Hudson Valley Musicians

From classic rockers to child prodigies, the Valley is home to a seemingly end­less number of gifted musicians representing every genre and age group. This all-access pass introduces some of the area’s leading established artists, each paired with a promising local up-and-comer. Take a glimpse at some of the hottest talent north of NYC


Susan Seligman

Instrument: Cello Currently lives in: New Paltz Hometown: Joliet, Illinois Has been playing cello for: 45 years
When Seligman first visited the Valley, she fell in love with the area. In the decades since, she has become principal cellist with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, taught at Vassar, and is now a SUNY New Paltz professor.

Why the cello? It was my mother’s idea. I was tall for my age in fourth grade and when I was choosing an instrument, the orchestra director suggested cello. I was instantly attracted to it. I believe there is a right instrument for every person, and I was lucky to discover early that the cello was mine. Any other instruments? I play a little piano, but not enough that I would perform publicly. How many cellos do you own? Actually only one. I probably should have another one to play outdoors, but I don’t. I’ve had this cello for almost 20 years. Favorite thing about performing? I find it to be very enlivening. I like the feeling of interaction, both with who I’m playing with and with the audience. Professional highlight? There is a concerto by Brahms that has a huge cello solo. I got to play it with [pianist] Emanuel Ax; that was really fabulous. Best thing about living in the Valley? It’s so beautiful. I love to go up to Mohonk and hike; I have a route that goes by the duck pond. In your free time? I love to garden. During the summer I plan to spend a couple of hours a day in the yard. Current gig? I’ve been playing with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic since 1981, but I’ve been a principal cellist since 1984. I occasionally play with the Innisfree Piano Trio; we perform concerts throughout the region. And I’m a member of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic String Quartet. What’s next? I would like to explore other musical options beyond classical or chamber; for example, I played with a flamenco musician this spring and it was a lot of fun. Crossovers [between genres] are fun. Classical musicians love to feel cool.

cicely and madalyn parnasMadalyn, left, and Cicely Parnas

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Cicely & Madalyn Parnas

Name: Duo Parnas Currently lives in: Stephentown
Besides being performance partners, the members of this classical duet have a special bond: they are sisters (no, not twins — although they are often mistaken to be). Madalyn, 19, plays violin, while Cicely, 17, is a cellist. Both picked up their instruments at age four, and have since performed challenging, classical masterpieces with the ease and grace of performers two, three, even four times their ages. They recently returned from their first European tour.

How did you get started? Madalyn: Our grandfather, Leslie Parnas, is a world renowned cellist, and he was the main reason we were both interested in playing classical music. Any other influences? M: My first teacher had a deep love of music, and she taught me to love it more, too. She was very into teaching the passion of playing, which is easier for a five-year-old to learn, instead of just teaching the technical side of it. Cicely: Actually, our whole family is into music — we were constantly surrounded by it. M: We’re also both very influenced by the French brothers Renaud and Gautier Capuçon. They have a balanced career of solo, duet, and collaborations. European highlights? C: We went to London, Paris, and Berlin. We all loved Paris the best. This trip was life-changing, but the highlight was when we met with the conductor of one of the largest symphonies in France. He invited us to play six concerts next year. Any other instruments? M: I also play some piano and have taken voice lessons. C: I play guitar and I do some songwriting. M: Her guitar playing has been compared to Joni Mitchell. What does Duo Parnas sound like? M: We play strictly classical music, but we are also in two trios with pianists; these are less exclusive. Favorite thing about performing? C: I like having the opportunity to share great music with all types of crowds. M: Same here. And I really love bringing classical music to younger crowds. Hobbies? C: Horseback riding. We have four horses. M: I love playing tennis. And reading. C: Definitely reading. I went through a lot of books last summer. Future plans? C: Madalyn graduated [from the College of Saint Rose] and I plan to finish my undergrad there later. But we’ve been accepted into Indiana University’s Jacob School artist diploma program. [Susan Seligman also studied there.] We’ll start in the fall, and yes, will be rooming together; we get along really well. The duo is really important to us, and we want to keep it going as long as possible.


kristen capolino and earl slickGuitarists Kristen Capolino and Earl Slick

Photograph by Michael Polito


Earl Slick

Currently lives in: Pine Bush Hometown: Brooklyn Has been playing guitar for: 46 years
Guitarist Slick’s unforgettable riffs have helped shape the sound of rock ’n roll today. He’s performed with rock icons including David Bowie (on the Young Americans and Station to Station albums, and the Reality album and tour), John Lennon, and Slinky Vagabond — a supergroup featuring members of Blondie and the Sex Pistols.

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Why guitar? During that time [the 1960s], there was a bizarre overnight explosion of music. Everyone was bitten by the Beatles bug, and we all wanted to be in a band. But when I first saw the Rolling Stones I was like, “Okay — this is what I want to do.” So the Beatles made me pick it up, but the Stones kept me going. Do you know any of the Stones? I’ve met Mick, Keith, and Ronnie Wood; they always came out to Bowie shows in London. And when Jagger and Bowie recorded the track “Dancing in the Street,” Jagger requested I play guitar on it. How did you hook up with Bowie? A friend of mine told me that David wanted a new guitar player. By that time I’d been performing around New York for six years, so I went to the audition — the last audition I’ve ever done — and we hit it off. I’ve been in and out of the band from 1974 until six years ago. Favorite thing about performing? It’s one of the only times I ever feel absolutely okay. I’m not thinking; I’m just there. It’s effortless. You’re just in a state of being. It’s a state I’d like to be in 24 hours a day. Current project? Just recorded a solo project with a few other musicians, doing covers of stuff I’m into like obscure Rolling Stones songs, some Mississippi Fred McDowell, and the Beatles. How did it go? Oh my God, it was great. My son Lee Madeloni played half the drum parts, Bowie’s drummer Sterling Campbell played the rest. Have you and your son performed together? Never live, but he played on a track that Robert Smith sang on for my album Zig Zag. Impressions of Kristen Capolino? That kid ain’t going nowhere but up. She’s got it. And she’s young, so she has all the time in the world to get to the next level. Best thing about living in the Valley? I feel like I have more freedom. I wanted space, privacy, and a place for my dogs to run, and I found it here. Also, I like playing my guitar and music loud — you can’t do that in the city, no matter how much you pay for a place.

» Our “Guitar Hero” exclusive: Slick’s line of custom accessories and Framus’ new Earl Slick model

kristen capolinoKristen Capolino

Kristen Capolino

Currently lives in: Woodstock Hometown: Wappingers Falls Age: 20 Capolino has been stunning audiences around the Hudson Valley and beyond for nearly half her life. Her friendly demeanor and outgoing personality shine through even when she’s rocking out onstage during lengthy guitar solos. She’s already recorded one album, All That I Am (2006), and was filmed performing with guitar legends Al Di Meola and Paul Reed Smith for the TV documentary The Axe Factor.

How long have you been performing? Probably for 10-11 years now. How did you get started? When I was about five, I would watch my dad’s videos of [Irish blues-rock guitarist] Gary Moore playing guitar for hours and hours, so one day he gave me a guitar. My mom said I would pretend I was Gary and try to give people lessons. I still dream of being Gary Moore. What guitars do you like? Mostly I play my three white flying vees, but I have six vees total. Do you name your guitars? Yes! My first vee was a black one named Luna, so I named my first white one Sola. Still need names for the others though. Describe your sound. I play mostly heavy rock, but I also enjoy playing some jazz fusion. Al Di Meola is one of my biggest jazz fusion influences. Other influences? Michael Schenker, Carlos Santana, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Les Paul — I played with him at the Iridium in New York, and he signed my guitar. What was he like? He was a wonderful guy; a ball of fire. We talked about all kinds of things, even the government. He’d say things like, ‘You’re a doll’ and tease me onstage, asking ‘Isn’t it past your bedtime?’ Do you hear a lot of teasing from male rockers? Yeah, more when I was younger, but it still happens. It almost feels like you have to prove yourself as a female. I hate when guys say ‘You play great — for a girl.’ It should just be about playing music, having fun, and connecting with people no matter what gender, race, age, or anything else. Favorite thing about performing? I absolutely love everything about it — the energy from the audience, and the excitement. You can prepare yourself as much as possible, but every event and every crowd has a different feeling. Future plans? Touring Europe is the next level. I really want to get there, it will be a big step for me.


rob affuso and dan gammaDrummers Rob Affuso and Dan Gamma

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Photograph by Michael Polito


Rob Affuso

Currently lives in: Gardiner Hometown: Born in Newburgh, raised in Wallkill
Rock fans might recall drummer Affuso’s late ’80s/early ’90s band Skid Row, a hard rock group which debuted at number one on the Billboard charts in 1991. The following year, Affuso started another band — Soulsystem Orchestras — which specializes in playing the funk, soul, and Motown songs he listened to while on tour. Still going strong, you can catch Soulsystem at venues around the Valley (they play Schlesinger’s Beach Club in New Windsor on August 27).

How long have you been playing? Since I was three or four years old. I actually think I came out of the womb with a pair of sticks. Favorite thing about performing? It takes me to a whole other place within myself. There is an amazing transfer of energy when a performer gives all they have onstage to an audience, and then receives it back 100-fold. Cool stories from the road? When we were in Japan we had just finished a show and arrived back at our hotel. We went to the bar and were greeted by Ringo Starr and John Entwistle of the Who. They asked us to join them, and told the most incredible private stories of living with the Beatles and the Who. I could see the gleam in Entwistle’s eyes when telling me the story of Keith Moon driving a car into a hotel pool. Any funny tour stories of your own? At the end of a show in Australia, our singer Sebastian [Bach] was standing at the end of a runway that jutted out into the audience. He had his arms raised, fists pumping, basking in the roar of about 80,000 fans. I ran out from behind the drums and pulled his pants down to his ankles — without knowing that he wasn’t wearing any underwear. The next day, there were photos of him throughout the country — and eventually in all of the international rock magazines. Do you miss playing hard rock? I absolutely do. But we have been incorporating some of this music into our Soulsystem shows. There may be an opportunity for me to revisit it in late 2011; I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a Skid Row reunion. What brought you back to Gardiner? I wanted to be back home with my family and friends. But you will be very hard-pressed to find all that the Hudson Valley region has to offer anywhere in this country. What do you like best? I have a horse farm in the Gardiner/New Paltz area and I love it there. It is inherently beautiful, with green mountains that give way to the majestic Hudson River. And there is much culture to be found. There is the greatest city in the world to our south, travel another hour south and you have the Jersey shore, or travel north and you have the gorgeous lakes and mountains of the Adirondacks. There is absolutely everything for everybody. Goals for the future? To stay healthy, to love, to play music, and to maintain a healthy balance of decadence in my life.

dan gammaDan Gamma

Dan Gamma

Currently lives in: Wallkill Age: 24
Drummer Dan Gamma has been playing the Hudson Valley venue circuit and beyond for nearly 12 years, keeping a strong backbeat for a variety of bands. His passion for drumming was passed down from his father — who has performed with his own array of local groups — and continues to grow as more opportunities open up for him.

When did you start drumming? I was pretty young. My father bought me a drum kit for Christmas when I was three years old. How long have you been performing? I started playing out when I was 13 — I used to sit in with my dad’s band, Dr. Magneto. Since then I’ve been in a lot of other rock bands, like Out of Order, the Kristen Capolino Group, Within the Walls… there’s been at least a dozen of them. Current bands? My main band is Audible Thought, which is a hard-rock band playing all originals, but I’m also in KISS ALIVE!, a full-costume Kiss tribute band. I do the makeup, whiskers, everything. I’ve been with those guys since the fall of 2007. Which draws a larger crowd? They both bring in a lot of people, but probably Audible Thought consistently. We recently played to a packed house at the Chance. What’s KISS ALIVE!’s crowd like? Usually guys over 40. Favorite Kiss song? “Black Diamond,” because I also get to sing lead vocals while drumming. Is that difficult? No, I’ve been doing it for years. Musical influences? Wow, there’s a lot. Steven Adler of Guns ’N Roses, John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, Keith Moon of the Who, obviously Peter Criss of Kiss — I could go on and on. Favorite thing about performing? I love being onstage — feeding off the audience’s excitement. Ever play outside of the U.S.? Yeah, KISS ALIVE! was flown to the Dominican Republic to play three shows. It was great — all inclusive hotels, free booze, free food. The fans treated us like we were the real thing. Does that happen a lot? Yeah, we even get asked for autographs. I have to sign “the Catman.” Ever go out in costume after a show? Yeah, we’ll stop into diners sometimes afterwards. People love it — they ask to take pictures. We showed up drunk at a diner in Connecticut once and actually got kicked out because I didn’t have a shirt on under my costume. What do you do for fun? Well, I work a lot — going to school at Dutchess Community College for paralegal while working at Radio Shack part-time — so playing music is my version of fun. And the occasional Wing Night at McGillicuddy’s in New Paltz. Future goals? It’d be cool to go on a national tour with Audible Thought. And it would be nice to make a living off making music, but you know, it’s not easy.


bar scott and alice burlaPianists Alice Burla (left) and Bar Scott

Photograph by Michael Polito


Bar Scott

Currently lives in: Woodstock Hometown: Wynnewood, PA.
Singer, songwriter, pianist, guitarist, author — is there anything the talented Bar Scott doesn’t do? Her soothing folk and jazz songs evoke a sense of calm, while her clever lyrics paint a portrait for the listener. And boy, can she nail a cover of “Dream a Little Dream of Me.”

How long have you been playing piano? I played on the sly whenever I could as a kid, but I didn’t do it publicly until 1995 when I did a piano track on my third album Confession. I never studied piano, or music for that matter. What did you play prior to that album? I was more known for my guitar playing and vocals before. How did you pick up acoustic guitar? I took some lessons because I realized that I needed some way to accompany myself. If I told someone I was a singer, they’d always ask me to sing for them, but I wasn’t brave enough to sing a capella back then. Musical influences? I loved Motown and funk growing up, but I also loved the Beatles, Carole King, the Carpenters — I know, I know — and anything in the top 40. These days, I listen to a lot of classical. Chamber music that involves a piano or a cello is my favorite. Current projects? I am always working on a new batch of songs. This one’s taking an exceptionally long time because I’m writing a book about songwriting right now, and it seems my brain can’t handle writing songs and writing prose at the same time. Previous accomplishments? I’ve recorded six full-length albums of original songs, one collection of hymns, a collection of standards, a Christmas record (not my favorite), and a collection of folk songs that I recorded with an old boyfriend in our living room. I’ve also produced a coloring book for little ones that has a music component so they can sing and draw at the same time. How did you come up with that? It was originally a friend’s idea. She lightheartedly suggested it, but I thought it was brilliant. It’s called Sing and Draw; it’s paired with my folk album and available online. Favorite thing about performing? The audience. I’m really surprised and honored that people show up when I perform. What a thrill! I feel like being onstage is the most comfortable place in the world. Best thing about living in the Valley? The mountains and the freedom. I’m a big hiker. Where do you go? I like checking out local spots. I hike daily by Overlook Mountain; there are several lesser-known paths there. Can you let us in on one? If I tell you, it won’t be a secret anymore. You also mentioned freedom; what do you mean exactly? It’s multilayered. I love how expressive people are here, with the ways they share their points of view and creative energy. But self-expression is much more acceptable here than many places. I sometimes forget that when I’m on the road.

bar scott and alice burlaBar Scott and Alice Burla

Alice Burla

Currently lives in: Ossining Hometown: Toronto Age: 14
Watching Alice Burla play classical piano is a captivating experience. Between the effortless way her hands fly over the keys and the beautiful sounds that fill the room, it seems almost impossible that Burla is barely a teenager (she turns 14 this month). At age six, this musical prodigy became one of the youngest students ever accepted to the pre-college division at Juilliard; she’s already wowed audiences at home — last summer she played at the Maverick Concerts in Woodstock — and around the world.

How long have you been playing? I started at age two, but began lessons at four. Do you practice often? At least three to four hours a day. Is there time to do other things? Yeah, I love dancing ballet — I’ve been doing it since I was four years old. I also like swimming and reading. Proudest musical accomplishments? So far I’ve performed in 10 countries, playing solo recitals and concertos with symphony and chamber orchestras. And in January 2009, I had a European tour and performed in Germany, France, Italy, and Poland. Favorite place to perform? It’s hard to say, there are a lot. I love Europe; but Japan was amazing, too. Is the reaction to your music different overseas? Yes, but the level I have to play is completely different. I feel like I have to work harder in other countries. But I just pay attention to what I’m doing and try to do my best; I don’t play just to meet their expectations. Current projects? I’m just working on my solo program and concertos which I will possibly play with an orchestra. And last year I was filmed for a movie, Wall Street 2 — it’s a sequel. What was that like? It was so exciting. I played a piano prodigy, but I’m not sure how many scenes I’ll be in. It should be out in the fall. I met Michael Douglas and talked to Shia LaBeouf. What’d you chat about? He just came in and we talked about all kinds of things, kind of like we were old friends. When he left, the makeup person said, “Okay, you can scream now.” I was like “Oh my God!” Musical influences? I have a lot. Sometimes just listening to a recording of [Vladimir] Horowitz is a huge inspiration; pianists Emil Gilels, Martha Argerich, Sviatoslav Richter, and my teacher Oxana Yablonskaya. What do you like about performing onstage? The feeling of having it all to yourself. It’s your time to shine and you make the best of it. It’s just amazing because you can control the audience’s emotions. There are times when I get so deep into the music, I completely forget about the fact that I’m onstage, in front of tons of people. What’s next? I’ve been invited to attend the Mozarteum International Summer Academy in Salzburg, Austria, which will be held this month. It’s a world-famous festival with the highest level of professors and students.


sal giorgianni and myles mancusoSaxophonists Myles Mancuso and Sal Giorgianni

Photograph by Michael Polito


Sal Giorgianni

Currently lives in: Highland Falls Hometown: Wurtsboro
Even if you’re not quite familiar with his name, you’ve likely heard Sal Giorgianni’s smooth sax sounds: He’s played with an array of legendary jazz and blues greats, and has a few noteworthy albums of his own. Whether he’s performing for foreign royalty or touring the Valley lounge scene, Giorgianni’s fervent passion for music and explosive style of playing make him stand out from the rest.

What do you love most about performing? I believe music is a bridge between the heavens and Earth, so to touch people with this music is the most important thing I can do with my life, outside of raising my son. I love seeing people enjoy the music so much that they forget the problems they brought with them when they came out to the venue. Your musical influences? There are many: John Coltrane, Maynard Ferguson, Jimi Hendrix, Mozart. That’s a wide range. I know, but it’s the music I grew up listening to, and it’s more about what I’ve taken from their music — the fire, the drive — than the style itself. Ever perform with any of your favorites? I played with Maynard Ferguson for the King of Thailand — he was a big fan of jazz. A police brigade was all around us on the way to the palace and the king closed all the highways; nobody could go anywhere. It was crazy. I remember thinking “This must be what it felt like to be Elvis.” Proudest musical moment? I played on an album for Myles Davis and Quincy Jones called Live at Montreux that won a Grammy for Best Ensemble Performance. I was in Europe and my brother called me and said, “The album you played on won a Best Ensemble Grammy! That’s you!” We were so excited, it was great. Current projects? I am finishing up two different albums, hopefully to be released sometime next year on my own label, Windhouse Records. Besides tenor sax, what other instruments do you play? Alto sax, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, piano, and varied percussion. I have been playing most of these instruments for more than 20 years. Other hobbies? I really enjoy old sports cars, sailing, and cooking Indian food. I have also recently begun to take on teaching private students at my studio. Best thing about the Hudson Valley? I feel a wonderful peace here. I can really relax when I need to from a very busy life.

myles mancuso and sal giorgianniMyles Mancuso and Sal Giorgianni

Myles Mancuso

Hometown: Beekman Age: 14
Not only can “Mojo” Myles Mancuso make music on a slew of different instruments, he can play them with the style and ease of a seasoned professional. Mancuso is quickly becoming a favorite in the Valley’s live music circuit; the Mojo Myles Band (he plays guitar, while his dad Nick bangs on the drums) performed at this summer’s Mountain Jam festival, where he jolted the sleepy crowd awake with his fiery guitar solos and soulful-blues crooning.

Tell us about all these instruments. I started on drums at age three but only picked up the sax a few years ago. I also play guitar, piano, bass, and drums. How many do you own? A tenor and an alto sax, eight guitars, three pianos, two drum sets, and one bass guitar. Anything else you’d like to learn? Maybe the flute. I heard it played at a funk show and it sounded great. I’d probably try to incorporate it into rock music, like Jethro Tull. Who influences you? Ray Charles, Maceo Parker, King Curtis, Larry Carlton, and John Mayer. Favorite thing about performing? The feeling I get when I know I’m making a person’s day with my music. Coolest place you’ve performed? The Sarasota Blues Festival in Florida — it’s a major blues fest and it was my first time in Florida; I really liked it there. How was your first Mountain Jam? It’s one of the best festivals I’ve ever played at. Everyone was so nice and the stature of musicians was incredible. I really liked Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi’s set. She has such a beautiful voice. Hobbies? I like throwing a football around. I also like to watch a good Seinfeld episode — but who doesn’t? Do you have a favorite? The Soup Nazi one. Are you any good at the game Rock Band? Oh, no — I’m terrible! It’s way different than playing the real thing. Upcoming gigs? We play the first Friday of every month at Keegan Ales in Kingston, and Junior’s Lounge in Poughkeepsie every third Saturday. We’re also playing Mesier Park in Wappingers Falls on August 13. Future plans? To play music professionally. I feel like it’s my calling and my gift.

For other up-and-coming artists and bands around the Valley seeking a space to rehearse — or even better, record an album — here’s a listing of local studios where you can jam out and prepare to share your talent with the world.

Applehead Recording & Production
1835 Rte. 212, Saugerties

70 Upper Hook Rd., Rhinebeck

Electric Faith Studio
47 S. Plank Rd., Newburgh

Leopard Studio
Stone Ridge

Levon Helm Studios
160 Plochmann Ln., Woodstock

MDR Studios
Wappingers Falls

Middletown Trax
39 North St., Middletown

Millbrook Sound Studios
Rte. 44, Millbrook

Nevessa Production
1 Artist Ln., Saugerties

Sonart Recording Studio
Mt. Tremper

Woodstock Records

Young Love Recording Studio
New Paltz

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