Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Volume #1: Premiere Issue

Welcome. You are now reading the premiere issue of North Country Entertainment Magazine, reporting on arts and entertainment in Northern New York State, Montreal, Burlington, and beyond. Happy reading.

Monday, September 21, 2009

North Country Haunted Houses

By Chris LaRose

With Halloween fast approaching some Plattsburgh residents can't help but think about how some of the most bizarre, haunted places in the North Country are right here in town. From the souls still left walking the halls of the old Barracks on the Air Force Base to the ghosts of the Delord family that continue to reside in the Kent Delord House, Plattsburgh is just oozing with the paranormal. "The North Country has so many stories to tell," says Randy Lucia, leader of the Lake City Paranormal Society, a Plattsburgh-based group that has investigated many of the local hot spots, "It isn't surprising that there are so many haunted places around here."

So just what are the most haunted places in and around our little town? From the well known to the urban legends, the following list, based on the investigations of Lucia and his team, as well as the "word around town," is sure to make the ghostbuster in us all come creeping to the surface.

The Barracks
Location: Old Air Force Base, Plattsburgh, NY

What's so creepy about the Barracks? It was home to many who served in both the army and the air force, as well as the place a great deal of them lost their life. People who have been inside the building claim it is one of the scariest places they have ever been. "I went inside when I was younger," said Noelle Tedford, a Plattsburgh state student who grew up in the area, "and you can literally hear footsteps on the floors above you. The place had really bad vibes." Lucia agrees, saying he and his team have taken photos of multiple orbs (little balls of energy that appear in photographs, belived to be the energy of an individual who has passed on) around the perimeter of the Barracks. "We got some definite visuals," he said.

Lake Path Cemetary
Location: Old Air Force Base, Plattsburgh, NY

Another one of the haunted areas on the old Air Force Base, Lake Path Cemetary is the burial place of soldiers from as far back as the Battle of Plattsburgh, making it extremely prone to paranormal activity. When the Lake City Paranormal Society investigated the cemetary they encountered what Lucia describes as "a quick moving light." "I was standing at the edge of the cemetary," he said, "and I noticed this light moving from one side of a tree to the other, almost poking it's head around the tree at me." Whether true or not, locals certainly know to avoid the cemetary after dark.

The Base Gym
Location: Old Air Force Base, Plattsburgh, NY

You might not expect a local gym to be a breeding ground for the paranormal, the Base Gym is said to be extremely haunted. "No one knows exactly what the story is about the place," said Lucia, "but multiple workers claim to hear the weights in the backroom lifting and slamming back down when the gym is closed." As eerie as it sounds, many people who work out in the gym claim to have experiences as well. "A few years ago when I would go to the base gym," said Leslie Wallace, a resident of Plattsburgh, "I would be in the shower and I would hear the locker room door just swing open and closed by itself."

The Kent Delord House
Location: 17 Cumberland Avenue, Plattsburgh, NY

Though Lucia and his team have never investigated the Kent Delord House, it is almost general knowledge around town that the residence is haunted. "I believe the story is that it is the ghosts of the entire Delord family," said Lillian Delisle, a local who has visited the Kent Delord House on tours, "but many people have said they've had experiences in the house." Though you can only enter the house on paid, guided tours, people have reported seeing ghostly images in the upstairs windows of the house, as well as in the backyard.

Cherry Hill
Location: Standish, NY

Although it's not directly in Plattsburgh, the creepy tale of a man murdering his entire family in the house and burying them under the front steps has plagued Cherry Hill for decades now. Lake City Paranormal Society has never formally investigated the house and Lucia believes the tale to be "just an urban legend." However, both Tedford and Wallace have heard the story of Cherry Hill and believe it to be true. "I've had friends drive out there to get video of the place," said Tedford, "and all of their cars died in front of the house... It isn't a place I'd mess around with."

Photo Credit: Chris LaRose

Rocky Horror Profile on Andrew Velez

By Amanda Sivan Kaufman

It was time to audition. It was time to show the best talent possible, to be better than the competition and win recognition. When he went out in front of a panel of women judges, Andy Velez walked the walk of a man who was about to show all he could be—while singing a song, wearing high heels and no shirt. That is how he was able to nail the role for Rocky in Plattsburgh State’s upcoming production of The Rocky Horror Show.

“It was the most awkward but funny interview I have ever done,” Velez said with a smile. “I guess they wound up picking me because I looked good with my shirt off.”

Velez, who has had a wide range of roles from an apostle in Jesus Christ Super Star to the bartender in The Laramie Project, originally wanted to star as Dr. Frank N. Furter, who is the bizarre otherworldly transsexual that creates Rocky in the show.

He says he had been a “Rocky fanatic for a while,” and has high hopes for the premier on Oct. 26, the weekend before Halloween.

The play, written by Richard O’Brien and directed by Antonette Knoedl, is a slightly different version than the cult classic 1975 musical film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, about a crazed transsexual alien scientist who takes an unknowing couple into his castle, just before creating Rocky who he dubs as a masterpiece sex object.

Velez says each version has a part the other doesn’t, but this time around it’s going to be different from both under the new director.

“When she was talking about it at the theater schmooze, she said this might seem different. A lot of people will be thinking this isn’t the Rocky Horror Picture Show,” Velez said. “This is the Rocky Horror Show. It’s just her Rocky Horror Show.”

Knoedl, like many in the cast, is fan who is very familiar with the show. In the past, she had roles in it such as one of the phantoms in the castle. This year is her first time directing the play.

Despite any change that may be noticed by fans, nothing in the show has been cut out and it will run for its full 1 hour and 30 minutes without intermission.

Alongside Rocky is the character Janet Weiss, played by Elizabeth Abair who just happens to be a housemate of Velez. The show, known for its high amount of sexual content, pins the two together in many awkward moments such as a sex scene, Velez said.

According to Velez, the housemates “went into the show knowing” what they were getting themselves into and that they were aware there was “going to be a lot of sexual content.”

Part of the Rocky Horror Shows requires actors being able to handle strange roles in front of an audience, no matter who is attending.

“The funny thing is, I believe, most of us are having our parents coming up to watch this too,” Velez said, but he also noted that he has yet to have a scene that embarrassed him.

So far, he says the production is running ahead of schedule and it will be a “truly spectacular show” when finished. When it premiers, the audience will have the chance to experience the show in its fullest—as they will become interactive with the experience.

“If you want a good seat, get the aisle seat if you can,” he said. “There’s a lot of audience interaction.”

Aside from the call outs, lines that fans have made up to be shouted in between dialogue for humor’s sake, Velez said there is way more in store. Until then, he’ll be rehearsing with the rest of the cast, minus his shirt and heels.

Plattsburgh’s Best Dance Crew

By Kristen Rafferty

Auditions are over, prizes are assembled, the program is set, and in just three days, the much-anticipated Plattsburgh’s Best Dance Crew will take center stage at Giltz Auditorium. On September 23rd the competition is on, and Chair of the Entertainment Committee Jimmy McKenna has nothing but enthusiasm for the show.

“From the second people walk in, we want them to be entertained,” he says. “We’ve worked really hard to make sure that our audience has fun the entire night.”

Advertised as “the hottest campus event this semester,” the contest, which takes place at 7 pm Wednesday night, is modeled after MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew, with five dance teams set to perform. Teams will each dance once, and after an intermission the three finalists will perform again—this time with an audience vote by ballot that will decide the ultimate winner. MC for the night is Michael Cashman, advisor of Student Activities.

“He’s a really funny guy,” says McKenna. “He’s got a lot good stuff planned.”

Judges for the event are Cori Matthews, Director of the Center for Student Involvement; Bill Laundry, VP of student services; Kara Lalonde, VP of student activities for the SA; and Penny Kendall, the beloved and well-known cashier at Clinton Dining Hall.

The dance teams, who auditioned last week for a spot in the competition, include select dancers from the two on-campus dance groups, Dance Corps and Jedi Step, and three amateur groups who, McKenna says, should definitely not be underestimated. Five girls make up team “Fuji,” while a four-man team calls themselves “Visionaries.” “Frank’s Phantoms,” a group of three girls and one guy, rounds out the set of teams.

Contestant Stacey Calcagni, a member of the Dance Corps team, says that her group “included a lot of tricks in the routine,” in order to spice up the competition.

“I hope the crowd will react and recognize the amount of fun and joy we get from dancing,” she says. “We tried to keep our routine flowing continuously for all those people in the audience who maybe don't follow intense technical dance training.” Stacey’s team is performing a hip hop number to “Picture Perfect Remix” by Chris Brown, Hurricane Chris, and Bow Wow.

Dharmit Laxman, a member of team “Visionaries,” says his group is also hoping to wow the crowd.

“We don’t even really care about winning,” he says. “We won’t be like any other team. I told my group to go out there and entertain the audience. Show them what we’re about.” “Visionaries” is dancing to a mix of hip hop songs and a short clip of a Britney Spears song.

The program for the evening also includes performances from the professional dance crew “61Syx Teknique,” a group which travels across the nation performing for any venue that requests their unique hip hop and break dancing styles.

“We’re really excited to have 61Syx performing at the show,” says McKenna. “They’re just great, and they’ll really add to the entertainment for the night.” With a resume that includes shows for B2K, Lloyd Banks, and Fat Joe, 61Syx will be performing a 45 minute teaser show at noon in the ACC Amnity Plaza, and three numbers in the nighttime show.

Giltz Auditorium doors open at 7 pm, and a video montage of PSU students dancing around campus is set to greet the audience as they take their seats. Door prizes and raffle tickets will also be available for audience members to possibly win DVD’s, t-shirts, iTunes gift cards, and more.

Cosplayers Bring Fictional Characters to Life

By Alissa D. Vidulich

An introduction into the world of cosplay. Cosplaying began decades ago, and has quickly become a global subculture, despite that it is still unknown to many. Cosplayers bring fictional characters to life through costuming and role-playing their favorite characters. Sometimes these characters are brought to life through an empathetic process of self-actualization where cosplayers truly transform their inner character to that of the fictitious characters’.

Have you ever been Jack Skellington, creeping through the moonlit trees toward another dimension? Have you ever been Darth Vader, lured by the dark forces of nature to abandon your authentic self? Or what about Alice, curiously sipping tea with the Mad Hatter in Wonderland? For many the answer would be, 'only in my imagination,’ but in the world of cosplay people are turning their favorite works of fiction into reality.

Cosplay, a compound of the words 'costume' and 'play,’ has become an international subculture where fans of various fiction portray their favorite characters by way of detailed costumes and live role-playing. Characters, or ‘charas’, are mostly chosen from popular anime {a Japanese-style of cartoons and video games} and manga/comic books, but can be selected from any work of fiction. In an offshoot of fictional character cosplay some even go so far as to cosplay real life individuals like J-Rock or J-Pop band members, but such is usually referred to as just ‘role-playing’.

While the beginnings of cosplay are debatable one could at least say that the Trekkies, or Star Trek fans, may have played a role, in more ways than one. In the 1970's Star Trek spawned a new breed of sci-fi fans whose love for the series inspired some of them to follow suit by donning the polyester garbs of Captain Kirk and company. The hobby spread among Trekkies throughout America and began to catch on among fans of other sci-fi works such as Star Wars.

Cosplay has since become much more refined and has given rise to a global subculture. Today's cosplayers typically make their own costumes, replicating every fine stitch of their characters' attire. From hair, to makeup, to props, cosplayers use their dedication, artistic sight and imagination to virtually become whatever characters they choose. When in costume it is not uncommon for cosplayers to mimic their characters' personality traits, facial expressions and poses

Like any culture it has its own sense of language, customs and caste. For example, the terms 'crossplay' {dressing as the opposite gender} and 'glomp' {a running hug} are frequently used among cosplayers. Both crossplaying and glomping are particularly common at conventions {though it is in poor cosplay taste to glomp without first asking permission}. Average people or non-cosplayers are often referred to as the 'mundanes', while snooty expert cosplayers are called the 'elites'.

Anime, sci-fi, comic and costume conventions held in countless numbers around the globe each year are often the highlights of cosplay life. Some of the most well-known conventions in North America are Comic-Con, Anime Expo and Otakon. The Society for Creative Anachronism, may have been the first group to create the idea of a costume convention. In 1966 the group held a party in California, and according the SCA website the invitations read “that a tournament would be held on the first of May, summoning 'all knights to defend in single combat the title of 'fairest' for their ladies'."

Cosplay events at such conventions, or ‘cons’, include skits {pre-planned theatrical or comedic performances}, masquerades {staged competitions} and photo shoots {cosplayers dressed from the same fiction series often group together}.

While American cosplayers mainly stick to cosplaying at conventions, Japanese cosplaying frequently takes place in public street settings, especially in the Harajuku {Tokyo} and Nipponbashi {Osaka} shopping districts. Cosplaying has become far more prevalent in Japanese culture than in American culture since the 80s. In Japan there are stores, magazines and even cafés dedicated solely to cosplay. Yet many Americans haven't the faintest notion that such a subculture exists, and often quite close to home.

Upstate New York, for example, is mostly known for its rolling farm lands, forest preserves and the capital city of Albany. It's a far cry from Harajuku, and even those who might enjoy manga or anime may still be unaware of the cosplay group in their own backyard. The Upstate New York or UNY Cosplay group initially formed about five years ago at RPI's Genericon, and has been increasing in size over the years. The group meets at various locations throughout upstate NY and organizes events such as the annual Cosplay Picnic and the Halloween Bash where local cosplayers can meet, share ideals and of course have fun.

“I've been able to work with some incredibly motivated and creative individuals who have brought together some amazing events,” states Jen Wicks, President of UNY Cosplay. Wicks has been president of the organization for the past three years, and claims it has been an “extremely rewarding experience.”

The group recently partnered with Albany Comic Con, and will host its costume competition. Albany Comic Con is scheduled for November 1, and will be held at the local Holiday Inn on Wolf Road. At the Albany con UNY Cosplay will also hold a discussion panel about cosplay, and how it is not just for Halloween. Those interested in joining UNY Cosplay can do so by going to the group’s web site at unycosplay.com, attending meetings, or by going to the various events posted on the site.

Though many of us do imagine becoming our favorite characters the motivation to make such whims reality seems to come from that hushed yet ever present ghost of childhood, which tells us there should be something more than that ‘mundane’ society of nine-to-fives, of cutting grass and talking small. As cosplayer and forum moderator for cosplay.com Rosiel says,

“I work in corporate America, I have to blend in and wear suits and be staid and serious. So cosplay is an escape into adolescence.”

Yet there are also those who, rather than seeing a fantasy-like escape in it, find cosplaying as an inspiration for their own very real “self-transformations.” Cosplay.com forum user ‘xxdaemonxx’ explains, “Roleplaying does not always lead to an ‘escape from reality‘, it can greatly open your mind and give you more power over reality. When I was inspired by [the Fist of the North Star and Street Fighter 2] anime characters I started to take martial arts and studied various mind sciences. I wanted to be a master of my mind, body, and spirit like the anime characters that I greatly admired.” Cosplayers like ‘daemon’, beyond their costumes, their makeup, or their skits, truly do bring fictional characters to life.

Credit: photograph of Rick Lo potraying ‘L’ from Death Note, taken by ‘Slumberdoll’ of cosplay.com{used under creative commons}

Citizens, prepare to enter this army’s space

By Jessica Bakeman

A wandering citizen enters a tunnel engulfed in light. The light is overwhelming — to the point where the space is physically hot. Wading his way through the glow, he continues to a door whereupon he is greeted with a calming coolness. Opening another door, he enters a world of dance, a full-blown sequence with bedazzled participants hidden behind high masks, moving to music so loud it rings in his ears. The next tunnel brings him to a battle with a high-voltage fan, where his survival instincts will push him toward the next door, his only goal being to overcome the pressure of his attacker. He is a citizen, an audience observer, and this “happening” is the army’s space.

This is how Christian Amato envisions theatre.

Though the Plattsburgh State senior acknowledges that many would find his imaginings to be no more (or less) than fantastical, this is the theatre experience he wants to create.

“I wish theatre itself could be as advanced as Disney rides,” he said, while blowing away the smoke from a bright red cigarette. “Sounds are turned on and off in your ears, wind gets blown at you so fast that you feel like you’re flying or like rats are running around at your feet. Or the ride takes you into a bakery and you smell the sweet scent of apple pie.”

He sees this theatre army’s environment manifesting itself in the tunnels that connect several dormitory buildings on campus, such as those winding under Banks and Whiteface Halls.

This project, only yet alive in his mind, is one product he hopes to achieve with a new performance group he founded this semester, The Theatre Project.

The group’s mission statement, in Amato’s words, is “that the actor is an ever-growing and ever-evolving being and every production that The Theatre Project does should reflect that,” he said.

Amato said his main motivation for establishing the group was to increase the volume of theatre being done at the college. Whereas the school’s theatre department and the College Theatre Association, another student group, usually put on two main shows a semester, this group will add another.

The other goal of The Theatre Project is to bring theatre to audiences without the exchange of money. Shows will be produced without a budget, and admission will be zip.

The group’s first production will be “Waiting for Godot,” an avant garde Samuel Beckett play “where nothing happens — twice,” the show’s director, Zack Bissell, said.

Amato asked Bissell to direct the show last May, and their original concept was to stage it on the loading dock off of Myers Fine Arts Center with a single light. As the show will go up Nov. 13-15, they decided that the Plattsburgh chill would prohibit an outdoor performance. Instead, the show will be held in the trap room of Hartman Theatre, directly under the stage.

They are doing the show with no budget, but with “calling in favors,” Bissell said. For example, a friend of Amato’s connected them with the New York University costume loft, and NYU will be loaning the costumes for the production at no cost.

“It’s simple; all you need is a tree and a mound,” Amato said, eyeing a moth that had landed on the wall next to him. “The (characters) are vagrants — bums.”

With this, he cupped the moth into his hands and frolicked to the front door, letting it fly away.

“I released a moth back into the wild!” he shouted.

Bissell continued where his friend left off, noting that “Godot” would be more of an environmental piece than a traditional stage production.

“The second you walk into the theatre space, the show starts,” he said. “It’s a living art exhibit. All of the technical aspects of the show will be exposed. Audience members will be able to see actors getting ready, technicians setting up.”

Amato plans to include a ballot in the program for audience members to vote on a future show. For the spring, he is toying with “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” as a possibility.

He will also be directing theatre faculty member Ken Roberts in a production this winter, that will hold performances the first week of classes spring semester. He hasn’t decided on the play yet, but is looking at “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller.

“I’d like to do a classic,” Amato said. “I’m sick of all this modernism.”

Future visions might include a production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” where the stage and actors are draped wholly in white linen, and the lights change the colors of the stage. He also envisions a 1920s interpretation of Sophocles’ “Ajax,” where characters hint that the title character is a bootlegger during the prohibition era.

“That’s all I got right now,” he said finally with a sigh of creative energy.

Well, that, and a musical adaptation of Disney’s “Hercules,” but under one condition, Bissell said.

“Only if Beyoncé agrees to play lead muse.”

Credit: Logo by Christian Amato, 2009.

Dress Code

By Jamela Gibson

When people think of the North Country the first thing they might think of is cold weather, a lot of snow. But who knew that can change. People in the North Country explore the taste of New York City fashion. Dresscode is a fairly new clothing consignment store that sells fairly used clothes, jewelry belts, shoes and books to their customers. But here’s the twist, customers can sell their clothing to the store and earn fifty percent of what they sell.

The consignment store is located downtown of Plattsburgh on 21 Bridge Street in Plattsburgh, New York, owned by Julie LaPier. The store consists of named brand clothing such as Pacsun, Abercrombie & Fitch, Old Navy, American Eagle, Ed Hardy and many more.

How did you get started?

I found out that I was loosing my teaching job here at the local school and I decided to open up “Dresscode.”

How did you come up with the name “Dresscode?”

My daughter Jessica who was thirteen at the time was figuring out names. She and I were at American Eagle trying on a skirt and I said does it fit the Dresscode and she came out the dressing room saying “Mom that’s a great name for the store.” So we decided to name the store Dresscode.

What kind of clothing do you sell?

All brand clothes that high school kids love. I base what to put on the clothing racks based on what’s popular. If skinny jeans are popular among high school and college students then I’ll sell them. If they’re not popular, then I won’t sell them. American Eagle, Abercrombie, Hollister, etc, are what’s popular among the high school and college students at this point, but high school kids won’t wear Old Navy or Gap splattered on the front of the shirts. AGG jeans, James Pears and boutique jeans are what college students would wear rather than high school students.

How do you come up with the prices?

I base it on clearance clothes out like American Eagle or Old Navy. If a pair of American Eagle jeans are $19.99. I go for like between $13.00 and $16.00. Most people go to consignment shops looking to pay less for their clothing. Not to pay more. My nieces help me out by making some of the jewelry that I sell here.

How long have you been open?

I opened up on August 1st, 2009. But before that I opened on June 1st for consignments and by August 1st, I had pretty much the racks you see here (pointing to the clothes that are hanging up on the clothes racks) all full.

How many customers do you have per day?

When I first opened up I had forty customers per day. Now with the college kids I have thirty customers a day just looking and about twenty of the customers that are just looking actually buy something.

If you are interested in shopping at DressCode and would like to know more information you can do so by visiting…www.thenewdresscode.com or call (518) 825-2633 or going into the store and ask for Julie LaPier.

The Spice of the North Country!

By Nicholas Persad

Caribbean students in the North Country can get their dose of Caribbean culture, but they have to be willing to make some trips, possibly get a visa and unfortunately be the ripe, old age of 21.

The State University of New York at Plattsburgh prides itself on being the institution that has the greatest number of international students among the SUNY schools. Students from the Caribbean make up a substantial percentage of these international students. Coming from the Caribbean to a place like Plattsburgh where there are not only many societal differences but also a complete change in climate is a huge shock and often requires a great deal of adjustment. It is therefore not surprising that many Caribbean students have a yearning for any small piece of their culture while they are at school here in Plattsburgh. These students don’t have to look very far but they do need to do their research. Large neighboring cities like Montreal and Burlington have proven to be a haven for people from the Caribbean looking to hear the music of their homeland, eat some Caribbean cuisine or simply ‘lime’ which is the equivalent to the American term of ‘hanging out’.


Montreal is the largest metropolitan city near Plattsburgh. It is only about an hour away by car or bus. This Canadian city, whose primary language is French, is one where there has been a large influx of people from the Caribbean. There are many venues including various bars and nightclubs that cater strictly to a Caribbean audience.

“If you’re from the Caribbean and looking to party, Montreal is the place to be,” said Kerstin Perrin, a senior at PSU who frequents many Caribbean ‘hotspots’ in Montreal. With all the variety that Montreal has to offer, two locations can be highlighted as being extremely popular with Caribbean students. They are ‘Testa Rossa Bar and Longe’ and ‘Vision’. ‘Testa Rossa’ is located at 2110 Crescent (between De Maisonneuve & Sherbrooke), Montreal while ‘Vision’ is located at 662-90th Ave, Montreal.

“Testa Rossa is where you want to be on a Friday night. They play only ‘soca’* and dancehall and you can even get ‘bake and shark’*. On Saturday you want to be at ‘Vision’ because they play strictly ‘soca’.” Perrin said. Montreal is appealing to students not only because the drinking age is 18 as opposed to 21 as in the states but there is simply just more to choose from than in Plattsburgh. The only setback is that some Caribbean students may need a Canadian visa depending on which country they are from. Students from islands like The Bahamas and St. Kitt’s and Nevis do not need a visa whereas students from Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago do need one.

* ‘bake and shark’ is a local dish from Trinidad and Tobago
* ‘soca’ is a form of dance music which originated in Trinidad and Tobago

Above: Flyer advertising ‘Testa Rossa’


Burlington is in Vermont which is the state bordering New York. It is about an hour by car from Plattsburgh. The trip requires you to take a ferry across Lake Champlain and then drive about 45 minutes to Burlington. Unlike Montreal the club and bar scene in Burlington is reserved for those who are 21 plus. However, this does not take away from the fact that there is an immense Caribbean vibrancy in the city. Venues such as Nectar’s and Red Square provide the Caribbean population in Burlington with ample entertainment to keep their desire for something Caribbean satisfied.

Nectar’s is located at 188 Main Street. Red Square is found at 136 Church Street. “The clubs in Burlington may not have a designated night for Caribbean music, but they play a lot of dancehall on a regular basis so you definitely don’t have to worry about hearing techno all night.” said Yasharae Pierre, a senior at PSU who says she loves the nightlife in Burlington.

Above: Red Square (left) and Nectar’s (right)

Plattsburgh "Plattsburgh has a little bit to offer us Caribbean folk,” said Jodi Powell, a PSU senior from Jamaica. “Places like ‘Green Room’ will play some ‘soca’ and dancehall but they don’t have anything that is strictly Caribbean. Then you have places like ‘Monopole’ and ‘Peabody’s’ that will often have reggae bands performing. ‘The Naked Turtle’ has a Thursday night dedicated to Caribbean music, but they only open during the summer months.” said Powell.

Whether it is going across the border, cruising over a lake or simply remaining in Plattsburgh, the North Country has enough Caribbean culture to delight the majority of Caribbean students. They just need to go a little extra way to get that enjoyment.

Credits: TK

Album review: fun.’s Aim & Ignite

By Alyse Whitney

Released on August 25th, 2009

Nate Ruess knows how to make a statement. Rather than returning to the music industry after the disbanding of indie rock favorite The Format with a haphazard solo career or newly compiled band, he decided to have some fun.

After the decision was made to put The Format on hiatus, front man Ruess turned to two of his closest friends – lead singer and guitarist Jack Antonoff of Steel Train and former Anathallo piano player, Andrew Dost – and experimented by taking a leap outside of the box. By combining multi-layered harmonies, rhythmic drumbeats, swelling violins, and a gospel choir, the arrangement of fun.’s debut LP, Aim & Ignite practically creates its own genre.

The record opens and closes with an explosion of emotion and soaring harmonies while throwing any semblance of traditional structure and tempo out the window. The unfamiliar sound of an accordion begins the opening track of “Be Calm,” cueing violins and the questioning tone of Ruess as he croons his lyrics. The irony of the lyrics (“I close my eyes, I tell myself to breathe and be calm”) and the ever-changing rhythm becomes apparent as the song quickly becomes anything but calm, picking up in tempo as soon as claps and marching band-esque beats enter the arrangement.

Although this was not released as an initial single for the band, the first transition of sweet ballad to up-tempo show-tune could easily be used as an overture for the album, illustrating just how frantic Nate Ruess can be.

While all three members of fun. contributed to the album, it becomes quite clear that Ruess is the dominant force behind its creation. Despite it being entirely different musically, a listener could easily be confused by the continuous nature of The Format’s 2006 album, Dog Problems, and fun.’s Aim & Ignite. Thankfully for Ruess, this time around, the lyrics are not cynical and breakup-fueled; instead, the album is filled with jumping violin beats and cheeky rhymes (“All the Pretty Girls”) and effortlessly beautiful piano-heavy arrangements (“The Gambler”) composed by Doth and arranger Roger Joseph Manning Jr., the former keyboardist of Jellyfish.

The combination of Manning Jr. and Dog Problems producer Steven McDonald created a strong base for fun. to build off of, layering horns upon Queen-inspired harmonized vocals along with mixed percussion and toe-tapping beats. After an initial listen, the album is a bit overwhelming and unexpected, but after the record spins on repeat a few times around, the effect is almost hypnotizing in its perfection. fun.’s decision to write and record in New York City allowed the band to see Broadway musicals every night, which provided strong influence for the album. In theory, the album (although only 42 minutes in length) could stand on its own as a full-fledged show due to Ruess’s theatrical nature and the stories, individual voices, and characters interwoven to create an absolutely stunning album. This show-tune like quality is strategically placed into each song, but shows its prominence in the uplifting “Barlights” as the gospel choir is cued up in the bridge, chanting the line, “I feel alive, I feel alive, I feel alive.” From that point on and into the chorus, the choir builds as Ruess repeats “see I’m gonna live forever” and they branch into three separate parts and end the song with an eruption of horns.

The album ends as strongly as it began with a song weighing in at 7 minutes and 51 seconds, cleverly titled “Take Your Time (Coming Home)”. Despite every element and instrument combined in a jumbled manner, each instrument is distinctive and has a solo, including Nate Ruess as he ends the song with a half-yelled, half-sung indistinct fade out of notes that leave the listener anxiously awaiting more. Although it only weighs in at ten tracks and just under 43 minutes, fun.’s debut speaks for itself, bringing together the art of show tunes and the indie-pop-rock feel that fans of The Format have been missing for the past three years.


By Cassandra Thomas

Product placement has been since 1908 when the earliest sign of a product in popular tunes was in famous baseball song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” by Jack Norworth with references to Cracker Jack.

For years, product placement has been lingering “behind the scenes” in movies, shows, and other forms of media; however, product placement in today’s music stands as powerful as word of mouth.

Most people want to be a celebrity or live that glamorous lifestyle. What better way to appeal to these “wanna-bes” by plopping the product into a mainstream song, giving it credibility. Songs like Busta Rhymes’s “Pass the Courvoisier” and Jamie Foxx’s “Blame It On” has contributed to the rise in liquor sales. The hit record “Blame It On” mentioned drinks like Grey Goose, Patron, Circo and Nuvo --- some of hip-hop’s famous liquors.

Once the youth are exposed to these name brands that are praised in their favorite songs, they will feel the need to purchase the product. According to the New York Times, Grey Goose sales went up 10 percent after Foxx’s well-known lyrics: “Blame it on the Goose, got you feeling loose.” The advertisement seems much more subtle and convincing in a popular hit single, making the propaganda less prominent. Courvoisier sales went up 20 percent a year after the song was released. Thank you, Busta.

With the help of money-hungry musicians, companies are able to expand by seamlessly placing their products in either a shot of a music video or in the lyrics of a song. The logic is simple: for every time the radio plays that song, an artist receives $1 to $5, which makes this strategy of advertising cheaper and more effective than the average in-your-face ads throughout daily life from the television set to a t-shirt.

All genres of music consist of product placement, but hip-hop and rap artists have been targeted to do most of the name-dropping in their upbeat tunes. For the past couple of years, there has been a collapse in hip-hop’s freshness --- materialism being the theme of every lyric, from cars to clothes. These artists jump at the chance to trade their lyrics to corporations to receive billions of dollars.

Artists are able to use their talent of wordplay and their popularity to sell off shelves of products. A five second reference to brand names like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and can boost sales as well as expose a product that doesn’t live up to the hype. Rappers Biggie Smalls and Jay-Z were always given Cristal champagne as props for their video; however, after helping owner Frederic Rouzand earn billions, Jay-Z later found out Rouzand was racist and took advantage of the hip-hop industry, which is more gullible to propaganda. Liquor companies like Dom Perignon and Krug jumped on the chance to take Cristal’s place.

There are plenty of songs we listen to whose products fly past our heads because we’re so accustomed to hearing them. Product placement can be obvious as it is in RUN DMC’s “My Adidas” or Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice,” but it can also be a silent as the Cadillac Escalade in Ludacris’s video “What’s Your Fantasy” or the clothing line The Billionaire Boy’s Club in all of Pharrell’s music videos. An artist that endorses a product deserves much more respect than an artist who gets paid by placing name brands in a song --- it kills the creativity of music.

This strategy advertising with product placement in our favorite tunes may seem ludicrous, but many of our beloved musicians are signing contracts and getting paid because listeners as well as followers fall victim to the tactic. If it wasn’t for the fans, artists would not be getting the paycheck they get today. Anyone would rap about a candy bar or sing about a condom just to be rewarded more than $30,000. So we can’t really blame the artist for that decision; we can only understand where they’re coming from. Next time you see Kanye West sporting the latest Louis Vuitton backpack, think about how much he’s getting paid and how much you’ll be spending.

Plattsburgh’s Best Dance Crew

By Nicole Weber

Plattsburgh’s Best Dance Crew is…(enter your dance crew’s name here). A dance off show, much like MTV’s daytime show America’s Best Dance Crew, also known as ABDC, will be held on September 23rd in E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium, of SUNY Plattsburgh, at 7 p.m. for the affordable price of free admission.

Brought to you by SUNY Plattsburgh’s Entertainment Committee on Activities Coordination Board, PBDC will hopefully be a “real big success,” said SUNY Plattsburgh’s Entertainment Committee’s Vice Chair Brett Williams. Williams adds that he hopes PBDC can become an annual event that will grow bigger and better with students’ support and interest.

PBDC was planned last semester because of the large interest in dance between the Entertainment Committee. Jimmy McKenna, Head Chair of SUNY Plattsburgh’s Entertainment Committee said. “It’s something different and students can get involved,” McKenna said.

As with ABDC, PBDC will go on a similar routine of performances, judging and cuts. All dance crews will be performing one number. The top three crews, remaining after cuts, will then perform their same act again. The top crew will be crowned and presented with a prize of $100 MasterCard each.

The host and photographer, Michael Cashman will be performing an “opening number”. “I love what the group [Entertainment Committee] is doing,” Cashman said. Also, be on the look out for pictures of the performing dance crews inside the Angell College Center.

The judges for this year’s PBDC will be Kara Lalonde, vice president of student activities; Bill Laundry; Corri Mathews, director of center of student involvement; and Penny Kendall from SUNY Plattsburgh’s Clinton Dinning Hall. McKenna explained that the Entertainment Committee wanted the judges to be people familiar to most of campus.

“I love to do these things,” said Kendall who can’t wait to see the performances. Kendall also said she expects to see a variety of dance styles. “(It’s) no fun seeing everyone doing the same thing”. Kendall has judged Mr. Plattsburgh in the past and would like to get involved with more student events in the future.

If you come to PBDC not only will you see the battle of the dance crews, but also performances by professional dance group. Group 616 is an urban, street-dance group from Chicago. 616 will perform several acts throughout the night as well as performing a teaser in the Amite Plaza at noon. This years dance crews are: Frank’s Phantom, the Visionaries, Fuji, Jedi Step and Dance Corps. Frank’s Phantom is a hip-hop, modern group who are among the cast and crew of Plattsburgh’s Rocky Horror Show. Their showcased dance for PBDC will be an actual act from the production. Frank’s Phantom consists of choreographer Antonette Knoedl, Emily Madan, Meigg Jupin and Tyler Rebello. The group is competing for fun, “everyone puts extra energy into it because it’s just for fun, Knoedl said.

The Visionaries include, choreographer Dharmit Laxman, Aymen Belazi, Danny Ye and Mirasad Amirov. The Visionaries, “have a vision to win.” We’re bringing out something special that people haven’t seen,” Amirov said. The visionaries claim to have moves that no one has on campus. B-boy breaking, hip-hop popping, with “funny theatrical” footwork is the definition of the Visionaries’ style. Fuji is a female Japanese dance group. Audiences might have seen this group perform before at SUNY Plattsburgh’s senior school play or Night of Nations last semester. However, the group has changed, losing a few members and gaining a few new ones. The group is now composed of leader Kana Kobayashi, Yukino Kamiyama, Aiko Takamoto, Tomomi Nagai and Miyu Otaka. You can expect to see shaking, popping as the group will perform a hip-hop, pop piece.

Jedi Step, from campus club Jedi Dance Production, is an all-female step team. Jedi Step consists of step captains and chorographers Jessica Ubiles and Habiba Braimah, and steppers Ashley Parris, Arielle Thurman and Nicole Renee Lewis.

Jedi Step is performing to win, as well, but are also performing to claim respect as a step team. “Rumor was that Jedi can’t step or dance,” Lewis said.

Jedi Dance Productions initially signed up a dance, rather than step, group as well, but failed to show to auditions.

Dance Corps is a hip-hop/ jazz /modern group. Choreographer Robb Roedel, Caroline LaFauei, Atum Gagne, Stacey Calcagni, Amber Parliament and Meghan Summerlin are also all from the campus club Dance Corps. Dance Corps’ crew uses the floor to create patterns and shapes, moving with the beats of the song. You can expect to see turns, jumps and even some stomps. Dance Corps performs, “a lot of different styles with energy,” Roedel said. He adds that as a group, Dance Corps has respect for other people, dancers, and styles.

Come support your favorite crew and enjoy the performance of professional dance group 616. The winning crew is decided by audience votes.

9 Reasons Not to See 9

By Nick Will

September 9th, 2009 (9-9-09 in calendar talk) saw the release of two anticipated elements in the entertainment world: The Beatles edition of Rockband and the movie “9”. Part of me wishes this review was about the former.

“9” is the feature version of a short film of the same title created in 2005 by Shane Acker and was published in the 2007 anthology of “The Animation Show.” The version in theaters is an adaptation of the original, a more expansive version. “9” takes place in after the fall of mankind. After being killed by their own a machines, mans’ last hope is a surviving scientist who traps his soul in 9 rag dolls as a last resort to preserve humanity. The story surrounds 9 rag doll characters; each ironically named #’s 1-9, who are fighting a machine named the Beast.

The movie is packed with high intensity fight sequences were 9 and his comrades fight immeasurable odds, including several duels with mechanical beasts ten times their size. Each combat sequence tends to end up the same though: 9 and his friends get beat up badly and happen to defeat the creature through a quick movement. For example, the fight sequence shown in the trailer includes 9 and 5 getting literally torn apart by a giant cat-like machine. In the end of the sequence however they are saved by the mysterious #7, the rag doll featured in the trailer with the bird skull over her face.

That being said, the movie’s plot lacks any real meaning, as we the viewer are lost in fight sequences. There is no clear explanation as to why 9 and his rag-time gang are fighting the beast; it is just shown that they are fighting. Other than a few glimpses into the past, viewers are left wondering how exactly it came down to 9 rag dolls and a giant god-like machine.

The film also lacked in the dialogue department. With voice acting by fan favorites such as John C. Reilly as 5 and Elijah Wood as 9 it is hard to think that you would be bored with the dialogue but, this film’s dialogue bores with gusto. The dialogue in the film is the same banter heard in any post-apocalyptic film, with such a back drop, one would think that emotions would run high. Maybe Acker should have stuck with the silent aspect of the original.

The visuals of the film are however amazing. The art and visual departments did a great job engaging us with the post-humanity staging; the areas were extremely beautiful in a dark way. A specific set that caught my attention was a church of some sort in which the characters take refuge from the beast during the middle if the film. The church itself is well designed, and the way that the lighting and fog effects were added definitely captured the feel of the scene. The film’s characters and gadgets were also delivered well with an extremely steam punk feel. The film looks great but looking good doesn’t excuse bad dialogue and boring plot.

Another thing to mention was the films misleading advertisements. First off, the cinematic previews for “9” featured music by the alternative rock group “Coheed and Cambria” and the film itself contained none of their work. Another thing to point out was a misleading tag the film was given: “This is not your little brother’s animated movie.” To me this was nothing but a film for children. Outside of a few dead bodies shown in the opening scenes, nothing in the film was portrayed as overly violent or dark.

Alright, so there aren’t nine reasons. But, a few is good enough. If you’re looking for a beautiful movie with great animation then this is it, but if plot matters to you then you should probably look somewhere else. Maybe when they claimed that this wasn’t our little brother’s animated film, what they really meant was that not even your little brother could enjoy it.

Travelling the Road to Success Barefoot

Barefoot Truth set high expectations for their 2010 release, Threads

By Andrew Beam

After performing at a pre-presidential debate rally at Hofstra University where Bruce Hornsby plays before them and David Crosby and Graham Nash plays after, then performing at a festival in Wyoming, Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin, the Mystic Connecticut quintet is set to release their latest album entitled Threads in 2010. A disc which harmonica player Garrett Duffy exclaims “Is going to make a huge splash.”

The band had a busy year as they toured around the country in 2008 with former member of Dispatch, Pete Francis, released two EP’s, one with Francis and one with female vocalist Nia Kete. While doing all of that, the band was able to head into the studio with producer Scott Riebling who Evans hesitantly admits has worked with bands such as Fall Out Boy. This did not take away the impact he had on the group. “He really pushed us to do another take and get the best one,” Evans says. “Just having an engineer who’s patient enough and who knows how to get out of you what you’re capable of without crushing your spirit. He’s very constructive.” The band took a different route for recording than they did with their 2007 release, Walk Softly, where instead of recording in analog, the band went digital. Duffy says the band still kept the process they’ve done in the past by recording the songs onto Pro-tools and putting them on tape in order to keep an organic sound. “We’ve taken an analog approach to digital.”

The band decided to go with digital recording since they feel that it is the direction recording is heading in. “To compete with bands these days, you have to keep up on things like Pro-Tools,” Duffy says, “You want to compete with the best.” Both Evans and Duffy describe the album has having a much cleaner and “polished” sound. This isn’t solely due to the new recording process, but also because they’re more experienced. “I think people will really notice an improvement in this album on our part as musicians,” Evans says, “I think we’ve gotten a lot better and tighter as a group as well.”

The band has come a long way from the beaches in Mystic where Will Evans and Driscoll first started composing songs for what is now the five person group. While they were still a duo, they released Changes In The Weather in 2005. Evans didn’t see a future for these stripped down acoustic tracks him and Driscoll were playing. In fact, he wasn’t looking too far past that summer. “I envisioned playing the bars in the summer,” Evans says, “I certainly had no sights beyond the next summer. We just did it. We weren’t like, ‘This is the best thing in the world.’ We were just having fun and people seemed to enjoy it.”

After three years of playing just between the two of them, the duo began to slowly accumulate more members. Just as Evans and Driscoll began discussing adding an upright bass to the mix, classically trained jazz-bassist Andy Wrba came into the picture. Wrba attended a Barefoot Truth gig and introduced himself to the guys after the set. After that things progressed smoothly. “We got together and jammed one time and that was pretty much it from there,” Evans describes. “I think we had a gig the next day and we’re like, ‘Wanna come play with us?’ We wrote the songs out for him on the car ride there, and he’s got a great photographic memory so he learned songs quickly.”

Duffy made his way into the band after going to school with Evans at St. Michaels College in Vermont, where the two began holding jam sessions and Evans discovered Duffy’s talent as a harp [harmonica] player. “He ended up coming to some shows just for the ride and to get away from campus for the weekend,” Evans says, “He would sit in and he really caught on to the whole business of things.” Duffy, while being the lead harmonica player, became the band’s business manager. “He’s the business guy of the group and he’s the most band looking guy of all of us.” With Long curly hair, a wool-knit hat, a scraggly beard, and a long-sleeved flannel, it would be hard to see Duffy as business savvy. “He was a business major, and for his senior project he did the band,” Evans says. “He’s taking the role with handling the merchandise, which is helpful for sure. The fact he’s a great harp player is awesome.”

After incorporating Wrba and Duffy, the group recorded Walk Softly, where Wrba was able to throw his jazz influence into the mix of reggae, folk, and blues that Barefoot Truth all ready had in place. This is what came to create what the band likes to call “Roots Rock.” Songs like “Reelin’” and “Broken Road” showcased the diversity and the very rare lead harmonica that is prevalent in bands like Blues Traveler. The band began touring and noticing that people had really taken a liking to their live show. “I’ve had people tell me they like the songs live way better than the CD,” Evans says with a laugh.

Duffy would agree, as he admits that their live show is their “best asset”. “With five people, we can do some fun things,” he explains. “With our feel-good, upbeat songs, you can see the energy pick up in the crowd.” Evans has learned that when playing for a crowd the band cannot be playing for themselves, they have a job they need to accomplish. “People come out and they play money to see you. You have to entertain them,” he says. “You’ve got to make them happy.”

The band is ready to make their fans even happier as they ready the release of Threads in February of 2010. “These songs are going to propel us to the next level,” Duffy says excitingly. “We’re setting ourselves up well organizationally.” The album is varied in the styles it contains, as it includes a horn section that livens up their jazz side. “We bring it back to the classic ‘white reggae’ feel, that roots-rock vibe,” Evans says as he describes the album, “Also, we’ve been getting more into the Weissenborn stuff with Jay, going towards more of a John Butler Trio/Ben Harper style.”

They have acquired a new piano player, Wayno, who has played with the band for a few live shows. “We would always ask him to sit in if we had a bigger show,” Evans says. “He graduated last year so we took him on full time this summer.” Unfortunately, Wayno will not be on the new album since he was unavailable due to being in school. “We’ve got a big influence from Wayno,” Duffy says, “He brings the element of jazz with Andy.”

For 2009 and 2010, the band is hopeful that they will expand in the markets they have been playing in, like the New England area, as well as building up their fan club which is called “The Barefoot Collective” where they have 500 members from all over the world. Still, the band is not trying to rush into things by any means. “We’ll take it as it comes,” Evans says, “We don’t want to kill ourselves trying to get big; we want it to happen naturally.”

What do the new exchange students make of Plattsburgh?

By Daniel Ring

What do the new exchange students make of Plattsburgh?

According to the SUNY Plattsburgh website, the university ‘is a balanced environment that is conducive to learning and filled with opportunities’ but how does it compare to universities overseas? Forget ‘student satisfaction ratings’ we want the real stories from those that have lived and worked on several campuses. So who better to turn to than our very own international exchange students? Several students from Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia answered several questions about what is life is like on their home campuses and how Plattsburgh fares in comparison.

On Nightlife

Nightlife in Plattsburgh is predominantly bar focussed, which can is restricting for younger students seeing as the legal drinking age is 21. However, there are non alcoholic nights in places like Karma which provide a club atmosphere for people 18 and over. Pub crawls (an organized trail through different pubs/bars, they are a staple feature of UK university nightlife) don’t tend to occur. How does this compare to the nights out at their own universities?

Matt (University of East Anglia, UK)
‘There tends to be a mixture of nights on campus and in the town though I personally prefer the pubs. There are plenty close to the student housing and often have special deals on. We also have huge, company organized pub crawls like Carnage. In Plattsburgh there isn’t any nightlife unless the you create it yourself, thankfully the students here are very good at that.’

Julianna (University of Prince Edward Island, Canada)
‘The drinking age in my province is 19 so people so we tend to have more house parties rather than nights out in the town. We don’t really have anything organized on campus like at Plattsburgh, though its smaller so it’s easier to meet more people.’

Most universities have a particular drink that everyone loves, it’s usually something in plentiful supply, cheap and normally rather potent. Unfortunately the one thing it normally isn’t is tasty. At Plattsburgh it tends to be whatever anyone can get hold of, but what did the exchange students normally drink at home?

Leanne (University of Alberta, Canada)
It has to be Silver Beer, it’s cheap, nasty and everyone in my faculty drinks it.

‘Everyone drinks Snakebite (cider and lager with a dash of Blackcurrant cordial) but I prefer just straight Strongbow.’

Andy (University of Central Lancashire, UK)
‘Fat Frogs, its just dirty mix of every alcho-pop going. A great way to start off the night!’

Emma (University of Queensland, Australia)
‘XXXX lager, named as such because you can’t put shit on the can!’

On Shopping

Plattsburgh has several offerings when it comes to shopping in the city. There is the downtown area with several independent stores such as ‘DressCode’ and ‘Under One Roof’. There is also the Mall and a large Walmart nearer the outskirts of the town.

‘There are lots of independent high-end stores in Edmonton, and West Edmonton mall, the biggest mall in the world, is a 20min bus ride from the center. Plattsburgh is very different, I haven’t seen anywhere near the same variety and i think that is reflected in people’s fashion on campus.’

‘My university is located right in the city center so it is very close to the shopping center. However, it’s quite expensive because, being the capital, there is a lot of tourism. Students tend to shop on the west-end. My personal favorites are Dotti, Elle and Topshop. Plattsburgh is a lot cheaper, as a student I prefer it.’

‘Preston has two main shopping areas, the high street where there is more independent stuff and the mall for the more commercial stores. It’s a good mixture, with plenty of stores catered for students. I find that the stores in Plattsburgh are focussed more towards the Plattsburgh locals.

On Music

Whilst Plattsburgh doesn’t have a lot of big names play at the university, an inquisitive student will discover that the surrounding area has a some of local talent and Montreal is also a good place to go to discover something new. However, the university doesn’t really promote anything and it as such it’s difficult students especially foreign ones to really discover anything in the area.

‘UEA is one of the best universities in the country for live music, a lot of big names in the UK such as The Arctic Monkeys, Scouting for Girls and The Killers have played there. I haven’t seen the live music scene at Plattsburgh yet but everyone seems to play RnB here!’

‘We have a lot of student bands rather than big names. However there are a lot of music festivals close by in Brisbane and we get a lot of student discounts because of that. Unfortunately I haven’t heard anything about live music at Plattsburgh.’

‘I haven’t really experienced the music scene at Plattsburgh, they don’t really advertise it. We have quite a lot of Canadian live music such as Metric, Wintersleep and Sam Roberts.’

So according to our exchange students it seems as if Plattsburgh has a very different culture and atmosphere to most places abroad. Unfortunately it looks as if many of these other universities offer better services that on campus and in the local surronding area. Thankfully the university is in a good position to travel from; Montreal and New York City are easily accessible. In the meantime, perhaps SUNY Plattsburgh needs to see what it can provide in order to be a more attractive campus to all students, both local and international.

A typical scene on a ‘Carnage’ pub crawl in Norwich.