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Friday, April 11, 2014 at 8:45 am

The Rocking Weekend: Open Mic in Elba

post by Paul Draper III in entertainment, music, The GCMG

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 9:00 am

BHS students and faculty show off talents in annual show

post by Daniel Crofts in Batavia HS, education, entertainment, music, schools, Talent Show

This is Batavia High School student Ross Chua busting out with his beatboxing talent at the 2014 "Batavia High School Talent Show" last night, which aimed to raise funds for Thomas Ackley, a former student of the Batavia City School District who is fighting cancer (see April 7 article).

Masters of Ceremony Amanda Schelemanow (member, BHS chapter of the Tri-M Music Honor Society) and Spencer Hubbard (Mr. Batavia 2013) introduced 16 entertaining performances by students and faculty. Here they are (all performances are vocal unless otherwise specified):

Tim Martin and Lauren Dunn, piano/vocal performance of "Little Talks"

Steven O'Brien doing yo-yo tricks (which the event's faculty supervisor, BHS chorus teacher Dan Grillo, called the best he has ever seen in person).

Darneisha Thomas, "Bound to You"

Mason Russ, "Boss of Me" (theme from the TV show "Malcolm in the Middle")

Nephy Williams, "Beautiful"

Kesa Janes, "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" (from "The Phantom of the Opera")

Justin Baiocco, "My My, Hey Hey" (from the Neil Young album Out of the Blue). Baiocco's talent consisted not only of the vocal performance, but also his ability to play the guitar and the harmonica at the same time.

Laura Guiste, "Hallelujah"

Marissa Carbonell, "Oh! Darlin' "

Andrea Gilebarto, "Nightingale" (vocals and piano)

Hannah Bluhm, "If I Die Young"

Dan Grillo, "Good Bye Yellow Brick Road" (piano and vocals)

Rachel Flint and Ashley Williams, "There You'll Be"

McKenna Dziemian, "Set Me Free" (sung in both English and Korean)

And finally, there was the "Faculty Dixieland Band" playing "Down By the Riverside" and "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue"

Dan Grillo (drums), Stuart McLean (bass)...

Sean Krauss (clarinet), Brandon Ricci (trumpet) and Jane Haggett (piano)

Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 12:08 am

Photo: Erin Sydney Welsh performs at City Slickers

post by Howard Owens in batavia, City Slickers, entertainment, music

Ken Mistler has been booking more live music into City Slickers. Friday night, Erin Sydney Welsh performed. While I was there, at least six people came up to me and said something along the lines of, "Doesn't she have a beautiful voice? Are you going to take her picture and post it on The Batavian?" Welsh does have a beautiful, strong, clear voice. She performed a variety of covers and original songs. Welsh is 18 and a senior at Clarence High School.

Friday, April 4, 2014 at 6:39 pm

The Rocking Weekend: Rebel's Posse 25th Anniversary

post by Paul Draper III in entertainment, music, The GCMG

Friday, April 4, 2014 at 9:33 am

Darien Lake's new manager combined love of coasters and teaching young people into one career

When Rod Rankin -- the new general manager of Darien Lake Theme Park -- was a young man, he never thought he'd wind up running facilities with rollercoasters and waterslides.

"If you'd asked me I would have said you were crazy," Rankin said. "I was going to be a high school teacher."

He studied secondary education at the University of Southern California and was working as a production manager at Paramount Pictures when Paramount bought a chain of six entertainment parks. Paramount transferred him to the theme park division. He's been working in and running theme parks for 25 years now.

But it's worked out for the would-be high school teacher. Asked what his favorite part of his job is his first response is that it's working with the youngsters who take jobs in the parks each summer.

"It's the good and the bad of this industry," Rankin said. "You're training a new generation of children every year, because this is really kind of a first job. That's the good part." Then he laughs (Rankin, a big man, has a hearty laugh). "The bad part is you're training a new generation of kids every year."

Rankin replaces Bob Montgomery, who ran the park for two years, but decided over the winter that he wanted to return to his native Canada to pursue opportunities closer to home.

Under Montgomery's leadership, Darien Lake was working on developing more of a local flare, bringing in Anchor Bar to serve wings, serving Weber Mustard and Dippin' Dots. That's a trend that will continue, Rankin said.

Besides hiring Nik Wallenda to provide entertainment throughout the season, Three Brothers Winery has agreed to set up a wine-tasting area, a wine shop and will cross promote Darien Lake with tags on its bottles at retail locations.

Another change coming to Darien Lake is a redesigned menu for Beaver Brothers and Maria's Italian Kitchen. The new menu will focus on lighter fare for health conscious diners, Rankin said. Just this week he hired a new chef to oversee the creation of the new menu.

With Paramount, Rankin started out as a project manager and was involved in rollercoaster development.

He describes himself as a coaster junkie. A native of the Los Angeles area, Rankin had plenty of access to coasters at numerous theme parks growing up, notably, of course, Disney and Knotts Berry Farm (he spent a lot of time at Knotts, he said).

Does that mean there's a new coaster in the works for Darien Lake? He won't say. He did say, "It's really fun when you go into a facility to learn the new coasters and then hopefully, eventually, build a new coaster."

Rankin spent 22 years with Paramount and its successor company, before leaving in 2007 as the Western regional vice president. He's been with Herschend Family Entertainment for four years, most recently as general manager of the company's park in Denver (unrelated side note: Herschend recently acquired the Harlem Globetrotters).

A certified master gardener, Rankin is looking forward to putting down roots in Genesee County.  He was excited that he had no trouble selling his home in Denver. He's looking forward to visiting the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Batavia. His gardening interest drifts toward heirloom tomatoes and roses. In fact, he's started a rose garden at every theme park he's run and Darien Lake will be no different, he said.

Darien Lake Theme Park's opening day is May 10. The park is hiring now for seasonal positions.

Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Photos: Third Annual Fine Arts Festival at GCC

post by Howard Owens in arts, batavia, entertainment, Fine Arts Festival, GCC

GCC hosted its third annual Fine Arts Festival this afternoon, allowing students and area residents to try their hands at various artistic endeavors, including drawing, painting, origami, printmaking, and weaving.

Above, DiDi Martin draws a portrait of Chelsea Burkhartzmeyer.

Betty and Frank McGlaysson learn origami with instructor Kyoko Roszmann.

Jenny Spychalski.

Below, chainsaw sculptors Rick and Dustin Pratt and an owl they created form a tree stump.

While on campus, we also visited the Roz Steiner Gallery and took in the student art show.

Friday, March 28, 2014 at 9:30 am

The Rocking Weekend: Bluesway at City Slickers

post by Paul Draper III in entertainment, music

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 12:26 am

Monster maker with role on reality show now living in Batavia, helping to make a Godzilla movie

Godzilla's got a new home. At least for a few months. Right here in Batavia, New York.

He'll be hangin' with Rashaad Santiago and Tim Schiefer and their associate from Watertown, Greg Graves, while making a moving staring himself, the King of Monsters.

It's a small budget production -- less than $20,000 -- but much of the filming will be done in Batavia and involve some very talented people, such as Santiago, a costume and monster designer, and Christopher Bloomer, a visual effects expert.

It's mostly a labor of love made for the filmmakers' own enjoyment with an eye toward showing it in Chicago at the 21st annual G-Fest.

That's right, there's a whole festival devoted to the creature who terrorized Japan in the 1954 classic "Godzilla," and went on to star in more than 28 other feature films.

It's that G-loving community that brought Santiago, Shiefer, Graves and Bloomer together.

Right now, Santiago is kind of the star of the show. After signing on to the Godzilla movie project -- the title of the film is "Godzilla: Heritage" (here's the Facebook page) -- Santiago won a sport on the Sci-Fi Channel's reality series, Faceoff.

Originally from the Bronx, Santiago moved to Batavia a couple of months ago, first to work on the Godzilla project, but also because he thought Batavia would be a better place for his two children.

Santiago has had a passion for monsters ever since he saw the original Godzilla for the first time when he was was 5.

"Just seeing something different than a dinosaur, because I was a big dinosaur guy, so seeing something that was like a dinosaur, but different, and the size he was, really got my mind going on monsters," Santiago said.

Already of an artistic bent, Santiago started drawing his own monsters.

And his fascination with monsters grew as movies such as Alien, Predators, Tremors and Jurassic Park, came along.

He went from drawing monsters to building monsters.

People who saw his work encouraged him.

"I didn't know this was a career when I was younger," Santiago said. "As I got older, people would say 'why don't you sell this or why don't you get paid for doing this', and me, being naive and young, I didn't know, and now I'm doing it."

He said he dreams of owning his own monster studio someday.

Faceoff might be a jumping off point to that next career level.

He was selected for the show after an audition in Burbank (where all the filming took place).

The show airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m., and on those nights, Santiago is appearing at City Slickers to watch the show and answer questions from the fans who watch it with him.

Ken Mistler, owner of City Slickers, is giving a good deal of support to the local moviemakers. City Slickers will be a location in the film, as well as other Mistler properties, and his former gym location on East Main Street will be where the filmmakers build their sets and do all of their interior shooting (some filming will also take place in Watertown).

Shiefer said watching Santiago build the Godzilla suit for the movie is truly seeing a master at work.

"After three our four hours he had only the body outline and we're like, 'that's really impressive,' " Schiefer said. " 'This is only the outline. There's not any detail,' he said, and we were like blown away. Then he started detailing the head, making the little grains of the scales with tweezers. It's just the most impressive thing you can possibly see."

Shiefer said that anybody who tunes into Faceoff will be impressed with Santiago's work.

Santiago -- the monster expert -- is also working, appropriately, at Foxprowl, the collectables store on Ellicott Street. So if you want to meet him and miss him at City Slickers, there's Foxprowl on week days.

Photo by the producers of Godzilla being made for the film "Godzilla: Heritage." Used with permission.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 11:16 am

Le Roy students to perform 'Legally Blonde: The Musical'

post by Howard Owens in arts, entertainment, Le Roy, le roy hs, theater

About 150 students at Le Roy High Sschool are busy in rehearsals and stage set up for upcoming performances of "Legally Blonde: The Musical."

The show stars, above, John Snyder, Rachel Glucksam, Danny Weaver and Ashley Webb.

Performances are at 7 p.m. March 20, 21, and 22, in the auditorium at Le Roy HS. Tickets are available online at www.leroycsd.org and are $8 or $10 at the door.

The show is directed by Jacqueline McLean. She described the themes of the show as appropriate for school children in fourth grade and older.

"We picked the show because we had a lot of strong girls, but we also wanted to talk about some things in society that are a little controversial but important," McLean said. "The overlying theme of the show is the overall acceptance of people and people with differences. "

Friday, February 28, 2014 at 9:47 am

Rocking Weekend: Local and regional music this weekend

post by Howard Owens in entertainment, music

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