Traveling to Rochester on a cold and windy Groundhog’s Day, with some hope for an early Spring knowing that Phil had not seen his shadow, we pulled in around 6:30pm to grab a quick bite to eat at The Owl House, which turned out to be a great choice! Finishing up our dinner we cruised down to The Water Street Music Hall, thinking about what we had in store for this night of endless music. There were a total of four bands to perform the second of a two night “Creekend”.
The Water Street Music Hall is a really cool venue because it has two separate stages located in adjacent rooms from one another. On the side stage, Third Wind, a Rochester based rock band, performed first. Faith Lasher, vocalist and woodwind section of the group, was the highlight of this band. This lady could really dig in and had some great moments throughout their set. They played a few originals along with a cover of Phish’s “Character Zero”, The Grateful Dead’s “Eyes of the World” and an old Traditional that the Grateful Dead also made their own, “Viola Lee Blues.”
After Third Wind ended, the doors were opened and everyone was allowed in to the main room to check out another Rochester based Indie/Rock unit, Axis Armada. These guys were phenomenal all around. The best way to describe them is like a new age mix of Pearl Jam meets Led Zeppelin. Not only was this band full of energy, they also were multi-instrumentalists who knew their way in and out of anything they played. Beyond having amazing original material they also flawlessly covered hits like “Sympathy For The Devil” by The Rolling Stones and “Trampled Under Foot,” by Led Zeppelin. The band had captivated the audiences attention and I felt everyone respected the way they held themselves on the stage. If you have not heard of these guys, do yourself a favor and check them out!
Back on the side stage Cravin’ Bliss was ready to take the crowd in a different direction, with a very Jerry Garcia Band/ Grateful Dead feel to them! They opened their set with “Feel Like A Stranger” by the Grateful Dead followed by a great cover of Jimmy Cliff’s “The Harder They Come” made famous in the Dead scene by the Jerry Garcia Band. Afterwards bassist Aaron Stopka explained that they opened with “Stranger,” because of Strangers Helping Strangers, a non-profit organization who were there to help with the local food bank. SHS was also raffling off a guitar signed by all the members of Max Creek. The band then went into a wonderful rendition of “Powderfinger” by Neil Young. They didn’t stop there, proving to the crowd that they also had some great original material up their sleeves. These guys are definitely worth a night out to see!
Before the Bliss ended we were escorted backstage by HerbyOne from UpstateLIVE to have a meet and greet with Max Creek. Lindsey was able to get some great group shots of the band before they took the stage. Max Creek is a five-piece ensemble out of Connecticut, consisting of guitarist Scott Murawski, keyboardist Mark Mercier, bassist John Rider, drummer Bill Carbone and percussionist Jamemurrell “Jay” Stanley. Not only are these guys top notch musicians whom have played with some really big names, but also the kindest of people out there! They were very humble, firing off jokes to one another. John Rider yelled “Let’s get some pics of the back end,” meaning Bill, Jay and himself. Afterwards Scott without waiting a second yells, “Now let’s get some pics of the real musicians!” I almost died. We said our goodbyes and wished them a great show. About ten minutes later, it was showtime!
The first set opened with a cover of Paul Simon’s “Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes,” offGraceland. It was a hit and the crowd filled with ‘Creek Freaks’, an assortment of fans ranging in age knew this night would not disappoint! After ending the tune, John signaled to Scott that it was his turn. Scott shook his head and started off “Emerald Eyes,” an original written by Murawski. At this point the guys took the song for a ride with a phenomenal jam that had a “Linus and Lucy,” tease near the tail end. After segueing into another original “Blood Red Roses,” led by bassist John Rider, the energy was there. Smiles were being tossed from onstage to the crowd and back. This was one of those moments you rarely get to see in music anymore. I always search for that feeling and it always seems to slip away, but not with this band. They make you have a sense of just being home! Continuing into a cover of The Band’s “Rag Mama Rag,” the roof was about to give way, followed by original “Devil’s Heart” into a blazing version of Rod Stewart and Ron Wood’s “Stay With Me.” All of the members had their time to shine on this one, bringing the set to a high end point. During the setbreak the band came out and greeted family, friends and fans alike. When do musicians of this caliber ever do this anymore? Not too often, showing once again why this group is different from the rest!
Set two started and a familiar tune was coming through, a cover of Little Feat’s “All That You Dream!” These guys cannot disappoint! Mark Mercier took a second to tell the audience that he loves this time of year, because it’s close to Mardi Gras and it gives him a chance to play some songs that he normally doesn’t do. He then lead the band into “Glory,Glory/Since I Laid My Burden Down,” a traditional Gospel song, followed by another John Rider original “You’re The Only One,” a crowd pleaser that John asked the crowd to join in on the chorus for a few rounds, then telling everyone to sing it ‘like a pirate,’ as Scott and John danced around on stage yelling “Arrhh” and swinging their arms! “The Field” was next which took flight into an amazing Drums jam lead by Bill Carbone. After picking up our jaws from the ground, the band plunged into “Tequila,” originally recorded by The Champs, and the crowd loved it, helping to sing along to the orchestrated parts yelling ‘Tequila!’ The covers didn’t end there, with a great version of “Long Train Runnin’” from The Doobie Brothers and a set closing Murawski original,”Just A Rose.”
The encore came and the music kept on coming. The guys opened with “Twelfth Street Rag,” a number composed by Euday L. Bowman almost a century ago in 1914, followed by one of my favorite Bob Dylan tunes, “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight.” This was really well played and then took a turn into a wonderful rendition of The Who’s “Eminence Front.” This concluded the never ending night of tunes that filled the air. For the price you paid at the door, there is no way you could complain about the amount and quality of music that was given out on an evening like this. What a great night of music, culminating with the best of the acts, Max Creek, proving how expertise and having a love for the music and their fans is the way to capture the mind. Til’ the next time.
Set 1: Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes, Emerald Eyes > Blood Red Roses > Rag Mama Rag, Devil’s Heart >, Stay With Me
Set 2: All That You Dream, Since I Laid My Burden Down, You’re The Only One, The Field > Drums, Tequila, Long Train Runnin’ , Just A Rose
Encore: 12th Street Rag, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, Eminence Front
(Originally published on UpstateLIVE.com)