aka PD3, leader of Shotgun Pauly, during the 2017 Ramble.
Photo by Howard Owens.

The lineup for this year's Batavia Ramble and Art Fest has been released, with 28 acts set to perform on two stages in Downtown Batavia.

The music starts on Saturday, July 1, at 11 a.m., with each band playing a 30-minute set and 10 minutes between acts.

The annual memorial will be held at 5 p.m. in Jackson Square.

The final two bands of the Ramble, The Royal Halls and The Bluesway Band, play at 8:10 p.m. and 8:50 p.m. in Jackson Square.

Jackson Street will again be filled with vendors and booths for local artists.

Jackson Street Stage

  • Dave Knaudt
  • Sky Hinrich
  • Steven Sprauge
  • Steve Kruppner
  • Don Thomas
  • David Holnbeck
  • Kissin' Whisky
  • Tom Ryan & Friends
  • Perception
  • Zackstreet Boys
  • Indigo Flow
  • The Cowboy Vampires

Jackson Square Stage

  • Ghost Riders
  • The Rock-A-Bully's
  • Gumshoe
  • DriVen
  • Bad Sign
  • The Bluesway Band
  • Shotgun Pauly
  • Old Hippies
  • Remedy Three
  • Beethovens Dream
  • Sierra
  • High Pines
  • Sons Of Luther
  • Noah's Reign
  • The Royal Halls
  • The Bluesway Band

The Batavia Ramble Explore Art and Music Festival announced for July 1

By Press Release
bill mcdonald ramble 2022
The Ramble 2022 file photo by Howard Owens.

Press release:

The Ramble Team is once again partnering with the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council (GO ART!) to bring a fun-filled event that has something for everyone, including 25+ bands performing on two stages, an Explore Art tent for kids, street performances, food and much more!  The event will take place in Jackson Square and on Jackson Street on Saturday,  July 1, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“After last year’s successful return, this year’s Batavia Ramble Explore Art and Music Festival is shaping up to be the biggest and best one yet to date,”  said Stephen Kowalcyk. Ramble Event Coordinator 

The coordinators are seeking art vendors, food vendors, sponsors and musicians for the event.  For more information on being a food vendor, art vendor, or a sponsor of the event, contact Mary Jo at  For musician applications, contact Stephen at  

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The Ramble 2022 file photo by Howard Owens.

Positive vibes about Ramble, but concern about its venue redesign

By Joanne Beck


It’s fair to say that Stephen Kowalcyk is intense about what he does.

He has a passion for all things music — from playing the drums to working on the production elements of shows big and small. He might be doing the sound and lighting for a small town bar one night and then for a James Taylor concert the next. It has been his life now for the last two decades.

“I was a drummer since I was a little kid and that's what got me into this. I originally started playing in bands in Jackson Square and bought some lights for my band that I was in, and then when that band broke up, people kept calling me to bring the lights to shows, and next thing I know, I realize I can make money at it. And 20 years later, I'm doing some of the biggest names in the country,” Kowalcyk said to The Batavian during the annual Ramble. “I’ve been in 40 states, toured as a lighting designer, I've been a drummer in some regional bands. I do sound and I'm a union stagehand for some of the biggest concerts at Darien Lake and the Sabres arena, the Blue Cross Arena. I've done in the past month everything from cover bands to Kenny Chesney. So that's what I do for a living.”

A Batavia resident and volunteer fireman with the Town of Batavia, he is a partner with Genesee Production Group, which is “basically a bunch of sole proprietors that all work together,” he said.

As Batavia Ramble hit its 15th year this past weekend, Kowalcyk wants to see the venue of Jackson Square get better and better. He and co-organizer Paul Draper, with help from Jordann Luce, had nothing but praise for how this last Ramble went. Record attendance, beautiful weather, a great line-up of talent and but a few “hiccups,” as Kowalcyk described them. The two-year pandemic break made for a small learning curve to get back up and running smoothly,  he said.

This year featured input from GO ART!, which pleased the Ramble organizers, they said. A variety of cultures, performances, food and art lined Jackson Street for a good part of the day, with Ramble musicians finishing out the late evening in the Square. A basket raffle housed inside Eli Fish was to raise money for kids’ music lessons. That was a plan before Roxy’s owner Rose Caccamise died, and now Kowalcyk and Ramble co-organizer Paul Draper are looking for another nearby music store and teachers to help with the effort.

“We have a larger kids section this year than we've ever had, thanks to GO ART! And that has been extremely helpful. I've seen a lot more kids here than we have in the past,” he said. “So having kids here is something that we wanted to do before. But Paul and myself were never really good at that. We didn't know how to advertise for that and how to do that.”

All of the positives aside, Kowalcyk is perhaps a bit "protective," he said, about the space at Jackson Square and an impending redesign. The city has been awarded a Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant of $750,000 for a project to “transform public space in a public plaza.” Grant specs state that an upgraded plaza is to become a “lively hub and common space for community interaction” while also providing connections to multiple businesses throughout the alleyway.

Who's involved ...
Architectural Resources is the city's firm in charge of the redesign. The city hosted two public meetings in 2021 to gather input from community members regarding the space. The initial plan was to begin construction in the fall of 2021 for a revamped Square by the spring of this year. Bids for the work have been rejected twice due to not fitting the financial cap for the project. City Council more recently rescinded acceptance of a contractor after the company raised the initial bid.

Kowalcyk and Draper want very much to be part of the redesign process and feel that they have been left out in these final stages.

“I have my own opinion on how this area should be taken care of, as I played my first gig here 20 years ago. So it's kind of, it's very sensitive to me, this area's worries,” Kowalcyk said. “One of my first gigs ever was here in 2002-2003. I’ve been playing with bands since then. And it's actually been really huge to the music scene here. A lot of people my age can say that they played some of their first shows in Jackson Square. So it's very sentimental to people our age because in the early 2000s, that was one of the very few places that people that weren't 21 could play shows. So we don't want to see it turn into something that it's not … it's not an amphitheater, we know that. But we also know that being a free and open venue that the city allows us to use, it's a great asset to the city and to our music scene.”

Wanting to be more involved ...
Based on the last plans he was aware of, Kowalcyk heard that the roof would be made of glass, the stage wouldn’t be very high and a handicap-accessible ramp was targeted for the front of it. He appreciates that City Manager Rachael Tabelski “was very good to me once she realized how much it meant to us,” he said. But after those initial conversations with the design team, “there’s been no communications with us.”

“And obviously, I will straight up say, this is the largest event that happens in Jackson Square. We should be a part of the conversation on what happens with the design team. And I feel like we weren't a part of that initially until I kind of stuck my foot in the door and said, ‘Hey, we really need to be, you should listen to what we have to say. Because we have a lot of people that have a strong opinion on what happens back here.’”

The Batavian emailed questions to Tabelski, who said that her response is the same as it was when Kowalcyk and Draper spoke out in 2021. Input from citizens has been “heard and considered, and incorporated into the design,” she said, including those affiliated with the Ramble, which happens once a year.

“For the design side and bidding, we have to use a professionally licensed architect and engineer to complete the project for safety and liability reasons. The City will continue to look at the project and get the best outcome for the public gathering space and fulfill the DRI funding commitment,” Tabelski said.  “Just like with many public works projects, after citizen input is solicited and incorporated, the design/engineering/construction process is managed by professional city staff.  In this case, the project should already have been completed and I will be re-evaluating the architectural bid specs and seeking modifications so we can achieve an on-budget construction project that enhances Jackson Square.”

No throwing of stones, just suggestions ...
Well, if by chance the architects are listening, Kowalcyk wants to pitch his thoughts: no ramp right in front of performers and a solid roof for the stage “would prove beneficial.” Glass is a nice design element, he said, but given the open space with little shade, glass could make it unbearable for performers on a hot sunny day.

“We need shade at this time of year and almost every year when we do this. It's nearly the longest day of the year, and it's almost one of the hottest days of the year. Yeah, so we're looking for shade. That is the biggest thing,” he said. “Everyone knows that I'm a liaison between this event and the city, okay, so they've been coming to me, and I've been getting emails and phone calls and text messages saying you cannot let them go with a glass roof.”

Another complaint he’s been hearing is that a large portion of that $750,000 was going to replace the concrete and brick in Jackson Square. It wasn’t that long ago since it was last repaired, he said, and “really not that bad.”

“I hate to see the majority of our budget go to that aspect, where I don't think it's going to make that much of an improvement. The average person's not gonna come in there and see that much,” he said.

No disrespect to the design team, he said, but other missing elements (as far as he’s aware) include permanent lighting for night show options and a screen that could be pulled down for movies and other uses.

“With the right design of a stage, we could have built a little small AV corner to do that. And we're only talking hundreds of dollars, not thousands of dollars. It would have been easy to do the power button,” he said.

After speaking with a member of the City Council last year, Kowalcyk said he was told that the DRI grant was on a timeline and that money had to be spent and work completed to fulfill the requirements as a “use it or lose it” situation.  The member had indicated that it would be better to “get it done and then fix it later.”

“And I’m like no, that is not how you do that. That is a PR nightmare; you do not fix it after the fact,” he said. “I would like to do it right the first time and not come back and try to fix it because, why spend the extra money?”

To be clear, this was one person’s remark to Kowalcyk and apparently not an official comment about the design team’s approach.

Other team players ...
Kowalcyk has a sincere interest in promoting and utilizing the Square for a full plate of events beyond the Ramble, he said. He hopes to work with the Batavia Business Improvement District for future Rambles and other ideas, as the Square is right in BID’s backyard. BID has hosted the Jackson Square Friday night music series for several years, plus some Thursday nights this summer.

The Batavia BID board is updated monthly on the project, and has provided feedback to the City through the process, Tabelski said. BID Executive Director Shannon Maute said Tuesday that she is “open to anything” that would benefit the downtown area. She didn’t know why Ramble and BID organizers ever stopped collaborating on the effort, but she would be willing to do so, Maute said.

As for the Jackson Square redesign, aside from cleaning up the area, leave well enough alone, she said. An old relic of the past, it's a nostalgic space that she appreciates.

“As for me personally, I want it the way it is … it’s one of the very few things unchanged in downtown. The stage has worked,” she said. “If the city wants to revamp it, I’m fine with that as well.”

Kowalcyk likewise wants to work with the BID, he said. His vision of the Ramble is to perhaps make it a two-day event. As for the venue, he’d like to include affairs beyond the current line-up, such as themed DJ, 80s, hip-hop nights and other genres. 

“In the future, I see us actually being involved together, I fully plan on working with them. It just didn't happen this year, because we got far behind on where we wanted to be. GO ART! actually approached us to work together on this event. We've talked to them in the past and said that this would be a great event to work together on, and it didn't come to fruition. So this year it actually benefited both of us at the same time. It's been great working together; it’s fun.”

As co-organizer Paul Draper said, they believe Jackson Square is “a great space, a wonderful space, and it should be utilized to the maximum amount.”

“And we’ve just got to make sure that what they're planning is going to be able to benefit that, I guess,” Draper said. “I don't ever want to leave the square, I think this is a beautiful spot. It's just, you know, it's kitchy coo. For visibility, … I think we did a really, really good job. GO ART! is doing a fantastic job on the other end of it. So I'm happy with what we've been able to do so far. So going forward, just kind of what we've been doing is, changing, building up, seeing what works, what doesn't work, and kind of go from there. But I like what we have to offer this year.”

He and Kowalcyk agreed that one of the Square’s best-kept secrets — and not always fully recognized — is that it allows musicians that typically are in their own venues to get together, see one another and enjoy that rare time together.

“It's an interesting thing because a lot of us are in bands. We don't necessarily get to go out and see our friends that are in bands because we're in bands playing,” Draper said, as Kowalcyk admitted he had never thought of it that way.

“This is like the only time where we can actually see all our friends play in the same place,” Kowalcyk said. “That's actually really cool.”

Photo: Batavia Ramble organizers Stephen Kowalcyk, Jordann Luce, and Paul Draper take a moment on July 2 to pause during this year's music and arts festival at Jackson Square. Photo by Howard Owens.

Time for some music, pedestrian-friendly fare and a visit during Batavia Ramble

By Joanne Beck


Chuck and Kathy Walters just happened to be driving down Main Street, Batavia Saturday when they noticed some commotion on Jackson Street.

The entrance was closed, but the rhythmic beat of drums and tents along the street enticed them to stop for a visit.

“We didn’t know this was happening,” Mrs. Walters said during the annual Batavia Ramble Explore Art and Music Fest. “We watched the African drummers and dancing … it’s the first time I’ve seen African music that’s not on TV.”

Womba, a group of authentic African performers, was a new element to the music festival. Organized by GO ART!, a series of culturally rich musicians and dancers, artists, crafters and puppeteers filled the street with activities throughout the day.



The Walters found a spot at a picnic table to nosh on grilled hotdogs from a nearby food stand. Troupe Nisaa members, dressed in sparkly, colorful outfits, performed a traditional bellydance at one end while a singer belted out tunes at the Jackson Street stage on the other end near Ellicott Street.

“They should have more of these,” Mrs. Walters said, adding that they would “definitely” come again next year.

The Bergen couple agreed that it was nice to visit Batavia, especially since “they’ve got so much more than Bergen.”

When asked if they would like to see anything else at the event, Mr. Walters suggested a large sign with a schedule for visitors to know what’s happening, when and where. They had never attended a Ramble and had not been to Jackson Square before.

Mrs. Walters likes country western music, she said, and would like to see that featured.

Overall, though, she was ready for more.

“I would like a two-day event,” she said.

As the Walters finished and walked away, Jay and Christine Elmore and a friend, all of Le Roy, sat down to enjoy some Red Osier fare. Mrs. Elmore’s sandwich was filled with prime rib, coleslaw and barbecue sauce, capped by a roll with salty crystals promising a sweet and savory bite.

“This is so good,” she said.

She and her friend had gone to a concert at Batavia Downs Friday, and decided to return Saturday to use their freeplay money. They then stopped downtown, first at O’Lacy’s and then the Ramble just around the corner.



Foot traffic had thinned out some, and most art vendors had left by that time in the early evening. Mrs. Elmore suggested that a corn hole tournament would be a fun addition to draw people and provide more interaction.

“My husband is a huge cornhole (fan), that would be a big draw,” she said. “It would bring a lot of out-of-towners.”

Her husband Jay agreed that he’s really into the game, but not exactly sure why. His wife suggested that it’s about the competition and camaraderie of people getting together.

It may be something for Ramble organizers, including lighting and sound man Stephen Kowalcyk to consider for next year. During a talk with The Batavian, he had mentioned wanting to expand the offerings at Jackson Square, including themed music nights.

“This is an awesome asset to this music scene. Typically, I would like to see some new stuff in here. I've talked to the owners in here (Eli Fish), we have some ideas of doing some DJ nights out there, or doing an 80s night, one night, maybe a hip hop night or something just to change things up,” he said. “And I think that benefits all the restaurants around here. So it'd be a fun thing to do.”

See also:

Top photo: Chuck and Kathy Walters of Bergen stop for a bite during Batavia Ramble Explore Art and Music Fest Saturday downtown. Photo by Joanne Beck.

Womba entertains spectators at the GO ART! tent, a crowd enjoying the art vendors, food, and cultural performances on Jackson Street Saturday. Photo by Howard Owens.

Ramble mixes art, dance, music, food and people for winning recipe Saturday

By Joanne Beck


Raymond Doward had a couple of tables full of his acrylics and watercolors during Saturday’s Batavia Ramble Explore Art and Music Fest.

Paintings focused largely on people — often in silhouette form — plus animals, landscapes, sports and a bit of politics, he said. There was a watercolor eagle with a U.S. flag in red, white and blue, and a portrait of former President Obama. Other works featured dogs, mostly of their faces, looking endearingly at the observer, and some abstracts that he's been including more recently, he said.

A Batavia native, Doward has a studio at Harvester Center and sells online through eBay. The soulful earthiness of his work seems to lend well to his role as a “minister of the Gospel.” Or maybe it’s the other way around.

A soft-spoken Doward feels as though he has a God-given talent that he’s not about to squander.

“I’ve always enjoyed art. I could be looking at the sky and think, oh, that'd be a beautiful painting, and it in and of itself inspires me,” said the 1978 Batavia High School grad. “I like painting families; the importance of family. Also, I love to see the work of other artists. And then I can kind of gain some insight.”

His biggest accomplishments so far have been to have a work published in International Artists contemporary magazine, he said, and to have another piece — in grays and turquoise-hued blues — licensed by NBC Universal Studios as a backdrop for the Megyn Kelly Today show.

“I do I feel like He gave me the gift and the talents and so I don't want to waste it,” Doward said. “I’m also trying to show my grandchildren that they can do the same thing if they are motivated and stay focused.”

His young granddaughter Aniya helped her grandfather at the vendor booth. It’s an understatement to say she appreciates his art.

“There's so many emotions about it. Yeah. Every piece is different and tells its own story,” she said. “When I get older, like when I get my own house, I already know no other painting will be in my house.”

For more information, check out Raymond Doward 

Meanwhile, down the alley between Jackson and Center streets, a main stage was rocking with continuous bands into the evening.


Spectators in lawn chairs were lined up in rows in front of the stage. Many people opted to duck inside adjacent Center Street Smokehouse or Eli Fish Brewing Company for a drink, food or to get some relief from the hot but gorgeous weather outside.

One spectator apparently fainted from the heat and had to be escorted out by stretcher for medical follow-up. That was a brief bump in the day, as all involved continued on with their tasks at hand.

Restaurant manager Sydney Carli said the day had been busy at Eli Fish. The restaurant had obtained a permit so that drinks could be taken outside, she said.

“It’s been great, the bar’s been hopping,” she said. “It seems like it’s been going really well.”

Organizers Stephen Kowalcyk and Paul Draper agreed that it was one of -- if not the -- best Rambles in its 15-year history. Kowalcyk estimated some 2,000 to 2,500 people in attendance throughout the day and early evening. Still, the event had a bittersweet taste to it, Draper said. Prior Rambles had up to three stages on nearby streets with 30 or more bands playing. This year featured 26 bands.

"I say bittersweet because the bands are back in business. And I love that, you know, everyone's working out for the holidays,  the bands are getting back out there getting gigs. It's a truly wonderful thing," Draper said. "So even though it's a little bit smaller on the band side this year, we had more things to offer on the art side. So I'm really, really pleased about that. And yeah, everyone that we had here this year, tremendous talents. I mean, everyone brought their A game, so I couldn't be happier."

See also:


Top photo: Raymond Doward of Batavia shows one of his larger works on display at Batavia Ramble Art and Music Fest Saturday on Jackson Street, Batavia. Musician and longtime Ramble participant Michael Murray plays with Beethoven's Dream in Jackson Square, as spectators relax in their chairs during the all-day event. Photos by Howard Owens.

Photos: Batavia Ramble Art and Music Festival 2022

By Howard B. Owens


More sites from Saturday's Ramble Music & Arts Festival in Downtown Batavia.

See also:

Top photo: Bill Macdonald playing with Beethoven's Dream Group

Photos by Howard Owens.


Kay Macdonald with Beethoven's Dream Group




Crimson Crossroads


Crimson Crossroads




High Pines


High Pines


The Remediators




African drumming, bellydancing, interactive crafts and plenty of music for Ramble Arts & Music Fest

By Joanne Beck



What do you call a fun, outdoor, multi-pronged event geared for adults, families and children of all ages?

It’s the Batavia Ramble Explore Arts & Music Festival, of course. Filled with a full day of live bands, African drumming, a larger-than-life puppet show, interactive theater workshop, and Mexican, African and belly dancers, this fest incorporates the best of the sights and sounds for spectators, organizers say.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 2 at Jackson Square, tucked between Center and Jackson streets, Batavia.

Beginning the arts end of the event at 10 a.m., there will be a children’s camp of arts projects, face painting, temporary tattoos, caricatures, sidewalk chalk drawings, take-home crafts and other assorted activities, GLOW Traditions Director Karen Canning said. The camp will be found at the Explore Art tent, and runs until 5 p.m.

Meanwhile, Artsapalooza has two sessions, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Meant especially for families with young children, the palooza features the Springville Center for the Arts touring troupe centered around a theater performance by resident artists using large-sized puppets. This is an interactive theater experience that lures kids into the fun while ukuleles and drumming warm up the crowd, Canning said.

Drop-in visual arts stations encourage kids to make art while also watching the show.

“This promises to be a fun-filled and enriching experience for all ages,” she said. “GO ART! is happy to join with the Ramble to add opportunities to explore dance, visual, theater and diverse musical arts. The Artsapalooza program that we are able to sponsor this year will definitely be something different and fun for everyone to enjoy.”


Later in the afternoon the sounds of authentic, traditional African drumming, songs and dance from Ghana will be led by Quaye Odai of Womba Africa, a cultural drum and dance group that’s part of the Ga Adangbe People in greater Accra, Ghana.

Known as a tribe with a rich history and culture distinctive from other major ethnic groups, these performers first came to the United States in 2019 to compete on America’s Got Talent. They settled into Rochester after the show and now give workshops and performances throughout New York State at schools, libraries, community centers, festivals and parties.

“Anywhere that people are ready to move and renew their body and soul,” she said.

A workshop for families runs from 4 to 5 p.m. with a performance from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. at the GO ART! stage.


Womba Africa’s performances showcase their unique culture through costumes, instruments, rhythms, dance, and songs, Canning said. The costumes’ colorful Ghanaian fabrics are embedded with Adinkra symbols, with each symbol having a distinctive meaning.


The instruments include drums, xylophones, flutes, and a variety of shakers and bells. They are mostly handmade from wood, bamboo, gourds and seeds or beads, with drumheads from goat, cow and antelope skins. Womba’s songs and rhythms “intertwine in a characteristic African, polyphonic manner, blending distinct voices into a tapestry of rhythm, harmony and color,” she said.

Next up is Troupe Nisaa (pronounced Nee-Say), with many styles of belly dancing, from 6:30 to 7 p.m. Performers put an emphasis on Fusion Style and include “beautiful, strong women who gather together to enjoy the art of bellydance.”


“The Troupe believes strongly in the sisterhood bond of bellydance, and supports and promotes the empowerment of the feminine through their dancing,” she said.

Capping off the lively arts-themed day is Alma de Mexico from 7:15 to 8 p.m.

Karla Slack Alcalá was born and raised in Mexico City, and is in love with her country, customs and traditions, Canning said. From a very young age, Alcalá had a passion for dancing, and at the age of 8 years, her mother “noticed her eagerness and thankfully enrolled her in Mexican folklore dance classes,” she said.

“Karla has over 25 years of teaching experience serving at Casa de Cultura de Acolman, Grupo Mexicatlalli, and at other dance school programs in Mexico. She holds a diploma in Art from CEDART Luis Spota and is an interdisciplinary artist and physical and wellness educator who focuses her efforts on Mexican traditions, Canning said.

“Karla has taught, performed, and choreographed numerous dance programs within the Mexican territory and in other countries like Cuba, Belgium, Spain, Basque country and Guatemala,” she said. “She loves movement and obtained a degree in Physical Education. She believes that sports and dance are perfect tools for our abilities and the development of motor skills. In her dance classes, there was always time to play and integrate sports.”

In 2013, Alcalá left Mexico for the United States and is now making the Rochester area her second home. With a goal to preserve the soul of Mexico, she is leading Alma de Mexico program as the artistic director and is responsible for three different groups of children, youth, and adults. The program’s principal objective is​ to show her Mexican culture through music, costumes, and folkloric dance, Canning said.

“We're very excited to bring Womba Africa Drumming and Dance, Ghanaian master drummers and dancers who have recently moved to the Rochester region. Along with Alma de Mexico, and Nisaa Belly Dance, these artists lead audiences into their unique cultural traditions through a shared enjoyment of rhythm, movement, color, and sheer joy of making music,” she said. “There are many connections audiences will find as they listen and watch -- and move.”


On the musical side, event coordinator Paul Draper has a slew of bands to fill out the day into the evening with tunes. The lineup includes:

  • The Ghost Riders
  • Groove
  • Warren Skye and Friends
  • Kissin' Whiskey
  • DriVen
  • The Trolls 2.0
  • Lonesome Road
  • Marnie Kay and the Nonblonds
  • Beethoven's Dream Group
  • Sierra
  • Jostepa Trio
  • Noah Gokey
  • The Bluesway Band
  • Zackstreet Boys
  • Steve Kruppner
  • Tom Ryan and Friends
  • PD3
  • Knaudt and Chua
  • Vette
  • Midnight Cruisers
  • Brick
  • Spare Parts
  • High Pines
  • The Remediators
  • Bad Sign

Top photo: Womba Africa; a prior Batavia Ramble Arts & Music Fest; Womba Africa drummers; Troupe Nisaa; Batavia Ramble. Arts photos submitted by Karen Canning. 2018 File Photos of Batavia Ramble. Photos by Howard Owens.

Batavia’s Ramble returns this year with music, art and new name

By Joanne Beck


Downtown Batavia will be booming with live music once again this summer, organizer Paul Draper says.

After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the annual Ramble event will resume on July 2 at Jackson Square.

“We’ve partnered with GO ART! this year to help us not only grow the entire event but also bring more of a presence to the ‘arts’ side of the festival,” Draper said to The Batavian Wednesday. “We are very excited about the partnership and are looking forward to bringing them into the fold.”

The event’s name has been tweaked to The Batavia Ramble Explore Art & Music Festival. Downtown Batavia is to be filled with art displays, family-friendly activities and, of course, a line-up of hometown bands for a Saturday full of live music.

There are sparse details on the GO ART! and Batavia Ramble Facebook pages, but both promise updates as they become available. Executive Director Gregory Hallock was not available for comment. GO ART! staff posted about the long-awaited return:

“It’s going to be an incredible festival with a ton of great bands, artists, vendors and food. Applications for vendors/bands/artists will be available soon!”

Batavia Ramble has posted an application for bands, with the fair warning that slots are filling up fast for this year.

For more information, go to:

Form over function? Promoters of The Ramble Music Fest not in tune with Jackson Square stage design elements

By Mike Pettinella


The redesigned Jackson Square looks great, but is it functional?

That’s a question that promoters of The Batavia Ramble Music & Arts Festival are hoping City of Batavia officials and representatives of Architectural Resources consider before breaking ground on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative project later this year.

“They’re putting too much emphasis on the artistic aspect of the design and they’re forgetting about the practicality of what it is used for,” said Stephen Kowalczyk, who has been involved in sound, lighting and (recently) administration of The Ramble since its inception 13 years ago.

Kowalczyk expressed his opinion this afternoon – a day after community residents made their way to the venue between Jackson and Center streets near Center Street Smoke House for an informational meeting set up by city leaders and the Buffalo design firm hired to bring new life to the property.

Enhancing Jackson Square is being funded by a strategic investment grant of $750,000 from the New York State DRI program.

Kowalczyk and co-promoter Paul Draper said their main issues are with components of the proposed stage – its configuration, roofing material, its height and placement of a handicap ramp. He said they gave suggestions to the architect previously, but believe their input was disregarded.

City Manager Rachel Tabelski, in an email message this afternoon, did report that The Ramble musicians requested officials to re-examine the sound acoustics, specifically the “current canopy design of the stage and the materiality of the canopy as well as the stage height and the ramp access point to the stage.”

She said the city will work with Architectural Resources to modify the design to accommodate the commentary, including the canopy and stage.

“We want the citizens of Batavia to utilize Jackson Square for a multitude of events and will continue to work through design to get it correct,” she said.

Kowalczyk provided his “blueprint” for making the area not only attractive but practical:

  • Changing the stage's proposed glass roof to wood with 50-year metal roofing over it.

He said a see-through roof idea is not appropriate for the setting.

“Maybe in an open park it might work but it does not work in a concrete jungle that is Jackson Square,” he said. “It’s already an acoustical nightmare because of all the concrete walls, and they’re just going to make it worse by adding more reflective surfaces that are angled inappropriately to the way a band would be on stage.”

  • Changing the stage from the proposed oblong shape to a rectangle.

“There are no right angles on the stage. Every single cut that they’re going to have to make in building this is going to be an odd angle that will take more resources and time to build,” he said. “We’re just asking for a simple rectangle stage with a normal roof on it so the band can have its gear protected and have some shade from the sun.”

  • Keeping the height of the stage at 30 inches instead of the proposed 16 and moving a new handicap ramp from the front of the stage to behind it to avoid having to go over any cables and wires.

“The height of the stage is the biggest thing that’s killing me,” he said. “They’re cutting the stage almost in half, which means anyone further back is not going to be able to see anything.”

Kowalczyk said the proposed design “is not functional or practical for any live event out there except maybe a poetry slam.”

“They kept talking about a poetry slam. For someone who has done acoustic shows there, with the motorcycles and trucks going by, you can’t get away with doing anything with the spoken word. It’s too noisy.”

He said he was hoping to attract band recitals and start movie nights, but the stage reconfiguration would make it difficult to hang banners or a projector screen.

Draper said he thinks the architect had “good intentions but they were considering the design more than the utility of the event space.”

“It seems like they could have done a better job if they would have listened to people who actually utilize the space,” he added.

Tabelski said that the pavement and lighting element feedback was “all positive.”

“The concept integrates many historical layers of Batavia including the Great Bend -- changing the trajectory of the Tonawanda Creek -- the Ancient Seneca Footpaths and the history of ‘old’ downtown Batavia,” she said.

Following approval of the final design concept, the project will move to the construction bidding phase. Groundbreaking is expected this fall, with completion anticipated next spring.

A call to Justina Dziama of Architectural Design this morning was not returned.



Architect renderings of the proposed Enhanced Jackson Square project.

Video: The 2019 Ramble & Arts Festival

By Howard B. Owens
Video Sponsor
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The rain could only delay the 2019 Ramble & Arts Festival. It couldn't keep it from rockin'.

Bonus track: DriVen performs The Who's Baba O'Riley.

Ramble delayed by rain, schedule remains the same

By Howard B. Owens


The annual Ramble Music and Arts Festival is delayed by rain but the show will go on, said organizer Paul Draper.

As the weather clears, bands will perform at their previously scheduled slots.  

The current storm passing through the region is expected to last two hours with rain in the forecast off and on throughout the day until 6 p.m. The Ramble will continue until 10 p.m. 

Ramble Music & Arts Festival is July 6th in Downtown Batavia with 30+ bands, four food trucks and more

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Batavia Ramble Music & Arts Festival, in partnership with Eli Fish Brewing Co., will be held from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 6th.

The Batavia Ramble

In short: One day, two outdoor main stages, 30+ bands, food trucks, craft vendors, artist displays and much more!

Where: This will be held on Center Street and Jackson Square in Downtown Batavia.

Important Things to Note

This event is FREE to the public thanks to the generous donations from our sponsors.

Seating is festival style and B.Y.O.C. (bring your own chair)


Music: Two outdoor main stages with more than 30 musical acts throughout the day! With a variety of music ranging from classic and modern rock to country to blues and everything in between!

Vendors: Lots of unique craft and art vendors to peruse while enjoying the sights and sounds of the Batavia Ramble.

Food: This year we are adding FOUR amazing food trucks to the event!

  • Red Osier Landmark Restaurant -- We can do anything that is on our Red Osier menu, from prime rib sandwiches or prime rib dinners to lobsters!
  • Over The Border -- Fresh, quality Mexican food sure to fill your stomach! From tacos, to burritos to taco bowls and churros!
  • Buckaroos -- Specializing in Poutine! From original to varieties including Philly cheese steak, pulled pork and country-fried steak! They will also have some of your standard carnival favorites including fried dough!
  • Center Street Smokehouse -- Real Southern BBQ, pulled pork,Texas BBQ beef brisket, and bacon mac & cheese!


Eli Fish Brewing Co.

Cedar Street Rentals

L & L Transmission

R.A. Haitz Roofing & Siding

Bourbon & Burger Co.

T-shirts ETC

Center Street Smokehouse

Glenna's CBD

For additional information: contact us at or leave us a message right on our facebook page at

Photos: 2018 Ramble Music and Arts Festival

By Howard B. Owens


Once again, lots of music fans, lots of musicians, lots of music, and lots of fun at the Ramble Music and Arts Festival in Jackson Square and on Center Street, Batavia.

The bands performing during our visit to the festival yesterday were Lonesome Road, Sierra, Noah's Reign, Rock Soulgers, and The Bluesway Band.














Thirty-four acts on tap for 2018 Batavia Ramble this Saturday

By Howard B. Owens


Photo: Paul Draper and Stephen Kowalcyk, co-directors of the 2018 Batavia Ramble Music and Arts Festival.

Press release:

The 2018 Batavia Ramble Music & Arts Festival will be held on Saturday, July 7th, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. This year we will have two main stages that will feature live performances from 34 local bands & artists.

The "Eli Fish" stage will be located in Jackson Square and the "Center Street" stage will be located in the parking lot across from Center Street Smoke House.

Along with musical performances, we will also have local artists, craft vendors and food trucks lined up all along Center Street.

As always, The Batavia Ramble is free to the public so bring a chair and a few friends and come and check out the biggest show in Batavia! For additional information, please email Paul Draper III at

The 2018 music lineup:

 Eli Fish Stage:

  • Ghost Riders
  • Me & Red
  • Koko & The Moon Crickets
  • Justin Williams Band
  • Shotgun Pauly
  • Trolls 2.0
  • Genesee Ted
  • Driven
  • Zero
  • Old Hippies
  • Sierra
  • Noahs Reign
  • Bluesway Band
  • Warren Skye & Friends
  • Eagle Creek
  • Justin Crossett Band
  • Audibull

Center Street Stage:

  • J. Hopkins
  • Grizzwoode
  • PD3
  • Dave Holnbeck
  • Steve Kruppner
  • Kruppner Brothers
  • Jenny & Michelle
  • Beethovan's Dream Group Again
  • The Live Bait Band
  • The Pedestrians
  • Lonesome Road
  • Rock Soulgers
  • Gretchen & The Girls
  • Blues Daddios
  • Mercury Express
  • Conspiracy Theory
  • We are Groot

Dozens of acts set to take the stage in annual Batavia Ramble and Arts Fest

By Howard B. Owens

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

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