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Cheers to The Rising Temperature of the Central NY Sound

Well, at least from my place in the whole scope of the area’s music culture: I feel like we’re not just back into the swing of things – after a sluggishly paralyzing covid shut-down era as music city. I feel like we’re a new music city. Kind of like when a forest burns down on its own only to give way to a new rebirth. Indeed, from where I boogie, I feel as though our city has a new fertility in what has become a regenerated and thriving music scene.

New venues emerged and are still emerging. There is a significant trend of venues upsizing their musical presence – upscaling their ability to facilitate live music with additions, remodels and rethinking in general.

Bar scene venues such as Shifty’s and Sharkeys continue to thrive as staples of the city. More recent venues such as the vibey 443 Social Club sell out their shows left and right. Meier’s Creek provides a unique outdoor setting, Middle Ages built a larger stage concert facility, the Maplewood Bar & Grill fostered an incredibly loyal open jam scene while adding themed concert series for 2024 by opening up their ballroom. All made fortifications to facilitate a better experience in a growing situation. Each offers different music and work models. And, each of them is bringing better and better music to Syracuse. Of course, we lost a few venues which is pretty normal, actually. But, we find ourselves rich with new venues continuing to pop up all the time.

New groups emerged. And they’re good! Lots of them. Young groups, older groups. Some familiar faces and some brand-new faces.

Country has its incredible foothold still digging deeper into the heart of Syracuse music with plenty of great groups packing houses all over the county. Same for rock music, here. It seems I learn of new groups weekly. And that’s a good thing. I have a list. I have a list of groups I’d like to see, which isn’t always so easy to do. Every kind of rock: alt rock, metal, roots rock, this rock that rock it’s all rock n’ roll to me.

In the Jazz world, we enjoyed the return of JazzFest as per the enduring persistence of Frank Malfitano. Larry Luttinger created several jazz series that featured class acts in classy places. Dave Kaspar moved forward with his Jazz in the Burbs series while also bringing the idea to other venues. The large den of jazz musicians continues to become more apparent to me each time I step out.

I’m noticing that original music appears to be establishing a more robust posture in the sonic landscape, too. Of course, as a writer, this makes me very happy. Very comfortable.

I see ambitious strides in symphonic music, kids music, recreational music and most importantly, music used as therapy and medicine.

Festivals are and will be abound with never ending schedules of music throughout the year, throughout the region. From Oswego’s Harborfest, to the prestigious SAMMY Awards, the Great NYS Fair, neighborhood concert series and festivals, the annual Make Music Day, Westcott Cultural Festival, Mets games, farmers markets….There are even folks inventing new ways to conduct concert performances altogether. 

Then there’s you. The people who come to the venues to see all us musicians groove on and on and on. Without you it just wouldn’t be the same. The good thing is that I’m seeing more and more people out at shows dancing, mingling and rocking out. I’ve always enjoyed the friendly engagement between musicians and music lovers and even that aspect seems particularly robust to me.

Gee whiz. Even my own endeavors are in a much better way this year. And I’ve gained more pals to go along with it.

And as we enter 2024, as our funkiest friend ever James Brown, said, “I feel good.” I’m grateful to be part of you and that we all play well together. And it doesn’t matter so much if you play music or listen. What matters is that in either case we all just dig music.

And so, as we dig our way into 2024, I just would like to simply wish you all a very good year. A happy year filled with music and all the love you can groove into being present as a music lover. Oh, and don’t forget good decisions. We can always make better decisions while we’re at it. See you out there. Rock on and bring it.

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