From the Mailbag: Irv Lyons, Safe, Todd Hobin-Garland Jeffreys, Austin John Band-Kohlton Pascal

My last trip to the Syracuse New Times office to hand in a bunch of movie ticket stubs for reimbursement — I know, lucky me, paid to review an opening movie every week — I was greeted by Kimberly Rossi. She wanted to talk about music, not movies. So she brought up the new CD by Irv Lyons, the singer and guitarist she represents in her other business, Indigo Productions.

I asked Kimberly to send me the CD.

It arrived with a nice flier from Rossi’s Indigo Productions by post a few days later.

And so we have the start of my periodic Central New York music piece, “From the Mailbag.” Keep the news and recordings coming, by email to (If you’d like to send something to my physical address, ask me by email and I’ll reply.)

(CD Cover)

(CD Cover)

Irv Lyons Jr: “Love the Night.”

Irv Lyons is well known around Syracuse, N.Y., as an important player with popular blues band The Fabulous Ripcords, ready to add guitar and vocals to the songs he writes.

For this solo project, Lyons linked up with master sound man Jeff Moleski at MoleTrax Studios. Veteran sound man and musician Moleski shares producing credits on the 10-song recording, as well as writing credits on three song. Moleski also plays drums on those three, and bass on one of them.

You can hear the good chemistry throughout.

Lyons’ solo project turns out to be a rather grand experiment. It’s punchy, modern blues sound starts with the cool fuzz guitar of the opening cut, “Wanna Be with You.” The blues-with-a-bite opener was co-written with his wife, lyricist Cindy Lyons, as are three more songs on the collection, and is supported with a solid musical foundation from bassist Mike Casale and drummer James Bianchi.

Lyons, Casale and Bianchi also ably tackle the only cover song in the bunch, a soulful R&B remake of Tim Thomas’ hop 1972 hit “Why Can’t We Live Together.” Sweet, it is.

Lisa Nojaim adds her talents, too, with duet vocals with Lyons on the country-blues tinged love song “If You Love Me,” and the gliding blues ballad “Stronghold.” She also takes over the drum kit on those two.

The Moleski-Lyons’ trio of songs close the album with fire and ice.

“Bedroom Eyes” features a fast and interesting beat by Moleski and cool keyboard work by Lyons. “Be My Baby” is powerful and mysterious, with its echo-vocals by Lyons. And the closer, “I Love the Night,” is a sneaky little blues love song.

In the liner notes, Lyons thanks his Ripcords band mate and family member Rex Lyons for “teaching me how to become a halfway decent guitar player.” You are too modest, Irv.

Album Cover

Album Cover

Aux Records releases first vinyl

Ulf Oesterle, owner and president of Syracuse label Aux Records, sent over a quite wonderful note enclosed in an envelope big enough to remind me of the old days.

Yes, indeed, it included a record.

“I had to share my first piece of vinyl with you,” my longtime Central New York music industry crony wrote. “I’m excited to get this one out.”

Safe is the band, and “Cinematic Ocean” is the album.

Great choice, Ulf, for the warm rock sound mastered for vinyl by veteran Syracuse studio owner and master sound technician Jason “Jocko” Randall.

The original CD came out in November 2012, and Ulf got Aux Records involved last year.

The sound of Josh Coy, Bryan Schlenker, Jay Trovato and Jeff French is just-right for vinyl.

Oh, yes, the magical feeling of Side A and Side B, five songs per side.

Great work by Coy and French, together previously in popular Syracuse rock band Long Since Forgotten, as well as Schlenker, from cool outfit The Sister Lovers, and Trovato, who worked on the road crew for Polar Bear Club and more.

I must add that they had me from the recollection that they titled song four, Side A, “Lloyd Dobler,” for the heroic romantic warrior played by John Cusack in the wonderul 1989 cult favorite “Say Anything.”

In fact, all 10 songs are tight but somehow free-spirited nevertheless. Just like Lloyd Dobler as he won the heart of Diane Court, the slightly uptight class smart girl played by Ione Skye.



Todd Hobin hosts afternoon with Garland Jeffreys

Veteran Central New York band leader Todd Hobin sends along the reminder that this year marks the 40th anniversary for The Todd Hobin Band.

“Lots of events planned, and we’re looking for more,” Hobin reports, adding that he and guitarist Doug Moncrief will be among the slew of great local artists performing at the big Beatles tribute show Feb. 8 at the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse.

First, though, Hobin will team with folk stalwart Garland Jeffreys at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, in Le Moyne College’s Coyne Center.

Hobin, who teaches at Le Moyne, will host the music-and-conversation afternoon. And a film crew will capture it for an upcoming TV special on Syracuse’s WCNY.

Students of who-played-music while studying at Syracuse University should take note. Garland was a contemporary on the hill with the late, great Lou Reed, and they remained friends throughtout their interesting lives.

Admission is $10 for the general public, $5 for students.

Auburn, N.Y., native Austin John. (Courtesy of Final Friday.)

Auburn, N.Y., native Austin John. (Courtesy of Final Friday.)

Austin John, Kohlton Pascal at Theater Mack

The blues of The Austin John Band takes over Theater Mack for this month’s edition of Final Friday, at 6 p.m. Jan. 31 in Auburn, N.Y.

Series presenter Ron Thompson paired Auburn native John — “a young bluesman with an old soul,” Thompson reports — with unique Central New York singer-songwriter Kohlton Pascal.

Pascal played an original song for the Music Notes Performance video series I oversaw when I worked for the big daily. He carries an interesting sound and perspective, a throwback of sorts but yet very modern.

The cover charge is $5.

9 thoughts on “From the Mailbag: Irv Lyons, Safe, Todd Hobin-Garland Jeffreys, Austin John Band-Kohlton Pascal

    • Click all the links I put it for the artists, and you can find sounds, Sheena. The Fabulous Ripcords, Irv’s main band gig, are rocking blues that you might dig. Thanks for commenting, fellow music lover.


  1. One thing we don’t have a shortage of in Central New York is great music.

    The first time I saw Austin play was at Shifty’s Wednesday open mic night. He was wearing a suit, the hat he had on, and the sounds that came out of his guitar were MIND BLOWING. My roommate, ToTs (yes, that potato rapper) and I looked at each other with wide eyes and mouths. He’s a must, must, must see.

    For now… Martin Sexton tonight!!!


    • I should have made the connection that you and Michael were roommates way before this, you know?! Oy. How many bags of tater tots are in your freezer … You are right, there is a richness to the Syracuse music scene, thankfully!


  2. i love your music posts, mark. i always enjoy my eyes and ears being opened to musical talents of all kinds, and new to me. also love garland’s name, and i love that you got vinyl in the mail. b


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