Revisiting The Past

Area residents gathered in the Scharmann Theater on Friday night to witness a rock show 30 years in the making.

Jamestown Community College’s Rock Ensemble celebrated its 30th annual Rock Fest by presenting two nights of live music.

Thursday night’s portion of the festival featured eight student bands, which included a total of 30 students. Friday night’s concert, which concluded the Rock Fest, featured a student band as an opener, an acoustic guitar performance by Bill Eckstrom, as well as two alumni bands: Atica and Ruckus.

According to Eckstrom, director of Jamestown Community College’s Rock Ensemble, the festival turned out great overall.

“The students enjoyed it, and the audience enjoyed it – we produced a fine show,” Eckstrom said. “It was a great learning experience and opportunity for the students. We love to produce a good show, but ultimately this is an institution of learning, and I think they’ve learned a lot.”

Friday night’s portion of the festival was opened by student band Dog Jawz, which features: Jeff Picarazzi on guitar, Dylan Leone on lead vocals and guitar, Shaughn Bryant on drums and Riley Gustafson on bass. A keyboardist was added for the performance.

After the student band finished performing, Eckstrom took the stage to perform an acoustic guitar tribute to several local musicians who have passed away over the years.

Following Eckstrom’s performance, Steve Gustafson, technical director of the Rock Fest for the past 10 years, introduced Atica, which is a JCC Rock Ensemble alumni band. Atica was in the program 15 years ago, and during its prime gained some notoriety. The founding members of Atica included: Ryan Melquist, Colin Shaffer, Ryan Ecklund and Jeremy Kinnear. Matt Clark sat in on drums for the Rock Fest performance. The band performed several original tunes, as well as a cover of Rusted Root’s “Ecstasy.”

“It was a lot of fun,” Shaffer said. “We hadn’t done that in about five years. So, I was surprised that we got a pretty good reception – I think there were some old Atica fans hanging out, revisiting the past.”

After Atica finished their set, Eckstrom took the stage once more to introduce Ruckus, another alumni band that features Randy Deppas, who was involved in the creation of the program. The band, which performs mostly covers, also features Jen Robinson, Karl Lindboom, Darren Cederquist and Mike Cusimano.

Gustafson was also quite pleased with how well the festival went this year, especially Thursday night’s student session.

“I think we had the biggest crowd since I’ve been here for the Rock Ensemble,” Gustafson said. “A lot of that has to do with the students involved, and how hard they sell it. The talent is remarkable, and it has been for all these years. We’re getting better at producing the stage show and lights, and the college has always been very supportive.”

The JCC Rock Ensemble program is a class held each semester that gives dozens of students the opportunity to learn everything they need to know about how to be in a band. For more information, visit www.sunyjecc.edu.