November 30, 2021

Still making music

Local musicians talk Sammys and COVID

Image provided by Chauncey Bennett

Tink Bennett and Tailor Made perform.

Chauncey “Tink” Bennett of Homer said his band, Tailor Made, is weathering the COVID-19 storm “pretty well.”

While the four member group hasn’t played live gigs, they’ve kept up a rehearsal schedule and have a new set list of songs.

“We do have bookings after June 1,” said the songwriter and singer. “I think people are planning to have outdoor events. It’s cost us a lot of money” not playing live shows.

Tailor Made’s “Hate the Game” album is being considered for a Syracuse Area Music Award.

In fact, several greater Cortland area musicians, as well as The Center for the Arts of Homer and American Vintage Productions of Cortland, are in contention for the regional award.

  • Bennett’s country and classic rock band is up for best country album.
  • Lonnie Park of Freeville and The Earth Band is being considered for “My Earth Songs” album in the Best Other Style category.
  • Colleen Kattau of Cortland’s “Besos Kisses” album is in the running for best singer/song writer.
  • London McDaniel is another area man being looked at in the jazz category, Park said.
  • The Center for the Arts of Homer is being considered in a people’s choice award for best live venue.
  • American Vintage Productions of Cortland is being looked at for people’s choice award for best streaming broadcast with its CNY Music Now concerts of Cortland area musicians.


The SAMMYs will be streamed free March 5, live from SubCat Music Studios. People can go to or for details.

A total of 166 artists submitted 194 recordings for the awards. Sixty nominees were chosen by an independent panel of music professionals and educators from around the country.

“The SAMMY award is a huge honor,” said Park, who works in all genres, and who is a music producer with his Barncastle Studio in Freeville. “They not only highlight some of the best artists from our area, but they also give those artists something to strive for.” Park is known here for his involvement in Ten Man Push and a duo with John West: Johnny & Lonnie. He also performs jazz, gospel, bluegrass and more.

Country music contenders

“Hate the Game” was released last year,” Bennett said. “This year’s awards are for CDs released last year. We got (selected) … for country music album of the year.”

Bennett wrote or co-wrote all the songs on the album, the band’s fourth CD.

It’s the band’s first album being considered for a SAMMY, competing with two other bands.

“The nice part of getting the album of the year nomination is that music professionals from across the country (are making the decision),” he said. “They have listened to music. They vote and give their opinion for best in (category).”

The band partnered with Park’s studio to engineer and produce the album, Bennett said. It is available on Apple Music on I-Tunes, Spotify and CD Baby.

The band consists of area man Billy Golicki, vocalist and bass player, who joined the group in March, Derek Gasque of Orlando, Fla., on keyboards and Chris Harris of Vestal on drums.

“I don’t think I have a pro on the pandemic,” Bennett said. “ The negative: We don’t get to play live or interact with fans. Livestream is OK,” but it’s not the same.

Tailor Made plans to livestream a one hour show. People can look for when it is available on the band’s Facebook page.

“It’s definitely a lot of work, but we are trying to make it happen. We have been around for over 25 years. We continue to play,” he said. “When things start to open up, we hope people come out and support live music. “


Colleen Kattau of Cortland has her sixth album, “Besos Kisses” up for song writer/ singer of the year.

“I threw my album into the ring and I was happy to get nominated,” said Kattau, one of four nominees. “They had a lot of submissions.”

“I am so honored and excited, it’s really great,” she said. “I put the album out in February of last year. I had all these shows lined up to promote the album. I managed to do one show and the pandemic hit.”

“I am proud of the album. I think it came out solid. Pros and cons of the pandemic?” she said, laughing:

“My house is very clean. I have been able to write and record music and play more, even with my full time job. I am not alone. A lot of musicians are taking time to hone their skills, write music, produce music.”

“I love recording, but there’s nothing like a live show,” Kattau said.

She appreciated the Center for the Arts of Homer’s live 24-hour telethon in December. “I was on a stage in a chair and they had mannequins in the audience,” she said. “The sound was primo.”

Kattau said she deeply appreciated that, because isolation has been such a factor.

In the pandemic, she has recorded four songs and is working on another album. “I am getting ready to do an online show,” she said.

People can check out Kattau on her Facebook page for that. And her “Besos, Kisses” is available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Katie Keyser/living and leisure editor

Colleen Kattau talks about her latest album, “Besos Kisses,” in February 2020 at Bru 64. Kattau is in the running for best singer/songwriter in the Syracuse Area Music Awards.

Musical artists staying active

Greater Cortland area musicians have been busy, even with a COVID-19 pandemic that quashed live concerts.

Here’s a look at what several in the area are up to:

Tink Bennett and Tailor Made of East Homer is working on a livestream one hour show. Keep tabs on upcoming date at the band’s Facebook page.

John Busch of Cortland, bass player in X’Plozionz!!! is coordinating a March 1 release of cover songs, “Brother Louie,” “Come Together” and “Mustang Sally,” featuring earlier members, Tim Laurence, Brian Millar, Dimitri Cosimo, Ernesto Rio, Elliot Brown and Sean Higgins.

Busch’s Creamy Lobster Records has published dozens of Eddy’s Basement’s vintage recordings from the mid-80s, featuring Ted Walsh, Jim Mulhern, Jack Tyler, Dave Salce, Rosie Rosenthal, Kenny Hurlbert, Busch and soon to be released, Eddie Graffius. Go to YouTube for results.

Dimitri Cosimo of Cortland, “Devil Man,” single release, March 20, all major streaming platforms, the latest single from Cosimo’s upcoming album. His “I Will Roam” came out Dec. 25. See

Center for the Arts of Homer staged a 24 hour telethon in December featuring area musicians.

Genitor, alternative rock band from Cortland, has a new album in the works. Look for updates on Instagram.

Eric Hunter, McGraw, “We Stay Lifted” released Feb. 2 featuring Hunter and the late Tim Laurence, a rap song detailing the two’s experience in X’Plozionz!!!

Colleen Kattau of Cortland has recorded four songs and is working on another album. “I am getting ready to do an online show,” she said. But details are incomplete. Check out her Facebook page.

Corey Loveless of Cortland put out “For Anyone” hip hop album on Dec. 18 on Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, I-tunes. Livestream show in the works.

Chris Merkley of Cortlandville, head of American Vintage Productions, hosted a series of concerts and interviews of area musicians called CNY Music Now, in the fall/winter on and AV Facebook page. New series is coming.

David Neal, head of Arts at Grace concert series of Cortland, put together virtual Meet the Artists series of music and interviews with a Celtic band and two classical artists this winter.

Lonnie Park, Freeville put out “In Your Eyes,” collaborative hip hop song with Konshens The MC, a rapper from Washington DC, Arun Kumar, vocal percussionist from India and Ricky Kej from India, a blend of rock, rap, hip hop and classical Indian flavors. “Knoshens The MC filmed his parts of the video in DC the morning after the capitol riots at the larndmarks seen on the news the day before, Park said. Park filmed his part in the snow in Freeville and the rest was filmed in Bangalore, India. See Spotify under Park’s name.

Image provided by Lonnie Park

A poster on the release of “In Your Eyes,” a hip hop song that Park collaborated on.

Marc Ryan of Cortland, singer, guitarist, songwriter, has been recording an album to come out in the summer.

Ted Walsh of Dryden has made about 60 music videos posted on walsh1 and YouTube. Most come from his studio. Some are with his daughter, Maddy, of Maddy Walsh and the Blind Spots. The two are Madd Daddy, which released a single, “About This Christmas,” about how the family couldn’t gather during the pandemic. Ted Walsh also released a solo single called “Time to Break the Ties,” about the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He is in the mixing phase of a solo album and wants to get back to live shows. Madd Daddy will play 6 to 8 p.m. July 2 at Summerhill Brewing in Locke.

Children’s songs

Park’s “My Earth Songs” are educational children’s songs that have been performed around the world, for the United Nations, UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

The album has 15 songs, pop to world music to rock, written by Park, Ricky Kej and Dominic D’Cruz, a school teacher from India.

Image provided by Lonnie Park

Album art for “My Earth Songs,” from Lonnie Park and the Earth Band.

“I collaborate extensively with Ricky Kej, a friend and Grammy winner from India,” Park said.

The three decided to make the songs royalty-free. They were picked up by MacMillan Publishers for use in textbooks and the education system for developing nations.

“Currently, the number of kids learning these songs is over four million per year and growing,” Park said.

“When COVID hit, we were approached by UNICEF to help raise funds through a My Earth Song virtual concert/fundraiser to help kids in the most vulnerable parts of the world,” Park said.

It was broadcast to more than 25 million viewers in 60 nations; the proceeds went to UNICEF’S COVID-19 relief fund.

The Earth Band includes London McDaniel, Billy Golicki, Nate and Missie Horton, John and Vanessa West and Park’s wife, Jody. Other musicians on the disc are from around the world.

As for the pandemic, it’s about rolling with the punches, Park said.

“The greatest skill any artist can have is adaptation. My entire career has been spent navigating challenges,” he said.

“When COVID hit, my 2020 calendar was full of concert dates all over the globe. Absolutely everything was canceled,” he said. “My wife and I had to cancel a trip to Italy.”

“This is when we adapt. This is when you create new music, projects and dive into collaborations like “My Earth Songs,” Park said.

As for post pandemic: “I cannot wait to get back on a plane and head off to play music again,” Park said. “I miss experiencing different cultures and meeting people from all walks of life. It changes who you are. It makes me appreciate Freeville, New York, USA.”