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Music and the New Year

As we square-off and face 2018, I am once again optimistic with the potential that awaits in the world of the Central New York music scene. 2017 saw many, many nationally and locally produced shows along side the routine of bands and artists playing the regular gig circuit. We saw, of course, the annual SAMMYs. which recognizes and celebrates the hard working music talent of the area. We saw summer festivals, weekly, ranging from Taste of Syracuse, to the Oswego Harborfest, BluesFest, CNY M&T JazzFest, The Balloon Festival, FoxFest, Beatle’Cuse, Respect CNY Women in Music, Northeast Jazz & Wine Festival, The Polish Festival, Fiesta Italiana, The Crawfish Festival, and so much more. The tidal wave of tribute shows throughout the area brought the glory of our musical yesteryears to an acute focus right here and right now while showcasing hundreds of the region’s top-most talent in impressive pageant-like productions.

We witnessed many of our music heroes at venues like the Lakeview Amphitheater and the New York State Fair’s Chevy Court, and concerts at the Civic Center, Landmark Theater and the Palace.

The wealth of music extends into the bustling clubs with bands playing nightly throughout the area featuring mainstay artists, many emerging groups and an incredibly healthy open-mic scene. Inventiveness reared its head with happenings, house concerts, creek-walks, art installations, jogging marathons… it always amazes me how folks will find a way—any way—to integrate music into the quality of their lives. This makes me happy.

Further, the recording studios seemed to be producing a flurry of new music, as per all the new artists, too. Something of which makes me salivate in my appetite and anticipation for anything new. I’m still trying to listen to it all.

The areas top radio stations feature the music and musicians of the area in a variety of shows with outstanding enthusiasm, along with it’s otherwise programming. (Chuck salutes those of you who know who you are! Thank you.)

And there’s you. The people. There you are out there plugging up the clubs and venues. With out you, all of this is just a great big “so what!” So, on behalf of any musician in the area, let alone on the planet, a resounding “thank you,” to you for being there. The world needs players equally as it needs listeners to make the whole thing work.

The music (and arts) scene plays a huge role in defining what a city is and stands for. To me this is part of what “keeping it real” is all about in terms of being proud of your city. After all, I am one of those who concurs with Friedrich Nietzsche that “without music life would be a mistake.” I mean really, have you ever thought about what life would be like without music? For starters you’d probably forget most of your childhood in that a song can —via olfactory senses—transport you to another time in mere moments via your memories. Remembering your childhood is important. Songs make you remember things like your first kiss, or best vacations ever. It can make you remember people you haven’t heard from in ages. Music facilitates better health. It facilitates better learning. It has been utilized as a method of treatment for Alzheimer’s patients. Shucks, I can come home after a hard where I wanna beat everybody up and jump off the earth….. pick up my guitar, play for 20 minutes and—BOOM! SHABAMBA! Chucky’s okay to go out into the world again.

Music is the most overrated medicine ever. Its is the only language understood by everyone on the planet. It can galvanize complete strangers into party, dancing, screaming, conspiring best-pals for an evening. It can make a sports team focus on it’s mission and coagulate a body of individual members into one team. Shucks, even plants thrive from it. Plants dig music. I mean without music, would anything be fun or bearable? You hum a tune at work to help you handle the stress. You hear a tune playing and it makes you think of your Gramma (or something) and you smile in a few moments of thinking and existing in the better stuff.

Sadly, if I may say so, often times, music is also probably in the top 10 of most stolen and formally unappreciated things. If it makes you smile, then it is medicine. Even money itself can’t make you smile. Thinking about what you can do with money can make you smile. Yes. True. Especially when you spend it on music. Money is simply a temporary grease that goes away when you use it. Music, on the other hand, becomes part of your heart, your consciousness and your life. Music takes care of you. It becomes part of you. You can even hear it in the privacy of your own head through simple recall. Hell, half the time my girlfriend cites me as guilty for not listening to her, {“Are you even listening to me?!”]…  it’s because Tom Petty or something having to do with F-sharp is cranking away through my head and I can’t (don’t want to) turn it off.

What’s the point of all this that I am writing?

I hope that you share my 2018 News Year’s resolution is as follows:

I want everyone to recognize and remember how important music is in your life, whether its an overt focus or a simple, occasional ornament in it. I want the musicians to respect what their doing, (and each other) because sharing it well makes things better which makes you busier. I want those who hire musicians, or use music in their activities —lucrative or not—to respect that this music is somebody else’s hard work, their creation,  in some cases their child—and to respect it as such, even if its not your cup of tea. I want the folks who just plain dig it, to just keep digging it. If you dig it, tell whoever is making the music you dig, that you dig it.

As we head into the new year, I want and intend to grow this column to a more enriching bit of cultural pulp. I encourage all of you who create music, write songs, to please make me aware of your endeavors. If you’re creating an event that uses music as a means for better things, I want you to share that with me. If there’s something you’d like to see in this column, please bring it to my attention. It is 2018…. and I’m listening to you.

I hope you all had a terrific holiday, and that your new year bring all good things and happiness to you. So, turn it up. Thank you for listening, and reading. See you out there.

Take care of the music and the music will take care of you.

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.