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 Pan-Americanarama Festival
By Bob Silvestri

     The crowning jewel of this music filled weekend had to the Saturday (June 16) portion of The Pan-Americanarama Festival held at The Mohawk Place. This years event, the 5th annual, showcased numerous local, regional and national acts on stages set up inside the Hawk and an outdoor stage on a closed Mohawk Street.
     Starting late due to inclement weather, the show still clocked in at over 10 continuous hours of music and didn’t end, at least outside, till 12:30 a.m. Sunday. Inside the music played all night. Due to prior commitments we arrived during the third act, a set by Mike Callahan and Mortal Combine. This Elmira band played straight ahead rural roots-rock to the still arriving crowd. Jim Roll from Ann Arbor, MI. entertained us next with an interesting solo set of his own penned songs.
     Buffalo State graduate and NYC resident Karen Hudson was on next. Instantly winning over the crowd with her Angelic looks and voice to match, she performed her songs to the accompaniment of herself and Orville Davis on the guitar.  With song writing abilities to rival Lucinda Williams and a voice that’s pure, she should be headed for much greater things. Easily one of my favorite sets of the day, she returns for a singer-songwriter showcase at Nietzsche’s (248 Allen St.) on July 12. Check her out she is that good or go to www.karenhudson.com for more information. 
      Beer fueled roots-rockers from NYC, The Hangdogs, kicked things up with their own style of original music. Previous visitors to The Mohawk, these guys put twang to some sweet melodies for a rocking thirty minute set. A return trip for another show is warranted. Neil Cleary, another NYC Alt-country writer, was next. Playing original and covers he received a nice response. 
     Local favorites The Red Gills lit up the stage next with an inspired set. Jammin’ and twangin’ their way through a fine set that finally had the crowd dancing as the sun made it’s first appearance of the day.  The band definitely got the party going with an up beat energetic performance. 
     The New Hampshire band Say Zulu proved to be a pleasant surprise. Although I wasn’t too familiar with their music prior to the show, they were very good and had the crowd chanting their name at the end of the set.
     Another highlight of the day came courtesy of Scott Carpenter and The Real McCoys. Hitting the stage  as the sun began to set, they squeezed every ounce of sweat  out of the crowd who now surrounded the stage. Their performance upped the ante for all the bands to follow. The crowd loved it and gave a thunderous ovation at the conclusion of their set.
      Our hosts, the Steam Donkeys, were next. They started their set with their classic “Pothead” complete with smoke machine. Some took this as a call to arms as the sweet smell of ganja soon filled the air on Mohawk Street. Their 30-minute set of originals ended with the now famous “Mystery Train Medley.” Trashabilly  kings and local vets The Irving Klaws fired up the crowd with their unique brand of twangabilly garage rock. Complete with a drummer who played standing at his kit resplendent with a super hero cape and mask.
      As the cool night air approached it was time for the Cleveland based-band The Cowslingers. Just having  returned from a European tour they were primed for some State side fun and their second home of Buffalo proved a good place to have some. This Punkabilly band delivered a raucous set. Prancing, playing and turning Mohawk Street into their own Punk hoedown. Ripping through originals and a cover of the Steam Donkeys song “Hannah” they lit up the night just like the long-horned cattle that was  projected on a nearby building. Their set ended with the great guitarist Charlie Quill from the Steam Donkeys showing us what a guitar festival is all about with some mighty fine playing.
     Besides the outside bands we caught Eric Royer’s one-man band, to hard to describe here, you have to see him, and Cathy Carfagna and Dave Meisner playing an acoustic set inside the club. In addition to the outstanding music, vendors filled the street with food, T-shirts, CDs, etc. Food included jambalaya, barbecue beef sandwiches and chicken fajitas done on a smoker and hot-dogs for the timid of stomach. Special mention to Chef Marty Boratin who kept us fed all day with home made baked beans, salads and grilled eggplant or portobello mushroom sandwiches that were simply out of this world! Chef Marty would kick the Iron Chef’s ass. Adding to the event was a hot dog eating contest and the crowning of Miss Americanarama-mama 2001. Emceeing the festivities was the, up for the task, Mr. Cliff Hanger.
      Finally, thanks to all who helped  make our day so enjoyable. First and foremost is Pete Perrone, owner of The Mohawk Place, for his dedication to music  and Buffalo. Our hosts Buck Quigley and all the Steam Donkeys and all the other great bands we chatted with, also Dave Staba, Marty for the food and Joe from Indigo for the help in getting the whole thing on tape. Here’s to looking forward to next year’s Americanarama Festival. Below are some cool sites to check out: www.mohawkplace.com 
 www.wnywebshop.com  for both Scott Carpenter and the Real McCoys and The Steam Donkeys www.cowslingers.com

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