Attention music fans! This is not a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is the real deal coming at you. Saturday, November 3rd at 8:00 p.m., a rolling wave of powerhouse party rock is scheduled to hit and demolish the Kirkland Art Center Roadhouse with Rawson and The Rick Short Band. You do not want to be left out of this one!
The story goes, a wild eyed Rick Short, blissed out on his first UMAF experience several years ago, walked in on a Rawson set at The Electric Company. Rick took in part of a number and looked around him noting the lack of other bodies for him to excitedly exclaim to. He was overcome. He ran outside and literally grabbed hold of the first person he saw. I’ll closely paraphrase: “You gotta get in there! This band! It’s like Prince on Acid!”
If you know Rick, you know you can picture this actually happening. Cue your dream sequence moment. As luck would have it, the hapless victim of this guerrilla promotion was none other than Bernie Freytag of the KAC (among other projects and community contributions). Bernie was intrigued and followed Rick inside. The rest, as they say, was history.
It was love at first listen for Rick and he and the clan from Rawson became fast friends; a friendship that has stood the test of time over the last several years. And over that period of time, as many of you CNY-ers know well, Rick has put together quite a band himself! The Rick Short Band debuted UMAF weekend at The Tramontane Café two years ago and then again this year at The Boilermaker Road Race with a change in the line up making things fresh again. With thoughtfully crafted songs, catchy hooks and melodies, familiar tones, expert musicianship and varied and pertinent lyrical subject matter, The Rick Short Band has done nothing but gain fans and support since this summer. Their run of UMAF shows this year impressed the fans and promoters and all the hard work is coming to an exciting and endearing fruition with this coming show.
And so it goes that under a Utica Greens Festival sunny sky, Rick, Jimi Short from Rawson, and Bernie Freytag struck up a discussion. Playfully remembering the connection between them all from years ago, a plan took shape. Now the Mohawk Valley gets to reap the benefits of this mega-networking when The Rick Short Band and Rawson rock and roll the Kirkland Art Center.
That’s the backstory, but what can you expect to hear November 3rd? Both of these bands understand and appreciate the roots of soul, R&B and Rock and Roll and how much music can ignite the masses.
Rawson is indeed a powerhouse of an ensemble and their goal is to make you shake your thang. Their original selections fuse R&B and good old fashioned Rock and Roll creating what they like to call the “Rawson Roll.” Everyone is as slick as slick gets and they look every bit the part of members in one of downstate’s most epic party bands. Jimi Sharp is infamous for coaxing his lead guitar to scream, moan, and wail while Sean Rawson works the microphone like the great frontmen of years gone by. You certainly will think of Prince and you’ll also have some liberal Rolling Stones moments, particularly from their later years. Sean and Jimi play off of each other well on stage, each giving, taking, and pushing the other and the fans and lifting things to the pinnacle of the next level. G steadily gives up what everyone at a Rawson show wants- that rhythm! Shuffling, rolling, splashing and crashing, he holds down the foundation together with Edwin Alvarado thumping on the bass. They drive that Rawson Roll straight home. This band does not let their talent and showmanship isolate them from their fans, either. They are extremely down to earth and genuinely want to make you smile and get to know you. This is a big reason why Rawson has built a strong following of quality fans in the Utica area. It’s a rare Rawson show that doesn’t end with a stage full of gyrating audience members.
Rawson’s stage show is going to go so well next to The Rick Short Band’s nostalgic and high energy performance. Joining Rick in the act of creation are Kassandra Freetage on vocals, Rick DeJohn on the bass, Eddie Reilly on drums, and Joe Rizzuto on lead guitar. Kassandra’s vocals are smokey and confident and she illustrates her range, sometimes singing in the lead role and frequently supporting Rick’s vocal, weaving in and out reminiscent of both bluesy bands you know and love and the more psychedelic fare of yore. Rick DeJohn understands the importance of an active and present low end and dances inside the song structures expertly. His work stands out and I enjoy it immensely. Eddie is a supportive, spirited rhythm master, intuitively understanding when to push out to the forefront of a song and when to hang back and add texture and depth; such a valuable quality in the percussion section. Joe is an incredible lead guitarist and I expect he will blow your socks off. He plays with and off of Rick’s strong rhythm structures and intriguing progressions. Prepare to stand slack-jawed.
The bands are psyched, too. In Rick’s own words, “This showcase is a pairing of two bands that, first, are great friends. Second, that met at The Utica Music Fest. And, third, who are going to ROCK the KAC like it’s never been rocked before. THAT is a promise! The tremendous setting and professional sound system will allow the guests to truly enjoy the musicianship and artistry.” It’s true that the KAC is a very bright spot on the CNY music venue landscape. Rick continued, “Both bands feed off of each other’s energy and passion. Friends for years, [we] encourage each other, support each other, respect each other, and truly enjoy each other. The audience will feel this respect and will be drawn into the family.” Rick summed up the experience he is expecting nicely for me. “The combination of being featured with Rawson and performing for the discerning audience of the KAC Roadhouse is truly a highlight in The Rick Short Band’s calendar. We’re taking this VERY seriously and bringing our “A” game.”
I also spoke with Sean about his thoughts. “It’s our first time playing together outside of UMAF.” He continued that he and Jimi, “have [our] musical wheels spinning in preparation for this show. Don’t be surprised to see bubbles, heels and Hershey kisses during the Rawson set! I’m just saying you are not gonna want to miss this show. We can’t wait to share the stage with our friends. We are honored and anxious for this fun filled night of music which is sure to be an incredible time for people of all ages.”
How’s that sound to ya? Nice, right?? I think these are two of the best party bands I’ve had the pleasure of dancing around to and I hope you will too. Tickets for this event are $10.00 for KAC members and $12.00 for non-members, pre sale. Tickets at the door will be $12.00/members and $15.00 nonmembers. They can be purchased by calling 853-8871 in advance.