By Susan Whistler
The weather gods were smiling on our little village last weekend while guitars gently wept and rocked, classical overtures inspired, fireworks exploded over the slopes like a super nova and the audiences just kept dancing and smiling. I have to say that I have never enjoyed a concert series more than the Ellicottville Summer Music Festival last weekend held right here in our own back yard. Holiday Valley and the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce deserve big kudos for throwing one of the best parties of the summer and possibly the year. It was perfect!
I grew up in Southern California in the 70’s and so I’ve been fortunate to have seen some really great concerts in some equally great outdoor venues. The School House ski run/Number 1 fairway at Holiday Valley provides one of the best outdoor concert venues ever. You’d have to try really hard to find a spot on the hill to spread your blanket and enjoy the contents of your cooler without having a good view of the stage. Even better, you don’t need to wear shoulder pads or a helmet to make your way safely to the nearest portable “facilities” or concession stand…and the scenery is BEAUTIFUL!
Sister Hazel kicked off the festival on Friday evening and it’s easy to understand why Hollywood has used their music in several box office hits over the past fifteen years. I love their tight harmonies and pithy lyrics. My personal favorite was “Everybody Needs a Go To Karaoke Song”. They got that right.
The Buffalo Philharmonic on Saturday night was nothing short of fabulous. There was something in their program for every musical taste. Associate Conductor Matthew Kraemer threw everything from Cole Porter to Tchaikovsky into the musical pot, added a little Ray Charles and Motown for spice and stirred. The result was delicious. What could be better than listening to a live performance of the 1812 Overture while watching one of the most spectacular fireworks displays in the history of the world?
Sunday on the hill with The Guess Who was like spending an evening reminiscing with old friends, especially for those of us who grew up with their music in the late 60’s and early 70’s. There are only two original members of the group remaining and all the “new” band mates hit just the right notes and didn’t disappoint. They had everyone on their feet and delivered all those great hit singles just the way we remembered them…or thought we did. What a night!
I thought the best and most amazing part of the festival, aside from the magnificent music and fabulous fireworks, was the audience. I have never been to any concert, indoor or out, in the presence of such a fun, enthusiastic and respectful group of people. Brian McFadden, Executive Director of the EVL Chamber commented that there was not so much as a paper cup left on the slopes after any of the concerts. Thanks again to Holiday Valley, The EVL Chamber of Commerce and all the wonderful people who attended this festival and made this weekend so special. I love this place!