Home » Sounds of Syracuse » 10 Years ‘Til Now Celebrating 10 Years Sharing CNY Music With You

10 Years ‘Til Now Celebrating 10 Years Sharing CNY Music With You

It was early 2013 when my – our – Syracuse’s – good friend, Jack Bocchino handed the Sounds of Syracuse reins over to me. I am very happy to know that Jack was my friend. Jack, was a man of high stature in the Syracuse music scene and also as a stellar general citizen. I had big shoes to fill when he retired and the opportunity to be your writer came to me.

Ten years. Eesh! ¡Hay Carumba!

That means by now I’ve had the privilege to share with you about 120 music artists and figures from the Central New York area. I’ve truly enjoyed serving the community in this way; and look forward to doing this as long as they’ll have me. I’ve insisted that the artists speak for themselves, while leaving out my “version” of their story and thus, any bias for what the artist intends to share with you.  

I hope this attempt for a more intimate and authentic portrayal of our city’s musical gems is working for you. Again, thank you. For me personalty, it’s been a wonderful way to meet so many beautiful people from our rich music community. As just a plain ‘ol dude – it’s been a great way to also lead to new friendships. If you have ideas, comments and/or suggestions, I’d love to hear them. So, please write.


Since we’re celebrating…

And if nobody minds…

Dear Syracuse: I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to “my” group, The Quatro        


How Four Perfectly-Aligned Misfits Found Their Way Home

Like many stories, the Quatro story is it’s own unique story. And the story begins with each of us: John Dancks on double-bass, Heather Kubacki on cello and lead vocals, George Newton on pedal steel and vocals, and myself, Chuck Schiele, on vocals and guitar. 

In our story, I suppose that I am the one who catalyzes it by having the vision to bring such an unlikely combination of instruments together. I had already been working with the legendary John Dancks in other projects and he was nudging me to start something centered around my writing. Amen to that, right? When somebody with his sort of ability and sense of class takes Faith in what I’m doing, I felt it was opportunity to grow. And in the right way. He was the first one in my corner about all of this.

In the meantime, Heather Kubacki was a former college art student of mine from my days teaching as an adjunct professor at Cazenovia College. We stayed in touch as she entered the professional marketing, creative and media world. Thus, by now, we’re in the same business, that way. Over an annual lunch visit, I learned that she used to play cello. I’ve had string players in my mix for a long time, so this turned out to be a wonderful discovery.

In the meantime, again, George Newton and I started running into each other at various music events around the city and developed a casual acquaintance. I even wrote a story on him for this column several years back. Being a huge fan of George’s approach to listening and providing melodic magic, I was interested in working with him. I never thought of having a pedal steel on my music until I met George. And when I think about it at this point, it doesn’t really matter what he plays. It’s the way he listens and decides melody and the way he plays it. It’s beautiful. He will joke that he is the band’s pet curmudgeon, with filter-less perspectives attempting truth. But when his decisions show up in his musical expressions it is nothing short of graceful. And you are in the wittiness of true elegance and beauty.

I’m the primary songwriter of the group, though I’ve encouraged everyone to try. And we’re inching our way into writing as a team more and more. We’re very supportive of each other. We remove fear factors so that we are freer to try new things. I’ve been writing songs my whole life. I cut my musical teeth in the Southern California music scene and enjoyed a wonderful career there, before moving back to Syracuse in 2010. And I’ve been feeling right at home in this community ever since.

By the time the spring of 2019 scrolled in, these three people were approaching me in life at the same time. I wanted to abandon fitting in to any expected sound and was in a position to try something fresh. I invited them over to give the whole thing a try.

Great decision. We certainly had a lot of work to do. And just as we got going, the pandemic hit. The city, most everyone in it and it’s music scene, took the bench along with the rest of the planet.

But, we didn’t. Actually, we used it as woodshed to create a new sound. After all, we had a lot to figure out being that we, so far, were (and are) the only band with instrumentation of this kind (so far as we can tell). The more we realized it, we became excited about this. We figured out how to get together – in tribal fashion – and meet to develop our sound no less than once a week through the entire pandemic.

For a good year and a half we were a living room band. And then we emerged when the pandemic grip loosened. When it was time to play, we felt pretty darn prepared and polished.

Along the way we discovered an incredible vocalist in Heather who was mainly on board for cello and some backing vocals. One day George and I were dialing up the PA and asked Heather to sing some stuff so we could set a reverb on her channel. She sang Phantom of the Opera. Like…Killer. We all dropped our jaws in the discovery of this wonderful singer. And started pushing her to the mic more.

Two things happened to our music in hallmark ways for the Quatro. One: As two lead singers, we’ve developed a tandem harmony singing style that we apply assertively throughout our music. Two: Bringing Heather’s lead vocal introduced another dimension to the group, and we started choosing material and writing material to feature her voice. And actually, a third thing happened. In the love and enthusiasm the group shares, we encouraged a non-singing George into our third harmonizer, and gave him a lead vocal or two. You’re welcome.

We started running. Gigs lined-up and we started playing them. And for the last two years we’ve been running pretty hard. We released a live-in-studio New Year’s Eve concert recording per Subcat Studios in 2021. We traveled to California later the same year to play a few shows. 

After an ambitious 2022 the Quatro has released a 12-song studio album on New Years Eve, again entitled, “Square Peg,” honoring the unlikeliness of us 4 misfits… Fitting so well. This time, the work is being released formally on the Subcat Record label. Eight of the tunes are Quatro originals, and four of them are covered songs. 

The group’s unlikely instrumentation offers a lot of freedom. We can shove anything through it and it comes out, “Quatro-fied.” Ozzy, Sinatra, The Mamas and the Papas, Blind Faith, Korn, B-52s. Part of the fun is seeing how much we can wreck a tune and translate it to Quatro.

So what is our Quatro sound, anyway? For now, we like to think of it as Americana. With that said, we’re also on the spectrum, so-to-speak. Sometimes we can make it spacey. Or jazzy. We don’t have a drummer, yet people dance. We bring anything into it. It’s always divided by Americana. But, since we are on that sonic spectrum, we enjoy a lot of musical adventure as we explore the possibilities that come with being absolutely free in a newly discovered sound. 

In the pursuit of all this, our band has grown interpersonally as friends with a family sense. A case where everybody in the group has everybody’s back. This is a quality that has become evident in our sound, as well. The quatro is a band that just doesn’t play songs. This is a band that takes flight. Further, the group brings a visual element to the show since each member is an artist of some kind, in their own right. The point of the entire Quatro experience is to be just that: And experience – an experience that makes you feel better than you did when you arrived.

And as the Quatro enters 2023, we find ourselves fortunate with a brand-new album that we love, thanks to Ron Keck, specifically (who engineered the record) who helped, so much, to make it possible. We have wonderful shows lined-up and still lining up. 

The Quatro will be making CDs available at their concert event at the Maplewood Grand Ballroom on February 23, 2023 at 7pm. The Maplewood Grand Ballroom (Holiday Inn) is located at 400 7th North Street in Liverpool. 

Tickets are available at the Maplewood Lounge; and online at https://chuckschielemusic.com/home

You can find out more about he Quatro at:







Instagram @chuckschielequatro

Photo credits go to Sandy Roe, except for the indoor stage shot.
From Tango Del Rey, San Diego, CA by Dan Chusid

Chuck Schiele
Chuck Schiele is an award-winning musician, art director, producer, editorialist, artist, activist, member of SaltCityChill.com and fan of the CNY music scene. To be considered for this column, please write chuck.schiele@gmail.com.