“There’s nothing celestial about Clifton Park,” says Ted Etoll, owner of Step Up Presents and marketing director and talent buyer at the recently rebranded Upstate Concert Hall, describing one of a few reasons it made sense to change the name of the Capital Region’s largest rock club from “Northern Lights.” The name change comes on the heels of a change of ownership and as the culmination of a series of major renovations, a “fresh course,” as Etoll says. While some may be nostalgic for the trough urinals of yesteryear, the club now features renovated bathrooms (with attendents), new air conditioning, a state-of-the-art sound system, new dressing rooms and upgraded bar. “By constantly making improvements,” Etoll says, “it’s allowing us to book bigger shows. . . . There is no one that cannot notice this is a new club with a new energy.”
Etoll says the improvements have already started to attract acts that might not otherwise consider stopping in the region. He names Michael Franti, Buckcherry, Volbeat, Korn and Ted Nugent as acts that are used to playing bigger rooms in bigger markets that have decided to stop in Clifton Park due to the ease and accomodations. The goal, it seems, is to make the region a standard tour stop for bands who will be traveling through the region anyway, on their way between New York and Montreal, Boston and Buffalo. One indication that this trend is beginning to happen is the fact that Yeasayer will launch their U.S. tour from the venue this summer, having booked a second rehearsal date for the prior.
“We’re proud to be upstate,” Etoll says, a sentiment reflected in the venue’s new title, and he says that this positivity has given the venue fresh momentum. “This summer’s booking is the best in the last four years,” he says of a season that can be notoriously slow for an indoor venue. “If anyone was disappointed in their concert experience prior to the new management, please come on out and see the changes that have been done.”
Word came in over the transom recently of Albany “progressive post-hardcore” band Restless Streets signing to Ohio’s InVogue Records. Riding the merits of a debut EP, recorded with The Plot In You’s Landon Tewers, the band came to the attention of InVogue’s founder, lead singer of Before Their Eyes’ Nick Moore, who has scheduled a proper release for the EP In, and of Myself for June 12. Then the band will head back into the studio with Tewers this fall to record a proper full-length, tentatively slated for release next spring. “I’ve been watching these guys for a while now and after they sent me their new EP I knew they had something special,” said Moore. “I’m stoked to have them a part of the label.”
One More Kick
As Paul Rapp recently explained in these pages, Kickstarter campaigns have become so prevalent among independent musicians and artists that they’d be foolish not to take advantage of what a little wit and some savvy social networking can land you. Railbird have done just that. With four days to go, the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Saratoga Springs band have met their goal of $2,500 to fund the production, release and promotion of a music video (with filmmaker Margaret Lewis) for the song Jump Ship, featuring Sean Rowe and Phantogram’s Sarah Barthel. It’s a unique use of the fan-funding site, as the end result will be used to pepper blogs and webzines in hopes of drumming up some hype for future Railbird releases and touring. Spill over from the target amount will be used for future recording endeavors and to press more copies of last year’s No One, which has nearly sold out. There’s still time to contribute to the fund and get a bunch of cool pledge gifts, including them recording your voicemail message Carl Kassell-style.
If you tune in to the Discovery Channel’s fishing reality show The Deadliest Catch on Tuesday (May 29), you might catch a tune called “The Troubled Sea” by local musician Marc Clayton. The song was picked up by the show after Clayton signed a licensing deal with Amygdala Music, and was inspired by a treacherous ferry ride Clayton once took crossing to Shelter Island from Greenport, Long Island. Clayton may be better known in these parts as a former member of the Tern Rounders and a current member of theAmericana band Lazy Suns, who are set to release their debut EP. Keep your ears open for these guys, as Amygdala will be continuing to place Clayton’s (and the band’s) music in similar shows like Ice Road Truckers, Dirty Jobs and Pawn Stars.