Many say that Syracuse is just an average college town, but with much more snow. There is at least one person out to change that perception (besides my mom, champion of the Near West Side) and his name is Michael John Heagerty, voted Best Community Advocate in 2016’s Best of Syracuse, run by our local community publication the Syracuse New Times.
Last week I was once again at #overpassfest. It’s an informal gathering of artists and musicians that has been happening every week since June. So far there have been #overpassfests at the Onondaga Creekwalk, the Inner Harbor, the Erie Canal Museum, and at the Great New York State Fair, and each one has been unique and amazing. Musicians with guitars, basses, tambourines, trombones, and even a couple of cajons (a percussion box that you can sit on and play at the same time) show up at the designated place at the appointed time and just start to perform. The groups constantly change as the evening goes on. Add in photographers (like my friend Lisa Kane), artists of all sorts of media, and for at least one week, a guy with a typewriter that wrote poems on demand. Every week people gather and create together in a community space that otherwise doesn’t see a lot of action.
The musicians in the band Buddhish got together during #overpassfest, and now they are an official band with gigs and everything!! They are in attendance each week in some configuration or another. Last week it was Eric, Tyler, and Jordan, doing some of the songs they have become known for along the creekwalk, like Steve Miller’s Fly Like An Eagle and Scissor Sisters’ Take Your Mama Out. Buddhish has started to play out here in Syracuse (check out and like their Facebook page to find out where to find them!)
Now back to Michael John Heagerty…this man is always coming up with great ideas for community activities that are positive and bring people together! He is all about connecting with people and linking them with other people (like Buddhish) and has an endless supply of energy and passion for Syracuse. This weekend he is producing a music video downtown, a version of the old Erie Canal song you may remember from grade school (you know, I got a mule and her name is Sal…).
One of his ventures is a 10 seat pedal trolley that can be rented for an evening of pub crawling or Pokemon catching or anything else you can think of. He and the captain, also named Michael, spent an unprecedented 12 days from noon to dusk at the fair, taking fairgoers around for a history tour and local beer and food tasting for a nominal fee. They were chosen as a special kind of bike tour on the daily calendar and I hope they do this again next year because I cannot wait to take a ride in 2017!
Michael is all about the history of our city and wants everyone else around to know what has gone on here. He has done his homework and we can reap the rewards. Any discussion about Syracuse these days somehow has Michael in the mix. Follow him on Facebook and you can hear about everything from the trains that ran through the city to the subject of the Underground Railroad!
One of the unexpected benefits of #overpassfest has been time with my friends and family. My mom is often in attendance and my sister is usually there with some of our friends. We all lead such busy lives that we don’t always connect even though we live in the same city, and this gives us a chance to take time to take a breath and listen to a wide variety of musical talent. My friend Lisa not only has been taking pictures, but also connecting with other photographers and artists (these are her photos included in today’s post.) And this outcome was Michael’s vision all along.
My band guys are energized by what they see performers doing, and we may see them around next summer. They are talking about what they could try out there, but honestly I am more excited about who they could meet and jam with. The talent up and down the walk is something to behold! I am hearing that this gathering will continue throughout the colder weather, so I am anxious to see what other spaces Overpassfest will occupy. My goal is to practice the hell out of my guitar so I can jam on a song or two next summer.
So check out Michael John Heagerty. Check out the Big Yellow Fellow. Check out Buddhish. And check out #overpassfest. Syracuse has so much to offer, and you will be amazed at what you can offer to Syracuse.