Saturday ushered in the seventh annual Night of Rock benefit concert for The Center @ 862, formerly known as The Scarsdale Teen Center. The evening drew a wide range of performers of all ages, middle school to middle aged, to Rudy’s Restaurant and Bar in Hartsdale. Jimmy Fink of 107.1 The Peak hosted.
Night of Rock 2013 opened with a performance by Scarsdale High School’s very own a cappella club, For Good Measure. In line with the theme of the night, the group sang songs ranging from “You and I” by Lady Gaga to “Somebody to Love” by Queen, complete with a vocalized version of Brian May’s classic guitar solo.
The following act, 20 Questions, a band of six SMS eighth graders, set the tone for the rest of the night. Arguably some of the most talented thirteen year olds on the local scene, the self proclaimed “coolest kids in the world” played an energetic set replete with classic rock and R&B crowd pleasers.
Next up was Nordic Fury, the brain child of lead singer and composer Karel Ullner. This young musician, who has recorded with the likes of Peter Calo of Carly Simon fame, has released an EP titled “You’ve Seen Nothing Yet!” recorded at New York’s prestigious Avatar Studios. Karel and his musicians performed original songs with an energy and comfort on stage not seen in many young performers.
Kicking off the adult half of performances was The Offbeats, a collection of musicians who have been playing together on and off since the mid sixties. In their third benefit show for The Center, the band is fronted by Jay Shulman, a cellist for the Long Island Philharmonic, and Thom Pernice, creator of the website scarsdalerocks.com, a site dedicated to documenting the local bands of Scarsdale from their own high school days.
The next band was The Blues Mothers, an aptly named group of women, with exception to drummer Bill Reeve that combined elements of blues, folk, jazz, and rock into a truly original sonic experience. The set was teeming with perfect selections for the back and forth soloing of flute and harmonica by Pam Sklar and Hope Berkeley, respectively.
A last minute addition to the set list came on next. Local rapper Webstar, Alex Weber, a former Scarsdale High School student, was accompanied by DJ Golden Retriever, SHS graduate Connor Bodine. Though it was a short set with little time to prepare, Webstar seemed at ease with his visibly well rehearsed music and gave one more testament to the way that music drives young people everywhere to create and express themselves in public forum.
The last act of the night was Electrik Buddha, an indo-funk rock fusion of genres heard almost nowhere else. Born out of collaboration between guitarist Jayesh Gandhi and singer Samyukta Ranganataan, the set featured songs from their eponymous debut album with accompaniment by Naren Budhakar on tabla and midi controlled backing tracks filling in for the otherwise much larger band.
While the event was billed as a benefit for The Center, it inadvertently became an art forum for a previous generation of local musicians to pass the musical torch to the current generation. After all, not much could be more rock and roll than hanging out at a show all night with middle school students.
Evan Scott is a former Scarsdale resident, a Purchase College graduate and freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.