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Misse Thomas: Perpetuator of a Better Community

The first thing I noticed about Misse—before we even met, actually—is that she begins with her own example. Yes, this is something I take note of when observing people.

Misse is a DJ on TheRebelRocks.com on Saturdays and Sundays from 2-6pm

And by this I mean that she is not a passive spectator. She’s busy. For instance, my first encounter with Misse involved not even meeting her while she was taking pictures backstage at an outdoor show. Except she wasn’t simply taking pictures. She was documenting. I thought, “hm, there’s our own Lynn Goldsmith, right there whoever that is. Seemed like she knew everybody except me.

 

I would see Misse around at other shows like this for a while until we eventually met a few years ago when she was hanging out with Jess Novak—who happened to be busking across the street from my Armory Square office. Next thing I knew she offered me a gig. I accepted and played it.

Since then we see each other around, always nice. She’s always busy. There is a “no excuses” quality about this person. In an industry where it’s easy to find folks bitching or pontificating about topic after topic…. there’s Misse, doing, doing, doing. Perhaps she has her moments as we all do, but, I never see it. And she strikes me as a person who has charged herself with the responsibility to be positive and active with ideas for a better community. She doesn’t really talk about it so much as she gets out there and does it. Knows what to do.

Misse Thomas: Poet, photographer, DJ, artist, bass guitarist, event planner, inspirational, busy, never bored, always involved

We need people like that.

Chuck Schiele: Hi Misse. thanks for doing this article for Sounds of Syracuse.

Misse Thomas: Thank you for thinking of me, Chuck.

CS: For how long have you been involved with Syracuse music?

MT: I dove back into the scene about four years ago when my personal life took a big

hit. I found myself with some time and a real need to find myself. So, I had to think what would I have been doing had I not been married? My first loves were photography and music. I have a long history of organizing and planning events. So I found the right people & places and surrounded myself with creative minds. Around that same time The Ridge was expanding and Funk ‘n Waffles opened up downtown. I met most of my friends at Maxwell’s Open Mic and Overpassfest. Now, I’m always busy and new things come up all the time. Our art and music scene is constantly evolving. I’m so proud to see everyone grow.

CS: Please tell us the capacities of your involvements:

M

T: Currently I am a DJ on TheRebelRocks.com Saturdays and Sundays 2-6PM.We are a full streaming station. I am a photojournalist for cnyalive.com and add events to the entertainment calendar on the site. I also have Azure Eyes Photography and shoot many events and band photos. You probably see my photos all over on events and promos. I joined the SAMMY committee this past year and I am the curator for artwork at Kasai Ramen. This list is always subject to change! We are lucky that there is so much happening and I find myself in the middle of all kinds of cool things.

CS: Now you’re a radio jock. How did that come about? How is it going?

MT: The Rebel on air radio station was bought out and Dave Frisina was able to keep it going as a streaming station. Last fall he told me they were having so much success with it he was able to add DJs back in. I had no experience with this other than a few podcasts. But, he wanted someone who was out and about and knew the music scene. We play local music every hour so that’s my strength and my passion. I’m all about promoting original music. That’s true art.

CS: I understand you play bass…

MT: I always say “I have a bass and I play it sometimes” but I’m not really a bass player. My skills are very bassic. But I do love it and maybe someday in my retirement I’ll have long gray braids and rock the bass.

CS: Any time is a good time to rock some bass. You did a smashing job as co-host for the 2020 SAMMYs. That must have been exciting.

MT: I was pretty nervous. Dave Frisina always hosts and I look up to him just like the rest of the community. To say I had big shoes to fill is an understatement. But, my plan was to be myself and stay calm. I was on a serious mission to keep my chill. I sincerely love the SAMMY show and am very proud of everyone involved behind the scenes. My message was that it’s not about competition, it’s about community. This event gave me another platform to share that. I had fun and am honored to have co hosted the show.

CS: Being an aficionado of the area’s music scene and community, is there anything you’d like to see? See change? See happen? See resolved? See included? What are your thoughts on the CNY music scene in general?

MT: There are some generational gaps I’m always working on closing. Then there are the people who love cover bands, the people who only go out on weekends, versus the ones supporting new and original artists and check out the shows throughout the week. I’d like to challenge anyone who loves music to check out a new band. Also, if you find a band you like, bring a friend the next time. Lets get more people out supporting original music.

Azure Eyes, Misse’s photograhy business in addition to the photojournalism she does for CNY Alive. Busy girl!

I’d also like to see more family friendly events to include younger artists and musicians. Kevin Dean does an awesome job with his Summer Drummers. We need more of that.

CS: Who’s on your short list for recommended artists to see? Who’s on your bucket list to see? Who inspires you?

MT: Well, there are so many talented musicians in this town I could recommend based on people’s preferences. But, The Black River never disappoints. Atkins Riot, Late Earth and BSG are a lot of fun. The Jess Novak Band always impresses and draws in new fans. Melissa Gardiner and Nick Fields are both killing it expanding jazz. I could really go on forever.

Some of my personal favorites are more alternative style: Professional Victims, All Poets & Heroes, Strange to Look At, Major Player and The Drugstore Radio. I have a hard time staying present and these bands pull me in.

CS: Please share a highlight or two from your music path.

MT: I got to host Little Rock Music Group’s Leading Ladies Night in January with my talented friend Amy Hebert. Ashley Cox and Lauren Wallace performed and Kaitlin Renetta did some live painting. I projected my poetry, stories were told and songs were sung but more importantly we got to create a vibe and have others join in. It’s really all I want from any event I throw. I hope everyone feels welcome, valued and included. Art and music are the best therapy and have a way of tearing down walls. Another special night was hosting Helio Health’s Rock for Recovery Show in 2019. I have lost a lot of people and know personally how hard it can be to ask for help. That event was a fundraiser for suicide prevention and substance abuse. These things have touched everyone and each of us can be the light for someone else in need. “Maybe if we are surrounded by beauty someday we will become what we see,” Jewel.

CS: Wow. … Just wow.

Tell us about your activity with CNY Alive.

MT: We are continually growing. There will be another CNY Alive event at Sharky’s this summer. I try to include music and art events as well as some theater and fundraisers. We have video interviews monthly and articles to help the readers get to know local people.

CS: What else and how else are you involved?

MT: I’m constantly networking, reviewing music, promoting and showing up to support people. I have artwork for sale at Feats of Clay in Manlius, Midnight Sun in Armory Square and Kasai Ramen. All of those places are interested in adding live music and art events. I’m looking forward to helping make that happen. I love seeing ideas come to life. I hang out with a lot of people who do things. It’s very energizing.

I’m really excited for some new events on the horizon for spring and summer. Getting outside improves everyone’s mood and opens up endless opportunities for collaboration. There are more spaces to use, more doors to open (literally and figuratively).

CS: What’s on the horizon for your near future music agenda?

MT: I’m really looking forward to outdoor shows at The Ridge and the third A Lovely Time Festival.

CS: Tell how we stay in touch with your endeavors.

MT: On Facebook you can follow Misse at The Rebel Rocks and Azure Eyes Photography. Bookmark cnyalive.com to read my articles and stay in the loop on events. I write a lot of poetry and combine it with photography. You can follow my new instagram page mazes_poetry. My son designed my logo for that. If you see me out say hi! I’m not much into small talk but I love to discuss big ideas.

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.