Best of 2020: Amy Modesti’s Reflective Moments of 2020
2020, oh 2020, where do I begin with you?! What can I say about this turbulent year?! Granted, not all of 2020 was horrible; the first three months of it were great. From mid-January-early March, I completed an 8-week business preparedness course, held at The College of Saint Rose, to help further develop & propel my creative business to new heights, I took part in two pop-up art exhibits in February with “Doc Horton and The Jay Street Band”, and attended some cool creative and music events when I could…until the arrival of COVID-19.
COVID-19 has certainly put a damper to everything in our lives. Hundreds of thousands of people are dying from this deadly disease for over nine months, small businesses had to close permanently or remain open on a limited basis, and it put a halt on our creative and musical happenings. Music and performing arts venues are either closed or putting on online events to raise money for their organizations, art openings are held via Zoom or in-person with limited audiences, and starting in 2021, The College of Saint Rose will eliminate their art and music programs in order to reduce academic expenses by $5.97 million dollars. It’s been a troubling time for all creatives, entertainers, and businesses to survive during this global health pandemic. Hopefully, 2021 will be that year for a vaccine and for things to return to “normal”, whatever that “normalcy” is at that point.
Living through 2020 under a global health pandemic made me fully realize that throughout our life, we take the simple pleasures of attending a live concert with packed audiences, spending quality time with friends and family, and being a part of special events in our community, for granted. You never know what you truly have in front of you until it’s fully gone or just barely surviving. 2021 will be that year to re-evaluate what is most meaningful in your life, be kind to one another (regardless of differences), and to support each other year-round. Do your best to remain healthy, positive, supportive of one another, and stay safe during these crazy and turbulent times.
Amy’s Top Events from January 1, 2020 to March 15,2020
The Beatles “Abbey Road” 50 Plus Anniversary Show with Graham Tichy’s All Star Band @ The Van Dyke, Schenectady, NY, January 4, 2020: This was the first time that I attended this special show put on by Graham Tichy and his band and it certainly didn’t disappoint. I was singing and moving along to these classic Beatles tunes from “Abbey Road” and other Beatles classics!! I was impressed with this gig and was an early contender for my “Best of 2020” list.
Elvis Presley Birthday Bash @ The Hangar on the Hudson, Troy, NY, January 11, 2020: Happy Birthday Elvis Presley!! Johnny Rabb’s Big Band, with special guests, Cliff Lyons, and Joanna Peterson Palladino Resnick, once again put on another fantastic birthday bash for the King of Rock and Roll!! It’s always fun to dance and rock out to the king’s tunes on his birthday!!
TomFest @ The Hangar on the Hudson, Troy, NY, January 26, 2020: What a beautiful event this was for the late Tom D’Ambrose who died in November 2019. Tom was a fixture in the Nippertown music and arts scene for years and went out of his way to show his support to all who he cared for. The love was deeply felt in that room that day from friends, family, and bands alike who came out to perform their musical tributes to Tom. Proceeds from the memorial went towards the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society and Albany Center Gallery.
Eastbound Jesus “Full Moon Rising” CD Release Party @ Cohoes Music Hall, February 1,2020: My friend, Paul Desorrento, invited me and a friend of ours to attend this show. It’s been quite some time since I last saw them perform at the “Rockin’ on the River” concert series and they put on a great show in honor of their latest album, “Full Moon Rising”. Thank you, Paul, for allowing me to join you and our friends at the show!!
The Erotics Live CD Recording Event @ Don Fury Studios, Troy, NY, February 22, 2020: This was certainly a cool experience to be a part of at a local recording studio with “The Erotics”. I was asked by Mike Trash to attend and cover the recording of their newest album, “Let’s Kill Rock ‘n’ Roll”!! It was an honor to be involved in watching this album being recorded live and hear it played firsthand. Thank you, Mike, for the invite and be sure to give their album a listen!!
“Rock & Remembered” featuring Off The Record and the Chris Busone Band @ The Hangar on the Hudson, Troy, NY, February 29,2020: This was the second memorial musical event I attended this year and this time, it was held for music fan and music producer for RadioRadioX, Bob Sweeny. This was a fun event to attend for a great cause. Proceeds from the memorial went towards Street Soldiers and the American Red Cross.
“The Lonesome Brothers” @ Ale House, Troy, NY, March 1, 2020: This was the first time I got to hear this Berkshire, MA based band perform live and they were great. They came out to perform for my friend, Charlotte Parker, who turned 60 this year. This was a great way to celebrate her birthday and hear them perform too.
“7th Annual Dustin Mele Memorial Concert: A Night of The Beatles” @ Revolution Hall, Troy, NY, March 7, 2020: The Dustin Mele Memorial Concert is one of the top events to support and attend in the community every year and it is certainly my favorite event to attend. This year’s benefit featured an amazing tribute to Dustin’s favorite band, “The Beatles”. Local bands, “Across the Pond”, “Soul Sky”, “Super 400”, and an array of special guests put their own unique spin on many Beatles tunes to elevate people’s spirits.
Carmen Lookshire’s “For Love” CD Release Party @ Eden Café, March 14,2020: This was the final weekend that I heard and supported live music before NYS went on pause. One of my first stops that weekend was to support my friend, Carmen Lookshire, at her “For Love” CD release party. Carmen’s voice is beautiful, and her CD is great too!! Give it a listen!! Well done Carmen!
“Blue Hand Luke” with Paddy O’ Sax (March 14, 2020) and “The Dolan Brothers” @ Rustic Barn Pub, Troy, NY, March 15, 2020: This would be the final time that I would celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with my friends in both “Blue Hand Luke” & “The Dolan Brothers” at the Rustic Barn Pub just before NYS Pause went into effect. Both bands put on great shows that weekend!! Thank you to the Rustic Barn Pub for making sure these events happened and for helping to support the arts and music all year like you do. Thank you, “Blue Hand Luke”, & “The Dolan Brothers” for rocking out that weekend!!
Amy’s Notable Arts Venues, Exhibits, and Art Movements to View in Person
“Dino & Friends” Photo Exhibit @ Artist Associates Gallery Inc., Albany, NY, January 3-February 29, 2020: If you’re a photographer looking for some creative inspiration and expertise from top Capital Region photographers in the field, this exhibit was a must-see for the year!! The work featured in the exhibit was incredible. This was the second time that this exhibit was held at the gallery. The featured photographers included Michael Panzarino, Dino Petrocelli, Dino Petrocelli Jr., William Leblanc, Bethany Autumn, Trish Hennessy, Michael Gallitelli, Mike Sacca, and Linda Conley. I later returned to the gallery to view their “Black History Month” and the Upstate Artist Guild exhibits, also both worth their viewings too.
Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home, Manchester, VT: I’ve never been to Hildene, the summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of President Abraham Lincoln, before until February 3,2020. I found out about it in a news story that Cassie Hudson gave about this historic venue in January on News10ABC that piqued my interest. It’s a neat place to check out many historical artifacts pertaining to Lincoln’s life, including an exhibit about his father’s presidency, a tour of the Pullman train car, Sunbeam, among other cool features. I hope to return to Hildene again to tour the remaining features it has on its fields.
#518RainbowHunt, All over the Capital Region & Elsewhere, March 2020-Present: #518RainbowHunt: Spreading Rainbows Worldwide is a Facebook group whose mission is to provide a great, fun way to be with family, get outdoors, and be socially distant during the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak. This was a nice way to check out beautiful rainbow displays and spread the positivity we all need during these trying times all around the Capital Region and beyond. This initiative originated by artist/photographer, Kristyn Dayter. Thank you, Kristyn for what you do to help us spread art and positivity we all need in our lives!!
“Black Lives Matter” Art Murals in Troy, NY, June 4-6, June 11, 13, and 25,2020: Since the tragic deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many others who were killed by gun violence, businesses, artists, and the community united together to show their support and advocate for the lives that were taken and all African Americans. The days that I walked through the City of Troy, NY to watch local artists paint their beautiful murals on wooden platforms protecting windows of local businesses from potential looting, before the peaceful protest, was amazing and powerful. Although it was sad to see the businesses boarded up, the artwork that was placed to raise awareness about this matter was powerful and was a moment I won’t forget. Black Lives Matter. Everyone’s lives Matter. 2020 has taught us to support each other, regardless of what race you are, during these trying times and respect each other.
Art Omi, Ghent, NY: The last time I went to Art Omi was in Fall 2009 when I was competing the HVCC Fine Arts program. 11 years later, I returned there on Memorial Day with a friend of mine to view their outdoor sculptures. Viewing these sculptures and walking through nature helped me get out of the funk that I was in during NYS Pause. It was a good day to go to Art Omi. If you’re a fan of contemporary art and outdoor sculptures, take a drive to Art Omi. It’s free and open year-round. Plenty of room to social distance too.
COVID-19 certainly put creativity on pause, however, it didn’t stop local municipalities from putting on their summer and fall concert series. Rensselaer County was the place to be for live music and social distancing outings. Being outdoors and hearing live music was the best thing to happen once Phase 4 went into effect. I spent my weeks enjoying live music in the Town of Brunswick, Schaghticoke, North Greenbush, and the City of Troy. I did go out of my county to hear Moriah Formica perform solo in Clifton Park and attended the “Local Legends” monthly concert series at the Eden Cafe.
Writing reviews about live performances didn’t matter to me much for the remainder of this year as much as it did in previous years. This was the year to show equal support for all musicians; bands, solo, original acts, cover bands, and all artists who displayed and sold their work anywhere. All that mattered to me was simply enjoying these precious moments, sitting in a lawn chair listening to music, purchasing art, supporting local businesses, and enjoying those moments I had with friends, family, and the community. Time is limited and fleeting, and we don’t realize what good things we truly had until they’re gone. I didn’t have it in me to write reviews for the summer-winter events I attended for the remainder of the year unless it was for my blog or for work. Everyone needs support and I did make it my best to show support wherever I could in the community where it truly needed it.
Top Places to be For Live Music/ Community Events for the Rest of 2020
Rensselaer County, NY: Yes, I am counting the county I live in as the place to be for live music from the summer-late fall. The remainder of the year, I heard plenty of live music in the Town of Brunswick (Brunswick Community Center), Power’s Park (Troy), Town of North Greenbush Concert Series (Wynantskill), Town of Schaghticoke Summers Eve Concert Series (Melrose), and Windy Hill Orchard-East (Castleton-on-Hudson). I got to experience some of the most memorable (and sad) concerts at these events. The must-see performance that summer was at Power’s Park. It would be the final time that “Soul Serenade” (with Matt Mirabile) would perform one final time with drummer, Josh Bloomfield, on August 8,2020. The group gave all they got to play a fantastic show and give Josh all the love and support he needed as he was nearing the end of his battle with bile duct cancer that he would unfortunately die from in September.
Each band I saw this season were great, some stood out to me more than others. The most memorable, and sad moment was at the Brunswick Community Center when “Blue Hand Luke” made their song dedication of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” to Josh Bloomfield who died on their show day. Not a dry eye was seen on the stage and dance floor as the band dedicated their tune to him. Feeling the emotions that the band was feeling at that moment and letting it sink in that my friend had died, had overcame me and I cried in the arms of my mother and close friends. It was certainly a musical and personal moment I won’t forget.
It was also the first time I’ve been to Windy Hill Orchards-East and I had a nice time there this fall. They have delicious apple cider donuts, beautiful scenery, and excellent music that Vito Ciccarelli helped put on for the venue. It was the first time I heard Columbia County band, “Side Show Willie” perform and for a trio, they were excellent and tight on their material. Other notable performances I heard at the local establishment including “Matt Mirabile Band”, Brian Kane, “Whiskey Highway” (With Chris Sanders), “Blue Hand Luke” (with Frank Daley), and “Wild Adriatic”.
I concluded my county musical adventures by attending the Kickoff Event for the 38th Annual Troy Victorian Stroll at the River Street Market where I was entertained by Sax-O-Claus and Josh the Elf. It wouldn’t be the holidays without seeing my friends dressed up and walking through the city of Troy to perform their holiday tunes. And before that, I heard them perform at Nanola as they released their new holiday song, “Mrs. Claus”, to the public at their song release party. It was a cool event to attend this holiday season.
“Local Legends” Season 2 @ Eden Café, Loudonville, NY: The one thing that did remain consistent was the season 2 of the monthly “Local Legends” interview/concert series. Kevin Wayne and Anna Finn of “Kevin Wayne and the Retrobilleze” helped bring in a whole new gang of entertainers to the “Local Legends” sphere and these entertainers all put on interesting interviewers and fantastic performances. This season’s entertainers included Dan Kirshner, Jay Bird Gorleski (and his band debut, “The Cobras”), Tommy Love (and his bands, “Vinyl Vault” and “StarGroveStones” (with Tom Raider), Al Bruno, Bill Healy and “The Bluebillies”, and Art Fredette. Thank you to Kevin, Anna, Meghan Craig, and Nick Castellanos for providing us some much-needed normalcy and to the entertainers who performed in this series.
Groovin’: “Classic Rock Legends of the Vietnam War” @ The Jericho Drive-In, Glenmont, NY, October 9,2020: Of all the times I’ve attended a Groovin’ show have I never attended an outdoor show at a drive-in theater until this year. This show also featured a movie showing of “The Doors” as well as the musical tribute to the music legends, John Lennon, Eric Burden, John Fogarty, and Jim Morrison. It was certainly a fun, unique experience to watch this event unfold at the Jericho Drive-In. My first time ever attending anything at this drive-in.
People and Things, We Lost in 2020
Mike Brown: Troy, NY photographer, Mike Brown, was a friend of mine who we lost June 16. Mike was a talented photographer who captured what was happening in the arts and entertainment scene on his Facebook pages, “Troy Stories” and “Mike Brown Imagenation”. Mike was one of many local photographers who served as a mentor to me in my photographic work and his kindness and talents are missed.
Don Elliott (Warren Lake): Don Elliot, guitarist, and vocalist of “The Squibs” and photographer, also died this year. I wish I got a chance to get to know Don more and learn more about his successful music and photography career he had. He was friendly and always took the time to chat with me at music events. Don was a prolific photographer and videographer who is missed by all who knew him.
Josh Bloomfield (September 15, 1979-September 15, 2020): For seven years, I was thankful to call Josh Bloomfield as my friend. Josh was a talented musician, vocalist, and an all-around good guy from Troy, NY who died on his 41st birthday from stage 3 cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer). Josh performed in many area bands including “Soul Serenade”, “Chris Busone Band”, “Soul Sky”, “Matt Mirabile Band”, among others. His willingness to lend a helping hand to those who needed his assistance, his kindness, and musical talents were deeply noted by all who knew him. The Capital Region lost a kind soul who was taken from us too soon and he remains missed by us all.
The Art and Music Program Being Eliminated at The College of Saint Rose: On December 8,2020 on WNYT13, it was announced that the College of Saint Rose Board of Trustees approved a plan to reduce academic expenses by $5.97 million. However, that means that in the new year, 2021, 25 programs, will be eliminated. The programs that will be cut include Art: Design Media Arts, Graphic Design, Studio Art, and Music: Music, Music Performance, and Music Education K-12. With these cuts in the arts and music, it is up to us to support and save the arts and music in the education system and the community now!!
Happy New Year everyone. May you have a healthy, happy, positive, and safe 2021. May we have a much-improved year and hope that we can enjoy live music and the arts once again.