Amid an array of vintage working vehicles, the Dave Matthews tribute band Big Eyed Phish performed to benefit Universal Preservation Hall and the Saratoga Automobile Museum at the museum Saturday, Oct. 14.
“This is a first for us, with the cars,” Big Eyed Phish lead vocalist Brandon DePaul told the growing crowd after the band’s opening song. “You can come closer to the stage if you want,” he said later, as the over 100 people in attendance warmed up to the Rochester-based band and unconventional venue. “We’re scary but we don’t bite,” violinist and harmonica player Mike Hoeschele added.
Eventually, the crowd responded, moving closer and swaying to the boomp-bahs of the band’s jazzy rock sound. Others stayed in the back showroom, listening to the Dave Matthews classics, but continuing conversation over hors d’oeuvres and drinks from Mount Felix Winery at cocktail tables. Others still perused the vehicles on display in the “Wheels at Work” exhibit, which included a 1951 International Harvester van that sold Italian Ice, and a Port Authority K-9 Police Jeep smashed by falling debris in September 11.
The concert, organized by UPH and hosted by SAM, raised funds for UPH’s renovations, as it is being transformed into a year-round performing arts and community events venue, and for SAM’s education, distracted driving and exhibition programs. UPH Campaign Director Teddy Foster said the event reached the organizations’ fundraising goals, and was a success in every aspect.
“It was fabulous,” Foster said about the benefit concert. “Everybody loved the band—people were crazy for the band. They are the tribute band for Dave Matthews nationally.”
More importantly, Foster said, the event made more people aware of the SAM and UPH venues. She said that usually, at events like this, she knows a lot of the attendees. At the Big Eyed Phish concert, many were strangers to her.
“For me, that’s a total win,” she said.
Lighting and sound production by SAVI, a cash bar selling beer, wine and cider and raffles for a stay at the Adelphi hotel and two tickets to see former Vice President Joe Biden speak at Proctors, rounded out the successful night.
The first-time collaboration between UPH and SAM also proved a success.
“We were thrilled to partner with Teddy Foster and UPH,” Heidi Shull, director of sales and corporate development at SAM said. “Everyone on her staff was wonderful to work with and share a genuine passion for supporting the arts. UPH did a tremendous job blending an auto museum with a concert hall. It looked and sounded amazing.”
A second collaboration between UPH and SAM is in the works: a dance party at SAM featuring the Latin jazz band Alta Havana Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. Alta Havana features keyboardist Jorge Gomez, founder of the three-time Grammy-nominated Cuban music group Tiempo Libre, and husband of Saratoga Performing Arts Center President and CEO Elizabeth Sobol.
UPH is also teaming up with SPAC and Proctors to present two performances by The Sachal Ensemble, a Pakistani jazz group that was the subject of the 2015 film Song of Lahore Oct. 28 at Proctors and Oct. 30 at the Spa Little Theatre.
For more information about UPH and its upcoming events, visit universalpreservationhall.org/events. To read about the “Wheels at Work” exhibit, visit saratogaautomuseum.org/upcoming-exhibits/. For more about Big Eyed Phish, visit bigeyedphish.net. And to learn more about The Sachal Ensemble, see Saratoga Living’s blog saratogaliving.com/stories/brubeck-inspired-collaboration-of-music-and-film-from-pakistan,3120?