Local trio battles with other bands for right to compete on international stage
musical trio that traces its origins to the Woodstock Guitar Festival
will head to Troy Saturday night with hopes of landing a major gig in
Germany in August.
Ascent plays original music that has the feel of ethereal jazz and the
structure of rock, capped off by a layer of lyrical icing.
ensemble - LuAnn Arena of Beacon on bass and vocals, Tom Desisto of
West Hurley on guitar and Steve Olenski of Kingston on drums - has
advanced through two rounds in the Albany phase of the international
Emergenza Festival competition. That showing has earned LuLu's the
right to perform Saturday night at Revolution Hall in Troy, where the
winner will advance to the next round in New York City.
from competition rounds held in 90 cities in Europe, 60 in the United
States, three in Australia and six in Canada will compete for the top
prize in August at the Taubertal Open Air Festival in Germany, which
attracts tens of thousands.
competition started with nearly 10,000 bands worldwide and more than
5,000 in the United States. Three bands from the United States will
earn the right to play in the finals in August.
top band receives six weeks of paid recording studio time in Sweden and
could land a slot at the famous South by Southwest Music Festival in
Austin, Texas. National winners from around the world are eligible for
new instruments and on-stage equipment, including wireless mike
systems, new amplifiers and flight cases.
Ascent has made it this far - the Albany round of Emergenza started
with 58 bands, now there are 12 - through a show of hands. Bands
advance through the opening rounds of Emergenza only after earning the
support of the audience. Bands typically bring along their own fans,
but might have to win over followers of other ensembles to win.
the 12 bands competing in Troy, the first six will be eliminated by a
show of hands from the audience. An added element for this round will
include a panel of judges that will select one winner from the
remaining six bands.
must have worked a lot," Marta Guzik, vice director of the Emergenza
office in Montreal, said about LuLu's progress. "The bands that are
really good are the ones that have votes from other people."
a stoneworker and jazz performance major at the State University of New
York at New Paltz, hopes Emergenza is a catalyst for turning music into
a full-time career.
He enjoys making music because "it's your own art."
Arena, a graphic artist, said the band got involved with Emergenza to gain a foothold in Europe.
think we'd fare a lot of better in Europe," Arena said. "From what I've
heard from other musicians who have toured there, you get taken care of
well; you get paid. They respect you as a musician more than here."
said clubs in New York City typically require bands to draw a minimum
number of audience members. If the band doesn't meet the minimum, they
don't get paid and they don't get asked back to perform.
honestly, it's a struggle," she said. "I think it's just so saturated
with so many bands. Everybody is competing to get people through the
The members of LuLu's Ascent are extremely confident in what they have to offer an audience.
think we have our own sound," Desisto, who composes music for film and
television, said. "I think that's something that is kind of rare these
days. There are a lot of good bands out there. But I don't know who we
sound like. I don't know anyone who does what LuAnn does."