Terrific Times and Temporary Terrain
Written by Amy Modesti on September 3, 2020
Live music has been difficult to locate this summer. Concert spectators are driving to Rensselaer County to enjoy entertainment at town community centers. Drive-in movie theaters have become the new norm to watch a movie and a show. Musicians and bands live stream their concerts on social media. Private parties are held at musician’s homes.
Musicians are finding ways to connect with friends, family, and fans through the power of music. Music is the heart and soul of what keeps things alive in all who are bound to its beats, rhythms, and lyricism. One method how music was brought back into my circle was at a friend’s private party I was graciously invited to in July: “Turfball 2020”.
Many of you are thinking, what is Turfball 2020? Is it a party held for baseball players after their winning game? Is it held at a golf course? Who even came up with the idea of “Turfball 2020”?!
Greg Aidala of Radical Gage Entertainment came up with this ingenious idea. “The event is something I always wanted to do on my property for years, but because of my schedule it was always difficult to plan. Then along comes COVID-19. So, back in April I thought, ‘Hey, this might be a good time to host such a private event in ‘responsible fashion’. Turfball comes in part from the name of my street (Turf Lane) and I added the ball because I am a fan of Phish and their festivals (as of late) end with the word ball.
So, to make this happen, I made it a neighborhood event mixed with family and friends. I could not think of a better time than mid-summer to hold the event to get people out of the house, enjoy the company of friends and listen to live music. In addition to the music, there was food, lawn games and even a fire pit after the music. My motto for the day was: Music. Laughs. Good People. A dream come true for this upstate New York boy.”
Turfball arrived on Saturday, July 11 and brought out an evening full of great music and total relaxation with good company. The entertainment featured Aidala’s side project, The G10 Project. Aidala formed it with his best friend from childhood, Todd Smith (guitar/vocals), and his cousin, Mark Klein (drums/vocals), who is the drummer in Blackcat Elliot. Headlining Turfball was Blackcat Elliot. Klein’s group features “Fast Eddie” Lyons (bass/vocals), and Kostas “Gus” Hais (guitar/vocals).
The G10 Project were rocking, as were Blackcat Elliot. The G10 Project brought the 1990’s back to full throttle with their covers of “No Rain” (Blind Melon), “Wicked Games” (Chris Issac), and “Last Dance with Mary Jane” (Tom Petty). Watching Aidala and Klein jive on riffs and head bang to a Phish tune or Nirvana was intriguing. It was nice to watch them let loose and enjoy their moment on stage, even if the stage was an outdoor back porch.
Blackcat Elliot was loud and proud and they let their friends and fans know that rock and roll is still alive and kicking through their songs from their album, “There is No Good in Us” and covers. Their rendition of “Blitzkrieg Bop” (The Ramones) was rocking and had their fans chanting the intro in unison. All originals were played in fine form. It gave their new fans a listen of their new tunes, “Sucker in the Front Seat”, “Let Yourself Go”, “Turn It”, and “Come Take Me Away”. Hais, full of energy and drive, knelt down and wailed out his guitar solo along the porch boards as he, Lyons, and Klein, closed out their set with “Never Come Clean”.
An encore followed. Aidala played “Folsom Prison Blues” (Johnny Cash) and closed his party out with a jam session of “Seven Nation Army” (The White Stripes) with Klein, Lyons, and Smith. Turfball was a blast!! It was nice to sit back and relax with my musician friends who I have not seen in quite some time.
Despite the fun that was had that night, COVID 19 affected both the creativity and life of Aidala and Blackcat Elliot. Despite having gigs cancelled or postponed, Aidala remains positive and resorted to writing (fiction/non-fiction) and playing music every single day. Gus too, has remained in creative mode.
“Covid and creativity. Interesting choice of words. Being locked up for these weeks has forced me to be more creative and of course, write more songs. It has forced me to be better at it as well. It has been non-stop writing and recording demos for the next album from home. Once the demos are decent enough, I send them to Marky and Eddie to dissect. In the end, it is gratifying to hear the final take of our songs. Especially when it is done live. It seems that my creativity has flourished during lockdown. Worst part about it, we cannot perform. I think it will get better though. When it does, we will have an extensive list of new songs.”
Aidala added, “The only way to push through the tough times in life is to keep moving forward knowing (and praying). It will get better in time. I am really looking forward to performing in front of large crowds of good people again. And, I cannot wait to go see my favorite comedians and musical groups live again…and hopefully soon. Viva la creatives!”
Aidala and BCE have been working on some new projects before and during COVID-19. Aidala landed a role on a new show on MTV called, Revenge Prank. His episode was filmed in Long Island for three days at the end of February, and he plays a plastic surgeon. The episode is due to air in August 2020. His experience being on the show was fun and that the people at MTV were super cool to him.
“I’m also continuing to work on two shows that I produce and act in: Welcome Home which airs on Amazon Prime and also, QuaranTeam – a show me and friends of mine developed during the early COVID months to which we received national attention. We recruited a group of professional actors we know throughout the country and did everything through Zoom. We did our best to stay positive and funny through difficult times. It was a new way of producing, directing, and acting. We all learned many lessons and had a great time doing so.”
Fast Eddie of BCE included, “What new projects and new work is Blackcat Elliot working on? I took some time off from playing/practicing for a couple of months during quarantine, but fortunately, Gus has been busy writing songs. I have been working with Gus and Marky over the last month or so, and it is good to be back. Playing at Turfball really helped to get me back on track. Since playing out is indefinitely on hold, we are going to keep moving ahead by working on and developing the new material. We are hoping to get back to the recording studio sometime this fall.”
Aidala and BCE had a blast being involved in Turfball. For Aidala, he wanted his guests to feel safe, happy, and ‘alive’. He loved how everyone got to share in a SPAC-like experience and enjoy his property. The feedback Aidala received was overwhelmingly positive and he received two weeks’ worth of notes of gratitude after the event. It was the most fun he had in many, many months.
“I couldn’t think of better people (family and friends) to be in the company of and, to share the stage with Blackcat Elliot was a treat indeed. My reflections on the day? Peace, love, music, and a beautiful summer day. What else could one ask for? We’ll have to do it again in some capacity in the near future for sure.”