In One Ear: Notes From the Local Music Scene
December 12, 2016
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By the time anyone actually reads this, I may very well be on winter break.
Because this is the last column for the semester, and because Thanksgiving is just barely in the rear view mirror as I write this, I want to start out with some things/people I’m grateful for this year.
First off, and this always sounds so cheesy, but I am genuinely thankful for you, all of the readers. I’ve received more feedback for these columns than anything else I have written for The Highlander.
I’m thankful for my editors and advisor for allowing me to write about local music in the first place.
And especially to the local scene, and everyone in it, who have all made writing this column a breeze.
So have a Happy Festivus (or whatever it is you either do or do not celebrate) and I’ll get back to what brings everyone here in the first place, the music.
Based out of the Greater Pittston area, comes E57, fronted by Josh Zurek and Mike ‘Duds’ McDonald. I’ve known both these guys since high school, and I’ve followed their music since they were known as Firefly.
The band also includes Chris Sheeran and A.J. Lanieski
They’ve both grown as musicians though, and are a true testament to the fact that it’s not just Wilkes-Barre and Scranton that produce great talent.
Like some of the other acts I’ve profiled, E57 makes for a hard time pinning down a word to describe their sound.
“I guess our sound varies on our moods when we’re writing. We go from old country to modern rock and everything in between,” said Zurek.
They’ve also not gone unnoticed as a band. The are being played on local radio stations, winning awards at the Scranton Music Awards, and by the time you will read this, opening for national touring pop punk act The Ataris.
The band also has an EP, titled Ep57, that will be out by the time this column runs.
“We’ll also probably have a full length album out sometime in 2017,” said Zurek.
Follow E57 on facebook at www.facebook.com/E57Band or on Twitter: @E57music. They are also on reverbnation, at www.reverbnation.com/e57, the site on which they primarily stream new music.
Mark your calendars for Dec. 17, as the annual NEPA Holiday Show is coming back for another year of great music.
An annual event, promoted by area band turned national touring act The Menzingers, the show never fails to bring quality music to the valley.
The event is always a great place to see bands like The Menzingers and Captain We’re Sinking, up-and-coming local acts such as Petal and reunions of great bands of years past, like Three Man Cannon, Okay Paddy and The Sw!ms.
Out of these, only Okay Paddy will not be on the bill this time. Once again the show will be at the Scranton Cultural Center.
Tickets are $25, and they can be purchased at the Scranton Cultural Center or online at Ticketmaster’s website. Money raised will benefit art and music programs in the area.
And later on in the month, on Dec. 24 at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg will be nationally touring pop punk band Patent Pending, and my boys in Karate Camp will be opening. Tickets are $12.
Lest We Forget
While I usually use this section to write about venues that have come and gone, as the year ends I feel like using it to remember those we have lost this year.
Everyone knows the famous artists who passed on this year, chief among them David Bowie, Merle Haggard, Prince, Leonard Cohen and too many others to name, but fewer took note of the local musicians we lost.
All the way back in February, Walter Prez passed unexpectedly. Born Walter Prezelski, he was a staple of the local music scene, often playing live and releasing music.
He was a friend to many, and even though I never had the honor of meeting him, I knew many who spoke highly of him after he passed, including Dom Fortese of The KLAP.
Then over the summer, George Wesley, noted area reggae artist also passed. I remember in freshman year I was introduced to his music in the CD section at Wayne’s World, down the street from campus.
His sound was just amazing. I didn’t know this until after he died, but apparently Wesley was also an accomplished jazz, blues and rock musician.
The Weekender, Diamond City and NEPA Scene all devoted space to tributes to Wesley, which shows how important he was to local music.
And just recently, almost too late to include, Gene Guarilia passed suddenly.
While primarily known as a member of the Boston Celtics professional basketball team in the 1960’s, Guarilia came home to the valley and served as gym teacher at Pittston Area Senior High School. He played live music for 40 years.
When my mom and dad were in high school, they regularly went to see his band at the time, Side Street. Back then every high school and church seemed to have dances with live bands on Friday night.
Guarilia was later in the band The Cadillacs. The band played throughout the area for years before breaking up a few years ago.
I am sure there were others, but these are the three that immediately came to mind. Please take the time and look into their music. You won’t regret it.