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  • Inspired On The Road

    "The plot thickens as I race back into the house to get a few more things that we need so we can get on the road. Thirty minutes late already, but the future holds endless possibilities. The cascading scenery flows by, like our minds have been forced into the fast forward position from a remote control. Life is here, open for us to see and take control of, or let slip through our fingers this time around. Friendly faces arise from crowds, and laughter fills the room, creating an electrifying feeling that makes ones hair stand on end. This feeling is our souls reaching a higher, almost spiritual realm of togetherness. Go throw out your dirty socks, get a bag together and prepare yourself to be inspired on the road."

    Here are the musings of a musician and a photographer capturing a life of art...

The Werks to Perform Nietzsche’s in Buffalo on Wednesday February 13th and The Westcott Theater in Syracuse on February 14th

 

The Werks will be performing Wednesday, February 13th at Buffalo’s Historic Venue Nietzsche’son Allen Street. The show starts at 9pm with two local acts, Slip Madigan and The MKG’s, both of which are great in their own right! This show is 21+ and will cost $10 at the door. On Thursday, February 14th, The Werks head to The Westcott Theater in Syracuse with Second Dam and The Methodist Bells opening up. Tickets for the Syracuse show are $12-15 and is an all ages affair.

The Werks have quickly emerged as a national powerhouse. As a result of their eclectic individual influences, The Werks produce a dance party that can be appreciated by a majority of musical tastes. Fusing the psychedelic shredding guitar and screaming organ of jam and classic rock with funk slap bass, synthesizers, and modern dance beats, The Werks create their own style of music best described as ‘Psychedelic Dance Rock’. Their unique style of performing is affected and manipulated by the energy of the audience, guaranteeing that each show will be different and memorable.

The success is largely credited to the hard work of their street team as well as to the dedication of the band, their fans and a unique performance.  The band regularly tours the US and holds their annual music festival, entitled “The Werk Out Music and Arts Festival“, each September.

The Werks have released 4 albums entitled: Dig It (2007), Synapse (2009), The Werks Live at The Werk Out Music Festival (2010) and their self-titled album, The Werks (2012).  Make sure to catch their show at Nietzsche’s which is a CD release show as part of their Funemployment Tour.

THE WERKS websiteFacebookTwitter

 

Originally published on UpstateLIVE.com

Written by Jason Staniszewski

Winter Creek Fest with Max Creek at Water Street Music Hall in Rochester on Saturday, Feb 2nd

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.

Setlist:

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)

Interview with BadFish Bassist Joel Hanks, playing The Town Ballroom on Friday, February 15th

On January 30th I had the opportunity to have a chat with Joel Hanks, Bass Player for Badfish, to ask him a few questions about the band, their show at The Town Ballroom in Buffalo on February 15th and what their future holds for the band.

Jason Staniszewski:  What was the plan behind this project, and are you guys excited with how big it has gotten?

Joel Hanks: Yeah, I mean the plan was sort of, well there was no plan, it was really just, playing, yaou know like, we were just fine playing, nobody ever saw Sublime play live, because of Bradley’s death, so why not do the show that’s what happened you know? I was still in college at the time I was 21 so I wasn’t too familiar with the whole tribute act thing ya know, too much of the music scene and the touring scene or anything like that. I’ve been in bands before but not anything that became this serious obviously, I didn’t really know about tribute bands, I didn’t know it was a thing that really existed that much, you know? It was nice, I was like ‘Hey let’s play some Sublime songs, do the show and see what happens. Have fun and we will play some Sublime songs and shoot from there.’

 

photo Lindsey Robinson Photography

 

JS: Cool that’s great man. That’s awesome. Are you guys excited with the crowds you have been getting?

JH: Yeah I mean it’s definitely something way beyond anything we thought exists.

JS: That’s awesome. Alright here’s another one: Are there any funny things you guys do on the road while you are travel, like any different out of the ordinary type deal things?

JH: Nah, I mean its become very professional now. You know we’ve done it for so long now. We try to take our bikes on the road to get exercise try to stay in shape. On different tours we try to have a game to play, like after a show, like game of Putter Golf or Corn Hole or something.

JS: Cool that’s great man, that’s exactly what I was looking for, something like that. Do you guys have any new gear for the tour, are you using any new equipment?

JH: Yeah well we’ve actually just all went wireless. This will be the first tour we will all be wireless, so that’s good, and I did personally pick up a new bass cab.

JS: Cool. That’s awesome man. What kind of bass cab are you using now?

JH: I just got a 410 an Eden cab and I added a 15 to it, now I have 2 cabs, a 15 and a 410.

JS: Awesome man. Any words of wisdom for other aspiring musicians?

JH: The music business is very tough. There are a lot of scumbags everywhere and it starts with the lower level agents. Just build, get a good vibe before you really try to do anything serious. Start locally and work your way within a region of like 2-3 hours or 4-5 hours within driving range where you can focus on building a market and figure out what it takes to build one or two markets before you try to like tour the whole country.

JS: Cool, that’s great advice. It seems like you guys appreciate Upstate New York. Why do you guys like coming back up here?

JH: Well, it’s nice, it’s about the fans. If people are going to come out, we are going to try and go, you know, touch base up in Buffalo and Upstate New York in general.

JS: Do you guys have any favorite venues to play, besides the Town Ballroom?

JH: Well, Cleveland is one of our best spots in the country. We have this awesome festival a few times a year at this bar called Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, and they just really get people from a large area, Buffalo, Pennsylvania, and all parts of Ohio.

JS: Yeah, Nelson Legends is gorgeous, it’s an awesome spot.

JH: Have you played there?

JS: Yeah, I played there it’s a really good spot.

JH: What band are you in?

JS: I’ve played with a few different ones. I’m starting a new project now. I’ve played there years ago at Grateful Fest, for two years in a row. It’s a good time man. Really cool spot.

JH: Yeah amazing.

JS: Do you guys have any favorite places to eat up this way?

JH: Any places to eat? I feel like over by the Town Ballroom there isn’t a lot, so we end up eating at, I don’t know the name of it, on Main Street its right there on the right two buildings over. That’s the only thing ever open. Like that or an Applebee’s on the corner.

JS: (laughing) I know… a lot of people like the Anchor Bar for the wings and stuff. I didn’t know if you had a favorite spot, but that does make sense when you have to get something quick.

JH: We usually are pressed for time. For whatever reason Buffalo is always closed on the weekends, you know that area, everything is closed.

JS: It’s kind of like that all week, that’s how it goes man. Have you guys had the opportunity to play with any of your idols?

JH: Well I mean yeah, Bud from Sublime did a show with us years ago out in Vegas. So it was pretty amazing to meet him. He jumped in and did a couple of songs with us. It was awesome.

JS: That is awesome. What other influences do you guys have besides Sublime, I mean you personally? Is there any other music outside of that that you like?

JH: I grew up listening to a lot of Punk, Ska, Reggae, so obviously Bob Marley, and a lot of the punk bands like NOFX, Bad Religion, and some of the Punk-goth stuff like Less Than Jake, that was like a lot of the stuff that I listen to.

JS: Cool man. My last question: What does the future hold for you guys. Do you guys plan on keep touring with this, do you have other plans, or?

JH: We are kind of like, we have been talking about that. We were thinking about expanding overseas. That’s what we’ve been talking about recently.

JS: That’s great man. You guys definitely deserve it. You seem like hard working guys. I truly do appreciate you taking the time today to sit down and talk.

JH: No problem man.

JS: Well hopefully I’ll catch you in a few weeks down at the Town Ballroom. I can’t wait for a good show.

JH: Hope you can make it man.

JS: I’ll be there. We will be there definitely.

JH: Come say hello. We will be at the merch table before the show and then definitely after.

JS: Yeah Brother, thank you. Peace.

Badfish plays The Town Ballroom on February 15th. You can pick up tickets through www.townballroom.com. From there they go to Cleveland to play The House of Blues on February 16th.

 

 

(Originally published on UpstateLIVE.com)

Phish at Madison Square Gardens for New Years Eve!

Another Year has come and gone, so many good times have been had…

None of that seemed to matter entering NYC on Monday afternoon getting ready for the rest of the night. Walking around the East Village a few hours before show time, taking in the sites and checking out some shops and good food, led me to proposing to my girlfriend of over 5 years and a wonderful mother of our 4 year old son. After she said “Yes” on a quaint and less traveled side street, we hopped along the subway trains and stops and made it to MSG around 6pm.

I was hoping to see people out and about with their goods around and smiling faces, talking about the past few nights and pre-gaming for the antics that were about to commence. Sadly that was not what was going on. The police had a tight grip on most of the outside situation and there really wasn’t much of a lot like you would normally expect. BUT, that did not stop us from making the best of the experience and keeping a huge smile on our faces knowing that within the next few hours Phish will be melting them.

We decided to go into the venue when the doors opened, and I’m glad we did. We had seats up top behind the stage which gave us a great view and vantage point to see all that was going on. As we arrived to our seats and were greeted by two of our closest friends we noticed that the GA area on the floor, stage and Page’s Baby Grand were covered with Astroturf and other sorts of fake vegetation. After a closer look we noticed there were people playing Chess, Badminton, Ski Ball, Bowling, Croquet, and Putt Putt. About 5 minutes later 3 girls walk onstage and start laying blankets down on a raised part of the backside area. They then proceded to get into bikinis and pretend to suntan and play beach games. This was a sight to be seen and one of those moments of just having to be there. About 40 minutes later it was finally showtime and now that the venue had packed in, the lights went down!

The first set was great and started with a first time played Ricky Nelson cover of Garden Party, which was written about a time he was booed off the stage at the Garden itself. The lyrics “You Can’t Please Everyone, So You Got To Please Yourself” really rang true for me and things I have been going through recently. Not to mention the song title also worked with much of what was dressing the building last night! Next we were treated to a great Possum into another cover, Roses Are Freefrom one of my favorite bands, WEEN. After the crowd erupted the guys broke into Rift, and at this point I really felt they were finally getting their footing and ready to roll. Alaska, a newer song from the Joy album has really grown on me and has grown some legs of its own. I feel this version was one of the best they have done to date. The Mike’s Song had some amazing jams which led into The James Gang cover Walk Away.

Thinking we would get a nice segue into a Simple or even into Weekapaug, the band ended the tune and had a discussion between one another before Mike took a Bass solo that literally moved the place before busting into Weekapaug Groove! The set ended with a monster version of Character Zero with Trey really digging in on his lead portion! After taking in a standing ovation from the crowd the band left the stage to later return for the second of three sets.  During the break a few people came out and hit soft golf balls to the crowd, which was a site to be seen.

Second set started just after 10pm and they dove right into it. Birds of a Feather opened the set and although I love this tune I felt it was a little off in spots with Fishman’s rhythm just a little bit awkward. After recouping and a little chat, it was time for Ghost! This one got OUT THERE! The jams like this are the reason that I love Phish. Such an amazing band to take the music to almost nothing but make it feel like everything is there all at once. This set couldn’t get better, but it did. A flawless segue into Piper out of Ghost had the crowd in complete awe. Piper took off as Ghost did and they took it for a really nice “drive”.

Light was next and although this one is still considered somewhat of a newer tune, it is a great jam engine and we def saw the lights that lighting director Chris Kuroda was sending our way! During the jam Trey teased a few  lines of Auld Lang Syne on his guitar before going back into another jam that led into Also Sprach Zarathustra which most Phish fans know as 2001, from the movie “2001 A Space Odyssey,” the Stanley Kubrick film which made the song famous. Continuing with the segues as most second sets do, the band moved into a great take of The Horse-> Silent In The Morning. I know a lot of people like to complain about slower songs etc but this one I felt was placed perfectly after all of the jamming that just happened. The crowd went crazy when the lyrics “I Think This Exact Thing Happened To Me, Just Last Year.” We all found our voice at this point and the emotions were running high with a  great sense of feeling at home. And home we were as Trey started You Enjoy Myself. And yes, we all did enjoy ourselves, quite thoroughly. ThisYou Enjoy Myself contained a Birds of a Feather tease as well a breakdance section on Trey’s behalf before the insane vocal scat outro. This ended the second set and definitely set the bar for the rest of the night.

Before the Third set about 25 minutes to midnight, Trey, Mike and Page came out on golf carts and started hitting golf balls into the crowd from the stage. Page literally almost took a guys head off and apologized, but the guy didn’t mind at all. Where in life can you go and have someone hit you in the face with a  plastic golf ball and just smile and give a thumbs up HAHAHA! After this Fishman was escorted onstage in his own golf cart that was decorated in green and blue doughnuts like his muumuu. As he got out, we all noticed him dressed in a full on doughnut covered golf attire, hat and all.  It was way too funny! The guys hit a handful of balls with the crowd clapping and joining in on the fun the four of them were having. It was Time to PARTY! And That We Did!

The third set started with Party Time, a tune off of the side disc of the Joy album that was released with a special edition box set. This tune is awesome and the crowd ate it all up! Then it was time,Kung was next on the setlist and it pulled the evening all together as they actually staged a runaway golf cart marathon. And we all  stood up to watch as this spectacle went down. Cars were racing all around the stage as the band went into Chalk Dust Torture. At points two at a time and then at the end about 10 at a time. People were dancing in the carts dressed in golf attire. There was a whole dance routine with about twenty five people. The golf carts were still going and then all lined up in the front of the stage with two “little people” standing on the middle two carts. The Countdown had begun 10,9,8…3,2,1- HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! As we are accustomed to with Phish Auld Lang  Synewas next which took wave into a great Tweezer Reprise (Tweeprise for short), with a few female backup singers, one of which electrified the place with phenomenal vocals during which the band sang “Won’t You Step Into The Freezer”, with thousands of ping pong style golf balls were blown out of canons at the rear of the stage. Most of them ended up hitting Kuroda’s lighting rig and dumped on the band members and equipment while they jammed the Tweeprise out right. Even with the crowd roaring, ping pong balls hitting them and lights flashing, they really didn’t seem phased at all.Tweeprise was taken down and grew into a wonderful version of Sand that the whole crowd had been waiting for. They did not disappoint on this one.

Sticking with the golf themed night, Sand went into The Wedge. This song talks about a great divide in the lyrics, but we were all one with no division in sight! My twin brother was also at the show and was hoping to hear this tune, so I am glad he was able to get it! The next song was another first time played cover from the Steve Miller Band, Fly Like An Eagle.  The band was kicking it into overdrive and nailing all of the musical parts, even the last section that Page did flawlessly! Tick Tock a-do-do-do-do! Time kept on slipping into the future and noises came from the main screens at MSG. It was a giant Wilson Golf Ball, and the band went in for the kill.

The opening notes of Wilsonkicked in and the audience was ready to take control, “WILSON”. Although Wilson is a bad crook, he seemed like an old friend at this point of the set. Trey Paused and did his “Blat Boom Baddigy Boom” segment and finished the song with a great lead. Just when you think the guys couldn’t do anything crazier, they did. They congregated to the front of the stage to do a new Barber Shop Quartet version of Lawn Boy, which obviously sat perfectly to end the set.

Five minutes later the encore had begun. Driver was the first of the two song encore. This was probably the worst played song of the night with Trey forgetting the guitar parts and actually having to restart the song and laughing it off. Even though it wasn’t the best version, it fit the night well and left us thinking about the next life and hoping we may be better dressed.

Page then came to the front of the stage and gave a very nice and heartfelt thank you and talked about 2013 being the 30th Anniversary for Phish! He then asked the crowd if they knew who he was, most yelled Page, Leo, and someone yelled Tom Hanks and as he chuckled, he said, “Some call me Leo, Some Call Me The Chairman of the Boards, I Am Ironman!” The band then broke out Black Sabbath’s Iron Man in full for the first time with Page leading the vocals. Proving to us once again why we all trek endlessly to see this band and how they can provide such an amazing experience for all of their fans. This ended the night and we were more than happy with what had just happened. Thank you Phish, MSG and all the other people in attendance for joining in on the stew and creating such a memorable time for all to be had.

Happy New Year!

 

(This was originally published HERE)