Jun 27, 2007

A Pine Bush tick museum?

We hear that there is a new Visitor's Center of some sort at Albany's Pine Bush Preserve.

That has us wondering whether or not it includes a deer tick display, considering that seems to be the dominant creature in this particular habitat.

Free Advice: if you ever dare to venture into T he Bush for a leisurely hike, do a thorough once-over inspection and the kids after, looking for these nasty things dug into your skin, sucking blood out of you and pumping disease into you.

Personally, I've taken three hikes over there. Twice, I've found ticks on myself; the other time my companion did the same.

Tread carefully.


Jun 22, 2007

Two club shows booked for July

TechValley Times presents...

July 20 (Friday): The Sarah Pedinotti Band
(CD release show)

Fast-rising local phenom Sarah Pedinotti offers a surprising change of musical direction with her new City Bird release. Moving into more Americana and roots-rock territories, Ms. Pedinotti and her crackerjack bandmates appear to have unleashed their breakthrough album, sure to gain national attention.
Be the first to hear it at this show, set nicely in Saratoga's favorite music room.
$10 / 18+ / 9PM
(Advance Online Purchase Recommended)

July 21 (Saturday): The Everybodyfields + Robinella

Two of the southeast's most popular and acclaimed young musical acts team up for a very special double-bill in Saratoga's favorite music room.
The Everybodyfields have become the darlings of the festival circuit, with their deeply moving and poignant songs of heartache, loss and the longing for home. No act captures the modern day rural experience like they do.
RobinElla, who has been flirting with stardom for three years, brings her eclectic 'twang over jazz' mix to the party.
This is must-see show for anyone curious about the current state of the alt-country and Americana genres.
$10 Door - $8 Advance / 18+ / 8PM
($8 Advance Tix Online-only)

More info, audio and video previews and tickets HERE.

Jun 20, 2007

Final 'Alive at Five' rant--we promise

Yes, we have done a whole lotta railing about Albany's Alive at Five after-work music series in this column (or whatever you call this thing). To recap our opinion; the consistently shitty booking of mostly third-rate musical acts year after year is a black eye to the city's image and the waste of a tremendous goodwill opportunity.

Apparently, many of you feel the same way--- as shown by the incoming e-mails in response. But most of them are written in a spirit of resignation, with a common theme being that "a public sector agency such as the city's Office of Special Events is inherently incapable of producing a quality show." We disagree.

Exhibit A: the 2007 schedule for the City of Rochester's equivalent series:

- Max Creek and the Park Avenue Band, June 14.
- Blues with the Robert Cray Band, and locals, June 21.
- Retro zoot suiters Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and local Latin bands, June 28.
- Reggae-groove with Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and Revision, July 5.
- Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, Steve Forbert & the Soundbenders, July 12.
- Lucinda Williams and Charlie Louvin, July 19.
- Donna the Buffalo and Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, July 26.
- The North Mississippi Allstars and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Aug. 2.
- New Riders of the Purple Sage and String Theory Bluegrass Band, Aug. 9.

That's right: no Chicago tributes, American Idol also-rans, old Motown acts with only one member that played within the first 20 years of the group's existence or headlining local cover bands straight out of the bars around the corner. Good job out there in Rock-chester. Anyone out here interested in taking over Alive at Five over here?

Sorry, but the one good show per year that the Albany series averages isn't hacking it.


Jun 16, 2007

Vapor's da bomb (the bad kind of bomb)

We haven't been there ourselves (and don't really have any plans to), but the early reviews on the new Vapor night club at the Saratoga Racino complex are not so hot. Actually, they are downright brutal.

The room was a part of the facility's recent multimillion dollar expansion and is an attempt to add a little buzz to the joint--as well as attract the regional Young & Beautiful crowd, dressed to the nines and ready to suck down some $300 bottles of champagne, Vegas style.

But it looks like it isn't quite working out that way. From what we hear, attendance has been sparse and that Y&B demographic has been non-existent. The few curious folks that have wandered into this lovely room are instead the already firmly-established, slots-addicted clientele that has been built up over there since this place opened a few years, back: casually dressed (i.e., shorts, sandals and Don Ho shirts) middle aged types whose idea of a hot night out is hitting the karaoke bars. Not a pretty scene, from what we're told.
It sure isn't that major league blonde in the $1,000 dress that appears in the commercials, anyways.

Things will only get scarier: we see KC and the Sunshine Band and some sort of Abba tribute on the upcoming events calendar. Shake, shake, shake--shake yer booties, Grandma!

Here's our prediction on what will happen over there..

- Management (who are no dummies) will start to get nervous about this huge investment they made.

- At the same time, they will start asking themselves how they can utilize this spacious and valuable floor space during the daytime hours.

- Plus, there will no doubt be demand for more slot machines.

- So, the upstairs horse racing simulcast area will be converted into an additionl VLT room, and the racing action will be moved into Vapor. The operating model that will be copied: the club house section of the OTB Teletheater in Albany.

- The nite club will continue, but won't kick in until after the racing action is turned off. And without the current dress code--which they don't seem to be enforcing anyways. Live music will be de-emphasized.
- Don't be looking for the latest in house and EDM music getting spun; look for more of the current soundscape, which is sounding like some sort or 80's disco jukebox (so we're told by people feel obligated to that track that sort of thing, at least).

Remember, you heard it predicted here first.

Jun 14, 2007

Rent this space -- cheap!

It seems like every physical space is for sale (or more accrurately, for lease); as long as it has the potential to attract eyeballs for the purpose of planting some sort of commercial marketing message. Examples abound: sports arenas, concert halls, basketball floors, dasher boards at hockey games --- Billboard Marketing, 21st century style.

More proof: Capital Communications Federal Credit Union has bought the naming rights to the WGY broadcast studios. I'm sure there is some fine print to this deal requiring the station to always toss that fact into the mix when announcing the locale of various on-air shows. Not that WGY does a whole lot of show-production anymore , mind you. Most of their content is fed via satellite.

There's another unique twist on this concept here in the Albany market -- naming rights to invidual passenger cars! That's right, MyCarMyCar.com will let you plaster your company's name and logo onto somebody else's auto for about $400/month. What's the car owner get out of the deal? A $100 gas debit card for each month he or she participates.

I've seen this concept in other markets around the US, but at a lower dollar figure. I predict we'll see a price adjustment soon on this local attempt.

What's the bid to put your name on my forehead?


Jun 13, 2007

Online grocery shopping eyes its comeback

Remember a few years back when the concept of buying groceries online was pushed? A cick-click, and delivery of that big box of Cap'n Crunch, right to your door.

A few national startups took a run at this business model and did big time crash and burns. Locally, Price Chopper even took a shot, but very quickly pulled the plug, cut its losses and no doubt started sending out internal memos asking "just whose stupid idea was this, anyways?"

We see now that this dead horse is back from the grave. Online retailing magawonder Amazon is in the grocery business.

Its Amazon Grocery now offers over 22,000 non-perishable items including "some of your favorite brands, shipped to your door," just like any other Amazon.com purchase.

This will be interesting to watch. You think Price Chopper's nervous --- or chuckling?

Jun 12, 2007

Senecas to NYS: you owe $28K/day

I don't know what the exact points of contention are between the Seneca Nation of Indians and the Empire State, but some sort of arachnid has obviously gotten up the butts of our Native New Yorker friends to the west.

Here's a portion of the press release we received today:

SENECA NATION, CATTARAUGUS TERRITORY (June 12, 2007) – The Council of the Seneca Nation of Indians announced today that the Nation delivered to New York State officials its first bill for vehicular passage on I-90 through Tribal lands.

The amount, $28,000 a day, is based on state Thruway Authority official figures listed on the agency’s Web site. The Council voted May 12, 2007 to charge the state for tolls retroactively to April 14, 2007, when the Council determined that its Thruway right-of-way land agreement was voided, in accordance with Tribal law.

No real comment from this end: just thought I'd share....

Jun 8, 2007

Goodbye new friend

My guess had been correct. When I asked if she were a Rolling Stones fan, the answer came with a quick "of course I am, silly" and a great big smile. "That album was my theme song way back as a little kid," she said. Without further prodding, I knew she was referring to the Some Girls release, 1978.

So began my first chat with one Diva de Loayza. The setting was the morning coffee portion of our February TechValleyTimes FORUM session, where she had come to learn about the topic de jour: Guerilla Marketing in the Digital Age. All in support of her burgeoning mini-empire of funky fashion boutiques sprouting up in the Capital Region and beyond. Each one named Some Girls, as per the soundtrack of her youth.

Diva left this earth on Wednesday, the tragic result of a car-meets-bicycle incident near the UAlbany uptown campus the week prior.

The inititial news of the accident came but one day after my sending her a gift. While perusing e-bay's rock & roll memorabilia section, I ran across an original show poster from the Stones' Some Girls USA tour. This was an easy one: wouldn't that look kewl in one of Diva's local shops? Of course it would, so a quick PayPal transaction sent it here, and a quick re-packaging sent it to Troy.

It's rare to find a young, single, high energy individual -- as per Ms D -- having hit the pause button in the middle of a major business expansion initiative to put together a business succession plan in the event disaster strikes. So, it is unknown whether Some Girls will have a life beyond that of its founder and guiding spirit.

I hope somehow it does, for that would be the perfect tribute to her. If so, I also hope that poster makes it up on the wall as well.

Photo by Melissa Ann Argay, Expressions Photography


Jun 1, 2007

Taking a scalping

The word out yesterday is that the Empire State will soon take the actions necessary to toss what are commonly known as its "scalping laws" from the books. The result will be that it is no longer illegal to markup and re-sell an admission ticket to a sporting or concert event at whatever price the original purchaser so desires. Previously, one could only re-sell it at a minimal add-on; now the sky is the limit. You just can't physically make the transaction within X feet of the venue.

While I can understand the "let the market run its course" logic on this, let me present a scenario that might give second thought to such an approach. The following is based on a real world situation that recently occured:

- A popular artist was booked to perform at a venue.
- Ticket sales were announced, beginning at a certain time on a certain date: for this example, let's say it was 10AM on June 15.
- At 10:01AM, the show was Sold Out

Within a day, tickets for this show were appearing on Craigslist and various other online sites at prices that were 3x-10x the face value. At the time, such action was illegal; in the near future, it will be legit. All is cool; this is just the average Joe making a quick buck for himself, right?

Well, not quite. Here is the dirty inside scoop of what actually transpired here:

Prior to that 10AM ticketing start time; the promoter of this show personally bought one-half of the tickets. How? He told the ticketing agency that the actual start time was 8AM; the locally advertised 10AM was a ruse. They were bought 'at the box office', thereby avoiding those dreaded and costly convenience fees.

So, guess who the Craigslist seller of those marked up tickets was? Yep, our promoter friend. A huge sum of money went directly into his pocket.

The band gets screwed here, because their performance fee is based on the advertised ticket price, and their initial price point. They got no portion of the markup. Of copurse, the public is screwed as well.

The ticketing companies love it, and they want to play in this sandbox too. They are already kicking into high gear by setting up their own aftermarket ticket exchanges. One has to ask whether or not any of these markup'd tix were actually "bought" by the ticketing companies themselves? Wouldn't it be nice to find out? Someone get me Mr. Cuomo's phone number.

File this one under Unintended Consequences.