"I read the news today, oh boy . . . "
June 19, 2008 (Mark): As our loyal PS mailing subscribers already know, this Friday's show at the Electric Company in Utica will be our last one until the Spring of 2009 -- so we're looking forward to putting a little extra "oomph" into this one to see us through until the machine comes out of the garage again next year.
November 8, 2007 (John): Hi Everybody--Thought I'd take a minute to let you know what we've been up to lately. Jon Liebing continues to work on his latest masterpiece--the songs Mark and I have heard are very good--this project won't disappoint Jon's hard core fans--and I'm sure it'll win him some new ones, too! Mark Barnes has just returned from Seattle, where he's been solidifying his legend as a lead guitarist extraordinaire. For those of you who haven't checked it out, Mark is at the helm of the Beatgear Cavern website (www.beatgearcavern.com) and has earned the respect and friendship of Beatles fans all over the world. It's great to have a Renaissance man in the band. I took some time to do a play (Macbeth) at the Capitol Theatre in Rome NY, and have been playing some solo gigs on the Martin D41 just to get back to my roots . We'll be flying to Chicago at the end of the month and this time the band will travel together. Jon's private driver is in retirement and the rock star will ride coach with his back up band this time--see ya.
August 26, 2007 (Mark): We've been spending a lot of time in Western NY lately, and this weekend saw us on an overnight jaunt to the Finger Lakes region for a date at the Shamrock Inn in Honeoye, NY. Good to see some familiar faces from the Rochester area, including Clare & Mark (who've now made two blog entries in a row! ;-) ), not to mention our hostess, Donna Mills. Huge thanks as well to our old friends, the Fitzpatricks, for making the 130 mi. trip out from Rome, NY just to dance the night away to the music of the Beatles (we're proud to claim some of the BEST folks as PS fans!). On Sept. 14, we'll be back on the road to Rochester (private party, sorry!), and will see what fate has in store for us between then and a scheduled trip to Chicago on Dec. 1.
July 29, 2007 (Mark): Been a busy several weeks for us, with trips to Delhi, Rochester & Johnstown, NY, and a couple of local gigs here in the Utica area. A very special "shout-out" to our friends Clare & Mark in Rochester, NY for the superb "above & beyond the call of duty" hospitality extended to us while visiting their fair city for a pair of shows on June 30; the kindness of these top-notch people in making us feel at home while away from home was most humbling and greatly appreciated. :-) Thanks, too, to the folks from Johnstown who made the long drive west on I-90 to see our show in Utica last Saturday . . . This Thursday night, we'll be making a rare (and long-overdue) appearance in Syracuse, with an 8PM show at local music hot-spot SHIFTY'S -- looking forward to it!
June 1, 2007 (Mark): Easy to let time get away from you, isn't it? We were honored to be invited to help celebrate the birthday of our good friend, Jenn Marro, in Ilion, NY last weekend. She and her husband Mike -- both wonderful people -- have been great supporters of PS since the beginning, and it was good to get to have the chance to spend a bit of time with them & their friends/family over the Memorial Day weekend. This Saturday, we're headed south to Delaware County for a return engagement as the featured entertainment at SUNY-Delhi's annual Alumni Weekend. Seems there's an inordinate number of Beatles fans among the alumni & staff, and we're very pleased to have been invited back this year. Our next "local" gig will be at the Utica (NY) Music Festival on Mon., June 18. Before the year is out, we'll also be traveling to Syracuse, Rochester (and its environs) and the Chicago area (for the second straight year). There's more in the works, so please stay tuned!
February 8, 2007 (Mark): Happy to report that a great time was had by all last Sat. night in Whitesboro. Many thanks to the lovely "Merlot girls" for their unswerving dedication to "the cause", to George Gleason and his crew for the excellent sound, lighting and technical support, to the fine management & staff of the "Steakhouse" for all their hospitality and many courtesies and, finally, to all of our good friends who braved single-digit temperatures to join us in celebrating the music of the Fab Four. Next up on the calendar is a return "home" to the Electric Company on March 24. In the meantime, we're going to make good use of our time to rehearse some new material we've been looking forward to showing off, and we'll see you when Spring has "sprung."
January 16, 2007 (Mark): Well, you asked for it, you've got it! We'd planned on taking a couple of months off but, thanks to your very persuasive emails, telephone calls, blackmail, bribes, etc., we've had a change of heart and have accepted an invitation to appear at the cavernous Rt. 69 Steakhouse in Whitesboro, NY on Saturday, Feb. 3rd for a 10PM show. Take note: This will be a "RBS" ("really big shoe"), with Jon atop his dizzying drum riser and sound engineer extraordinaire George Gleason behind the mixing console, so please don't dissapoint us by not turning up to witness this spectacle! And, for those who haven't seen it (and thanks to the wonder of YouTube), PLASTIC SOUL'S nonsensical "2006 Christmas Message" video (taped at The Electric Company in Utica, NY on Dec. 16) may be viewed here. Those browsing the Photos page of the site will see a number of new photographs, many of which were taken at our Electric Co. show this past December (thanks, Mare!), with a couple of "oldies" thrown in for good measure.
December 12, 2006 (Mark): Newsletter subscribers should have our latest email update with details of this weekend's show at the Electric Company in Utica. It's our last scheduled outing of the year, and we plan to end 2006 with a thud . . . er, BANG! That show will also give yours truly a chance to debut the Rickenbacker 12-string guitar that turned up on the doorstep a few weeks ago.
The biggest PS news of recent weeks was our trip to Chicago IL over the weekend of Dec. 2 to perform for a McDonald's Corp. holiday party. As fate would have it, our visit to the "Windy City" coincided with a nasty winter storm in the Midwest, and the weekend got off to an uncertain start when John & I were unable to get a flight into O'Hare on Friday afternoon. We ended up having to arise at four in the morning on Sat. to catch an early flight, and arrived at the venue just a few hours before soundcheck. The gig, which took place at a grand old hotel in nearby St. Charles, was a blast -- and, with the help of an enthusiastic and energetic crowd, we shook the rafters of an elegant ballroom which had previously hosted concerts by the likes of Tommy Dorsey, Guy Lombardo, Louis Armstrong and Lawrence Welk. Our kind hosts couldn't have been more wonderful to work with, and it was a real treat to perform for this first-class event -- and to see our good friend and Mohawk Valley native Tim Fenton.
The day after the show (Sunday), Jon and traveling companion Don Walda made their way home, while Smales and I ventured downtown for a bit of sightseeing before flying back to Syracuse on Monday. Despite the frigid temperature and bone-chilling wind (albeit under sunny skies), we walked about a mile from our hotel on S. Michigan Ave. over to the Field Museum to have a look at the amazing King Tut exhibition. (You have to get a bit of culture here and there, you know. ;-)) We had lots of company on our walk, as the Bears were hosting the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field, right next door to the museum. Later, we taxied around the city a bit before capping the evening (and an exciting weekend for Plastic Soul) with a decadent meal at the Capital Grille on N. St. Clair Street.
Looking forward to Saturday!
October 6, 2006 (Mark): Hello, everyone -- here's the lastest PLASTIC SOUL news (aren't you excited?) ;-) :
Rochester, NY on Oct. 14. On Saturday, October 14, we'll return to Rochester, NY for a 9PM show at Johnny's Irish Pub. In addition to being a good friend of ours & a huge Beatles fan, proprietor Johnny Savino is an excellent host -- with Guinness on tap at just the right temperature! :-) We've thoroughly enjoyed all our visits to the Rochester area, and look forward to seeing and performing once again for our many friends there. Call (585) 224-0990 for more info.
"Cavern Night" Oct. 21. The following week (Sat., October 21), will have us closer to home for another of our famous "Cavern Nights" at the Valley Brook Lounge on Seneca Turnpike in New Hartford, NY. Hard to believe it's been ten months since the last one! For the uninitiated, the concept behind "Cavern Night" is to recreate in some small way the vibe of the Beatles' early shows at the Cavern Club in their native Liverpool, UK. It's great fun for us and our audience to loosen up (more than usual, that is!) & enjoy the music of the Beatles in such an informal & "up-close-and-personal" setting. Showtime on the 21st is 10PM and, as has become our custom, we'll bring along some special prizes from the Plastic Soul rare music vault to give away. Seating is quite limited and available only on a "first come, first serve" basis. The club WILL be at capacity, so please plan to arrive early!
PS on "YouTube." A video clip taken from our "Concert Series for Life" television taping last May -- which aired on ABC, FOX and UPN here in the Mohawk Valley in June -- is now up for easy online viewing on YouTube.
Thanksgiving-time show? At the moment, we're kicking about the possibility of organizing a show sometime during the week of Thanksgiving. If anyone has any suggestions/ideas along those lines, please drop us an email.
August 11, 2006 (Mark): Two new bookings today, including what will be our third annual trip to Johnny's Irish Pub in Rochester, NY on Sat. October 14 (see "appearances" page for details) . . .
July 26, 2006 (Mark): We have a new video up on our audio/video page, from our recent "Concert Series for Life" television appearance, produced by Rick E. Lewis and UticaTV -- check it out! Next week -- Thursday, Aug. 3 to be exact -- we have a rare midweek show at what we consider to be our second home, the Electric Company in Utica, NY. The Saranac Thursday business out on Varick Street will have just concluded by the time we take the stage at 8PM (early, for those of you who don't want to be up all night!), and everyone knows (just ask our friend Zee, proprietor of the EC) that the REAL summertime Thursday "event" is always at the Electric Co. afterwards. On the 11th, we'll be back in Rochester for a private engagement, before we decide what we're going to do with ourselves this Autumn . . .
July 10, 2006 (Mark): Had quite a time this past Saturday on our first visit to Honeoye, located about 30 mi. south of Rochester. You never know what to expect as strangers rolling into a new town, but Donna & Andy Mills & Co. made us feel like old friends from the moment we turned up at the Shamrock Inn. The genuinely-friendly hospitality and food were both terrific! Wonderful to see & chat with some old friends -- including Clare, Mark, Nancy & Barbara -- who made the drive down from "Rachacha." Thanks, also, to Dave & Eileen Clement for the very comfortable overnight accomodations in nearby Bristol. As our schedule is shaping up, it looks like we'll be seeing more of you nice folks out that way in the coming year. Incidentally, it seems that our "overnight" gigs out-of-town are never without a tumultuous "event" of some sort, as there was a violent one-car crash right outside our roadside window at about 3AM! Fortunately, no one appeared to be hurt, but we had the lights and engine noise of emergency vehicles competing with a much-needed rest for our attention for the next couple of hours! Finally, remember: we have an EARLY (8:00 p.m.) show scheduled at the Electric Company in Utica, NY on Thursday, Aug. 3.
July 3, 2006 (Mark): Wow! Has it really been five months since we've "blogged" for y'all? Sorry about that -- but we'll do our best to bring you up to date. Let's see: In May, we joined several of our fellow local musicians in the "Concert Series for Life" to raise a bit of money for the Cancer Society. For those who may have missed it, a TV special featuring excerpts of the four-week series -- produced by our good friend, Rick Lewis -- aired here locally on June 10, with yer pals opening the telecast with "A Hard Day's Night" (we should have video clip available soon). The 3rd of June found us playing for an enthusiastic and interesting group of alumni at SUNY-Delhi. We made another campus visit last Saturday (7/1) -- a "posh" gig for some very nice folks at Hamilton College in nearby Clinton, NY -- where we debuted our rendition of "Birthday", and swung a piano out on stage for the first time for a command performance of "Hey Jude." Next Saturday (7/8) has PLASTIC SOUL visiting the greater-Rochester area once again for a show at the Shamrock Inn in Honeoye. We're told that some of the friends we've made during past visits to that area will be in attendance, and we're looking forward to it! As for the future: We'll be back at "home base" -- the Electric Company in Utica -- for an 8PM show on Thursday, Aug. 3 (this is the "early" show many of you have been asking for!). We're excited, too, to be planning a trip to Chicago, IL for a private corporate show in December. Stay tuned for further PS news and, in the meantime, we wish you a happy and healthy Fourth of July and summer season . . .
Feb. 4, 2006 (John): This gig never gets old--the Electric Company is always a musical house and I think Jon and Mark will agree when I say we could've played all night for that crowd. Too many names to mention everyone, but thank you all for coming out and making it a fun night for us. . . Thanks to John Castello and Jason Schnitt for opening, and it was great to see (and hear) WOUR-FM's Jerry Kraus again-thanks for the best intro we've ever had, Doc! Thanks to Anne & Lisa, The Fitzpatricks and of course the beautiful "Merlot Girls," whose support and love we truly appreciate-thank you ladies! Honorable mention must go out to the best sound man around- "Magic" Lyman Christensen & Daryl Barron, our roadie and protector-a loyal teammate since my younger stage-diving Carnival Dogs days-a wilder, yet innocent time gone by-thanks for pulling me out of the shark's mouth on more than one occasion, Mr. Barron! Finally I want to say that Mark Barnes and Jon Liebing kicked ass-I'm amazed by the energy and physical commitment you bring to these shows every time the "circus comes to town." SMALES OUT
Jan. 29, 2006 (Mark): What a Saturday night at the Electric Company . . . cool opening set of original music by Clinton's John Castello (joined by the Reuben James' Jason Schnitt on one tune) . . . after a splendid introduction by our old friend, WOUR-FM's Jerry Kraus, it was "off to the races" . . . fun once again to do an acoustic intermission - "Across the Universe," "Strawberry Fields Forever" & "Yesterday" . . . had the chance to meet many new folks during intermission and afterward . . . attendees came from as far as Batavia, Cooperstown, Rochester & the Hudson Valley (NY) to see the show . . . all bias aside, PS fans are some of the warmest and kindest folks I've had the privilege to meet . . . thanks, as always, to all those who came out, to Zee & the fine staff of the Electric Company, and to our excellent crew, Lyman Christensen (sound) & Daryl Barron (stage) . . . looking forward to a return engagement at the EC on April 7 . . .
Dec. 21, 2005 (Mark): Many thanks to all those who turned up at the VB for "Cavern Night" last Friday. Clancy Connors was kind enough to come along with us for an amazing opening solo acoustic set . . . he writes some wonderful songs and performs them incredibly well. Nice, as always, to see so many old friends, and to make a few new ones, too. Next up for us in January is a return engagement at Utica's Electric Company on Sat. the 28th, which gives us a chance to do the "big shew" again . . .
Dec. 11, 2005 (John): Gloversville blew us away last night -- the folk at the "Our Glass" really know how to make a group of strangers feel at home. Thanks to Tony Ficili and the gang for making our trek east a success. The response was warm and welcoming from load in-to count in-to encore. Liebing was in top form on the Ringo tunes -- just close your eyes on "With a Little Help from my Friends" and you'll swear you're in the room with Wayne Newton. The fact that he only needed one fan and three or four "flop towels" tells me winter is really kickin' in. Barnes, debonair as ever in his black jacket, really ripped it up on "Everybody's Tryin'," "And Your Bird Can Sing," and "Roll over Beethoven." Playing bass between two legends is always fun, but the warmth of the crowd, especially those "perty" Gloversville girls dancin' in front of me, made the night very special indeed. Next weekend, we're back at the Brook for a close encounter of the "Kenny Kind" in New Hartford. If you haven't been to one of our Cavern Nights- come on out and get Liebing's autograph-and, if you're lucky, you just might rub elbows with Mr. Barnes in between sets, too. ---- The Youngest One
Dec. 9, 2005 (Mark): Tomorrow, we'll be heading down the Thruway for a show in Gloversville, NY. The venue, cleverly called "Our Glass," is a very cool little club that's quickly developed a reputation as a real "hot spot" for musical entertainment in that area, drawing acts from throughout the region and New England. Owner Tony Ficili, a huge Beatles fan and musician himself, approached us several months ago about coming out to that neck of the woods to do a show; and we're looking forward to finally being able to make that happen tomorrow night. We'll have some gory details for readers of this page when we return . . .
As our mailing list subscribers already know, we've decided to celebrate the holiday season by hosting another of our very special "Cavern Nights" along with Kenny at the Valley Brook. Friday, December 16 is the date, so mark your calendars . . .
BTW, John S. keeps threatening to post to this blog, so stay tuned . . . ;-)
Dec. 8, 2005 (Mark): Just got home from a late dinner meeting and, thinking about the awful events of twenty-five years ago this evening, wanted (needed?) to hear some of JL's music. So, I immediately popped the Imagine CD into the player. What a collection of songs! Aside from the title track, "Oh My Love" in particular is so simple, and stunningly beautiful!
My initial thought was to play Double Fantasy, but it transports me to a terribly melancholy season even under the best of circumstances, and I really don't want to go "there" tonight.
Something from the Beatle years will go on next.
Nov. 13, 2005 (Mark): Those of you who've been here before will notice that we've done some major renovations to the site over the past week. We're trying to get things a bit more organized, provide some additional content and, in general, make it easier for y'all to navigate the site and find what you're looking for. We hope the new look meets with your approval and makes your visits here more enjoyable . . .
Nov. 6, 2005 (Mark): Well, it's Sunday -- one day later than this blog was due to be resumed, but we needed the rest! A synopsis of the weekend? Let's see . . . Friday night's performance was definitely "live" -- including the part where my Neumann vocal mic went flying off the stand during the third song ("From Me to You"). Then again near the end of the night when the power went out just as we were starting "Two of Us." (To keep the show going, we leaned out into the crowd and did the song completely "unplugged," singing loudly with just a J-160E (acoustic guitar) and Jon tapping lightly on the drums for accompaniment). Thank God that power was quickly restored! Kudos to Jon L. -- the seasoned pro that he is -- who battled valiantly through a nagging cold like it didn't exist.
A classy crowd and most gracious host (thanks, Johnny!) made for a very enjoyable evening. After the show (and over a Guinness off the tap in a proper glass), I had fun telling Johnny how Rochester's most famous resident and benefactor, George Eastman (founder of Eastman-Kodak), was born and grew up in my little hometown of Waterville, NY.
After enjoying some good company and luxurious overnight accomodations in town, John S. and I drove the next morning over to Rochester's world-famous House of Guitars. We were fortunate to catch up with author/musician Andy Babiuk, who very kindly spent about an hour-and-a half chatting with us about his Beatles Gear book -- one of the best "coffee-table" tomes I've encountered, and "the Bible" of the Beatles' instruments, amplifiers & other musical gear (John and I both own dog-eared copies of it). Andy's an absolutely swell guy, with some unbelievable knowledge and experiences under his belt. John and I were really knocked out that he spent so much time with us on Saturday. At the moment, he's working on a similar book about the Rolling Stones and their gear; and we'll look forward to adding that work to our collections as well . . .
While at the "HOG," Andy B. unlocked the vault and gave both John and I the chance to play an Epiphone Texan reissue -- exactly like the one he used to record "Yesterday" -- HAND-SIGNED by Paul McCartney (believe they're asking something like a new car price for that one!). John ran through a few bars of "Yesterday" and "Junk" (a Paul solo tune); and I had a go at "Mother Nature's Son" and "Step Inside Love." An excellent way to cap off a fun road trip!
Next up for us is a Dec. 10 trip to the "518" area code -- Gloversville, NY to be exact. Stay tuned for details!
Nov. 3, 2005 (Mark): Tomorrow afternoon, we'll be headed down I-90 West 100 miles or so to Rochester for a 9PM show Friday night at Johnny's Irish Pub. The owner -- named "Johnny" oddly enough! -- is a huge Beatles fan; and he has live music at his club up to four nights a week. After hearing some of our website sound clips, he invited us out to play there in July 2004. Well, we had such a great time, we couldn't resist Johnny's kind invitation for a return engagement this year. We're really looking forward to the trip, and the chance to see some of our Western NY friends (not to mention a Guinness or two after the show). A full report will follow when we get home on Saturday . . .
Oct. 29, 2005 (Mark): Our very first PS blog entry! What an excellent time we had playing at the Stanley Theater on Thursday night (10/27) . . . still recovering from the "high" of performing at such a great venue for such a warm and enthusiastic crowd . . . amazing how the music of the Beatles seems to put everyone in a good mood . . . Jon played the Ludwig drum kit so hard that his hands were bleeding . . . thanks to John Castello, who as always did a wonderful job in his opening set of original music . . . thanks also to our friends and confidantes Lyman Christensen and Daryl Barron for all their help with the show . . . very cool to wake up on Friday morning to see our mugs plastered on page one of the Utica Observer-Dispatch's local section, along with the much-prettier faces of three of our very own "Merlot Girls" (bedecked for Halloween in their "witch" costumes and wigs). Hey -- isn't there some irony in a Beatles "tribute" show where the audience wears wigs and the band doesn't? ;-)