The second Lockport Canal Concert came off without any apparent hitches this past Friday. The weather, although somewhat cloudy, was kind to us and the attendance looked to be even better than the opener.

Blood, Sweat & Tears Rocks Lockport

If you are a Blood, Sweat and Tears fan, you got a great show. Rave about them all you want and I won’t disagree, but I still stand by my wish for some bands that are still currently writing new material, still evolving, not on a Greatest Hits Tour. There are plenty of musicians, nationally-known, that fit in that category. You’d think some would be available… Well, we’ll see a couple later in the season.

When I arrived, they were in the middle of some kind of American Idol imitation. There were a bunch of local entrants competing for some minimal prizes and a chance to progress on to later weeks. Those that I saw were pretty good, yet all the same. At this level, I guess it’s highly-polished karaoke.

But as always, for me, the highlight was the opening bands. This weeks lineup was unknown to me, so I was ready to hear something new. There were three names, one solo artist, followed by two bands. It turns out they were sort of a package deal, as they were on tour together.

First up was Amber Rubarth, a singer-songwriter act playing guitar and piano. She played a too-short set of original material that was quite good. If she doesn’t make it big performing, she’ll probably do all right when some big name covers one of her songs.

Here’s an anecdote from her bio:

okay so one day right before graduating high school i was riding my bike through tahoe and i saw a little flyer blowing from a nail on a tree that said “wood sculpture apprenticeship” and i thought “wow, i would much rather do that than college!” (the brilliance of a 17 year old) and so i dropped the idea of college and moved to carson city, nevada to learn to use a chainsaw and make things like leopards and sailors and benches and pretty signs then one late night in the studio i was talking with the head sculptor there and he was telling me one of the most significant things he ever learned in life was the importance of following your number one passion and not your second or third, because you will only be truly great if you’re doing what you really love most. so i put down my chainsaw, quit, and told him i was going to learn to play guitar and be a musician.

Apparently, capitialization is optional in Amber’s world!

Will Dailey

Will Dailey and his band played after Amber.

Up next was Joshua James who seems to be playing about a dozen gigs around the Northeast with Amber and Will Dailey.

I talked with Joshua and one of the band members afterwards at their merch tent. He’s from Nebraska and they’re touring the country this summer. While it’s got to be the experience of a lifetime, seeing the country as you tour, gas prices have got to hurt the independant musician. Joshua said they were travelling in a large van, pulling a trailer with their equipment and only getting about 10 miles per gallon. Selling their merchandise at shows was critical to making ends meet. Of course, I left with a couple CDs to help the cause.

They weren’t shy about it, either. In a very smart move, members of the band were standing at the gates as people left afterward, hawking their CDs. I hope they sold a bunch and can keep that gas tank filled!

The misconception the public has about musicians being rich is simply not true. Maybe the darlings of the big record companies are taken care of, but the vast majority of them just get by. Traveling on the road, living in motels, driving at night and sleeping all day is a tough life. Too few ever reach the brass ring and make it big. Hopefully, enough do well enough to succeed in the long run and keep providing the entertainment we crave. Too many talented artists don’t.