Independent roots band Upstate ready to celebrate live music with Park City |

Independent roots band Upstate ready to celebrate live music with Park City

Free tickets available for July 10 show

Upstate will perform its unique independent roots music July 10 at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts. The concert, presented by the Park City Institute is free, but tickets are required.
Pat Capriglione Photography

Bassist Harry D’Agostino says his band Upstate, which will perform July 10 at the Eccles Center, considers live performances as a celebration.

“We’re the medium of delivering the musical experience, and it will be exciting to play in front of an audience and get that communion relationship going again,” D’Agostino said. “It’s a funny thing when you step back and realize how hungry we all get for live music. It fills a celebratory space in our cultural life.”

The local audience will have another thing to celebrate, because Park City Institute and Mountain Town Music are presenting the show for free, said Air Ioannides, executive director of the Park City Institute.

The gesture is a way of showing gratitude to the community for supporting the performing arts through COVID-19, he said.

“The Park City Institute board of directors wants to give back to the community that has done such a great job of supporting us all year long, so there will be a limit of two free tickets per person for general admission,” Ioannides said.

The free tickets can be obtained by visiting

The coronavirus pandemic felt like a “long hibernation” to D’Agostino.

“It will be exciting to really register the transition and play in Park City,” he said.

Upstate, comprised of D’Agostino, singers and guitarists Mary Webster and Melanie Glenn and percussionist/instrumentalist Dean Mahoney, formed more than a decade ago in New York’s Hudson Valley.

“It initially was myself, Mary and Melanie who started a band that snowballed over the years,” D’Agostino said. “I think when the band initially formed, there wasn’t a grand expectation. We didn’t intend it to be a career. It just sort of grew into that.”

The secret of the band’s sound that can be described as independent roots is the musicians’ diverse influences, according to D’Agostino.

“We all come from really different backgrounds musically and artistically and our personal lives,” he said. “We’re just trying to scratch a musical itch, because music has been an important part of our lives.”

D’Agostino was raised on a broad diet of music that included early American folk and blues.

“My mom used to have a radio show when she was in college, and she exposed me to a lot of music from different eras,” he said. “I got into rock ‘n’ roll of the ‘50s and ‘60s from my dad.”

D’Agostino’s musical palette expanded while he was in high school and he went on to study jazz bass in college.

“I also started listening to a lot of gospel and religious music, and I got to play with a gospel singer, which was a very enriching experience,” he said.

D’Agostino and his bandmates are also attracted to the swing and pulse of the music coming from New Orleans.

“That’s where the meeting of the African and French marching rhythms, as well as the Caribbean became a big influence,” he said.

One of the biggest influences of the band across the board is the Wood Brothers, D’Agostino said.

“You have Oliver Wood, who is a tremendous songwriter and guitar player who borrows from those traditions that I just named,” he said. “Then you have Chris Wood (known for his work with Medeski, Martin and Wood), who is a forward thinking musician and a creative player on the bass. They are the band that all four of us wrap around.”

When it comes to original Upstate compositions, D’Agostino, Webster and Glenn all have a hand in the songwriting.

“We used to have arrangements that seemed almost erratic, but gracefully so,” D’Agostino said. “They would have one groove that would shift into something else, but there was a flow that made things feel whole and together. But as we’ve grown, we’ve simplified things.”

Glenn usually comes in with full song structures, while Webster and D’Agostino offer fragments and ideas that are guided by collaboration.

“We really try to get to the essence and heart of what the song is trying to be, and just sort of polish and shape it,” D’Agostino said. “Some of them come quickly over the finish line, while others are like pulling teeth.”

Upstate also takes a collaborative approach when it comes to live performances.

“We have the setlists worked out, and sometimes we work out transitions between the songs,” D’Agostino said. “We want to play the set as a whole, and not just as a list of songs. That way we strive to keep the energy and attention of the audience from the first note played through the encore.”

A big part of the live component is Mahoney’s cajon playing.

“He’s visually compelling in what he does, and he stretches the instrument in a way few people do,” D’Agostino said. “So we try to keep him at the forefront, but it’s interesting because all of us have different personalities on stage, and we draw the eyes of different people. So there is always something going on.”

Big Stars, Bright Nights Concert Series with Upstate

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 10

Where: Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd.

Cost: Free, but tickets are required


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