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Concerts on the Waterfront in Sackets begin June 24

Times Staff Writer

SACKETS HARBOR — The 19th century will come alive at the 28th season of Concerts on the Waterfront here with music and dance of that era blending in with War of 1812 bicentennial observances.

The concerts are held from 3 to 5 p.m. Sundays at the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site overlooking Lake Ontario. The village will host several War of 1812 observances during the bicentennial years, including a battle re-enactment on Aug. 4 and 5.

This year’s lineup of 11 acts:

June 24

Frank Sacci Band

The series kicks off, as it has the past seven years, with Frank Sacci and his big band. Mr. Sacci and his orchestra have performed in and around Watertown at gala events for 40 years, including the Mayor’s Ball for 22 years and Oswego’s Harbor Fest. Before retiring to Florida for the winters, Mr. Sacci also conducted the Jefferson Community College Orchestra and Wind Ensemble. His 16-member big band has appeared with Al Martino, Eddie Fisher, the Smothers Brothers, Connie Frances, Rich Little, the Lettermen, Jerry Vale and Robert Goulet.

Selections Mr. Sacci has scheduled to perform include “When the Saints Come Marching In,” spotlighting all sections of the band; Woody Herman’s version of “Four Brothers,” featuring the saxophone section; a Maynard Ferguson arrangement of the Beatles’ hit “Hey Jude” and “Jump Back,” an original tune written for the band by trombonist Willard Chamberlain.

Look for some patriotic selections and for Daniel Mosier to step out of the trombone section to sing “My Way” and other Frank Sinatra classics.

July 1

Excelsior Cornet band

The Excelsior Cornet Band is the state’s only authentic Civil War brass band. The eight-piece group is a re-creation of an 1861 New York state militia brass band, complete with intruments from the era. The band plays original Civil War music with selections ranging from Abraham Lincoln’s funeral march to “Yankee Doodle.”

Band leader Jeffrey Stockham of Syracuse said his members perform on instruments dating from as early as the 1820s up to the 1870s.

“The sound on the original instrument is as close to actual time travel as you can get, because you are producing exactly the same sound as the players did when those instruments were new,” Mr. Stockham said in a phone interview.

He said he searches high and low for the instruments, saving many from “near-certain destruction.”

“I’ve bought them on eBay, at live auctions, from collectors, yard sales, antique stores and occasionally from other collectors,” he said.

But that work is worth it, he said, when he sees audiences react.

“The sound is much different from modern brass instruments,” he said. “The construction is lighter, the metal is thinner, they have a more conical bore and the sound is more mellow. And they blend really well together.”

July 8

Tenor Madness

This three-member group performs classic swing on tenor guitar, upright bass, clarinet and vocals. It consists of Phil Flanigan on upright bass, Brian Earle on clarinet and Hanna Richardson on tenor guitar and vocals.

The tenor guitar has four strings instead of six; the bottom two are omitted so the instrument has a slightly higher sound. It was popular in the late 1920s and 1930s, the era Tenor Madness embraces.

July 15


The trio of Vishten consists of three, seventh-generation Acadian musicians: twin sisters Pastelle and Emmanuelle LeBlanc from Prince Edward Island, Canada, and Pascal Miousse from the nearby Magdelen Islands. Their songs are sung in French, alone or in harmony. Band members are accomplished multi-instrumentalists and step-dancers incorporating the fiddle, guitar, accordion, penny-whistle, banjo, mandolin, piano, harmonica and bodhran into performances.

July 22


This big and brassy Syracuse-based band is one of the all-time favorites for fans of the Sackets Harbor series, where it will makes its 10th appearance. Atlas highlights 20th century music ranging from Earth, Wind and Fire and Tower of Power to Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett to the Motown era.

Formed in 1981 as the Atlas Linen Company, the nine-piece lineup is led by founder George Feldman on trombone.

July 29


Rochester-based Babik is one of the leading gypsy jazz bands in the Northeast. The group’s style blends American big-band swing with the exotic flair of European Gypsy folk songs. Babik (pronounced Bah-`beek) plays a special brand of jazz known as gypsy swing, which was created in the 1930s by the legendary two-fingered guitarist, Django Reinhardt.

Aug. 5

Opera Reel String Band

With the battlefield historic site wrapping up its re-enactment, the Aug. 5 concert will move to the bandstand near the village docks.

This string band from the Finger Lakes region performs “traditional music of New York state.” Its four members frequently perform music of the 19th century at Genesee Country Village and Museum.

“We know many tunes from the 1812 period because we play annually for the 1812 re-enactment at the Genesee Country Village,” band member Mitzie Collins said.

A feature of this concert will be the presentation of two original ballads about the Sackets Harbor battle sung by their composers, Walt Schaffer and Jeffrey Elmer. Additionally, an authentic contra dance will be performed by community members.

Aug. 12

Prime Time Funk

With Ronnie Leigh

In its 14 years, the 10-member Prime Time Funk has played the Lionel Hampton Jazz Club in Paris as well as the Rochester International Jazz Festival and has shared the stage with some of the world’s most respected funk, rhythm and blues and jazz acts. It’s led by Mr. Leigh, an Albany native and five-time Syracuse Area Music Award winner who is considered one of the finest song stylists working in jazz.

Aug. 19

10th Mountain Division Band

This will be the 16th appearance by the 10th Mountain Division Band in the Concerts on the Waterfront series. The band plays a variety of music from patriotic marches to pop and Sinatra standards to salsa. It is under the direction of Chief Warrant Officer 2nd Class Timothy F. Wallace.

Aug. 26


Songs by this group feature many selections rooted in the lore of the Adirondacks and Northeast woodlands. Quickstep consists of John Kirk, Trish Miller, Ed Lowman, Sara Milonovich and Cedar Stanistreet. Mr. Kirk and Ms. Miller are from the Saratoga Springs area and often perform as a couple. They are well known for their diverse repertoire of original and traditional music.

Sept. 2

Mario DeSantis Orchestra

This will be the 10th year in a row that the orchestra has concluded the series. The orchestra gave its first performance at Lincoln Auditorium in Syracuse in 1947 and continues with its repertoire of jazz to contemporary music. Joining pianist-conductor Mr. de Santis, who has earned a Syracuse area music award for lifetime achievement, are vocalist Keith Condon, his daughter Maria DeSantis and other award-winning musicians.

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The series is a free program presented by the Sackets Harbor Historical Society. Major sponsors are Watertown Savings Bank, the village of Sackets Harbor and the town of Hounsfield Committee for the Advancement of Tourism. Additional support comes from businesses and organizations throughout the north country and “pass the hat” donations.

Three of the concerts, Excelsior Cornet, Opera Reel String Band and Quickstep, are funded in part by the state Council on the Arts Decentralization program, administered in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties by the St. Lawrence County Council on the Arts.

WHAT: 28th season of Concerts on the Waterfront presented by the Sackets Harbor Historical SocietyWHEN: The 11 concerts in the series run from 3 to 5 p.m. Sundays at the Battlefield State Historic Site along Lake Ontario. They begin June 24 with Frank Sacci’s Big Band and conclude Sept. 4 with the Mario Desantis Orchestra. The Aug. 5 concert by Opera Reel String Band will be at the bandstand near the village docks.COST: Free, but “pass-the-hat” donations are welcomedRAIN LOCATION: United Presbyterian Church, Main and Broad streets
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