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Five Up and Coming Capital Region Bands to Keep an Eye On

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Best Up and Coming Albany-Capital Region Bands

Local Bands in Albany & the Capital Region, Bound to Strike Big

The Capital Region enjoys a wide variety of music, helped in part by the area’s college community, as well as the many nightclubs and bars that cultivate talent. Between free concerts in the parks and a night at Red Square in downtown Albany, there always seems to be a new band on the scene. Here’s a look at five local bands in all different genres that are definitely worth a listen, many of whom are currently on their way to hitting it big.

1. Sgt Dunbar and the Hobo Banned

Sgt Dunbar and the Hobo BannedSgt Dunbar and the Hobo Banned is an innovative indie folk rock collective. Their horn-powered sound has been compared to Neutral Milk Hotel, with a mixture of gypsy folk and New Orleans style jazz. The group is known for their uninhibited theatrical live performances. In recent years, Sgt Dunbar has seen their success transcend beyond their Albany roots.

The group was formed in 2004 as “internet street musicians,” posting home recordings on their website and finally settled into its current configuration as an eight piece band in 2007. Members Tim Koch, Alex Muro and Dan Pardee first met as freshmen at SUNY Albany; the band also features Eric Krans, Donna Baird, Louis Apicello, Jen O’Connor, and Adam Muro. All multi-instrumentalists, the group rotates through a wide array of instruments, including the guitar, accordion, trumpet, tuba, trombone, flugel horn, French horn, drums, mandolin, saxophone, violin, ukulele, singing saws, banjo, bass, and even a typewriter.

In 2008, Sgt Dunbar won a radio competition that landed them on stage at the annual Mountain Jam festival held at Hunter Mountain. Since then the band has added more travel to their schedule, playing at Austin’s South by Southwest Festival as well as the Nelsonville Music Festival in Ohio. For more details, visit

2. Mirk

MirkFormerly known as Mirk and the New Familiars, this high energy hip hop band was formed in 2009 after fans convinced singer Joshua “Mirk” Mirsky that he should expand his sound instead of playing solo. The Albany native attended SUNY Purchase where he became friends with Regina Spektor, whose music he sampled and turned into a track he sold to rapper Jay-Z. He is joined by Mike Thornton on the guitar, keyboardist Andy O’Brien, bassist Kate Sgroi, backup vocalist Tara Merritt, drummer Steve Struss and Chris Russell on the saxophone.

In two years, the band has released one studio album, 2009’s Love, one live album Love/Live, and will release a second studio album, Grind, this fall featuring Grammy Award winning artist Mr. Cheeks. They describe their sound as “futuristic retro.” Mirk plays shows nearly every week in and around Albany, including frequent Tuesday nights at Justin’s on Lark. The band opened up for Vertical Horizon as part of this summer’s Alive at Five lineup. Visit for all things Mirk.

3. Charlie Watts Riots

Charlie Watts RiotsThis newly formed guitar-pop band has been playing all over upstate New York, decked out in their trademark matching suits with skinny ties.  Composed of three veteran musicians from the Albany area–bassist Mike Pauley, guitarist Seth Powell and drummer Joe Putrock–Charlie Watts Riots released their first album Long Story Short in 2010. Their original music has gotten significant air time on local stations WEQX and EXIT 97.7. Self described as  “power pop for the masses,” the group brought their hook-filled amplified sound to last year’s Lark Fest and will play the Empire State Plaza for the Local Legends Live show. Visit for upcoming shows and music samples.

4. Stray Dogs

Stray DogsThese Stray Dogs have been around the block. Veteran musicians Dave Kaskoun (guitar, saxophone, vocals), Marty Satalino (guitar, violin, mandolin, vocals), and Jeff Maynard (bass, vocals) come together to play acoustic bluegrass, blues, country, and rock at regular gigs at the Brunswick Barbecue and Brew in Brunswick and Brown’s Brewing Company in Troy as well as many other locations in Rensselaer County. The band has also recently added Nate Coyne on percussion and Josh Greenberg on saxophone. In addition to their repertoire of popular rock songs including hits by Van Morrison, the Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills and Nash, the Dogs have performed at the Empire State Plaza Summer Concert Series, the Friehofer’s Run for Women, and the Plaza Food Fest. More on the Stray Dogs cane be found at

5. Sea of Trees

Sea of TreesSea of Trees is an experimental rock band based in Albany that has been called “one of the most exciting indie rock bands to come along in some time.”  Featuring Dylan Palazzo (vocals, organ), Cecelia Martinez (vocals, percussion), Mitch Masterson (bass), Ian White (guitar), Jeff Schneider (drums), the band recently released a children’s book/CD entitled Florence and the Hendersons, Part One, which chronicles the journey of Florence as she tries to find her missing scientist father. Included with the book is a nine track CD designed to enhance the fantastical story through music. Their sound can be described as imaginative, moody, dynamic and beautiful. An interview and live performance of the band was recently featured on National Public Radio. More info can be found at

Stacey Stump is a Assistant Editor for The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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