Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Plattsburgh Blues & Jazz Brings Nationally Acclaimed Artists to North Country
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – Acclaimed blues & soul artist John Németh played a packed show
Tuesday at 30 City Hall Place as part of the recently developed Plattsburgh Blues & Jazz concert
The series, stylized as PB&J, was started by the board of directors at 30 City Hall Place, according to Champlain Wine
Company co-owner Colin Read, but
has its roots in house parties thrown
by local blues enthusiast Laura
Carbone is well-connected in the music industry due to her history of traveling in order to
photograph concerts and festivals featuring a diverse array of artists, she said. Through these
travels, Carbone has built relationships with a number of artists who, from time to time, she asks
to come play parties at her house, to which she invites various acquaintances and community
Carbone noted that the parties always have a good turnout and are enjoyed by everyone,
but are costly to throw. Thus blossomed the idea for an affordable series to bring notable artists
to Plattsburgh, a small town that might otherwise be overlooked when booking tours.
Part of the credit for the success of the series is the choice of blues itself, as it is a genre
that has an appeal not limited to any specific age group, Carbone said. The second trick, she said,
is bringing artists that are not just small-town bar acts, but artists with professional backgrounds
and deep histories.
“The blues, it’s not sad music. It’s really supposed to fill your soul,” Carbone said. “And
all the bands that have come through so far, I have seen perform live, and I know they’re going
to hit it out of the park.”
This ability to secure widely known artists, along with the marketing prowess of Tara
Powers’ Shen Marketing Solutions, Carbone said, has quickly brought the series to the forefront
of the Plattsburgh community, resulting in the recent success of Németh’s visit.
Bill Colquhoun, leader of a local art group that paints portraits of willing volunteers, feels
that Read, too, deserves a lot of the credit for what happens with PB&J.
Colquhoun, a Keeseville resident who found himself wooed Tuesday by John Németh’s
guitarist’s skills, described Read as a community mover and shaker, who always has a hand in
the goings-on of the community, much the same as he has a hand in Colquhoun’s painting group
– the Champlain Wine Company is the meeting place for Colquhoun’s group, too.
Aside from just owning the venue, Read & co-owner Natalie Peck allow the artists PB&J
recruits to play the venue at no cost to the organization.
Furthermore, PB&J is a non-profit group, so the Wine Company sacrifices the proceeds
of whatever drink sales take place during the concerts, which are redirected into PB&J and used
to help pay for future artists. These funds also go toward a large outdoor event planned for July
that Carbone describes as a “blues weekend,” Read said.
Despite the intimidating amount of work that such a festival – a word that Carbone
refuses to use due to its weight, describing it as “the f word” – will take, Carbone nonetheless
feels that it will be a success.
And based on the full-to-the-brim crowd that John Németh brought to 30 City Hall Place,
which, according to Carbone, definitely consisted of at least a few Vermont and Montreal
residents, the odds may be in her favor.
Community member Aly Restrepo had never watched a band perform in the Plattsburgh
area aside from the odd bar band, she said, and Németh’s performance was the first for which
she did so – and she was impressed. Restrepo now plans on not only attending the festival put on
by PB&J, but also plans to catch a future Németh performance in Montreal.
Besides the festival, Carbone said, there are events planned months in advance until the
end of the year, with pre-festival one-off performances like Németh’s acting as fundraisers for
the larger July event.
With the series seeing such early success, both Read and Carbone hope to make
Plattsburgh a trademark stop for blues musicians the world over.
“We’re trying to make it the small town that’s famous for the blues,” Read said. “We’ll
have something about once every month all year round, and we hope this summer fest will get
bigger and bigger every year. Something to really hang our hat on.”