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Plan your First Night

December 10, 2011
By CHRIS MORRIS and JESSICA COLLIER - Staff Writers , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - The holidays are here, and that means First Night Saranac Lake isn't far away. Saranac Lake is one of 75 communities across the U.S. that participates in First Night, a family-friendly, alcohol-free way to ring in the New Year, with an emphasis on arts, culture and music.

Twelve venues in Saranac Lake will host events this year. To gain entry, participants need to purchase a First Night 2012 button. They cost $12 and are available at Coakley High Peaks Ace Hardware, Ampersound Music, Price Chopper in Lake Placid, Books & Baskets, Blue Line Sports, the Enterprise and the Lake Placid Visitors and Convention Bureau. Buttons must be worn in a visible place to ensure fast and easy access to all venues.

The evening gets under way at 5:45 p.m. Dec. 31 with an opening ceremony on the steps of the Harrietstown Town Hall. From 6 to 11 p.m., venues across Saranac Lake will host a variety of performances. Additionally, the Elks Club will host a dance for teenagers from 8 to 10 p.m. The evening concludes with a ball drop and fireworks show at midnight.

Article Photos

People dance to Mango Jam in the Harrietstown Town Hall at First Night on Dec. 31, 2009.
(Enterprise file photo — Peter Crowley)

Participants should note that food and beverages are not permitted at any venue, except where sold at on-site concessions. Seating is first-come, first-served. The following is a preview of all performers, sorted by venue.

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Adirondack Artists' Guild

Article Links

Adam Falkner

8 and 9 p.m.

Adam is a New York City-based performance poet who deals with topics from the murder of one of his fellow public high school teachers to his affinity, as a young man, for the rap group Wu-Tang Clan. He aims to highlight themes like educational reform, social identity and equality. He recently performed at both Paul Smith's College and North Country Community College, he's performed on national TV, and he's also been published in a number of anthologies and journals. To hear or watch some of Falkner's work, go to www.adamfalknerarts.com.

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BluSeed Studios

Bee's Kneez

7 and 8 p.m.

Saranac Lake native Caroline Couture met Danny Golub at Purchase College, where they both studied studio composition. This engaged couple have been writing and performing original music for more than four years, first as members of other performing groups and then together as Bee's Kneez, citing artists like Ben Folds, Feist and Kings of Convenience as influences. They've got a full album in the works, but you can hear some of their songs and pick up EPs at www.beeskneezmusic.com.

Paul Rishell & Annie Raines

9 and 10 p.m.

Annie Raines first performed with Paul Rishell 19 years ago at a Boston bar. Since then, the duo has logged hundreds of thousands of miles on the road in the U.S. and Europe and recorded three albums. Born in Boston, Raines first started playing blues harmonica at 17 and a short while later took the stage at the 1369 Jazz Club in Cambridge, Mass. Rishell was born in Brooklyn and started playing drums at the age of 10, when his feet still couldn't reach the pedals. His early influences were centered around surfer music, but he soon turned to country blues, learning the guitar in the early 1970s before moving to Cambridge. Check out videos of the duo at their website, www.paulandannie.com.

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First Presbyterian Church

Julie Robards & A Fine Mix

7 and 8 p.m.

Julie Robards of Upper Jay first started performing as a church song leader in 1985, and later rediscovered her love of old-time traditional bluegrass and classic country. Now she performs with the band A Fine Mix, which features her on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Russ Mulvey of Wilmington on bass, Larry Stone of Wilmington on guitar and Max VanWie of Elizabethtown on mandolin.

Woody Pines

9 and 10 p.m.

Woody Pines brings their blend of ragtime and rhythm and blues to Saranac Lake all the way from Asheville, N.C. The band consists of Woody Pines on guitar, banjo, harmonica and lead vocals; Zack Pozebanchuk, upright bass; Darin Gentry, fiddle; and Nathan Taylor, drums. Years ago, Pines moved to New Orleans to soak in the swinging, ragtime tunes in the old French Quarter. They've played together for more than two years, and you can hear more at www.woodypines.com.

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First United Methodist Church

Crabgrass Puppet Theatre

6 and 7 p.m.

The Crabgrass Puppet Theatre will perform Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky," the fantastical poem from "Through the Looking Glass" about a knight slaying a dreaded monster. This award-winning touring puppet group founded 29 years ago by Jamie Keithline and Bonny Hall of Halifax, Vt. They can be seen performing "Mr. Punch's Christmas Carol" this weekend at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. For more information on the group, go to www.crabgrasspuppets.com.

Jay Montepare

9, 10 and 11 p.m.

If you need to rest your dancing feet, check out Jay Montepare's brand of unabashed physical comedy that features sporadic, off-the-cuff audience interplay. After getting his start in Boston, Montepare became a regular at Hollywood Improv and Comedy Juice shows in Los Angeles. He's also a regular at the World Famous Comedy Store, the Laugh Factory and the Icehouse. Some fans might remember him from the pay-per-view special "The Rebels of Comedy." More at www.jaymontepare.com.

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Saranac Lake Free Library

Pecos Bill

6 and 7 p.m.

Pecos Bill is Richard Stillman, a multi-talented performer who wows audiences with his singing, dancing, storytelling and instrumentalism. His program are fast-paced and colorful, and feature extensive audience participation. Stillman tells stories of the Wild West and the Oregon Trail through song and dance, playing guitar, banjo and mandolin along the way. And if that's not enough, his show has cowboy hat tricks, rope spinning and clog dancing. This program is geared toward all ages. Check out Pecos Bill online at encoreperforming.com/rs.htm.

Steve Langdon

8 and 9 p.m.

Close your eyes, and Steven Langdon's style of gritty blues conjures up images of a bygone era. His music draws from 1920s and '30s Delta and Piedmont blues, mixing in influences from modern rhythm and blues and bluegrass. Langdon has been performing locally and abroad for two decades; in the late 1990s, he took his act to northern Germany with the Professor Washboard Band.

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Harrietstown Town Hall

Mango Jam

9, 10 and 11 p.m.

This Vermont group will heat up First Night with some Cajun-spiced grooves. From Vermont, Mango Jam incorporates zydeco, Cajun, New Orleans rhythm-and-blues, ska and reggae, and features original songs by guitarist and vocalist Josie Ritter. Mango Jam has played together for more than 15 years. For more information about Mango Jam, visit sites.google.com/site/mangojamcajunzydeco.

River Rat Rhythm Project

7 and 8 p.m.

Before Mango Jam heats up the town hall, the River Rat Rhythm Project will get things moving. Directed by Dan Hammond, music instructor at Alexandria Central School, this community group is modeled after the traditional steel drum groups of the Caribbean and consists of students from several school districts in the Watertown area. More information at www.rrrp.net.

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Pendragon Theatre

Frankenpine

10 and 11 p.m.

No, this is not an exhibit of the massive fake trees that hide cellular towers. Rather, it's a Brooklyn-based string band with ties to Saranac Lake. Frankenpine draws on a wide range of musical influences, including gypsy jazz, rock and blues, the banjo and fiddle give them a bluegrass flair. The band features two former Saranac Lakers, Ned Rauch and Colin DeHond, as well Kim and Matthew Chase, Liz Bisbee and sometimes Andy Mullen. The group's lyrics touch on themes of loss and ambition, and tell stories about everyone from the outlaw to the outspoken. They have one full-length studio album, "The Crooked Mountain," and you can find out more about them at www.frankenpine.com or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/frankenpine.

Sara Milonovich

7 and 8 p.m.

A vocalist and fiddler, Sara Milonovich has played throughout the U.S. and Europe. She plays across multiple genres, including Americana-roots, folk, rock, bluegrass and Celtic. She's collaborated with folk legend Pete Seeger as well as Richard Shindell, Eliza Gilkyson, Cathie Ryan, the McKrells, Quickstep and Antje Duvekot. Milonovich was nominated as a Grammy semifinalist for her 2009 album "Daisycutter." Her first recording was released when she was just 12 years old. At First Night, she'll be joined by Greg Anderson and Brian Melick. Sample some of her tunes at www.saramilonovich.com.

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Petrova School

Stephen Gratto

8 and 9 p.m.

When Stephen Gratto comes to town, expect high-flying, high-caliber comedy. Gratto is a physical comedian who combines audience participation and a variety of stunts to entertain his fans. Gratto is a juggler, unicyclist, stilt walker, rope walker, hatchet thrower, balloon sculptor and balancer. The performance is a mix of vaudeville and big top, and is geared toward audiences of all ages. Gratto is also a high school principal at Northeastern Clinton Central School in Champlain.

The Real McCoy

6 and 7 p.m.

Another all-ages show, Brent McCoy performs a one-man comedy and circus extravaganza. McCoy is based in northeastern Vermont and has performed at festivals, theaters, schools and street corners around the world since 2003, including clown festivals in China and street performances in Canada. His shows feature physical comedy and audience participation. More at www.brentmccoy.com.

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St. Bernard's Catholic Church

Drew Benware

8 and 9 p.m.

Tri-Lakes area residents know Drew Benware as director of choral activities at Saranac Lake High School, where he formerly served as director of instrumental music. A pianist and vocalist, he has performed in churches across the Northeast for more than 20 years. His performance at this year's First Night will include treasured classics of American musical theater, and some more obscure recent works.

Joey Izzo

6 and 7 p.m.

Joey Izzo was born and raised in Lake Placid and is known across the North Country for his talents as a vocalist and pianist. Izzo wowed audiences at local talent shows and in performances across the Tri-Lakes, and he hopes to pursue a career as a full-time musician. He sings lead vocals and plays keyboard for a local band, Placid.

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St. Luke's Episcopal Church

David Fadden

7 and 8 p.m.

Native American storyteller David Kanietakeron Fadden, who went to school in Saranac Lake, is a member of the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk Community of Akwesasne. He helps his family operate the Six Nations Indian Museum in Onchiota, where he and his family devote themselves to educating the public about their Native American heritage. To learn more, go to www.sixnationsindianmuseum.com.

Eddy & Kim Lawrence

9 and 10 p.m.

Eddy and Kim Lawrence will ramble off their 130-acre homestead in Moira for this year's First Night. The married duo performs witty acoustic roots music, written by Eddy, with Eddy on guitar, mandolin and resonator guitar, and Kim on upright bass. The two have received critical praise in publications like The Village Voice, Acoustic Guitar magazine and Sing Out. Eddy has eight solo albums to his credit, but these days he's best known for performing as a duo with Kim. For more information, check out www.snowplowrecords.com.

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Will Rogers

High Peaks Opera

8 and 9 p.m.

High Peaks Opera consists of mezzosoprano Beth MacLeod Largent, bass-baritone George Cordes and his wife, pianist Elizabeth Cordes. The group was founded by George and Elizabeth, of Tupper Lake, and they perform a mixed program that includes light opera, operatta arias, duets and waltz music. George was a principal artist with New York City Opera for six seasons, and he also performed with the much-acclaimed Metropolitan Opera for four seasons. He is the music teacher at St. Bernard's School in Saranac Lake. Elizabeth has served as choral director at Tupper Lake Middle-High School for the past four years. Largent is perhaps best known for performing in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom of the Opera" more than 970 times at a production in Hamburg, Germany. More information is available at www.highpeaksopera.org.

 
 

 

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