For the past couple of years, Rob Jonas has put together a day of music at Tess’ Lark Tavern as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
This year, Jonas wanted to find a bigger venue, one with two stages. That way, twice as many musicians could play, which could bring in twice the crowd and potentially twice the donations for a cause that has special significance for Jonas.
My mom died in 2007 of cancer, so I wanted to try to do something to defeat it, he said.
Jonas, the Spotlight sports editor, is also a regular on the local music scene. He has played frequently over the past year at Emack and Bolio’s, an ice cream chain with shops in Guilderland and Albany.
`It kind of occurred to me, maybe this would be a good place,` Jonas said, noting that Emack and Bolio’s has good acoustics and the dual locations would fit his wish for an expanded roster of musicians.
There was another reason Emack and Bolio’s was a good fit. Co-owner Ken Young’s mom is also fighting cancer. She just recently started chemotherapy. So when Jonas approached Young about the fundraiser, he was more than happy to offer Emack and Bolio’s as the venue. The shops will serve up live music all day on Saturday, Oct. 24, with all CD sales and music tips, as well as a percentage of the food sales, benefiting the American Cancer Society.
That’s particularly exciting for Jonas, who in the past raised money only from donations and raffle tickets he sold for prizes he collected from local businesses.
`People might just go there for the ice cream,` he said. `They’re in effect donating to the cause.`
Ice cream isn’t the only draw at Emack and Bolio’s, although that’s certainly what hooked Young’s wife, Amy Riddell. An ice cream aficianado who worked at the Ben and Jerry’s on Lark Street in Albany during college, Riddell visited an Emack and Bolio’s in Cape Cod about six years ago and said to her husband, `This is it.`
`This is what?` Young remembers asking.
Riddell told him that she was going to quit her job as a guidance counselor at Clayton A. Bouton High School in Voorheesville and open an Emack and Bolio’s franchise. She did just that last summer, when the Albany area’s first Emack and Bolio’s debuted on Delaware Avenue near St. James Church. The Guilderland location opened in June.
Young said the couple promotes `a coffeehouse-type atmosphere,` offering free wi-fi, `little espresso drinks,` pastries and hand-dipped chocolates. Music is also a key part of the scene, with regular performances and open mic nights.
The Emack and Bolio chain has a deep connection with music, as founder Bob Rook started out as a rock and roll lawyer. But Young noted that only about a half-dozen of the 50 or so Emack and Bolio shops offer live music. He wanted to be one of those shops because he started playing guitar a few years ago `and thought it would be cool to combine those things.`
One of the regular performers at Emack and Bolio’s is acoustic folk duo 2Late, made up of Vicki Gayle and Mike Short. Their performance at the cancer fundraiser is among several recent charity gigs; they also recently took part in `Shop For A Cause Day` at Colonie Center and a `coffeehouse` at Gayle’s church, St. Boniface in Guilderland, with proceeds benefiting the ministries of the St. Boniface Women’s Group.
What’s funny is that there wasn’t a whole lot of goodwill between Gayle and Short when they first met. As Gayle recalls, `I didn’t like him. Didn’t like him at all.`
Short, it seems, was substituting as the organist at St. Boniface and was a little critical of a song. That rubbed Gayle the wrong way.
The story might have ended there, but not long afterward, Gayle attended a concert at Short’s church, and she and her husband were seated with Short and his wife.
`It was a better meeting that time around,` Gayle said with a laugh.
The two became friends and eventually played some music together. They clicked ` so much so that Gayle began to rethink her idea of pursuing music only as a solo act.
`She had vowed that she would never have a partner again,` said Short, explaining that Gayle had been in some groups that had gone sour.
Soon enough, 2Late was born. The duo jokes that the name refers to the fact that it’s too late in their musical careers to land a major recording deal.
But they have released two CDs: `Comments from the Kitchen` (a nod to Short’s wife, who would often critique songs from the kitchen while 2Late was rehearsing), and `Just 2Late.`
`We pride ourselves on when we sing, we’re together,` Gayle said. `We spend a ton of time on it.`
`And we like each other, and that’s a really big deal,` Short said.
Like the other musicians taking part in the cancer fundraiser, 2Late came on board early after hearing about the event from Young.
`When I sent out the e-mail, I just got an instant response,` Young said. `People were very willing to do this for the cause.`
Young, an earth science teacher at the high school in Voorheesville, is also spearheading a collection there. All told, he and Jonas hope to raise at least $1,000 after bringing in `a few hundred` each of the last two years.
There is no cover charge. The Guilderland Emack and Bolio’s is at 1704 Western Ave. The Albany store is at 366 Delaware Ave. “