Area residents enjoyed an evening of country, southern rock and the blues that got people up and dancing at Infinity Cafe in Jamestown on Friday.
Coal Train drew a crowd to Infinity’s Cafe for some classic covers and talented youth. During Coal Train’s performance a corner full of kids danced while the audience clapped along.
Coal Train took the stage to open the show. The band, which consists of Stephanie Rogers on vocals, Mark Bunce on lead guitar, Paul Sweat on rhythm guitar and vocals, Jon Washburn on drums and Jim Foti on bass, also features Chautauqua’s Got Talent winner Teal Weatherly. Coal Train sounded particularly powerful within the confines of Infinity’s Cafe. After playing a few tunes, the band took a short break.
During the break the audience was treated to performances by Infinity students and Chautauqua’s Got Talent finalists Stephanie Benson and SYMBA, which features Hayley Restivo and Ryan Hawkins. Benson performed a cover of “Let It Be” by the Beatles as well as “Breakeven” by The Script. SYMBA performed two originals, one of which has not yet been named, and after performing the tune the duo asked the audience what they thought it should be named; they chose “Things Unsaid.” The other tune was entitled “Can’t You See?”
After the students finished performing, Coal Train played another set that incorporated Benson, Restivo and Hawkins. According to Bunce, having the Infinity Students join the band on stage was a great opportunity, and added to the experience for the audience.
“When the girls sing with Coal Train it makes people feel good – and that’s what it’s all about,” said Bunce.
Shane Hawkins, executive director for Infinity, invited Coal Train to play at the cafe because the band rehearses at Infinity, and Rogers is the site director for Infinity.
“They’ve always wanted to do something for Infinity,” said Hawkins. “We missed seeing her sing, because she used to sing here quite a bit when she was a student here. It’s been a great night having them come. They are professionals, so they know how to bring the students up on stage, which is a great experience for them.”
“I remember when I was a student here and Mark’s band played at Infinity,” added Rogers. “We had a chance to get up and play with them when I was like 15, and it was such a great experience for me. It really stretches your creativity.”
Benson, who performed two songs solo before joining Coal Train on stage for a rendition of a Patsy Cline tune, felt the her performance went very well. She also said she felt being on stage with Coal Train was a great opportunity.
“It was fun to work with such experienced people, and to let us work with them was awesome of them,” said Benson. “I felt like I was part of the band when I was on stage with them.”
Restivo, who joined Coal Train on stage for several tunes, said that it was nice to see a live blues band perform in Jamestown.
“Coal Train’s performance was awesome, and Stephanie (Rogers) is a boss on vocals – you can’t get any better than that,” said Restivo.
SYMBA’s Hawkins joined Coal Train for a tune called “Jambalaya,” for which she played accordion.
SYMBA and Benson will open for Big Leg Emma on Saturday, June 15, at Southern Tier Brewing Company in Lakewood.
Coal Train’s next performance is scheduled for Friday at 9 p.m. at the Nickel Plate Depot in Brocton.
Performances at Infinity’s Cafe are free and open to the public, but they also serve as fundraisers for the program. The cafe sells snacks, hosts drawings and takes donations.
For more information visit infinityperformingarts.com or search for “Coal Train” on Facebook.