The Post Standard - Music Notes

Music Notes: Donna Colton performs 'Evil & Mean' (video)

Published: Thursday, April 29, 2010, 12:16 AM     Updated: Thursday, April 29, 2010, 7:03 AM
Mark  Bialczak/The Post-Standard

Music Notes on Video: Donna Colton and Sam Patterelli
Donna Colton was a proud member of last year’s Syracuse Area Music Awards Hall of Fame induction class. The singer and songwriter didn’t let local fame slow her down, as she demonstrates in this week’s Music Notes on video interview and acoustic performance of the new song “Evil & Mean,” with guitar partner Sam Patterelli. You can find both at You can find a catalog of the original songs and interviews at the link at left.

Here Colton and Patterelli play "Evil & Mean."


© 2011 All rights reserved.

The Post-Standard - Listen Up Blog

Harmony reigns at Jazz Central in Syracuse with Barrigar, Colton and her relatives

Published: Sunday, April 19, 2009, 7:54 PM     Updated: Sunday, April 19, 2009, 7:56 PM
Mark  Bialczak/The Post-Standard

What: Loren Barrigar, Donna Colton and Relative Harmony in concert.
When: Sunday.
Where: Jazz Central.
Crowd: 100 (sold out).
Time of performance: 2 hours, 15 minutes including 15-minute intermission.

By Mark Bialczak
Staff Writer

Loren Barrigar took stock of his situation as first-man-on Sunday afternoon at Jazz Central in Syracuse, taking a deep breath after handling the vocals to "Try a Little Kindness."

"It takes a brave man to come out here and sing before Donna Colton and the girls," the man from Elbridge best known for his finger-picking acoustic guitar style declared to the standing-room-only crowd.

A bit later, Colton returned the compliment.

"Talk about brave. Playing guitar in front of Loren Barrigar. Who do I think I am?" said the lifelong Central New Yorker best known for her powerful voice.

They both were way too modest.

Barrigar's voice was deep and rich; Colton's guitar work was golden. It was a special couple of hours for the local music scene as Barrigar and Colton put their talents together for a gig for the very first time. The feel-good, sound-good roster actually ran another four deep. Two Troublemakers who regularly back Colton, bass player Sam Patterelli and percussionist David Salce were joined by the named-for-this-occasion Relative Harmony. That was the perfect name for singers Marleah Visconti and Sharon Allen - Colton's sister and their cousin, respectively.

Calling Relative Harmony back-up singers wouldn't do them justice. They both took turns with lead vocals, too. Allen's voice was true and bluesy; Visconti's voice was much like her sister Colton's, perhaps a bit more folksy in a Joni Mitchell vein. And their three-part harmony was sweet, delicious and inspiring.

The concert was sequenced like a good album. In fact, the engineers from SubCat Music Studios were there to record it for possible release as a live CD.

As the conversational buzz in the room grew, Barrigar came out to get earn silence and attention with a five-song solo start, first delivering a gorgeous version of John Denver's classic "Country Roads" that set the bar high. His mentor is international finger-style guitarist Tommy Emmanuel of Australia. After Barrigar invited Patterelli out to add his solid-rock bass line, Barrigar showcased the thrilling "T.E.'s Ramble," which he wrote in tribute to Emmanuel. Emmanuel is the composer of "Chet Atkins' Ramble," in honor of his mentor. "Just moving down the food chain," Barrigar explained.

Then he invited the women out to sing, and the electricity in the room grew during their memorable harmony on the classic "Leavin' on a Jet Plane," a perfect tease to what was to come after the intermission.

The second set was all-hands-and-voices on deck, an 80-minute journey through spirited songs Relative Harmony had grown up on. There was splendid Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young with "Helplessly Hoping" and soaring Melanie with "Ring the Living Bell" and jamming Grateful Dead with "Uncle John's Band.

"I didn't get into Grateful Dead songs until I heard other people play them," Colton confessed, earning a chuckle. "Then I could understand what they were singing."

They rocked out to Karla Bonoff's "Baby Don't Go," and got bluesy with Bonnie Raitt's "Good Night Louise."

They tagged a beautiful a cappella "Babylon" on at the start of The Band's gem "Willin'."

They turned down the dusty country path, with Barrigar singing and guitar-riffing down-home to Merle Haggard's wonderful " Silver Wings," making him beam as he heard the women harmonizing with him.

When they poured their hearts into the Hank Williams treasure "Jambalaya," it was hard for everybody to keep their bodies in the seats.

By the time they turned CSNY's "Teach Your Children" and the Rolling Stones' "Tumbling Dice" into a saucy medley and came back for a rousing encore of the Swinging Steaks' "Suicide by the Wishing Well," everybody was up and standing and clapping and cheering.


© 2011 All rights reserved.

Stars / The Post Standard

Top 10 CD's of the Year To pick my 10 favorite Central New York CD's for 2007, I perused the pile of local music that came my way. To the right went the ones that I'd put on my list without second thoughts. It became a mountain of music, 35 CD's in all. That's good news... very good news. First the good: Many local musicians are making memorable music. Now the very good. Here are my Top 10 for 2007: 1. Donna Colton & the Troublemakers, "Tryst". Colton's always-rich voice seems to reach even greater heights on this collection of songs mostly co-written with partner Sam Patterelli. Backed by the Troublemakers --- Patterelli on guitars and bass and Dave Salce on drums --- Colton comfortably and confidently strides down well-chosen roots-rock paths. If the life's-good imagery in the song "Summer Face" doesn't make you smile, you're an incurable grump.

Low Budget

A little bit country, a little bit blues and a lot of heart --- that's New York based Donna Colton. Donna owns every syllable. She sings with a compelling kind of womanly swagger, not unlike that of Melissa Etheridge, Bonnie Raitt and Loretta Lynn. She strums some heartache, some wistful dreaming, but also and impassioned social commentary. "They try to hold you down if you're ethnic or you're queer, 'cause terrorists and liberals are the sum of all their fears," she sings on "Time For A Change" a breezy number that would make a good campaign ad. All told, a fine-sounding band.

Post Standard

Regular Band, special guests back Colton on new CD Donna Colton enlisted some Troublemakers to make sweet noise on her new CD "Tryst". Great move. With the help of her trusty regular band mates, Sam Patterelli on guitars and bass and Dave Salce on drums, Colton showcases the big, rich, powerful voice that's entertained Central New Yorkers for two decades worth of live shows now. Colton and Patterelli ably share the bulk of the writing duty, too, taking credit for nine tunes --- one by Colton solo (the sad breakup song "Another Love"), one by Patterelli alone (the epic protest closer "Time For A Change") and the rest together. They add the rest-easy ballad "Just Let It Go" from Colton's cousin Leo Visconti, Joni Mitchell's spicy "Carey" and the soulful "Ring The Living Bell" by Melanie Safka. Good friends add intoxicating layers throughout. Karen Savoca's lovely harmony vocals enrich "Just Let It Go" and "Share My Love". Savoca's longtime CNY guitar star, Pete Heitzman, jangles richly on "Just Let It Go" and "Summer Face." Los Blancos keyboardist Mark Nanni adds a lovely harmonica riff to "Another Love" and dynamic organ to "Time For A Change." Syracuse veteran Arty Lenin's lead guitar sends an energy bolt through the swinging title cut, a wonderful tune that plays over in your head for hours afterrward. Joe Davoli on fiddle, Ron Keck on perrcussion, Dave DeSiro on triangle and shaker, Julius Williams on percussion, Marcia Hagan, Jennifer "Tee" DAvis and Cathy Goode on sould chorus, spring peepers making their natural nighttime racket. That's a little help from your friends. Nevertheless, Colton's voice rightly shines on center stage and serves as the glue for it all. The CD was amstered by Peter Moshay at his own A-Pawling Studios downstate. He offerred these words of praise: "Donna not only sings with amazing power, control and conviction, when I hear her sing her songs, It's like seeing a movie, too. A true master, and her CD's are filled with great songs." That's something, coming from a man who'd mixed the work of Barbra Streisand, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez and Hall & Oates.

Northeast In-Tune

Sometimes listening to singer/songwriters can be a tedious engagement. You often get the feeling that other than one or two good songs for the radio, they just write songs to fill up a set list. But with singer/songwriter Donna Colton, the joy she takes in both her songwriting and performance --- permeates throughout most of her music. And that joy transmits to the listener. Colton's artistic sensibility has a strong presence of gritty femininity, as in the likes of the Indigo Girls and Melissa Etheridge. And likewise, Colton's musical repertoire skids between the coffeehouse folk sound of the Indigo Girls and the blues/rock sound of Etheridge. Colton's sultry voice and laid back rhythmic guitar work acroos both of these genres, but she definitely shines far more in crafting acoustic folk gems than in bellowing her bluesy standbys. Her best songs have melodies that are energetic and theatrical, and lyrics that create real characters and situations. "Killing the Day" is a joyful, poetic romp. "Evening Ride" is a wistful lover's tribute to laid back love. Overall, Colton suggests she might turn up on blues night at the neighborhood bar, but she is undoubtedly a lot more at home in a downtown coffeehouse.