What’s that sound? A little dance, a little jazz

The Ecco Fest featured Native American traditional  dance in downtown Syracuse's Hanover Square.

The Blue Rain Ecofest featured Native American traditional dance in downtown Syracuse’s Hanover Square.

The second Friday night departure from my reentry into the 40-hour weekday working world saw me rushing out of the building to find my dear wife Karen waiting patiently around the corner, watching the traffic go by. Again.

We chatted about our day as we walked the short way to the car up at the top of the nearby parking garage. I tossed my case in the trunk and back down we headed. There were blocks to walk and sights to soak in. Downtown Syracuse was hopping on this post-work Friday p.m.

Hanover Square was hosting the Blue Rain Ecofest.

The clothing worn by the dancers was beautiful.

The clothing worn by the dancers was beautiful.

When we arrived, a Native American speaker was informed the crowd about the importance of dance to the culture.

Then several groups performed examples of traditional moves, wearing clothing in the style that’s been passed on through generations.

It was quite inspiring.

The outdoor tables for The Bull N Bear Pub provided a great spot to take in the dance moves as well as eat and drink.

The outdoor tables for The Bull N Bear Pub provided a great spot to take in the dance moves as well as eat and drink.

As we departed, we noticed that the busy outdoor tables in the popular pub on the side of Hanover Square, the Bull N Bear, where being used for more than the usual Friday happy hour schmoozing this week.

Lo and behold, the heads were turned toward the stage, and people were watching the dance and listening to the beats with the beer and the burgers.

The Great  Northeast Jazz and Wine Festival takes over downtown Syracuse's Clinton Square.

The Northeast Jazz and Wine Festival takes over downtown Syracuse’s Clinton Square.

Across the street and just a couple hundred feet, in the larger Clinton Square, the Northeast Jazz and Wine Fest had already kicked off with music in side pavilion.

We saw the gathering crowd and heard the first group scheduled for the main stage in the final seconds of its sound check.

Not two minutes into our walk through the square and who do we see but our great friend Dave Kaspar and his lovely girlfriend Sue Taylor. Yes, the friends we shared fun at the Crawfish Fest and M&T Syracuse Jazz Fest.

He gave me a bit of the stink eye because he’d been calling me on our land line all week and leaving messages without getting a return call. I explained how our home phone has been down. (Time Warner will be getting a call today.) Sue has my cell number in her cell and will give it to Dave when they get home. You now have met the last guy in America with no cell phone, for which I again give him a bit of the stink eye.

The main stage for the Northeast Jazz and Wine Fest.

The main stage for the Northeast Jazz and Wine Fest.

Dave explains that he has two extra passes for the VIP seating up front for this two-day, free-admission event. He won them in a raffle when he and Sue attended the winter fest held by the same presenting organization, the CNY Jazz.

I thank him, but explain that Karen and I are just on a short stay.

We listen as stage announcer Eric Cohen of Syracuse Public Media station WAER explains how this year’s fest is dedicated to Paul Russo, Syracuse’s jazz ambassador who used to man the entrance of that VIP seating. Paul passed recently. Dave and I reminisce about Paul, who we talked with every year for decades.

The band, Morning Sun & the Essentials, begins to play.

Dave and Sue go for their great seats.

The main stage in Clinton Square will have room for jazz fans to bring their portable chairs to hear free music today, too.

The main stage in Clinton Square will have room for jazz fans to bring their portable chairs to hear free music today, too.

Karen and I listen for a bit and walk the square.

We poke our heads in the wine tent, and I vow to stop to buy some Cabernet Sauvignon on the way home.

Both festivals continue today, Central New Yorkers.

And downtown Syracuse also hosts day two and three of the annual Arts and Crafts Festival in nearby Columbus Circle, with numerous artists and artisans selling there ware. I’ll be writing about that event Wednesday for my weekly community blog for Syracuse public media site waer.org, with photos and a tease story here, too, of course.

Have you ever seen traditional Native American dance, in the beautiful costume? Are you a jazz fan, and if so, what’s your favorite genre of jazz your favorite jazz artist? When’s the last time you got to sip a wine and appreciate live jazz music?

28 thoughts on “What’s that sound? A little dance, a little jazz

  1. My son likes jazz, but neither the hub nor I do. I like lyrics. I will drink your cab sauv, though. πŸ™‚ I like the picture with the pretty old buildings in the background.


  2. Sounds like fun!
    I am in Cheyenne, Wyoming at the minute and your adventure into the wilds of Syracuse, which many brave men wither, gave me the idea of popping downtown and hitting a couple of the wild west and pioneer museums while I’m doing my mandatory 34 hr break. I don’t know if I will see any Apache or Comanche, but here’s hoping!
    I can’t sit around and write awesome stories and movie reviews all freaking day!


  3. love jazz, wine, and city events. there’s a native american indian annual event here that i’ve stopped by, but never spent quality time there. this might be the year. and all of this must have been a nice way for you both to unwind a bit before heading home after a long week. )


  4. Mark, you and the lovely Karen sure have a lot of fun! I so enjoy reading your blog – you take us on great adventures.

    Jazz… well, I’m more a blues girl myself… still love Billie Holiday. Loved Janis Joplin… she was inspired by another great blues singer, Bessie Smith. It was the extraordinary Janis that first got me interested in music beyond the pop stuff I grew up with (well, that and my dad’s collection of Frank Sinatra recordings). Man, I feel the need to listen to Janis even as I type this!

    I like the way these ladies emote through song. They move me. I think that’s one of the reasons I like Sinatra… that ability to make you feel the emotions behind the words.

    Okay, back to jazz… for a time I was quite the fan of Cleo Laine and Johnny Dankworth. I like some of Lady Ella’s stuff. No one scats like Ella. Also like Mel Torme. Too mellow? πŸ˜€ And Sarah Vaughan – ah, Sassy, a beautiful, rich honeyed voice…

    Anyway, I love to talk about music. ‘Come ona my house, my house,’ as Rosie might say, and we’ll share a bottle of wine and listen to some good music and talk about all the great musicians who light up our lives with their artistry.


    • I love your take on the history of blues and jazz, Kate.

      You know they are cousins!

      Ella, Sara, Rosie. Frank, too.

      Damn, Sinatra is in my top two. Frank and Bruce. Two Jersey boys are my favorite musicians of all time. Odd pairing, I know. But they both get from my hair follicles to the soles of my feet every damn time.

      I’m glad you take part in my Syracuse tours, Kate.

      And again, thank you for sharing your Baltimore with me, because I love Charm City so because of my six years spent living in your state as a Maryland Terp. And of course, since my 1979, graduation, I am forever a Maryland Terp.


  5. I’ve never seen live Native dancing Mark, even though the First Nations are very prevalant here in Ottawa. There are many who live here and yet sadly most are apples. Ha! I have a Native friend and she is pretty close to pure bred Native – both mother and father are Native. She jokingly calls herself an “apple” – red on the outside and white on the inside (her description). The Canadian Native Reserves are semi-autonomous and gov’t funded. However, there are many, many problems and poverty is rampant. It is a mess. A lot of Native activity revolves around protests rather than rejoicing. There are a few real success stories, tribes that have become self-sufficient and economically sound. But they are the exception, not the rule. The natives on our West Coast are more socially active and better off. A lot of their land has been preserved – not so here in the East. Kind of sad.

    Anyway, sounds like a real good time there at the festival. You know Mark, a cell phone doesn’t have to be intrusive and run your life. It can be a lifeline and can bring all sorts of services to you in times of need. I feel naked without mine but I don’t answer it unless I recognize the number and it is on vibrate 90% of the time. I don’t check or listen to messages unless I’m expecting a call. It could be a useful addition to your communication toolbox. The smart phones can take amazing pictures that can download right to your computer and are small and slim and easy to carry. They are easy to use and the batteries now last a long time. I charge mine about once a week. and it is on 24 hours a day. They are close to indestructible and I’ve even dropped mine in water a few times and it came out unscathed. They’ve come a long way and I think you would enjoy one Mark if you gave it a try. I got mine free with my phone plan. The trick in all this is to choose the right carrier and phone plan – there are many.

    Anyway, great post Mark. Thanks for the glimpse into the Native culture.


  6. Nice to see all those events going on in the city. The beautiful weather didn’t hurt, either. My sister is visiting from Vermont and we checked out the arts and crafts fair. Good stuff!


    • Karen and I were bum’s-rushed around Columbus Circle because the closed the A and C Fair at 6 last night. Two more days left, though. Have a good weekend with your sister. Careful what you eat!


  7. What’s that sound? It’s Mark Bialczak sharing feelings, thoughts, connections, experiences, and questions. I think you know some things, at this point, about my tastes in music. Also, I wanted to tell you that my son pretty much refuses to use a cell phone. He finally allowed me to get him one, but he almost always leaves home without it. Thanks, Mark!


    • I do know your tastes because you share so willingly, Ann. Now I will confess about Pat Metheny. I can now like him much more because I no longer have to carry the worry of the concert review with me. The several Metheny shows I had to review for the big daily, here’s the thought constantly dancing with the other observations in my head as he and his great band play their tasteful and magical instrumental compostions: “What’s the title of this song?” NO LYRICS TO JOG MY MEMORY. Or even for me to jot down to google for reference in a pinch. Anyway.

      So, Aaron does not like the convenience and security of the cell, either, I now hear. Sue is much like you, now trying to convince Dave that she will be happier if he has a cell with him.


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