Partners Try Something No One Else Has Done
By JIM KEVLIN : ONEONTA
OK, you may not be aware of the fourth annual WONYpalooza, an evening of heavy metal that kicks off the Oneonta Theatre’s first full season Saturday, March 19. Or PowerGlove, the featured act.
But if you have, you’ve probably never heard of Ricky Nelson, who will be honored in the “Ricky Nelson Remembered” 25th Anniversary Tour – Ricky’s sons Gunnar and Matthew perform. It plays at the Oneonta Theatre Sunday, March 27.
If you follow music, you probably are aware of The Byrds’ Roger McGuinn and the Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ John Sebastian (May 7), or John Mayall (April 1), Eric Clapton’s collaborator.
And who hasn’t heard of The Beatles. (The Fab Faux, June 10, will seek not merely to play the hits, but seeks to replicate the experience of a Beatles’ concert.)
The point is, there’s something for everyone.
That’s the goal of Oneonta Theatre owner Tom Cormier and promoter Jon Weiss, who were brought together early in 2010 by a question: Forget Glimmerglass Opera, forget the CSO, can a modern-music venue – rock, jazz, folk, you name it – flourish in Oneonta?
“The only music you can specialize in is good music,” Weiss said, sipping a yerba mate the other day, during an interview with Cormier at the Yellow Deli.
Looking at this summer’s offerings, you quickly conclude that “good music” may be the foundation, but add the adjective, “variety.”
For, as noted above in the first few paragraphs, Weiss and Cormier are striving to cover the whole demographic, your grandfather’s Oldsmobile, your father’s VW Bug, and your Kia Soul, (they’re not rats, but “lovable, singing hamsters,” the car company insists.)
“It has to be eclectic,” said Cormier. “If you go after one genre, one demographic, by the fourth week they’ve seen it, they’re sick of it. And they’re broke.”
Because of the extensive renovations the long-unused theater – it was a former vaudeville house, and hadn’t been an operating cinema for years – wasn’t ready to host performances until the middle of last summer.
By then, said Weiss – he’s a rock promoter in New York City who has a weekend home in Franklin – the best acts for the Oneonta were locked in elsewhere.
Since late last year, however, he has been focused on lining up acts for this summer, which explains the range and mix. (If Arlo Guthrie or Todd Rundgren happen to show up by season’s end, don’t say you heard it here first.)
His efforts have been helped by the fact the theater has a track record, albeit not an extensive one.
“We’ve been able to demonstrate to the industry that the Oneonta Theatre is a good-sounding, good-looking, well-run room,” Weiss said.
Folksinger Steve Earle, one of the first acts, told his hosts, “Man, I can’t wait to get back here with a full band.”
The interest in the Oneonta is varied.
Just the other week, for instance, Doug Decker from the American Legion approached the partners about doing something for the Wounded Warrior Project, which assists severely wounded soldiers, particularly in their transition back to civilian life.
“I thought it was a terrific idea,” said Weiss.
The Oneonta contracted with up-and-coming C&W star Josh Thompson – his latest album, “Way Out Here,” was just issued – and he’ll be performing Saturday, June 4.
The partners are providing a concert-ready venue, all staffed and ready to go. All the profits go to the Wounded Warriors.
But the promoter and proprietor recognize the challenges. For instance, Cormier said, there’s really nothing quite like the Oneonta, a 600-seat theater in a rural town seeking to become a rock ‘n’ roll magnet.
“Not a lot of theaters are privately owned,” he said. “They’re non-profits, run by a board. It’s different from what we’re trying to do.”
Different? That sounds interesting. This may be the season to try it out.
March 18th, 9pm
March 25th, 9pm
The Felice Brothers
March 26th, 9pm
Hair of the Dog
March 27th, 7:30 pm
Ricky Nelson Remembered
April 1st, 9pm
April 2nd, 9pm
Really Old Airplanes
April 7th - 10th
Always Patsy Cline
April 16th, 9pm
April 29th, 9pm
April 30th, 9pm
May 1st, 7:30 pm
& John Sebastian
May 7th, 9pm
Dark Star Orchestra
May 21st, 9pm
May 26th, 9pm
May 28th, 9pm
June 3rd, 9pm
& The Dirty Birds
June 4th, 8pm
June 7th, 9pm
June 10th, 9pm
June 11th, 8pm
June 17th, 9pm
June 18th, 9pm
June 23rd - 26th
CNYRG Sock Hop
July 7th, 9pm
October 22nd 8pm