Glad I ‘Found Out About You’

ELLICOTTVILLE – Talk about the perfect way to end the Independence Day weekend. Yes, they are not as high on the celebrity list as they once were, but Gin Blossoms proved what it means to play the part of perennial superstars, Sunday night, closing the Ellicottville Summer Music Festival.

One couldn’t have asked for a better night for an outdoor show in Western New York. The sky was clear and the stars were coming out as Gin Blossoms took the stage, situated near the Creekside Quad lift area. The show was just as good as the cool July night.

From the very first song, “Follow You Down,” Robin Wilson’s voice brought back fond memories of the ’90s. The guy is much more than just a singer, he is also an incredible entertainer. Throughout the show, he was interacting with people at the stage, even stepping off the front of the mobile platform to a box strategically placed at the front so he could be closer to the adoring fans who have made the band what it is.

Wilson, toward the end of the show, even grabbed a cellphone from someone in the crowd who was either recording or letting a friend who couldn’t be there listen in during “Allison Road.” Wilson, in all his performing brilliance, sang the song into the phone, as to give a private show while performing for what had to be a couple thousand people slope-side.

From the masterful guitar work of Scott Johnson and Jesse Valenzuela to the low-end rhythm provided by Bill Leen, and Scott Hessel’s talent on the drum kit, the other musicians were simply perfect.

The 17-song concert was pure perfection.

The Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce and Holiday Valley deserve credit for the incredible finale to the holiday weekend. Brian McFadden, chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce, and his committee and staff have outdone themselves with this show. Next year’s better be something spectacular to top it.

The music festival boasts of being one of very few, maybe the only one, in the Western New York region to allow concertgoers to bring in coolers, picnics, even their own wine and beer, to be able to celebrate good music and socialize. On the trip out of the resort, the only thing that could be seen on the ground was ice that would be gone by the start of the next day.

The show featured more than the talents of the Gin Blossoms. Opening for them was Nelson Starr, Buffalo Music Hall of Fame member, and his band of musicians, The Benjamins.

Starr proved his ability to mimic some of the greats, playing hits from The Police and U2, as well as classics by Radiohead and The Beatles. Nelson Starr and the Benjamins were a great way to get the crowd ready for the main act. I look forward to seeing more of Nelson and his band of musicians with the Benjamins, but also in his other projects, to include The Party Squad.

This was a great way to complete the weekend. Great music, outdoors, with a great night’s weather. Nothing is better.