Yes, the music scene in Syracuse is lovely

Joe Driscoll smiled widely from the podium on the stage of The Palace Theatre on James Street during Friday night’s Syracuse Area Music Awards show. He gripped his shiny black Sammys trophy for best Jam Band recording with Sekou Kouyate and told the capacity crowd of 600 or so how he always laid claim to The ‘Cuse when he lived abroad and toured international cities.

Now Driscoll has settled back into Syracuse, playing gigs, making music, living life. He thanked his wife. He savored the scene.

“Keep it going. Keep it live. Keep it lovely,” the singer, songwriter and guitarist said, quite beautifully. Then he looked at the veteran radio guy and host for the night of awards and live sets, a Sammys Hall of Famer and a treasure to the scene in his own right.

“Dave Frisina is a Jedi,” Driscoll declared.

People cheered.

It was a night for many to remember.

Lauren Mettler carries her jacket to the stage.

Lauren Mettler carries her jacket to the stage.

When Lauren Mettler was announced as the winner in the Best Folk category, a young man walked to the stage and shyly introduced himself as her brother. He’d just received a text from sis, he said, and she was really close, so he was going to stretch out this moment in hopes she’d make her entrance and see him up there.

And there she came up the aisle, wondering what the heck.

She told us she’d arrived as quickly as possible after getting out from work, looking wonderful in her red gown.

That’s what the Sammys are all about, musicians feeling the love.

Katrina Tulloch and the cats from the studio.

Katrina Tulloch and the cats from the studio.

And for everybody to remember the great writer Brian Bourne, too, who covered the scene for The Herald-Journal in the 1980s up until he died when his bike was struck by a vehicle in 1991. He was my colleague as I worked for the sister Post-Standard, and I got to honor his memory by announcing the winner of The Brian Bourke Award for Best New Artist in his memory at the Sammys with the folks from SubCat Music Studios for a lot of years.

Current Advance Media New York music writer Katrina Tulloch did a fine job remembering Brian’s influence this Friday night.

Root Shock takes a special honor.

Root Shock takes a special honor.

And the band Root Shock received great and large applause for winning the shiny Sammys trophy.

The live performances demonstrated the depth of the Syracuse scene, too. I caught some on my iPhone 6.

The Ripcords rocked the joint with a blues stew. Irv Lyons is getting better and better as a front man. They also positively got the joint jumping with the Boneyard Horns. And the tribute to recently passed drummer Dave Read was touching.

Curtis “Tallbucks” McDowell and the Brownskin Band delivered an interesting, invigorating mix of hip-hop and R&B.

The Custom Taylor Band got the crowd up and dancing with its contemporary country. Chris Taylor is a fine front man.

Board chair Liz Novak and all the folks who work so hard year round to make sure the musicians get their due again came through.

Hover over a gallery photo for a description. Click on an image for an enlarged slide show.

Here are the winners:

Best Rock: King Chro and the Talismen, King Chro and the Talismen

Best Folk: Lauren Mettler, Patchwork

Best Pop: The Jess Novak Band, Inches from The Sun

Best Jazz: Second Line Syracuse, Second Line Syracuse,

Best Americana: Driftwood, City Lights

Best Jam Band: Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate, Monistic Theory

Best Alternative: Bell & Sgroi, Bell & Sgroi

Best Hard Rock: Breaking Solace, Shatter the Silence

Best Hip-Hop/Rap: World Be Free, Nigg@$ To Gods

Best Singer/Songwriter: Alanna Boudreau, Champion

Best Blues: Tas Cru, Simmered and Stewed

Best R&B: Alani Skye, Don’t Forget About Me

Best Country: Small Town Shade, Ring It Up EP

Best Other Category: Syracuse Society for New Music, Music Here & Now

Brian Bourke Award for Best New Artist: Root Shock

People’s Choice Awards

Over 110,000 votes were counted in this online competition.

Favorite Band: Small Town Shade

Favorite venue to see live music: Chevy Court at the New York State Fair

Favorite festival or music series: The Great New York State Fair

Hall of Fame inductees: moe, Meegan Voss, Jukin’ Bone, Paul Case

Music Educator of the Year: Anthony & Patricia DeAngelis

Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient: Vincent Falcone

I’ll leave with a tip of the hat to my current job and passion, and the reminder that Central New York musicians and studio personnel can get me CDs care of the Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St., Liverpool NY 13088. After I listen to them, I’ll pass them along to the librarian who curates the library’s local music collection. I’ll write about new local CDs in the collection for the blog that will be included on the upcoming renovation of the library’s revamped site,, as well.

4 thoughts on “Yes, the music scene in Syracuse is lovely

  1. it sounds like another wonderful night on the syracuse music scene. it’s so nice that you now have job where you can connect two of the things that are so important to you –


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