Al Nathan on the keyboard with Tony Adamo on drums and Gabe Vaccaro on guitar at one of JFK’s International Nights.
By GINA GRECO
Friends and co-workers of the late Al Nathan have organized a tribute concert in his honor to take place from 11:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 20, at the Stanley Theatre in Utica.
Nathan passed away April 1, 2014.
He was a longtime teacher with the Utica School District and was most recently at JFK Middle School as a music teacher and part-time administrator. He ran Nathan’s Bakery in Old Forge since the 70s and was a remarkable musician. He had his own band BlueStreak and he also played in many bands in upstate NY and surrounding areas.
Nathan’s Friend and JFK co-worker, for twelve years, Tony Adamo said he thought of a tribute concert at a very random moment last fall.
“I was mowing my lawn this past fall, and the Allman Brothers Band came on my iPod and it just got me thinking about Al. It was kind of a sequence of thoughts that snowballed, but basically I started thinking about a lot of the songs and gigs we did together—songs that I probably wouldn’t be aware of or have played otherwise,” Adamo said.
He said he thought about all the musicians that he would have never had the chance to play with if it weren’t for Al.
“That’s what really got the ball rolling for me. Playing with talent like that, made me a better musician and I really wanted to try and find some way to thank Al for all that he did for me,” Adamo said.
He had help from a few other friends and teachers in the Utica School District.
“We contacted Al’s wife, Ann, to get her blessing and see if this is something she wanted to be involved with. Of course she wanted to be involved, so we brought the idea to Jerry Kraus and his staff at the Stanley and they are really the ones that brought it from an idea to what should be a tremendous community event,” Adamo said.
Deciding to hold the concert at the Stanley Theatre was a no-brainer, according to Adamo.
“The Stanley is like the Carnegie Hall of Central NY, with its beauty and history. Jerry Kraus and his staff do an exceptional job there. It’s a big deal for a musician to be able to say they performed on that stage. I think it’s the only place we could have an event like this to really honor Al Nathan properly,” he said.
Adamo said many people and businesses have come together to makes this all happen.
“It is going to be pretty amazing to have so many top-notch local bands all involved in one event, like a music festival crammed into one day. This is a testament to the amount of people in the music community and the local community that knew and loved Al Nathan,” he said.
There will be raffles, drinks, snacks and merchandise from some of the bands.
There are nine bands scheduled to play and various acoustic acts that will perform in between, according to Adamo. Nathan’s band–BlueStreak, Showtime, Last Left, Fritz’s Polka Band, The Fulton Chain Gang, The Blarney Rebel Band, Lacking Larry, The Matt Lomeo Band, and The Crazy Fools will all be performing.
The Acoustic performers are Al Sherline and Jeremy Ukena, Plainfellow, Mark Bolos Sr., Brian Mulkerne and John Keller.
There will be a wide variety of music and musical styles on offer at the concert.
“I think there will be something for everyone’s musical taste, acoustic, rock, pop, country, classic rock, blues, polka and Irish folk/rock and I’m sure there will be some original music and amazing collaborations in there as well,” Adamo said.
The bands are donating their time to pay tribute to Al. All of the proceeds will go to the Utica Teachers Association’s Al Nathan Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded to a graduating senior, entering a music program at a institute of higher learning.
“So, not only will the attendees enjoy some great local bands but they will also be helping to carry on Al’s legacy and memory by helping a student achieve their musical aspirations,” Adamo said.
You can get tickets online at ticketmaster.com, at The Stanley Box Office during business hours or call the Stanley at (315) 724-4000 and they will also be selling the tickets at the door.
Ticket prices are $20 for general admission or $30 for V.I.P. which includes V.I.P. seating and a t-shirt.
“I got to know Al well playing gigs with him over the last six years or so. He was highly regarded in the local music scene, almost like royalty. It was literally an honor to share the stage with him each and every time. It was never rehearsed, we just played and it came together. Blues, jazz, rock ‘n roll, it didn’t matter. It was always genuine and always fun. That, in itself, was special and something that I will sorely miss,” Adamo said. “I’m still in shock because knowing Al, I always felt like when death came, Al would just say ‘I don’t think so!’ and death would just turn around and walk away. But unfortunately for us, even the great ones have to go. We all miss Al for different reasons but I think the common theme is that we miss him because he was Al Nathan and he was the one and only,” he concluded.