Newhouse MVJ 2018

The Sounds of Syracuse

Music is an escape from reality, but it’s also a state of mind; regardless of what language is spoken, it’s something that unites everyone. As a musician and music lover myself, I found solace and comfort in music venues. I decided to take a journey to explore the places that music takes us.

I began my excursion at Open Mike Night at Shifty’s Bar in East Syracuse. As soon as I got to the venue, there was a definite air and demeanor of comfort coupled with the aroma of chicken wings and cigarette smoke. The house band opened the night; they were so tight-knit they could pick up on each other’s rhythm as if it were second nature. While not all of the acts were as strong as others, the encouragement and support from the audience seemed to make their stage fright melt away.

The second place I went to was a local garage band’s gig at Funk ‘n Waffles, and the minute I walked in, I could tell that it was going to be a raucous hotspot. The drinks were flowing, the dance floor was hot, someone even brought a hoola-hoop to the event.

Some places had nothing but a stool and a microphone, others had a stage, neon lights and special amplifiers for each performer. Some places were standing room only. One venue I visited was an old church on Onondaga hill; there was a total of six people there, including the musicians.

I drove through a mild snow storm to reach my final destination; the Syracuse Acoustic Blues Festival. On its fifth year, the festival welcomed local artists who performed original songs and covers. There was a sort of warmth and joy everyone shared in the cramped basement where the festival took place. The unity and exuberant personality of the venue and musicians gave such a warm welcome to the crisp weather outside, it was as if it were summer in the city. But that’s what I discovered about music during my journey; it takes you to a place that can’t be expressed in speech or actions, and stands the test of time throughout all seasons.


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