By Rachel Schiffman
You know you're a good, rockin' band when you blow out the house speakers.
That is exactly what happened when Shannon Breeze played at Bloom's in Rego Park. Being so focused on the music, Sean Dolan, lead singer and drummer, did not realize what had happened and finished singing his song, then started playing another one. The rest of the band, not sure exactly what was going on, kept playing right along with him.
Understandably, this wasn't Radio City Music Hall where the sound is controlled by skilled engineers who might have prevented such an event. This was a local bar/restaurant located at 41-28 Queens Blvd. in Rego Park, with one sound guy. Luckily though, the sound went out at the beginning of the second set, so the crowd got to at least enjoy the first set.
The five-member band includes Sean's brother Marty on keyboards and vocals; sister Kathy on vocals, acoustic guitar, mandolin, accordion and tin-whistle; Jon Bivona on lead guitar and background vocals, and Nick Geluso on bass guitar and vocals.
If you are thinking that these are just some run-of-the-mill musicians, think again. Sean is a master's graduate of The Juilliard School, and Nick is currently attending the Aaron Copland School of Music and is majoring in double-bass. Although they are a cover band, some of them do write their own music. Kathy, for example, wrote a Sept. 11 tribute song titled “One Set of Footprints,” which she is offering to anyone who is interested.
Shannon Breeze has been playing as a band for more than 15 years, although the lineup has not always been the same. Nick joined over a year and a half ago after meeting the band through Jon's wife. Jon has been with the band for over three years.
When they first started out, Kathy admits, “We were putting ads in all the local newspapers trying to get ourselves hired.” But now, through hard work and a vast range of songs, “we get calls all the time from club and bar owners wanting to book us, but we are booked solid through March.”
Owners know a good thing when they hear it. The band has a talent for playing songs close enough to the originals they cover to appease the crowd, but they also add a little piece of flavor of themselves. The response to their detail to the songs is apparent. “We have people come back to see us just because they know we play a song from their favorite band,” said Sean.
Although the band usually sounds flawless, and you might think they practice very diligently, they all admit that they rarely practice at all. Nick said they might get together once or twice when they start on a new song, but they pretty much just get up there and play. Their gigs double as their practice time.
Not only do they not rehearse, but they don't come to the stage with a set play list. They'll take requests from the crowd, but as I heard on more than one occasion, “We take requests, but that doesn't mean we'll play them.”
But how they could do that – just hope that someone requests a song that they know from any given artist? The answer is simple, they learn one or two songs from a lot of popular musicians, so when a request comes up for a tune from “Grease,” they play “You're the One That I Want” or if a request for the Goo-Goo Dolls, that turns into them playing “Name.” They can play a little bit of just about anything.
Growing up in the Dolan family house, Kathy, Marty and Sean were always around music. At a young age, they were all taught how to play the accordion. They would perform for friends and family members, so singing just went right along with the playing. Nick said that he also started out in music very young playing the piano, then went to the bass.
Being a big fan of good live music, I had a question for Shannon Breeze which I had wondered about “bar bands” for a long time: “How do you deal with gigs where people do not seem to like you?”
Kathy told me that in a lot of cultures, such as Irish culture, (this was an Irish Pub), people just don't applaud. They will sit and listen, but not seem to make any gesture that they liked what they were hearing. If they stay and listen, then that is a sign they do like what they are hearing. When people start leaving, then you might have a problem.
But the band is just too good to ever walk out on. They can play such a variety of songs, such as Irish and German music, 70s and 80s songs, and hits from today such as “Clocks” by Coldplay, that you are sure to find something for you. On occasion, they will throw in an original song based on the mood of the crowd.
I would highly recommend seeing the band play. To find out when and where Shannon Breeze is playing, or for more information, check out www.shannonbreeze.com. Also, for more information on how to get Kathy Dolan's song, “One Set of Foot Prints,” you can go to www.onesetoffootprints.com for more information.
So you ask, what happened with the rest of the show? Did they ever finish playing? Well, they finally got the sound fixed and rocked out the rest of the night.