In Focus: Bella’s Bartok and West End Blend at The Hollow

A packed Hollow Bar & Kitchen welcomed Bella’s Bartok and West End Blend back to the Capital Region for an intense night of dancing and revelry. The two bands, from western Mass and Connecticut, respectively, have built up sizable followings around the state and when converging together in Albany on Friday, a welcoming crowd got down with them from the first note to the last. West End Blend’s funk did more than warm up the crowd, and set the tone for the night with “Smile.” Bella’s Bartok followed shortly after with a set full of klezmer-infused, high energy numbers, with inflated eye balls bouncing around the crowd and a daring band member who crowd surfed to the bar (for a shot) and back to the stage with the support of their fans.  

Following these two glorious sets of music to shake the week off, the bands spoke to NYS Music about why New York is such an important part of their careers and how they have grown as a result of touring across the state.

Drummer Sam Horan of West End Blend: “I feel like playing around the New York scene, that’s not New York City, it’s just been really good to us, and we’ve seen a lot of progress and steady progression which keeps us fueled to come back. This show, specifically, was a surprise because our last show was, it was good, but tonight really felt like a turning point for the market. We have a really great audience in Saranac Lake, and we throw our festival ‘The Blender’ in Saranac Lake, and that’s its own thing, but for Albany tonight it really felt like a turning point for us, with an early opening set, and it was a full room. It was a really good, reassuring thing for us to see a full room, starting pretty early, so that’s kind of the thing the New York scene has just been really good to us, and that’s what keeps us coming back.”

Likewise, Asher Putnam, lead singer of Bella’s Bartok shared: “We’ve been playing upstate New York and the Hudson River Valley since 2009-2010 when we were just a street band, and we’ve always enjoyed ourselves. We’re out of western Massachusetts, the Great Barrington area, so it’s a hop, skip, and a jump, and it’s really nice to see people coming up to the show who’ve been seeing us for 7-8 years, singing along to the old songs and hearing the new tunes. From Saranac Lake to Albany, and sometimes to NYC even, the Capital Region and Upstate is where we find our people.”

Catch West End Blend on Saturday February 8 at The Waterhole in Saranac Lake, and Bella’s Bartok the night before at The Waterhole on Friday, February 7. Bella’s then returns to the state on Saturday, March 7 at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, and then again on Thursday, March 19 at Funk ‘n Waffles in Syracuse.

Check out the photo gallery below!

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