The show lights began to dim and a silence grew among the crowd. Swampcandy had their full attention.
“We brought the swamp now we got to bring you the candy,” guitarist Ruben Dobbs said.
Singer Gina Cottey came onto the stage, and the band proceeded to do a rendition of their original song, “Drink Whiskey with Me.” Between verses they paused to take a shot.
That is just a snippet of what you can expect when you come to the new Blues and Jazz music series in downtown Plattsburgh.
Laura Carbone, a mainstay in the Plattsburgh live music scene hopes to bring in some of the top acts in blues and jazz to the area with the help of the 30 City Foundation and Shen Marketing Solutions. She said she has big plans for the series.
“I want to bring in a diverse type of music,” Carbone said. “I have a love for the music. I’m bringing in people who I know and who can deliver.”
Carbone, who is a recognized music photographer, has worked at well-known festivals and taken album covers for many artists. Carbone’s reputation and experiences over the years have led her to amass an impressive list of connections in the music scene.
“These acts are the real deal when it comes to performing,” Carbone said. “These are award-winning groups, and some even tour around the world. They know how to entertain.”
Carbone said this is music for all ages, but she particularly wants to get the attention of the college crowd. Swampcandy, for instance, is a good example of her efforts as the band is “very hip and hair-flying.” She said the band reminds her of Mississippi blues, which mainly uses guitars and harmonicas.
The inspiration of the music series came about after one of Carbone’s well-known house parties. She realized her house wasn’t big enough for all the people and the performers. Carbone said she knew she needed another space to host these acts and chose the Champlain Wine Company as the venue.
With the help of 30 City, a non-profit foundation that helps brings all the music and art shows to town, the series became a reality.
“Champlain Wine Company pays the rent and lets 30 City use the facilities and the space,” Owner Colin Read said. “We recently started embarking on this Plattsburgh blues and jazz music series.”
Read said the plan is to have at least one major blues and jazz performer from around the country come to Plattsburgh every month.
“We hope we can use any proceeds from these smaller venues to help create outdoor jazz festivals as early as this summer,” Read said. “We like it to be an ongoing thing that keeps getting bigger.”
With sponsors like Glens Falls National Bank, which donated $1,000, and New York State Music, Read said the possibilities are endless.
“Its pretty cool, I think. We kind of want to create a niche and bring in really big names,” Read said. “Hopefully, if everything works out, people from Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, Saratoga, Burlington and Montreal will come to this big summer event.”
One caveat of the venue is how intimate it is compared to other places in the area.
“You can be as close as five feet to the performers,” Read said. “The performers like to play in these smaller venues because the energy of the crowd is significant.”
Read said the music is so lively, and people really get into it.
“It’s so enjoyable seeing other people have a good time,” he said.
Plattsburgh resident Ron Light is a fan of the emerging music scene already present in the city.
“Laura puts together a great blues show,” Light said. “She’s totally engulfed in the music here. She brings in great performers.”
He said it’s great that Plattsburgh has something like this, and it means a lot to the music community because years ago there was nothing like this going on.
Light said the sound and the feeling the Blues can convey is what drew him to the genre when he was growing up.
While there are plans for a summer festival, Carbone is still looking for ways to expand the music series. As it gains popularity she said she hopes the series can go to the Strand Theatre if they’re able to get bigger acts.
“These are not just local bands doing cover songs that I’m trying to bring in,” Carbone said. “We want to see this get bigger each year. Keep bringing in entertaining acts that people will enjoy.”
Carbone said she also plans to bring in some artists who may be on their way to Montreal and can stop in at Plattsburgh on a off day.
She said her dream would be to bring someone as well-known as The Maverick, a Grammy-nominated Americana band.
“We are trying to get the word out,” Carbone said. “Plattsburgh has a long history in the jazz and blues scene. “We’re trying to put Plattsburgh back on the map.”
Email David Luces at firstname.lastname@example.org