NBIF and the UMAF join forces to strengthen the community


Community involvement is a large part of what motivates the Utica Music and Arts Festival.  Without interest and support from their communities, musicians and artists cannot thrive.  In turn, without music and art, communities lack a vital aspect of what makes up culture.  Beyond just that basic foundation, festival organizers have always endeavored to give something back to Central New York through various relationships with local charities and social groups.  At this time, the UMAF is honored and proud to announce that the festival will be working with the National Brain Injury Foundation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, nearly 1.7 million people suffer a traumatic brain injury.  The NBIF is a non profit 501(c) organization founded and headquartered in Utica, NY that works to raise awareness of traumatic brain injuries and provide information and holistic support to individuals with brain injuries and their families.  Founder, Lisa Marie Jones, is tirelessly dedicated to this cause.  The NBIF is very active in the community hosting many events (recently a film screening Going the Distance: Journeys of Recovery at The Uptown Theater) and fundraisers.   An integrated community is a strong one, and the contribution of the NBIF enriches both sides of the equation.  
In past years, the NBIF has joined the UMAF family by participating in the Utica Greens Festival and this year we are excited to build upon that foundation and take it beyond.

NBIF Booth at last year's Greens Fest

The UMAF hopes to help more community members become aware of the great work of the NBIF though the connection between the two groups, and the festival team is also genuinely grateful for the assistance of the Foundation in our fundraising efforts, The Greens Festival, and all other facets of the UMAF.  Each organization will share portions of the contributions from future joint fundraising events and look forward to cooperating to that end.

I trust your calendars are marked for this year’s UMAF, September 13, 14 & 15.  Please stay tuned for more announcements to come and thank you as always for your beautiful support.  We love U!



Raise some funds, raise some spirits, raise a UMAF Plant!


All the UMAFers have been busy at work brainstorming some fun ways to raise some funds for this year’s fest so it can be even bigger and better than ever before!  With a focus on service and the joy of a life full of beautiful things, what can we do to share together?  How can we all get together and nuture this to help it grow?

What little cuties!

Plants!  Come get a UMAF plant to brighten your day!  You can set it on your desk at work or in your home and every time you look at it, you can know you’ve done a part in growing this event from the bottom up with your neighbors!  It’s a big community garden for such a great cause.

Sometimes, when you have a baby, somebody sends you a plant.  As the baby grows and changes before your eyes, the plant also grows, and one day you find yourself looking at it and thinking that the plant has been there from the beginning.  It is a beautiful reminder and symbol of creation.  It is a part of a part you played.  As this brain baby, the UMAF, hits full stride, we’d like you to be a part of that.  We’d like you to have a nice reminder every time you glance at the plant we  share that you are united with people trying to do some positive things and share art and music with our whole community.  Watch it and the festival grow together.

Doesn’t that sound like a lot of nice!?  Where can you get one of these lovely darlings?  You can see one of your friends who are plotting and planning the festival behind the scenes.  I know you know someone- you made it here after all!  Or, even better, stop out to an event and pick one up!  Tonight, March 9, 2012 at 9:00 p.m. the UMAF will have a table with a selection of UMAF plant-lets at Piers & Blake, a lovely restaurant and bar at 330 Main Street in Utica, NY, while Joe Sweet and John Kelsey play some acoustic music for your further enjoyment.  Please support one of our newest UMAF venues and get out tonight, pick up a plant, and share a few smiles with us.

Thank U!



Snuggle up close and get a better peek 😉









Your 2012 UMAF!! 9/13, 14 & 15th!


Don't sleep!! Save the dates!

Don’t sleep- UMAF 2012 Promises to be best yet!  September 13, 14 & 15

The 5th annual Utica Music and Arts Festival, September 13, 14 and 15, is already galvanizing into action.  Planning is under way and the community is again rallying behind this major cultural event in it’s 5th year running!  Basically, we’re AMPED to be back at it again and the vibe from the inside is, let me tell you, tasty!  This promises very, very good things this fall.  We want your help making this the biggest year so far, so please get excited with us and mark up your planners!  Half a decade!  You know children who haven’t been *alive* that long!  This baby  has, and it’s learning how to take right off on a dead run.

Set to again take place in various locations across the city, including The Radisson, Varick Street, and the Uptown Theater, the festival offers great regional and national music acts, family friendly fun through the Greens Fest portion of the weekend, and a chance to see our beautiful city.  Utica Greens Festival will be Saturday, September 15th on Varick Street and traditionally offers a showcase of local food and all ages activities.   Take a look back in the blog and on the official website for some of the fun we all had last year!

Mark up your calendars, update your Apps., and stay tuned to the Official UMAF websiteMohawk Valley PromotionsTonic Productions, and this humble blog for all breaking details on this event as it takes shape.  Submissions of material, ticket information and outlet locations to be announced.

Organizers and promoters may be reached for questions/comments at the following information below:

Mohawk Valley Promotions:  mohawkvalleypromotions@gmail.com

Joe Sweet, Founder:  uticamusicfest@gmail.com

Advertising, Janet Stanley:  umaf.janet@gmail.com

Event Production Manager, Brandi Gall:  umaf.brandi@gmail.com

Greens Festival, Suzanne McGraw: umaf.suzanne@gmail.com

Press,  Melissa L. Walker:  umaf.melissa@gmail.com

And any of the amazing folks you know and love that make this thing happen!

Get excited, my beautiful people.  Oh, how I’ve missed you!

A returning festival family favorite, Randy Niles, at a recent show at Pier's and Blake

The maddest of loves,


Please check out our fantastic friends at Pulse Magazine!  Official website, too.  Get you some!

Artist Profile- Rawson

Artist Profile- Rawson

Rawson will funk Utica up!  It isn’t the first time, it won’t be the last time, but the next time you get to see Rawson in Utica is during a little thing we like to call the Utica Music and Arts Festival.  Our dear festival family is returning to greet us with the sweat of their brow and the song in their hearts…and a little bit of booty shaking bass and beat business.  They know we like it that way and they serve it up every time, all the way from New York City with their patented “Rawson Roll!”

To hear Rawson is to love Rawson.  They’re a professional groove machine; a rock band, but with very heavy influences of blues and funk.  Jimi calls it party music, probably because a party breaks out everywhere they go.  My wardrobe malfunction alert is if the seat won’t hold, leave it home.  You’ll bust your old seams loose once the band gets going.  Jimi Sharp’s guitar is like a 5th member of the group, with him coaxing it to singing and screaming in big presence right along with Sean Rawson. Sean’s vocal is perfection in the mix, soaring and rasping, whining, exalting, and purring.  If you made a wish list, Rawson’s got it down. The groove is easy and natural like breathing as G and Edwin Alvarado do their swing, slam and romp thing.  The sound is full and slightly distorted and very uninhibiting.  Delicious!  Get some of that at our festival!

“It’s like a musical surprise party!”  Jimi Sharp

might as well...

Utica is a repeated stop for Rawson and they’ve just recently played at The Electric Company for a post Saranac Thursdays afterparty.  Social media is always a mess the following day with fans and the band commenting and interacting on the show.  I’ve never heard a bad word said on either side!

You don’t have to take my word for it, this is the age of the video upload.  Some flava for yo’ ear:


Rawson’s got some big stuff on deck, including the new CD they have begun writing and a video in the works.  What’s in store for Utica?  “There will be a “RAWSON” GIVEAWAY at UTICA this year also, but you MUST come to the shows to find out what it is!”  That’s Friday, September 16th at 11:00 p.m.-12:00 midnight at BLU and Saturday, September 17th at 7:00 pm 8:00 pm at The Electric Company


“Our fan base is always growing and we love feedback from everyone. Please come up after the show! Chat, take pics, make yourself at home.” ~Jimi

Find Rawson on the web:

Rawson on ReverbNation

Rawson on Facebook

Rawson on Youtube (note the UMAF love!)

Attend the UMAF by paying a cover charge ($5-$15) on the door of most venues (a select few are freebies, cause we love U!) and subjecting yourself to a line, or go the smart route and purchase a weekend pass wristband online or at The Electric Company or the Tramonane Café.  Wristband means no line, you get first come first serve treatment in the event of a capacity fill for the venue, and you don’t have to reach in your pocket at the door.


Artist Profile- Nevergreen

Artist Profile- Nevergreen

Nevergreen is coming for you, Utica, and they are bringing a monster sound you should prepare yourselves for right now.  This 5 piece rock band from Rochester, NY won’t hesitate to blow your hair back and they’ll charm you while they do it.

“Nevergreen is a blend of progressive rock and reggae for the most part.  Little riffs of metal in there, a little bit of hip hop sometimes, but we mostly stick to the rock/reggae stuff.  It’s kind of like No Doubt meets Incubus meets RX Bandits.  It’s hard to classify, but we kind of like it that way cause we’ve found that we’ve been able to appeal to 5 year olds and 55 year olds and 75 year olds.  It’s been amazing.  And we’re kind of clean in the way of our lyrics…it could be radio friendly, it’s festival friendly.”

This band kicks.  The players in the game are Sara Passamonte, lead vocals, J Passamonte, drums and vocals, Mike Ortolaza and Dylan Emerson on guitar, and Robert Smith on bass and vocals. The first thing you’re likely to notice is how polished and professional their wall of sound is.  The prog label fits here because this band is so tight it moves like one beast with several arms and the songs are thick and dark.  Sara shared with me that they were “math metal’ before she came along and started fronting them, and that will make sense to you when you hear the band.  That makes Nevergreen come out sounding pretty unique in the way they blend their influences.  Reggae is a genre that gets bent around and fused with other sounds quite often, but I can’t say I’ve heard it taken in a heavy alternative rock direction too many times before.  The combination is punchy like Ska but retains a driving rock beat.  “We have a universal appeal.  I think it’s important for people, when they hear ‘reggae’, to start thinking outside of the reggae box.  Because, we’ll be writing, and they’ll be working on guitar riffs and I’ll say, you guys are going all metal on me!  So I want people to know when they see that we say something like rock reggae, just think outside the box as far as what reggae means.  They’ll hear it.  I think it’s just kind of something for everybody, even within a song.  They might hear all different elements.”

Platinum Pedestal

If this is the future of pop-friendly radio music, I’m in!  I really have no doubt that anyone who attends Nevergreen’s show is going to enjoy them.  People to Paradise is my current favorite track and it’s pretty representative of what I like about this group’s sound because it wastes no time at all.  The beefy chorus is served up immediately and with force.  Sara’s vocal is pointed but very natural sounding and that provides a great contrast to what you might expect to hear fronting a band doing what the guys behind her are doing.

Recently, Nevergreen has played Rochester’s Boulderfest and are most freshly off a gig at the Club side of Water Street Music Hall that has created some great buzz.   Last year, Nevergreen’s Boulderfest slot was directly before roots reggae powerhouse John Brown’s Body.  The group is no stranger to success in Rochester, and is now looking to branch out more to the surrounding areas on small tour stints.

“We’re at the point where Rochester is comfortable for us…I’d love to line up something (in Utica) before and then immediately after Winter, even try to work it into a bigger trip…little three spot tours between New York City, Utica, Syracuse.”  That is exactly what I’m talking about.  Let’s build bridges.

“Two years ago I remember hearing there was a festival (in Utica) and last year it was solidified as the big event.  There is a lot going on here.  I missed the submission deadline and I’m like, ok, that’s on for next year.”

They’re bringing some merch to sling at you.  They have two EPs (4 and 5 songs, respectively) and will have their first full length record available also.  They are excited to have this project completed and hope you’ll be excited to listen.  Other fun miscellanea with the Nevergreen brand will be on hand for your perusal.

You don’t want to miss Nevergreen on Saturday at 10:00 p.m. at  Celtic Harp’s outdoor stage.  When you are out of your mind with sonic love, remember to mention to the venue people that you would happily come see the band again if they re-book.  The part the fans play in this process should not be underestimated, and Nevergreen wants to be your steady.

Tickets are on sale now online and at The Electric Company and the Tramontane Cafe.  Get you some!


Artist Profile- The Rick Short Band

Artist Profile- The Rick Short Band

” I clearly remember walking out of a UMAF venue during year one, turning to my wife and saying, “This is so cool! I can’t just TAKE from this scene, I have to GIVE to it.”  So, I sought out the founders and stepped up. So glad I did. It literally changed my life.” ~Rick Short on being part of the UMAF organizing team, year 2

Utica Rocks! We know, cause Rick Short has been telling us for years! Maybe some of us already knew that, but the world at large has been getting this message for quite some time now by Rick’s firm support and furtherance of the campaign on Twitter and other social media to alert to unravel our secret.  All the juicy inside information like that has to be shared.  He bangs the drum loudly for our area and he supports the ideas of others in his community.  That isn’t all Rick Short does for Utica, and he heaps some more right on to that pile this coming weekend with the debut of his brand new project, The Rick Short Band! Live and in full effect at the Utica Music and Arts Festival!

Photo by Marc Goldberg

Rick compiled this band deliberately and systematically. “Throughout 2010 and 2011 I wrote a collection of about 30 pop songs and recorded them as demos so I could share them with other musicians. As much as I liked these pop songs, they just weren’t rock. So, I sat back down and wrote some more. This time I allowed myself to write only songs that were fast, hard driving, muscular rock. I recorded these songs as very spartan demos, using only one vocal track, one guitar track, one bass track, and drums. I worked under the guidance of Bob Acquaviva, an incredible recording engineer, song writer, and performer. He really guided my process well. Then, I searched for musicians who had the seasoned skills, as well as the energy to channel hard-driving rock music. One by one we all came together, and here we are, debuting at the 2011 Utica Music Fest. I specifically aimed at kicking things off at the UMAF because I really believe in it – so much that I served on the organizing team during year 2.”  Yes, Rick is Fest Family! The cream that ultimately rose to the top of his musician pile include Caitlin Carparelli on vocals and percussion, Nolan Snyder on lead guitar, Jim Morgan on bass, and Claude Schuyler on drums.  “These artists are really talented, supportive, warm, mature, and energetic. These musicians are 100% positive, constructive, and focused on the song and the audience. I am blessed to know these fine people.”  That’s a glowing endorsement if I’ve ever heard one!

Muscular, fast, hard driving rock. I hate to rip Rick off shamelessly like that, but it’s a pretty apt description. If a bus carrying the Rolling Stones were to freakishly careen off course at the moment it were passing a bus carrying Vertical Horizon and collide head on, a van full of The Rick Short Band might magically pop out either side. American rock music with deliberate lyrics, a drive, some soul and a little bit of the blues you tend to get as you make your way through life. That is what is in store for audience members at the UMAF with this group. In Rick’s words, “Be ready to go.”  He also tips us off to keeping an ear tuned to Caitlin’s vocals which he glowingly praised. “She is a star.”

This guy is business!

Rick’s got some great advice for musicians coming to the festival from his experience as a performer and behind the scenes.  “I recommend to everyone that they LEARN from every facet of the event. Learn from every sound team that you perform with or listen to. Each set-up is different, and each soundman is different. The engineers are very approachable – and eager to share. This variety of talent, all available in a compressed time frame, is an excellent school to attend. Don’t skip this one! I also recommend striking up conversations with every band member you can find. Learn how they book gigs, promote themselves, use social media, etc. Learn about other fests that are out there and find out how to get yourself booked there. There are a ton of skills that we all need, but it is damn hard to acquire them on our own. By sharing info, stories, and techniques, we make each of us better. My band tip: RAWSON! When I first saw them, my jaw dropped. I literally ran out of the bar, onto Varick Street, and started telling strangers that they HAD to get inside to experience this. I’ve seen them tons since and I am still stoked about their groove. We’re all now friends. Because of past Utica Music Fests, I am now friends with many song writers, performers, and engineers that I didn’t know one, two, or three years ago. These new friendships have provided me with tremendous insight and knowledge. I not only get to enjoy these people’s music, but I can ask them how they create it, play it, perform it, record it, promote it, and more. As friends, there are no holds barred. I’ve now got UMAF friends asking about cutting tracks on my songs, sharing info on various guitar tunings, discussing details of our guitar rigs, etc. I encourage everyone to tune in to the acts that really ring true with you, to reach out your hand, and to make some new friends.”  Wise words from Mr. Short!

“I am amazed (and I don’t use the word lightly) at the number of artists in Utica. Literally EVERY weekend I encounter someone new and interesting. We have a very broad community of talent. I am a product of the Utica, NY area. I am proud that Joe Sweet, Zee Donaldson, and Damon Call, started the Utica Music Fest in our home town. The Utica Music Fest, and its entire cast of organizers, performers, venues, and fans inspired me to write my new songs and put The Rick Short Band together. My original intent was to debut at this event, an event that has given me so much. And now … here it is! Here we are!”

Rick’s got t-shirts and stickers for fans at the festival! Make sure you get one of the shows The Rick Short Band is playing! Catch them on Friday, September 16th at The Electric Company at 4:30-5:30 p.m. and again on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 3:15-4:00 pm at Sickenberger Lane.  You can also catch TRSB at The Tramontane Cafe on Thursday night. It’s not a UMAF show, but it’s something I think they’d like you to know about!

You heard the man! Use your internet to your advantage:
Rick Short Official
The Rick Short Band on Facebook
Rick Short on ReverbNation

A handy link for purchasing weekend passes to TRSB gigs and all of the other incredible things happening in Utica fest weekend!


Artist Profile- The Audible Dark

Artist Profile- The Audible Dark

“We’re really excited to create a place outside of NYC to stop every time we hit the road. “

The Audible Dark.  Sit with that for a minute and think about the image the words conjure in your mind.  If the dark had a sound, what would it be?  This band from downstate NY wants to give you their version of that picture, so they are hopping on the road and coming for a visit to the Utica Music and Arts Festival.

Stephanie Logan of the band has some Utica ties I’d like to tell you about.  Not like the ones on the Charlie Watts Riots, the other kid of ties. She’s from here!   “I grew up in Utica and went to college in Rochester, so I have a lot of old friends and family ties upstate. So when the guys in Nova Cez Everything suggested we look into it, I was really excited for the chance to play in my hometown!”

Stephanie’s voice slams into your ears relentlessly, and I mean that as a compliment.  She has a very direct and precise delivery, an acute sound to her vocal, that helps drive the tempo of the songs forward with the pulsing rock music supporting her melody.  She’s also playing guitar.  The band is heavy but not oppressive or melancholy and the balance let’s you hear articulation and vocal nuances and flowing lyrics.  There is something inspiring and hopeful about the overall mix.  The guitar solos absolutely rip thanks to Lance Barnewold.  They’re very present at the front of the sound and screaming in tone.  Pat McCarthy’s beastly bass slides alongside Chris Infusino’s work behind the kit, and it’s rock and roll ready for release.

The Audible Dark just played The Trash Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (video above) and enjoyed the cooperative atmosphere of the other bands performing and the ‘funky vibe’ of the crowd.  I really just way to say, The Audible Dark at the Trash Bar in Williamsburg.  That’s a fun name smash up.  Also, I am confident and hopeful that they will enjoy the Varick Street experience similarly.

They’ve got a jump on the networking out of the gate.  Stephanie told me a little more about how involved they already are with other performers.  “We’re definitely looking forward to seeing Nova Cez Everything play again. They totally killed it when we saw them here in NYC. Also, really looking forward to meeting Melia. She and I have talked over twitter, and I suggested they look into UMAF, so I’m psyched that we’ll be sharing the same stage on the 17th… I’m really looking forward to checking out the scene, especially the local acts, and getting a chance to make connections with other musicians.”

The band has 2 EP’s out, Rainbows & Roses and self titled, The Audible Dark. The CDs and band t-shirts will available at the shows and the band is currently working on an album to add to that collection, so keep tabs on them over the internet for details as they develop.

They’re making the most of the trip.  Stephanie will play solo

Thursday, Sept 15: 10:30 pm at The Celtic Harp

Friday, Sept 16: 9:00 pm at The Green Onion Pub

The Audible Dark full band
Saturday, Sept 17: 6:30 pm at Sickenberger Lane Outdoor Stage

Bring it!

There are lots of ways to keep in touch with The Audible Dark:
The Audible Dark Official
The Audible Dark on Facebook
The Audible Dark on MySpace
The Audible Dark Blog
The Audible Dark on YouTube
Follow The Audible Dark on Twitter
The Audible Dark on Last.fm
The Audible Dark on ReverbNation
The Audible Dark on iTunes

Please purchase your tickets to this event in advance for a discount on the price.  Do it now!