It was 34 years ago that three bands gathered at Utica, New York’s Stanley Center For The Arts for a performance that was meant to last one night. But the legacy of that show continued through the years – a reminder of the community that a venue such as the Stanley can create.
Those three groups — the Todd Hobin Band, The Justice McBride Band and The Dust Devil Band — took the stage at the Stanley once again March 21, 2015.
When the three bands originally appeared on the old stage in 1981 they did so to help keep the theater open. So when the theater again found itself in need, Jerry Kraus, executive director of the Stanley, thought it would be cool to round up the original members for another fundraiser.
“We understand that this place (the Stanley) has a cut of history, so it’s a great opportunity to host an event with bands that started out here,” Kraus said.
Todd Hobin, singer/songwriter and founder of his band, said he has performed in Utica a great many times, but the opportunity to return to the Stanley is a unique one.
“I’m from Rochester, but I love the city of Utica – it’s like a second home to me,” Hobin said. “This will be a third time for me at The Stanley, and I love playing these old theaters. One of my passions is making sure that all the old theaters in the Northeast are preserved.
“Back in the old days, musicians, comedians and live entertainers used to perform before and after a movie at the theaters,” he continued. “They were called palaces, and they were designed to be grand. the Stanley really is a great place to play music, and it should be a meeting place for all of the community to come to witness great entertainment.”
The performance by the Todd Hobin Band, which is celebrating its 41st anniversary, will feature original members, including Hobin, Doug Moncrief, Shawn Hobin, Brett Hobin and Bruce Fowler. Also set to appear are special guests Greeley Ford and Jim Lucas, who played with the band the last time it was at the Stanley.
“It’s a reunion for us as a band, too,” Hobin said. “We’re so excited about it because we’ve been friends for a lifetime. We stayed in touch, but now we’re going to be playing together on the Stanley stage again.”
In addition to some favorite tunes from the band’s collection, Hobin said they also will play a couple songs from its latest album, including “Brother.”
“I think people will particularly like ‘Brother,’” Hobin said. “It’s important to those of us playing that night because for all of us guys in all of the bands – we are brothers of the road.”
Those “brothers of the road” include the original members of The Justice McBride Band: Mark Sisti, Dan Sisti, Al Sisti, David Smith and Gene Voce. The local southern rockers are known for being on the bill with bands such as The Outlaws and The Marshall Tucker Band.
The concert also will feature The Dust Devil Band, including locals Mike Stone, Darryl Mattison, Dan Porter, George Deveny and Ed Rosenburg.
For Rosenburg, getting the chance to play with his former bandmates again will be cathartic, to say the least.
“We haven’t all sat in the same room together for 34 years before we started rehearsing for this – that’s something,” Rosenburg said. “Of the five musicians in the band, I’m the only one who’s been out of the business for all those years, but the others have been playing right along. It’s going to be pretty wild to walk out on the Stanley stage in front of people.”
Not only is the event an opportunity for musicians to give back to the venue that gave them an avenue for their art, but it’s also a chance to start something new, Hobin said.
“I want to see it as the beginning,” he said. “It’s reacquainting ourselves with our music of the past and this beautiful theater, but the concert is really about the future. The concert is about remembering that we’re all part of this community, and it’s a community that we treasure.”