Unity Hall Music Coordinator Matt Mielnick



Whew!  I’ve been doing this live performance stuff for a long time.  It probably started with my own garage bands in high school.  Then four years of running a coffeehouse at college.  I thought I had broken this Bohemian habit when I entered the bar and restaurant trade, but as it turned out both of my businesses were little more than excuses for hiring bands and placing them in the front window.  This was followed by my “classical” period – five years of supporting the Performing Arts offerings at Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, with programs ranging from the B Sharp Club programs to the Paul Winter Consort at their first Concert in the Court.  The Center for the Arts in Little Falls followed and allowed me the privilege of working with the likes of Tom Rush, David Bromberg, Aztec Two Step (not to mention The Chamber Soloists of Uzbekistan – oops, I just did).  That evolved into many happy years working at the Kirkland Art Center and the summer Art and Music Fest in Clinton.  And after I hit the pause button for a brief time, here I am at Unity Hall, and oh so happy to be here. 

Forgive me if I’m boring you with these details.  This is not a job interview.  I just want to share with you favorite performances I’ve been involved with over these many years.  I do this from time to time like others reminisce about their favorite vacations, love affairs, or the best pizza they’ve ever had.  The list changes from time to time, and it’s usually limited to just my top three of these wondrous memories. 

I find it particularly ironic that the one act that has remained on the list since I started was in fact not a musical act, but a dance trio that I’ve worked with numerous times.  I don’t quite remember how I learned about them, but at the time they went by the name Second Hand Dance.  For quite a while now they’ve gone by the name Galumpha.  It’s not enough to say that these three very talented, coordinated, strong, and humorous performers are not your mother’s idea of professional dance.  They don’t move to the music of Tchaikovsky or Stravinsky, but to The Horseflies, one of my favorite bands from the Ithaca area.  They form amazing composites and counterbalances with their athletic bodies, like a complicated three-dimensional puzzle.  They make me laugh out loud as they wear pots and pans on their butts and then use them as drums with their hobnailed boots.  Their movements are sinewy and muscular, forcing you to take them seriously in their more sublime dance numbers.  Kids love them, dance fans find them as creative and refreshing as Pilobolus.  I even know some bikers that like them (but I wasn’t supposed to tell anybody).

Galumpha is coming to Unity Hall on Friday, April 26 at 7:30.  I wouldn’t have invited them if they didn’t fit with my formula – to give our audiences another sky-high evening in our wonderful building.  Let’s face it.  It’s great to treat yourself to a night out, especially after another winter exhales its last breath.  It’s great to step through those wooden front doors situated somewhere between the 19th and 21st century, and then to move around in all of UH’s interesting spaces.  It’s great to confirm that the performers you came out for met the high bar that was promised.  It’s especially great to know that all of those buttons were pushed and you had one more reason to trust Unity Hall, whether you knew the performing group or not, whether you’re a dance fan or not, that your choice not to stay home that night was a good one – no, a great one. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if Galumpha made it onto your list of favorites.  They’re that entertaining.  Doing anything that Friday?