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B-Side: Flip it, Spin it!

B-Side. As the name suggests, this is a band that takes a familiar theme—in their case blues and rock—and then makes unobvious choices within that scope. And in this case…. such is the case. SS-3 With a penchant for that which is irreverent, eclectic and unsuspecting, B-Side has set sail in metered time with a sound that is both fresh and familiar.

Incepted last November, the band is comprised of notable Syracuse musicians with a history of rocking our fair city, for years, in association with some of the bigger bands in the area.

 M ark Tiffault has been drumming in seminal bands such as the Kingsnakes (when he supplanted Lou Miceli). He and his brother Lee were founding members of Out of the Blue. He played with Little Georgie and the Shuffling Hungarians…. Los Blancos for the last 10+ years….Toured with the incredible blues harpist, Carey Bell. Mark even joined John Lee Hooker for a few gigs. You might know Lee Tiffault as the guy forever playing guitar in Dave Hanlan’s Cookbook.

Singer, Sharon Allen has been a staple in the CNY music scene for [going on] three decades, now. You’ve seen her with the extremely popular Donna Colton Double Down; Sharon and the Rippers (along with her husband Greg on guitar);  with Tom Navagh in Better than Bowling; the Big D Orchestra; and Skip Murphy and the Merry Pranksters. Bassist Tom Navagh has significant history with the Budd Zunga Band, and with the Alligators.

Together as B-Side, they distill all they’ve done into playing blues-rock in a different way. With gigs throughout the rest of the summer picking up you can catch ‘em and judge for yourself on the easy bet that its worth the night out.

I spoke with Mark Tiffault to find out more about his new band, B-Side.

Chuck Schiele: Hello Mark. Thanks for taking some time with Table Hopping.

Mark Tiffault: Thanks, Chuck.

CS: How long has B-Side been playing music? How did you get started?

MT: Lee, Tom & I, aka TNT, have had a musical relationship since the early 80’s, mostly jamming together, occasionally writing tunes. Tom and Sharon have been playing together for several years in Better Than Bowling. TNT wanted an outlet for our collaboration and needing a vocalist,Tom brought Sharon in, in the fall of 2014. We started this band from scratch.

CS: Please, characterize the B-Side sound.

SS-2MT: B-Side does original songs, as well as our own arrangements of tunes by such groups as NRBQ, Al Green, The Meters, Melissa Etheridge, and Etta James.

CS: Who’s in B-Side?

MT: B-Side is Sharon Allen, vocals, percussion; Lee Tiffault, guitar; Tom Navagh, bass guitar,vocals; Mark Tiffault, drums, vocals.

CS: Who/what inspires your group?

MT: We are driven by doing that which we have not done before…

CS: …to boldly go!….

MT: Yeah. We’ve all played in straight-ahead cover bands for years. We do this because want to do something more from our own noggins.

CS: Amen to that! I love hearing about new original music. How do you go about writing? Who initiates the material? Are there any topics or themes in particular of which you like to write about?

MT: well, most everything begins with a jam. Then one of us will take some of the ideas and come up with a tune. We all add our ideas to that and see where it leads. The writer gets final say. We all contribute to writing lyrics. Themes range from ‘luziana’ gators to old shoes, to politics, religion, toes, and….the opposite sex! Maybe some whiskey, too.

CS: With a history of cover gigs in each of your repertoires, why the switch to original music?

MT: I have played original music in every band I’ve been in, and I think we all have, so it’s  not a new concept for any of us. Probably, if it wasn’t so tricky to get some audiences to open up to it, we would do considerably more. I think a lot of bands might.

I’m sure they would. Most every musician I’ve met here tells me they’re grateful for the cover gigs, but, they’d rather play originals. I, for one, miss the original music I might not ever hear. Anyway, speaking of ‘around here,’ what are your views on the CNY music scene.

MT: The Syracuse Music scene is challenging and always has been. But, a worthy band can generally find some work and even make some money now and then.

CS: Advice for the budding musician?

MT: As for advice to new musicians, know what you’re doing musically and understand the business part of it. It’s not all art.

CS: Well said. How is the summer schedule looking for B-Side?

MT: B-Side’s summer schedule is light, but you can catch us September 15 at Shifty’s, The Ridge on October 28, and we are working up a monthly Thursday gig at The Green Gate Pub.

CS: Where can we keep track of you and your music?

MT: We have a B-Side page at Facebook where you can hear some of the tunes we play and find out where we are going to be playing them. Also check band listings at Table Hopping and the New Times. We hope to post videos soon, at YouTube and Facebook.

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.

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.