Gotham City Gazette
Gotham City Gazette® - June 2016
June 2016
Author : Editor: John A. Buscarello

The Gotham Book Club®

by Julie Klein, Co-Chair of The Gotham Book Club®

In January 2008, we launched The Gotham Book Club® featuring Sara Gruen's New York Times' Best-Selling book, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS. Gruen graciously offered to join our book club chat and off we went. Thanks to Mitch Tobol as our Webmaster and the Tribal Council for their support of the Gotham Book Club, we have had the opportunity to chat with dozens of authors about their notable books. Included among these many writers are Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners such as Jennifer Egan, Junot Diaz and Anna Qundlen. The discussions live on indefinitely on the Gotham City Networking, Inc.® website.

Our ONLINE - AUTHOR book club events have been text-based until our most recent discussion with author M.O. Walsh of MY SUNSHINE AWAY. For that discussion, The Gotham Book Club® met at The Friars' Club for lunch while talking with the author via SKYPE. As our book club evolves, we hope you will join us in these innovative, inspiring and thrilling discussions.

Our next event will be a first as well. Lauren Acampora author of THE WONDER GARDEN will be joining us in person at the Friars Club for lunch on September 21st - 12:30 to discuss the book. Please join us.


The Annual Gotham Battle of the Bands®

"My perspective as a parent of a band competitor!"

By Amparo Connors


Gratitude; this was the theme for this Tuesday’s Gotham Towers meeting (one of our unique qualities is a theme for each meeting). I had no prior knowledge what the theme would be; when I heard it I thought “how perfect”! Tremendous gratitude for Gotham’s Battle of the Bands is what I shared with the Towers attendees, and would like to share with all Gotham members.

One of the key differentiators of Gotham Networking is the emphasis we place on each other’s talents; we help by connecting the right expert to satisfy a need. Through special Gotham events we also discover the talents of members, their families and friends. Collectively we share countless moments where gratitude reinforces why we are Gotham members. Sunday at Café Wha? in the Village, I was the proud parent of one of the musicians competing in the Gotham Battle of the Bands. The opportunity to see my son Jeff Connors, and his bandmates, participating in a showcase of musical talent at a storied venue was a very gratifying experience.

Now in its fourth year the Gotham Battle of the Bands began at a Queens High School. Thanks to Gotham member William Skody, we rocked Café Wha? Six bands were anonymously selected as finalists by a dedicated event committee chaired by Norman Spizz. A variety of musical styles and diversity in performers added to the enjoyment of a terrific afternoon. I was very impressed by the impeccable format and seamless flow of the six sets of performances. Fred Klein welcomed everyone, and Norm acted as our emcee.

Jeff’s band was the first to perform. An Indie Rock band often compared to The Cranberries, It was Romance chose to do four original pieces. Lane Moore was the impassioned vocalist for each piece. As an appreciative Mom I focused on my son. Jeff was in his element throughout; very relaxed and skilled playing the bass and rocking his long blond mane (yes, he IS half Colombian). I’ve enjoyed Jeff’s performances since at a young age he was the understudy for Oliver in a Community Theatre production. When he majored in music at Fordham U., I loved Jeff singing with the school’s chorus particularly at Carnegie Hall. At Café Wha? I could feel Jeff’s passion as he played; knowing how excited he was to share his music with a new crowd I was very grateful for this moment in time. For one of the pieces Lane incorporated a synthesizer and on another an electric ukulele. Their lead guitarist and the drummer also exuded energy and confidence. The closing song was vibrant, very unique, delivering a strong finish and cohesive vive. Being first to perform the crowd was lighter than in the later sets. The audience appeared to enjoy this set even though it was likely their first time hearing this band. In my biased view, because of their originality I would have awarded them third place.

As I immersed myself in each following segment I decided to write down personal observations of the performances, and try to guess how the five judges would rule. I also noted comments from varied attendees. The second band to perform, Quantum Split, quickly revved up the crowd. Billing themselves as a Rock N Roll band, their heavy metal guitar stylings appealed to a group of zealous followers. As an opener for an outdoor metal festival they would likely get the hype and energy going with their showmanship.  The lead singer Soleil Laurent has a melodic voice, but some of her stage mannerisms, and those of her bandmates, bordered on the extreme for my taste. Like Jeff’s band, they were not one of the three winners.

I found it interesting that the band several of us chose as the likely winner came in second place. The third to perform, Upstate Rubdown was our absolute favorite. Adjectives I heard and wrote were “unique, amazing, and terrific”. My daughter Kelly, a singer herself, wrote “harmonies were spot on. The lead soloist sang effortlessly as if the notes just flowed out.” Their use of various instruments made the set interesting to watch, and they were great at getting the audience involved. Cohesive in mood and style, the group of three women vocalists and four men instrumentalists incorporated an upright bass, alto and tenor sax, flute, and mandolin, along with traditional guitar and drums. Their memorable pieces blended jazz, blues/folk, and country/rock pop. Upstate Rubdown left the audience cheering this talented group and with a desire to hear more.

A Rock/Metal band, Shadow Blister Effect, performed fourth. The four young men seemed a cross between a Boy and 80’s Rock Band. Lead vocalist Anthony Zucchero unveiled an excellent voice, but his diction could have been better. My companions felt this band’s performance appeared to be a rehearsal, and not a full presentation. Too loud guitars drowned out the vocals and their attire seemed thrown together. Shut out as a winner, I see this band as having great commercial potential because of their appearance an ease on stage.

The first place winner was the band that played fifth, Quickdraw. Very skilled musically this Country/Southern Rock quartet had a large group rooting for them yet felt disengaged from some at Café Wha? They reminded me of a beach cover band; energetic but not as creative as Upstate Rubdown. Lead singer, Steve Ronsen, looks like an 80’s throwback singer with a touch of Johnny Depp. Glenn Sherman, the lead guitarist excelled with a slide guitar solo. Although Quickdraw lacked cohesion in appearance, I would have placed them second because of their excellent harmonies and guitar prowess. Curiously the other five bands performed a solid twenty minutes, the max allowed, yet they were three minutes short.

The group that came in third place, Off The Record, performed last. Although accomplished musically, in my book they are as their name describes; a band that plays songs from records we’ve heard. A Classic Rock Band they’re the musicians you hire to play at a high end party. Since I approached the day from the perspective of discovering up and coming talent, I found them a bit dull and lacking in uniqueness. Comprised of four seasoned gentlemen, including drummer Curt Arnell a Gotham member, “a band for an older crowd” is how I and those around me described them. The audience connected to the familiar songs, which may be what appealed to the judges. So they ‘had a good beat and you can dance to them’, but they did not feel like an innovative ‘I must listen to them again and again band’.

Throughout the afternoon Norm thanked the varied sponsors and committee members. Prior to announcing the winners, while the highly qualified judges reviewed their notes, Fred thanked many key people that put together a fun and memorable Battle of the Bands. He also announced that all participants, regardless of how they placed, could have an opportunity to perform a thirty minute set at Café Wha? This brings me back to the gratitude from my son Jeff Connors, for the opportunity to further share talents and grow a following. I’m grateful too for having enjoyed a few hours of music and friends because of Gotham. What a gift; thank you!


The Rites of Spring - Gotham's Annual Cocktail Party

by Gene Braunstein

Alas, another fun Gotham Spring Cocktail Party (#19) has come and gone. Did you miss it? If you've never attended one of our Friar's Club bashes, you should. They're like a big family reunion minus the lingering childhood resentments, petty jealousies and calls to 9-1-1. Okay, maybe I'm watching too many dysfunctional reality shows. Sorry.

This year we were fortunate to have a great pre-party opening act (we may have had them before, but I haven't been able to get into NYC early enough to attend). Jayne Latz, of Corporate Speech Solutions, offered up some fantastic tips on how to be better public speakers and presenters, thereby making us better reps of who we are and what we do. Who among us couldn't use her help? What I learned in just the last ten minutes that I saw will now make me better in both those areas. Had I gotten there on time, I could have now begun taking over the world, except for the fact that that would involve far too much paperwork.

We also saw the passing of a torch last night. Ester Horowitz, Gotham City Gazette's intrepid editor, handed the crown over to John Buscarello who will now take the helm of that ship, hopefully refraining from using as many mismatched metaphors as I just have.

Bottom line is that it's great to meet new people and to reconnect with those whom we see but twice a year. That's what Gotham City Networking—and the iconic Friar's Club—is all about. See you all at the December party!

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