LIVE: Fifth Annual Dustin Mele Memorial Concert @ Revolution Hall, 3/10/18
Review and photographs by Amy Modesti
On a recent Saturday evening, Brown’s Revolution Hall in Troy was the place to be at for an amazing evening of local music, a Chinese auction and a 50/50 raffle. It was all part of the fifth annual Dustin Mele Memorial Concert, which has become one of Greater Nippertown’s top musical events, bringing in over 2,200 friends and fans for an amazing cause that holds a huge meaning for so many people whose lives have been greatly affected by suicide and depression.
Emerald City guitarist and Troy native Joe Mele founded the memorial concert, along with family members Jenn Newman Mele, Lindsay Mele, Patti Quade and others. In 2013, the Mele-Quade family lost their son, Dustin Mele, to suicide. The memorial concerts are held to honor not only Dustin’s memory and keep his loving spirit alive, but also to honor the memory of other individuals whose lives were taken too soon by this epidemic. By presenting these annual events, the family’s mission is to advocate for suicide prevention programs that provide support and assistance for those individuals who are struggling with these issues while providing the right mental health care that can be easily accessed.
At this year’s event, $12,303 was raised for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, National Alliance on Mental Illness and Rensselaer County Mental Health Intervention. Proceeds from the 50/50 raffle and Chinese auction went towards a cancer recovery fund for Dustin’s cousin, David Mele.
The concert featured Local 518 bands Diva & the Dirty Boys (filling in for Emerald City, due to the illness of a band member), Soul Sky (featuring Rocky Petrocelli and Randy Staats of Dealt the Blues), the original line-up of the Burners UK (featuring the Audiostars’ Bobby Van Detta) and Super 400/Blue Machine(featuring Tommy Love), all donating their time and talent to perform top-notch, danceable sets of live music throughout the evening.
Diva & the Dirty Boys kicked off the concert with a set of blues, jazz, oldies, contemporary and original tunes. “It’s a special season – a season about money,” chimed lead vocalist and percussionist Lisa Gordon, as she and guitarist Rob Piorkowski began to sing the Beatles classic, “Taxman.” Following “Taxman” came “That’s Life” sung by drummer Johnny “Easy” Emmett, “Valerie” (Amy Winehouse), John Mayall’s “All Your Love” and their original blues tune, “Skype Me.” “Burning Love” got some swing dancers up on the dance floor.
Soul Sky, a swampy blues-rock band featuring Mark Emanatian (guitar/vocals), Tony Perrino (piano/vocals), Josh Bloomfield (drums/vocals), Joe Mele (guitar), Tom Dolan (bass) and Jeremy Walz (guitar/vocals), raised the level of performance to a whole other level. After taking on a few cover tunes, Dealt the Blues drummer Rocky Petrocelli and vocalist Randy Staats took center stage to perform a cover of “Before You Accuse Me.” The band also paid homage to local blues legend, Ernie Williams, with a cover of Williams’ song, “So Long.” (Members of the band will be performing an Ernie Williams tribute concert held at the Hangar on he Hudson in Troy on Saturday, May 19.)
An emotional Emanatian took the time to introduce the band and deliver a powerful, loving message to Mele and all of the patrons that were present. “Thank you so much for being here… I love Joe Mele. That’s what I want to say about Joe Mele. I love Joe Mele. I just want to say one thing to ya. This is really hard. I want everyone to think about this for a second. Every single one of you knows somebody who’s suffering right now. And you know how hard you try with them. No matter how many times you hug them, you tell them you love them, and prompt them to help you out, it’s still hard. This is a tough damn country to live in, and so the only thing we got in this world is our family and our friends and our community and the love we have for each other. I don’t trust the government. I don’t trust any of this shit. All I trust is you and us. And I love him and his family for doing this every year. And I know how hard it is, so thank you for coming tonight. And we love you.”
“So you think you want to party tonight?” called out Vito Ciccarelli, the host of the event, as the Burners UK took the stage. And they certainly brought the party. The bass and the entire horn section were in full swing, dancing side to side, as they played to a large crowd that were dancing the night away. Playing all of their favorite classic rock, oldies, and funk hits such as “Honky Tonk Woman,” Delbert McClinton’s “Shaky Ground,” “Shining Star,” “Play That Funky Music,” “Get Ready,” “Don’t Change Horses” (In the Middle of the Stream),” “Domino,” “Car Wash” and “Can’t Get Next to You,” the band left their fans dancing and reliving the ’60s and ’70s (and the possible hopes of this group reuniting again in the future).
For the encore, Jay Yager called Audiostars bassist Bobby Van Detta to the stage to perform Leonard Cohen’s classic “Hallelujah” in tribute to Dustin Mele. Yager and drummer-vocalist Todd Hanhurst took turns on the verses, and a memorable moment came during the bridge when Mele came over to Van Detta to perform his guitar solo with so much emotion, expressing the love that he had for his son through this song. It was amazing to witness the power of music and the love and dedication each musician had in performing throughout that beautiful tribute. Concluding their encore set was “Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher” that had everybody upbeat and dancing until the song was over.
Concluding the event was local power trio, Super 400, featuring Joe Daley (drums), Kenny Hohman (guitar/vocals) and Lori Friday (bass/vocals). “We’re going to be playing some love music tonight,” Lori Friday called out to kick off their set with “Knock On Wood,” followed by two of their original songs, “Let’s Go” and “High Hopes.” The band called up vocalist Tommy Love and keyboardist Tony Perrino to perform as Blue Machine, tearing through “Statesboro Blues” and concluding the event with “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” and the Zeppelin gem, “The Ocean.”
The fifth annual Dustin Mele Memorial Concert was a huge success. All of the local musicians and bands were outstanding onstage. And the Mele-Quade family and the countless volunteers, donors and patrons did a great job, to make this event come to life in memory of Dustin and others that have passed on from suicide and depression. With the power of love, music and advocating for the love and rights of others, we can join together to combat and fight this epidemic that has taken many lives, both young and old.