Best of 2019: Amy Modesti’s Top Events

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As 2019 ends, a new decade begins. With this new year (and a new decade) comes a new outlook of hope, opportunity, and positivity for all who take their New Year’s Resolutions and their life goals to a whole new playing field.

The Capital Region’s ever-evolving creative scene has seen its fair share of spectacular moments and some sad moments that shook up our creative community’s core. 2019 was the year of giving back and showing support to fellow musicians and causes that were near and dear to one’s heart. 2019 was the year of sudden loss, especially with the passing of Nippertown founder, Greg Haymes, Tom D ’Ambrose, Caroline MotherJudge, Bob Sweeny, Henry and Sean McFerran, and many others who helped shaped the Capital Region into the creative hub it is today. 2019 was the year of farewells among bands and its band members, with the retirement of cover group, “Blue Hand Luke”, and Robert Ruark of “Whiskey Highway”, making the move to Nashville, TN to further pursue a music career. 2019 certainly did bring out its fare share of cool, over-the-top art exhibitions near and far, some of the best exhibitions that I have seen in a long time that over exceeded my expectations of them.

I have certainly attended (and took part) in many art exhibitions, music shows, community shows, private parties, and a few theater performances in 2019. It was certainly a busy year for me this year as I did my best to attend and take part in many activities as I could in the community. This year, I reached some bucket list items on my check list; meeting Mya and Travie McCoy in person at their City of Albany, NY events, watching “The Rockettes” perform in person at Radio City Music Hall for the first time, and traveling to Marshall’s Point Lighthouse in Maine to view the lighthouse that was used in a scene in the iconic movie, “Forest Gump”.

I hope that 2020 (and the new decade) will bring on new opportunities for my creative future as well as providing me more opportunities to support our musical and artistic community by attending more events and taking part in creative endeavors that are soon to come. I wish all my artistic, musician friends and acquaintances, bands, venues, all local publications and radio stations, and other Nippertown contributors a happy and healthy New Year. May you all have a prosperous year of hope, love, joy, and creativity that is to come your way.

Amy’s Top Local Events of 2019

“Matt Mirabile Band With Ted Hennessy” @ Rustic Barn Pub, Troy, NY 1/11/19: This was the first time that blues-guitar slinger, Matt Mirabile, brought his blues band out to perform a fantastic show for their band’s debut at the Rustic Barn Pub. The blues remains alive and well in the Capital Region and that was proven to be true early in the new year.

“Second Chance Prom” Ft. ‘Off the Record’ @ Il Faro, Albany, NY 1/26/19: Ever wanted to attend an adult prom but you never made it to your own high school prom?! Music fans and patrons enjoyed a night of their lifetime re-living their prom days and creating new memories at this adult-themed prom, hosted and put on by Art Fredette of local radio station, “RadioRadioX”, at Il Faro. This unique and fun event featured live music from 60’s lounge band, “Off the Record” with guest musician, Brenda Fisher of “Kitty Rodeo”. It gave me a chance to re-live my prom days as an adult with my close friends and one of my favorite local cover bands in the Capital Region!

“Moonboot Lover” @ Rustic Barn Pub, Troy, NY 2/22/19: Saratoga Springs, NY native, Peter Prince, and his NH-based band returned to the Rustic Barn Pub to perform yet, another fantastic show!! Their music is not only great to listen to but their stage setup is something out of this world, and out of space too!!

“Rocky Velvet” and “Surfer Joe” @ The Hangar on the Hudson, Troy, NY 4/5/19: The last time I heard Cropseyville, NY’s own rockabilly band, “Rocky Velvet”, perform was about 2008/2009 at the Brunswick Community Center Summer Concert Series when their album, “It Came From Cropseyville”, was being sold. These local favorites reunited for one night only to perform for their fans and for Italy’s own rockabilly/surf rockin’ guitarist, “Surfer Joe”. This was a fantastic show to not be missed this year!

The Eddies Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Awards” @ Proctor’s Theater, Schenectady, NY 4/14/19: This was the first ever Eddies awards show that showcased and honored many of Capital Region’s top area musicians, cover acts, radio stations, arts publications, photographers, and many others who make up the evolving music scene. It was an honor to cover this now annual event and learn about the patrons who contribute their musical and creative talents to the creative scene. Be on the lookout for their upcoming awards show in 2020.

The Lawn Sausages & Super 400” @ The Hangar on The Hudson, Troy, NY 6/14/19: It was “The Best” vs. “The Wurst” at the Hangar as area favorites “The Lawn Sausages” and “Super 400” duked it out to perform their greatest (and funniest) performance currently. “The Lawn Sausages” held their CD release party in support of their latest CD, “Appetite for Dysfunction

“Rockin’ On the River Concert Series”: ‘Sly Fox and The Hustlers’ and ‘The Broken Hearted: Tom Petty Tribute’ @ Riverfront Park, Troy, NY 7/3/19: It was local night at Rockin’ on The River, just before Independence Day. Local favorites, “Sly Fox And The Hustlers” (2nd time on stage since 2017) and “The Broken Hearted: Tom Petty Tribute” (stage debut at concert series) put on one rockin’ show that left their fans wanting more local rock n’ roll!

Holly and Evan Band@ On Tap Sports Bar, Latham, NY 7/5/19: It’s been a while since “Holly and Evan” performed out in public as a group. This was the first time in quite a while for me since I’ve seen them perform. Kicking off the post-Independence Day celebrations, “Holly and Evan Band” returned to the stage and performed a great show!! I hope to see this band perform more often in 2020.

Alive at 5 Concert Series Ft. ‘Hasty Page’, ‘Jocelyn and Chris Arndt’, and ‘Wild Adriatic’” @ Jennings Landing, Albany, NY 7/25/19: It was local night at Alive at 5 and these locally established bands rocked out the show. Many fans may have seen “Jocelyn and Chris Arndt” perform live on the Today Show or seen “Wild Adriatic” open for “Lynyrd Skynyrd” at SPAC. All bands made their local fans and family proud with their stellar show! After watching Jocelyn and Chris perform at the 2017 Move Music Festival, I got to also meet them in person!! A great musical moment and an honor to meet them at their show!

Uncle Sam’s Birthday Bash” @ Knickerbocker Park, Troy, NY 9/8/19: Happy Birthday to Troy, NY’s own hometown hero, Uncle Samuel Wilson!! Music fans got to celebrate Uncle’s Sam’s birthday with a stellar show put on by local acts as “The Tradition”, “Uncle Sax”, “Legend”, “Donny Elvis” and “Derek Elvis”, and Moriah Formica of “The Voice”!! Happy Birthday Uncle Sam!!

The Fleshtones” & “Chris Busone Band” @ The Hangar on the Hudson, Troy, NY 10/13/19: Music fans and visitors who were leaving the 13th Annual Troy Chowderfest ventured down River Street to take part in some fun post-Chowderfest entertainment with music from NYC punk favorites, “The Fleshtones” featuring Troy, NY’s own Bill Milhizer, and “Chris Busone Band” who rocked the house with their originals and electrifying covers!

Johnny Rabb’s Big Band” @ RadioRadioX, Waterford, NY 10/17/19: Waterford, NY’s rockabilly “local legend”, Johnny Rabb, brought his big band out to rock and roll at RadioRadioX Studios. The band performed some of the best covers of rock and roll tunes I’d heard them play in a long time. The band later brought their stellar show to the Rustic Barn Pub a week later for the first time to a legion of fans and supporters!

Amy’s Top National Act Performances of 2019

Alive at 5 Concert Series: Travie McCoy and Stellar Young” @ Corning Preserve, Albany, NY 6/13/19: The “Stereo Hearts” & “Billionaire” rapper and Geneva, NY native, Travie McCoy, brought me back to my high school and college days of listening to his music with his band, “Gym Class Heroes” at school dances and on my radio. To hear these “throwbacks” being played again in 2019 was a real treat for me! Although Adam Levine or Bruno Mars never made a guest appearance to sing McCoy’s hits, I got to hear them as part of Alive at 5’s 30th Annual Concert Series debut show and I met the rapper too!!

Alive at 5 Concert Series: Quiet Riot and Bad Mothers” @ Jennings Landing, Albany, NY 6/27/19: Young fans dressed in their “Metal Health” masks flocked over to Jennings Landing to rock out to rock and roll legends, “Quiet Riot”, and “Bad Mothers” this summer!! A rockin’ moment included a young fan getting up on stage to sing “Cum on Feel the Noize” with lead vocalist, James Durbin, who put on a killer performance with his band. My first time hearing these rockers perform and they were fantastic!

“The Wallflowers” @ Empire State Plaza Convention Center, Albany, NY 7/17/19: Although the Empire State Plaza moved their show inside the convention center, 90’s favorites, “The Wallflowers”, featuring Bob Dylan’s son, Jakob Dylan (lead vocals/guitar), brought back their 90’s hits, “6th Avenue Heartache”, “The Difference”, and “One Headlight” onto the stage for an awesome show!!

Alive at 5 Concert Series Featuring ‘Lettuce’ and ‘Jaw Gems’” @ Jennings Landing, Albany, NY 7/18/19: Upon attending Alive at 5, I had never heard of Maine’s own ‘Jaw Gems’ or jam band, “Lettuce” perform before and after hearing “Lettuce” perform live, they were funky fantastic!!

Black Arts and Cultural Festival Ft. Mya and “Gideon Luke and The People” @ Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 8/3/19: I reached another music goal off my bucket list; meeting the Grammy award winning artist and “Dancing With the Stars” runner-up, Mya, at my first ever “Black Arts & Cultural Festival” that I attended at the plaza! I had a blast listening to Mya perform many of her greatest hits that brought me more and more into the past decade and more of hearing these tunes that made her a “Ghetto Superstar” & “Lady Marmalade” (“Voulez vous couchez avec moi?) !! An awesome and entertaining set by both groups I heard at the festival!

Harbor Jam Concert Series Ft. “Georgia Satellites” @ Rivers Casino, Schenectady, NY 8/10/19: Another bucket list goal achieved; listening to 1980’s Southern Rock favorites, “Georgia Satellites”, perform one of my favorite songs that reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1986, “Keep Your Hands to Yourself”, at the Harbor Jam! They were fantastic and they played my favorite song that I’ve heard covered plenty of times by my musician friends!

Salt N’ Pepa” @ Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 8/14/19: A year after “En Vogue” performed “Whatta Man” (ft. Salt N’ Pepa) last year at Empire State Plaza, “Salt N’ Pepa” brought back their 90’s hip-hop to one of the largest crowds attended for the 2019 Summer Concert Series at the plaza. It was exciting and fun to watch these performers entertain and perform their hits for the first time. I wish their performance set was longer though, but still, it was an awesome show and it certainly brought me back to living in the 90’s for sure!

Los Straitjackets” and “The TelevisionariesHalloween Show @ The Hangar on the Hudson, Troy, NY 10/31/19: Dressed up in Spanish masks and Halloween costumes, music fans celebrated Halloween with Rochester, NY’s “Televisionaries” and “Los Straitjackets” (featuring Rensselaer, NY’s own Eddie Angel) back to The Hangar stage. This was the second time that “Los Straitjackets” returned to the venue within the year to perform some awesome music! I was glad I caught their full music sets this time, having missed most of their set in April due to a previous commitment.

Bill Kirchen’s Honky Tonk Holiday Show” @ The Hangar on the Hudson, Troy, NY 12/7/19: This was the first time that I got to hear the “Master of the Telecaster”, “Commander Cody” guitarist/vocalist, and friend and band member of John Tichy of “The Tichy Boys”, Bill Kirchen, perform his holiday show at the Hangar a few weeks ago. I can understand why now he is certainly a master of that telecaster with his smooth control of the guitar and his amazing talents! Be sure to see Kirchen perform again next year at this annual holiday show!

Christmas Spectacular with Radio City Rockettes” @ Radio City Music Hall, NYC, NY 12/16/19: This incredible production is a must see on anybody’s bucket list, especially during the holiday and Christmas season!! Watching this incredible production for the first time with a close friend of mine was truly spectacular. The music, the Rockettes dancing on stage, to the set design and lighting and production was incredible!! This was the first time that I attended “Christmas Spectacular” in person and it was amazing! The next time you decide to check out the Christmas décor or want to see the New Year’s Ball drop in New York City, be sure to check this show out. This was something to be achieved on my bucket list this year!

Amy’s Top Benefit & Community Events of 2019

Rock N’ Rescue” @ The Hangar on The Hudson, Troy, NY 2/9/19: This was the first ever music benefit event held to raise money for the Mohawk Hudson River Humane Society at The Hangar. The event, hosted by weather personality, Tim Drawbridge of News 10ABC, was fun to attend for a great cause and featured great local acts as “The Rod Choppy Reaction”, Chris Busone (both solo and band), Maurizio Russomanno, “SVO”, and “The Broken Hearted: Tom Petty Tribute”.

Dick Quinn Memorial Concert And Art Show@ The Hangar On The Hudson, Troy, NY 2/10/19: This special combined benefit event and art exhibition show (featuring the works of Amy Modesti) was held in memory of Super Music Fan, Dick Quinn, who supported many of the top local acts and national acts in the Capital Region and beyond. Proceeds from this event and art sales went towards the “Dick Quinn memorial Fund” used to assist a local musician who needs medical and financial assistance. Music was provided by Ed Conway and company, “Off The Record”, “The Lazy Suns”, “Hill Hollow Band”, “The El Dorado’s”, Mike McMann, Ted Hennessy, and Gene Lemme, Ted Hennessy and Jason Maloney Duo, “Big Frank and The Bargain Bingers”, “Scotty Mac’s Rock Show”, and other special guests.

Foodstock 5” & “Foodstock 6” @ Rustic Barn Pub, Troy, NY 2/17/19 & 11/17/19: This local benefit event, put on by Bob Gamache, helps to raise money towards the Food Pantries of the Capital Region and the Regional Food Bank twice a year at the Rustic Barn Pub. Some of the area’s best musicians and bands volunteer their time to perform and be a part of this amazing cause that is so needed in the community, especially assisting those who need food in their daily lives. Amazing job to all the bands who took part in these two events this year and all the patrons who came out to show their support for this cause!

Benefit For Caroline MotherJudge” @ McGeary’s, Albany, NY 3/3/19: It was a packed house inside McGeary’s as friends and family joined forces to assist a fellow musician who was in great need of financial support during a pivotal moment in their life, Caroline MotherJudge, who lost her battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer on March 9,2019. At this benefit event, music was provided by “The North and South Dakotas”. “Jim Gaudet and the Railyard Boys”, “The Ramblin’ Jug Stompers”, and “These Are the Hits”.

6th Annual Dustin Mele Memorial Concert” @ Revolution Hall, Troy, NY 3/9/19: This special annual event is held every year in memory of Dustin Mele who committed suicide in 2013. This event, put on by the Mele-Quade family, raises money towards the American Suicide Prevention, Walk for R.I.T.A., and other local charitable causes. This event featured some of the best entertainment you were to hear in the Capital Region including “Soul Sky”, “Emerald City”, “Bobby Etoll Band”/ “Back Bay Brew”, “Super 400”, and other special guests. 

“4th Annual Joe Manupella Block Party” @ 41 Sports Bar, Troy, NY 5/4/19: This annual event, since its inception in 2016, was held in memory of Joe Manupella who was a member of the Boys and Girls Club. This event helps raise money towards the Troy/Lansingburg Boys and Girls Club and featured live music from Brian Kane,The Broken Hearted: Tom Petty Tribute”, “Emerald City”, and Al Bruno.

70th Annual Tulip Festival” @ Washington Park, Albany, NY 5/11/19: This is a great annual event to attend during springtime and during Mother’s Day weekend. Not only is this one of my favorites to attend and check out all the beautiful flowers, you also get to hear some great music. As part of the musical entertainment, this year, I got to hear music from “The Kongos” who had their hit song, “Come with Me Now” on radio airwaves. 

16th Annual River Street Festival” in Troy, NY 6/15/19: This fun community event gets you geared up into the summer season with this annual art and music festival held along River Street. You get to check out some sidewalk art, purchase local art from vendors, and listen to live music from plenty of local solo acts and bands as Olivia Quillio, Maurizio, “Son of A Gun”, Troy Music Academy”, “The Otherside: Red Hot Chili Peppers Tribute”, Erin Hanna, “The Jagaloons”, and Will Foley.

Schenectady County Summer Night 2019” Ft. “Sly Fox and The Hustlers” and “Smash Mouth”, Schenectady, NY 7/12/19: This was the first time that I had attended Schenectady’s annual Summer Night event on State Street and it was fun and full of great sand art, activities for kids, and great music from “Sly Fox and The Hustlers” and 90’s pop favorite, “Smash Mouth”, that I got to see perform again for the second time. After their debut at the 2018 Empire State Plaza 4th of July celebration, “Smash Mouth” made an encore appearance into the Electric City to perform their hits to their “All Star(s)” and their “Believers”!!  

RadioRadioX One Year Anniversary Show” @ Chrome Food and Spirits, Waterford, NY 7/14/19: Happy 1-year Anniversary to Capital Region’s online radio station, “RadioRadioX”!! Fans of the popular radio station came out to party this summer at Chrome Food and Spirits and celebrate the station that has been providing their online music with rockin’ music from Murali Coryell, “The Lawn Sausages”, “Soul Sky”, “Chris Busone Band”, “Honey Slider”, “Acoustic Trauma”, Will Foley, Brittany Robichaud, Frank Novko and Johnny Hoffman.

“3rd Annual Rock N’ Roll Party to Benefit the Retired Horses of Old Friends at Cabin Creek” Ft. “Blue Hand Luke” @ Nanola, Malta, NY 8/22/19: For the second (and final time), “Blue Hand Luke” came out of retirement after performing for over 24 years to give back to the retired race horses at Nanola. The proceeds from this event went towards Old Friends at Cabin Creek, a sanctuary and a retirement home for the racehorses since 2009. The band came out of retirement and performed one final time for a great cause.

2019 Blues Fest” @ Bootlegger’s Bar and Grill, Troy, NY 9/21/19: Since its last “Blues Fest” in 2016 at Prospector’s, “Blues Fest” made a comeback at Bootlegger’s. This event raised money towards the Street Soldiers of Troy to help the homeless and less fortunate. This year’s music was provided by “Brian Kane and The Beginning”, “Matt Mirabile Band Ft. Alison Jacobs”, “Chris Busone Band”, “George Boone Blues Band”, and “Silver Chain”.

“Berkshire Bird Paradise Fundraiser” @ Eastwick Press, Grafton, NY 9/29/19: Due to the loss of the Berkshire Bird Paradise’s parrot pavilion in an August fire, members of the community, the Berkshire Bird Paradise, and “The Eastwick Press” joined forces to raise money to assist the organization in re-building their building. Thousands of dollars were raised to help with the costs of the parrot pavilion with the great support of the local community! Local musicians even joined forces to provide comfort and joy to this cause with music support from Derek Slate, Wyatt Stockwell, Rockin’ Rob Carson, John Cehowski, “Deb Cavanaugh and Dandelion Wine”, Sandy McKnight, Randall Mauger, and Harry and Alan.

“Jam For Josh” @ The Hangar on The Hudson, Troy, NY 11/17/19: An outpouring of love, joy, and support flooded into the Hangar on the Hudson on a Sunday afternoon to assist their friend and musician, Josh Bloomfield, who is currently battling stage 3 bile duct cancer. Josh has given so much time back to helping the community in need and this time, the community came in droves to assist during this time. This event was the best benefit event in 2019 and it was amazing to see how our creative community and beyond come together to assist one of their own. Please continue to assist Josh in his financial needs by donating to the Go Fund Me page.

“37th Annual Troy Victorian Stroll, Troy, NY 12/8/19: This is one of my favorite holiday events to attend during the holiday season in the City of Troy, NY. This was a fun event to attend and cover this year. I got to hear live music from Maurizio, Troy Samba, “Johnny Rabb and The Tichy Boys”, “The Lustre Kings” with Erin Harkes, and a guest appearance from everyone’s favorites, “Sax-O-Claus” and “Josh The Elf” who continue to spread their holiday cheer every year!

Amy’s Top Tribute Performances of 2019

Elvis Presley Birthday Bash” @ The Hangar on The Hudson & Brunswick Community Center, Troy, NY 1/5/19 & 7/9/19: This was the first time that the “Elvis Presley Birthday Bash”, performed by both “Johnny Rabb’s Big Band”, Mark Gamsjager of “The Lustre Kings”, and Ian Carleton, was performed twice this year at The Hangar and the Brunswick Community Center to the delight of Elvis fans!! These area musicians always put on an awesome tribute to the King of Rock and Roll. Happy Birthday Elvis Presley!

Troy Music Academy’s 50th Anniversary of ‘The Beatles’ 1969 Rooftop Concert @ Troy Atrium, Troy, NY 1/30/19: 50 years ago on January 30, 1969, “The Beatles” performed for the final time upon the roof top of their music studio as they performed their songs from the “Let it Be” album. In honor of that iconic anniversary, students of the Troy Music Academy performed these songs along the second floor of the Troy Atrium to replay that special moment in musical history. It was an amazing moment to watch these students perform these iconic pieces of music that were recorded by these legends 50 years ago!

Buddy Holly Tribute Show” Ft. Johnny Rabb and “The Tichy Boys” @ Ale House, Troy, NY 2/2/19: The spirits of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper live on in the spirits of Johnny Rabb and The Tichy Boys as they performed their iconic music at the Ale House. Their memories and their spirit live on through their fans who continue to listen to their music and remember the impact that it had on them through the talents of these incredible area musicians.

Marty Wendell and The Bluebillies Johnny Cash Birthday Show” @ Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY 2/24/19: Rockabilly hall of Fame member and singer/songwriter, Marty Wendell, and his friends, “The Bluebillies”, paid homage to their friend, the legendary Johnny Cash, at Caffe Lena and later on, ended their Johnny Cash birthday celebration show at the Round Lake Auditorium. It was held all in support of Wendell’s Grammy nominated album, “Rock & Roll Days” and Cash’s birthday.

Groovin’ 1969 Woodstock Tribute Show” @ Rivers Casino, Schenectady, NY 8/30/19: Ever wanted to relive the three-day music festival known to many as “Woodstock”?! Fans of the 50th Anniversary show attended a free, entertaining musical tribute to those 1969 musicians who brought back the days of flower power, peace, and love at River’s Casino! Fans got to hear music from the likes of Joe Cocker, Santana, Grace Slick, The Band, Melanie, Neil Young, among others.

Groovin: Rock Legends of the Vietnam War” @ The Egg Performing Arts Center, Albany, NY 11/22/19: For their debut “Groovin’” show at the Egg, fans got the experience of a lifetime to re-live the times of the Vietnam War with this special musical tribute and benefit event. Proceeds from this concert went towards the Gold Star and Blue Star Mothers of America. This was another fun event to attend to hear local musicians re-enact great tunes from the likes of Mick Jagger, Eric Burdon, Jim Morrison, Robert Plant, John Fogarty, Neil Young, Jefferson Airplane, and others during the Vietnam War era.

Amy’s Top Art Exhibitions of 2019

The Lego Americana Road Tour” @ Crossgates Mall, Albany, NY, Feb.9-Feb. 24,2019: For the few weeks that this pop-up exhibition show was displayed at Crossgates Mall, this was a cool and unique show to view in person. It was unreal to see how much time and commitment for the teams of LEGO builders to create these Americana landmarks as the White House, Statue of Liberty, The Liberty Bell, and the Lincoln Memorial to scale!

Capital Region’s CANstruction: ’If You can Dream it, you can Do It’ “@ NYS Museum, Albany, NY 4/4/19: The 9th Annual CANstruction exhibition show focused on the creation of various Disney characters, each craftily created and displayed along the fourth floor of the NYS Museum. Museum goers not only got to see sculptures of Winnie the Pooh, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, and Aladdin, but they can also donate their can goods to go towards the Food Pantries of the Capital District as well. Check this out in 2020 and while supporting a great cause.

Amy Modesti’s 30th Birthday Extravaganza” @ Rustic Barn Pub, Troy, NY 5/9/19: Happy 30th Birthday to me!! I had a blast celebrating my milestone birthday in style with my own combined art exhibition show, birthday party, and an open mike jam hosted by my friend, Leslie Barkman, at the Rustic Barn Pub. It was a birthday that I will remember for a long time!! Thank you to everyone who attended the art exhibition and birthday party, the musicians who came out to perform great music, and a huge thank you to Jody and Jason of the Rustic Barn Pub for helping me make this idea and party happen!! Love you all!!

Elliot Landy: The Spirit of a Generation” @ Center for Photography at Woodstock, Woodstock, NY June 29-October 20,2019: Due to popular demand and in honor of the 50th Anniversary of “Woodstock”, tourists could view some of the most important pieces of music photography in person from Woodstock, NY photographer, Elliot Landy, who was present to capture those historic photos at the event that was full of peace, love, and music in 1969. By chance this past July, I checked out Landy’s amazing captured moments that truly make their mark in music history. Although the first “Woodstock” was held twenty years before I was even born (1989), viewing Landy’s works up close and personal helped me see what it was like to be immersed in the 1960’s, a time of peace, love, art, music, and at times, struggle for change.

Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits” @ Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, NY April 2-September 2,2019: If you ever watched the music video for *NYSYNC’s “Gone” or Shakira’s “Underneath Your Clothes”, little did you know that these videos were directed and created under the direction of self-taught photographer, Herb Ritts, a college graduate from Bard College. His extensive photo collection of his self-taught music photography of musicians as Madonna, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Justin Timberlake, to Prince and Tina Turner, was very impressive and inspiring to view in person. Seeing Ritt’s photography gives a music photographer like myself and many others hope that you can be a successful self-taught artist in the creative world.

Perfect Harmony: The Musical Art and Life of William Sidney Mount” @ Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, NY May 25-September 8, 2019: After checking out Ritts’ exhibit, I viewed the beautiful, classic paintings made by William Sidney Mount. Mount’s work depicted portraits of musicians holding their instruments in their hands, patrons dancing to music in a barn, and other music artifacts designed by Mount himself. It was cool to view these two exhibitions side by side. While Ritts’ exhibit featured contemporary photography, Mount’s oil paintings depicted classic scenes of everyday life, including the music scene during the nineteenth century. 

Travels in China: My Adventures Teaching and Learning in a Foreign Land” @ Rustic Barn Pub, Troy, NY 8/9/19: Back in May 2019, Deb Cavanaugh traveled to China to take in the Chinese culture and taught young children how to play some music at their school!! Cavanaugh reflected on her travels and her time spent in China with a combined presentation of her work and music show. This was an interesting presentation to attend and I hope that Cavanaugh continues sharing her experience in China in 2020 to a wider audience!!

Beans by Betsi” Art Exhibition @ Eden Café, Loudonville, NY, September 2019: I remember viewing Betsi’s Uncle Sam piece inside Spilling the Beans but I never who actually created the piece at the time until I viewed more of her work at the Eden Café. The time that she has spent creating beautiful portraits of famous celebrities as Tom Petty, Adam Levine, Justin Timberlake, and the actors and actresses of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ out of coffee beans was amazing and the pieces were cool to view in person!

Play it Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll” @ Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, NY April 8-October 1,2019: This special exhibition of musical instruments was on my radar to check out in person! I am thankful to have seen this show the day before it closed to view some truly amazing music instruments, stage costumes, and music gear from many music icons including Eric Clapton, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Who, Led Zeppelin, and others who truly shaped Rock & Roll to what it is today! It was one of the best exhibitions I have seen in a very long time!

Annie Lennox: ‘Now I Let You Go…” @ Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA May 25,2019-February 2,2020: If you get an opportunity to head over to MASS MoCA, stop by the museum to learn about the personal and musical life of “Eurythmics” lead vocalist, Annie Lennox. For those of you who haven’t seen this exhibit yet, it is a cool exhibit to check out and experience in person. You’ll get to learn so much about a musician who has made a personal and social impact on many individual’s lives through the gift of music. This exhibit is on view until February 2,2020.

63rd Annual Holiday Greens Show” @ Hart-Cluett House, Troy, NY 12/5-12/8/19: This was the first time that I attended the greens exhibit at the Hart-Cluett House. I won tickets for this exhibit through a raffle that I took part in at a press conference for the 37th Annual Troy Victorian Stroll. To view the entire show, “Holidays Around the World” in each room of the house and the Carriage Room was beautiful as they represented various countries that celebrated the holidays and their religions. I highly recommend viewing this exhibit during the week of the Troy Victorian Stroll.

Bands/Events to Look Out For in 2020 (and the new Decade)

Side Show Gypsy Band @ Henry’s on the Green, Ballston Spa, NY 1/18/19: This new group features many of Capital Region’s acclaimed musicians, Marcus Ruggiero (acoustic guitar/lead vocals), Joe Mele (electric/lead guitar), Jimmy Cappello (bass), Sonny Speed (piano), and Brian Melick (percussion/drums). The group, playing original music written and sung by Ruggiero, focus their music based on Ruggiero’s personal experiences and the trials of love and loss.

Jett Screamer” @ Pearl Street Pub, Albany, NY 7/25/19: This cover group features musicians, Mike Shudt (bass/vocals), Frankie Minissale (guitar/vocals), Kevin Brandow (guitar/vocals), and Pete Vumbaco (drums/vocals), play some of the best classic rock covers around in the Capital Region. I was able to hear this group perform at a Post-Alive at 5 Show for the first time and they were awesome.

Four Sticks: Led Zeppelin Tribute Band” @ Rustic Barn Pub, Troy, NY 10/11/19: This group, featuring Tom Major (drums) from “Steal Your Peach”, brought out a great Led Zeppelin tribute show to the Rustic Barn Pub this past fall. This was the first time that the group performed at the venue.

Family Tree” @ Ale House, Troy, NY 11/24/19: This brand new monthly open mike jam takes place during the final Sunday evening at the Ale House. This jam features hosts, Kenny Hohman and Lori Friday of “Super 400”, Chad Ploss (“The Audiostars”), and Steve Candlen who bring out some of the area’s best musicians to come out on stage and jam out to some great tunes. Come and bring your guitar and your singing voice the next time they have the monthly jam and check it out!!

In Memory of..

Greg Haymes: Remembering a Life of Words, Art, and Music” @ the Egg, Albany, NY 5/19/19: Rest in Peace to my friend, artist, musician, and “Nippertown” founder, Greg Haymes!! What a beautiful memorial for such a kind soul who accomplished wonderful things in his life and creative career!! Thank you and Sara Ayers for everything that you did for “Nippertown” for the past nine years. Thank you for everything my friend!

Tom D’Ambrose: My friend Tom was one of the kindest musicians and visual artists that I’ve ever met. He was heavily involved in supporting the visual arts and the local music scene and played in bands as “The Sharks”, “Johnny Rabb’s Big Band”, and “Off the Record”. His dedication to supporting his musician and artist friends and his great talents will be hugely missed. There will be a memorial concert to be held for Tom, “TomFest”, held on Sunday, January 26, 2020 at The Hangar on The Hudson from 3-8:00 p.m. Rest in Peace my friend!!

Bob Sweeny: Although I only knew Bob for a short period of time, Bob was a super music fan who went out of his way to support local bands and helped with Street Soldiers with his son, Liam, in the community. Bob also assisted with the programming of the music that is played on RadioRadioX. He was a friendly man and friend who will be greatly missed. My condolences go out to Liam and his mom, Mary-Ann, during this difficult time.

Amy’s Top Farewell Shows

Blue Hand Luke” St. Patrick’s Day and Final Show @ Rustic Barn Pub, Troy, NY 3/16/19: After 24 years of being one of Capital Region’s reigning rock and roll original and cover rock bands, local favorites, “Blue Hand Luke” have decided to call it quits in 2019. The band put on one of their most fun, entertaining, and bittersweet gigs during St. Patrick’s Day weekend. It was sad to see the band come to an end as I was always entertained by this group. Thank you for what you contributed to the music scene!

Scotty Mac and the Rockin’ Bonnevilles” @ Dino BBQ, Troy, NY 10/18/19: This would be the final time that leading member, Ted Hennessy (harmonica/vocals), would perform with his band members before moving out to live in Washington. “Scotty Mac and the Rockin’ Bonnevilles” put on one of their best shows to date at the Dino BBQ and this was a gig not to miss. I wish you the best of luck to you in your future endeavors Ted!! Thank you for playing some awesome music everyone!

Whiskey Highway” Featuring Chris Sanders @ Brunswick Community Center, Troy, NY 8/20/19: This gig in particular would be the final time that lead vocalist/guitarist, Robert Ruark, would perform with “Whiskey Highway”. Ruark has moved to Nashville, TN to further pursue a music career. This special gig featured Chris Sanders on vocals for their final “Town of Brunswick, NY Summer Concert Series”. Best of luck to you with your music career and future endeavors Robert! You’ll do great.

Amy’s Honorable Mentions

Local Legends” Series @ Eden Café, Loudonville, NY April 1-December 9, 2019: The one thing that I did enjoy the most from taking part in this series with my friends in “Kevin Wayne and The Retrobilleze” was watching the interviews and hearing the musicians share their stories about their lives and musical careers and successes. I got to learn more info about their contributions to the music and arts scene as seen and heard from Johnny Rabb, Marty Wendell, Michael Eck, Sandy McKnight, and Scotty Mac (missed due to a previous commitment). Be sure to take some time to learn about your friends and peers who do great things in the scene. You never know what you’ll learn from them.

5 Comments
  1. sandy mcknight says

    you’re a gem!

  2. Amy Modesti says

    Thank you so much for your kind words Sandy!! I really appreciate you support!! Thank you for what you do for music! I’m glad that you enjoyed this review!! Thank you again!!

  3. Rudy says

    Nice wrap up Amy. You had a busy 2019! Here’s to a great 2020!

  4. Amy Modesti says

    Thank you so much Rudy!! 2019 was certainly a busy year for sure to cover the arts and music!! Happy New Year to you!! Best of luck to us in this new year and what’s to come! I’m happy that you enjoyed this review! Thank you!

  5. Kevin Wayne says

    Thank You Amy for your excellent reporting,pics & videos for our local music scene,Wonderful Coverage 🎶🎵👍

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