Two months ago, I wrote about the local music scene many years ago when The Buoys were the top band from the area.
A few decades ago, live music was a regular thing and, if you wanted to hear local bands, you just had to find a local high school dance.
The two venues that come to mind are St. John’s gym on William Street in Pittston and the West Pittston Armory. Both places had plenty of room and the acoustics weren’t bad.
Other than The Buoys, there were groups like Eddie Day and TNT, Mel Wynn, Ralph, 8th Street Bridge, Stonebridge, Sidestreet, Revolver, Star Struck, and Arc Angel. Later on, there were bands like Bad Hair Day, Daddy-O and the Saxmaniacs, M80, New York Times Band, Great Rock Scare and even a bit later, Flaxy Morgan — thanks to Richie Kossuth of Rock Street Music or Richie Rockstreet to many in the music business.
Dances seem to have gone by the wayside and were gradually replaced with DJs at school dances. Even weddings used to have live bands.
There are two reasons why that happened over time. 1) It became more cost effective to have a DJ over a band. 2) Local bands were not as prevalent and people had to look outside the area if a local band was booked.
The old Staircase Lounge located at the Pittston Plaza, now Commons, was a great place for live music for adults. It was a bar and you had to be 21 years old to get in but it was a great place to socialize and listen to local talent.
Every so often, the Staircase would have a name act come through. I saw Todd Rundgren play a show there in the late 80s or early 90s.
There has been a void in greater Pittston regarding live music since the closing of The Staircase.
About four years ago, Victor Gulliano, proprietor of Tony’s Pizza and Tony’s Wine Cellar at the Mid-City Plaza, took an idea of Eddie Appnel to create an open mic/jam night every Wednesday.
Faithfully, every Wednesday evening at 9 p.m., musicians gather to just hop on stage (okay, there’s no stage to hop on) to play whatever with any musician willing to play.
Victor is a seasoned drummer and will often step in to hit the skins. Eddie plays host as well as jumping in to play and sing. Tim Husty is a regular as are Mark Bukevicz, Bret Alexander and Gary Antal.
The talent is extraordinary and, if you enjoy live music, you have to get to The Wine Cellar. I attended this past week and heard Joe Burke, Dawn Randazzo, Gene Smith, and Rob Husty, to name a few.
This is an open mic/jam session. There are no rehearsals. These musicians are exceptional artists.
One such artist has been one of the youngest to perform until just recently. Tori Viccica, a 16-year-old resident of West Pittston and a junior at Wyoming Area, was a weekly regular. Recently, however, she was not able to play at the Wine Cellar.
Unbeknownst to Victor and the gang, Tori, because of her age, is unable to perform legally in a bar. She has a little over a year before she turns 18 when she will be able to sing again at the Wine Cellar.
Tori is extremely talented, singing most of her life. “Victor came into Crest Cleaners where I worked at the time and heard me sing,” Tori said. “He invited me to stop by the Wine Cellar to sing a few songs.” She even remembers the first song she sang publicly — “Your Love” by the Outfield. “I still do that song today.”
With the accompaniment and blessings of her parents, Joe and Paula, Tori hit the stage and played three songs. “My parents stick by me very much actually and are very encouraging and they were all up for it,” Tori said. “When they saw the reaction (of the crowd), they were pretty excited.”
Tori credits Victor for giving her a platform and a little push to get her to sing in public.
For now, she will sit it out at the Wine Cellar, but you can find her playing (legally, of course) locally or you can look her up on YouTube on one of several video tunes she has recorded. She also started a band named Tori V & the Ex-Boyfriends. Look for them, as well.
Another voice to catch is Joe Burke. Joe is a singer/songwriter ala Dave Matthews. Joe will have a CD out soon. In the meantime, he will take a safer road and plans to attend law school very soon.
This coming Wednesday promises to be a great night at the Wine Cellar for live music as a part of the fourth anniversary celebration.
“I wouldn’t be this far in my career if it wasn’t for The Wine Cellar and Victor,” Tori said. “It’s a great experience for all involved.”
Quote of the week
“There’s no action if there is no danger.” – Howard Hawks, American film director
Thought of the week
“Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles, and kindnesses, and small obligations, given habitually, are what win and preserve the heart and secure comfort.” – Humphrey Davy, English chemist
“Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.” – Walt Whitman, American poet
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