March 2020

Greetings and good health to you all (mental and physical),

How many of you remember those old TV game shows where they placed a contestant in an “isolation booth” so they couldn’t hear the answers to questions read out loud to the audience?  I’m trying to pretend that someone is right outside my front door announcing the solution to this troublesome situation we find ourselves in, and that it’s only a matter of time until my patience is rewarded.  But in the meantime…..

My impression is that everyone displaced by this pandemic considers their efforts an “essential service” as their hardship is just as oppressive (or maybe more so) as anyone else’s.  Still, there seems to be common agreement about who deserves our respect the most.  I won’t bother going down the list – we all know who they are.  However, I’d like to emphasize one group of people who make a life changing contribution most all of the time, but especially during our elective confinement – the musicians.  What would life be like right now without them?  I realize that most of us have the luxury of tapping into a seemingly endless library of recorded music on our computers and stereos.  But what if it ended there?  And how game changing it would be if we were to start assuming that a live audience was somehow not an essential part of that creative process?  

Along with many, many other groups, musicians are taking a hit – a powerful one.  The ones that have done their apprenticeship over years may have finally reached a point where they can pay their bills by making people happy.  I’m not talking about the Elton Johns or Adeles, but those determined artists who tour the country sleeping in different hotel rooms every night, eating breakfast in the nearest diner, or giving music lessons to beginners when they’re around, just so they can continue giving us this magic.  For me it’s the next most important thing after food, drink and friendship (did I mention drink?).

Before the pandemic came into sharp focus Unity Hall earned its third grant from CNY Arts in Syracuse to help us continue our presenting efforts.  It didn’t take a religious experience to realize how we should use it once the severity of this global event solidified.  So here’s the plan.

Starting Saturday, May 9th, and every Saturday after that for ten weeks in all, Unity Hall will do what I think we do best.  We have invited ten of the most feel-good musical acts (both local people and those farther afield) to perform a short concert (about half an hour) that will be broadcast on the Unity Hall website.  That’s every Saturday night starting at 8 p.m. at  We plan to spend every last cent of the CNY Arts grant paying these musicians what they deserve.  For some it may be the only paid performance they have in a month or longer.  There’s a list of some of these performers below.  More information will be posted on the website each week. 

Put this on your calendar.  Saturday nights with the Unity Hall crowd.  Just like the not-so-old times.  There’s no admission charge.  There will be a tip jar on your screen that will further reward the musicians’ efforts.  That’s up to you.  Leave space at the back of the room for a dance or two.  Grab your favorite beverage and a front row seat.  Remember when Don McLean sang about “the day the music died”?  We’re not going to let that happen here!

Here's the schedule for the first five weeks:

May 9:  Nick Piccininni

May 16: Ryan Quinn

May 23: Mason McDowell

May 30:  John and Cathy Cadley

June 6:  Joe Crookston