Homegrown Talent

Tune in now to these five up-and-coming local musicians—we bet you’ll be hearing lots more from them.



Homegrown Talent


Think you have to take the Metro-North—or worse yet,
the Deegan—to hear great music? Nonsense! Forget that maddening gridlock and those $25-an-hour parking fees. You can hear great live music—and not just cover bands,
but current touring and recording artists—right here,
and enjoy all the excitement of a Manhattan club (except perhaps without all that city ‘tude.) Here are a few of
our favorites.

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great places to hear great music


Watercolor Café

2094 Boston Post Rd, Larchmont

(914) 834-2213; watercolorcafe.net

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This Larchmont establishment showcases local talent in genres such as folk, blues, jazz, and pop. Artists who have appeared  at the café range from The Gil Parris Quartet to Richie Havens. Watercolor Café’s ongoing Master Songwriters Workshop Series has featured such notable names as John Gorka, Steve Forbert, and Sloan Wainwright.


The Bayou Restaurant

580 Gramatan Ave, Mount Vernon

(914)668-2634; bayourestaurantny.com

Got a hankering for Crescent City sounds? The Bayou not only has good Cajun food, but it is the big daddy of authentic N’awlins music clubs in these parts, with an eclectic roster of incredible live Cajun, Creole, Zydeco, blues, and jazz music, including the likes of Delta Highway, Popa Chubby, and more. Its slogan says it all: Darn good eats, darn good music.

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Paulie’s Bar & Grill

14 Marble Ave Pleasantville

(914) 773-0003

This feel-good place offers live comedy or music entertainment every Saturday night. The music ranges from cover and tribute bands to local and up-and-coming artists, and from genres as diverse as rock and hip-hop.


North Star Restaurant

85 Westchester Ave, Pound Ridge

(914) 764-0200; northstarny.com

Located in the lovely Scotts Corners area of Pound Ridge, this quaint, rustic space offers a nice mix of live music. Thursday is the night to go if you want to hear funky sounds (Lipbone Redding or the Slippery Chickens, for instance—talk about eclectic!) in an equally funky setting.


The Turning Point Café

468 Piermont Ave, Piermont, NY

(845) 359-1089; turningpointcafe.com

This quaint little gem—a Hudson Valley treasure for three decades—bills itself as the “Home of Great Music,” and that’s no exaggeration. The Turning Point found its niche starting in the late ’70s, when coffeehouses and music “rooms” were still the preferred venues for those who didn’t care for the Studio 54 scene. It’s managed to stay the course. Living legends as well as strong touring acts and up-and-coming artists have graced the Turning Point’s tiny stage over the years, including Kris Kristofferson, Rick Danko, and Arlo Guthrie. Jazz fans should be excited to hear that the Turning Point has brought back live jazz, now featured every Monday night.


The Towne Crier Café

130 Rte 22 Pawling, NY

(845) 855-1300; townecrier.com

This is the (very hip) granddaddy of live music clubs in the Hudson Valley. Founded by Phil Ciganer 36 years ago, the Towne Crier offers some of the best quality live music in the tri-state area. Everyone who’s anyone—from John Hammond to John Mayall to (now Congressman) John Hall—has played here, and now, says Ciganer, it is not unusual to see three generations of music fans sitting together at one table. The Towne Crier also offers true fine dining and delicious desserts (many a headliner can be found in the kitchen enjoying a sugary delight between sets) courtesy of former Le Cirque pastry chef Mary Ciganer.                      

—Carol Caffin



Westchester, meet the newest players in the local music scene.


You don’t have to spend your Saturday nights listening to lame cover bands anymore. Following in the footsteps of such homegrown greats as Steven Tyler and Mary J. Blige (both from Yonkers), a new generation of local artists has emerged in the county. These five up-and-coming bands and singers are young, talented, and, we bet, about to become the Next Big Things.


by Marisa Iallonardo

photography by michael polito




Rebecca Haviland with Walls of Gravity band members (from left to right) Ray Greene, Mike Dijan and Harry Kazakos.


Rebecca Haviland has been immersed in music since a very young age. “When I was twelve, my father started sneaking me out to bars to see my uncles play in local cover bands,” says the 24-year-old Mamaroneck resident, who began playing piano at age four. Currently, she plays solo acoustic piano gigs, is in two different bands, and sings at churches (in addition to giving piano and voice lessons). She’s put out  two solo albums, the  first recorded at Acme Recording Studios in Mamaroneck. “In twenty-eight years of running a professional studio, I have never, ever encountered anyone with such a wild amount of talent combined with such an incredibly even-keeled and wonderful-to-work-with personality,” says Acme co-owner Peter Denenberg.


Her first “funk-and-rock-oriented” band, the Rebecca Haviland Band, headed into the studio earlier this year. Walls of Gravity, her second venture, for which she is lead singer, hopes to strike out on a European tour some time this year. For now, though, she’s sticking to the local music scene,  from Watercolor Café in Larchmont and Duck Inn Bar & Grill in Mamaroneck to the Bitter End in New York City. Friend her and listen to her music at myspace.com/rebeccahaviland.




Glint band members (left) Mateus Tebaldi and (right) Jase Blankfort.


Jase Blankfort, 20, who hails from Nyack, New York, and Mateus Tebaldi, 24, from Southern Brazil, met five years ago at an audition in New York City and today are selling out shows.


Last August, the duo, based in the county, was chosen out of 1,300 bands to become the Northeast winners of the Independent Music World Series, a showcase set up to feature up-and-coming indie artists (and award them with $50,000 in prizes). They came in second at Lollapalooza’s Last Band Standing, have been on the CBS Early Show and played in last year’s Musikfest in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania—a 10-day music and arts festival. And while they’ve been on tour throughout the Midwest and New England, they’ve also stayed local, playing at the Turning Point in Piermont, New York, and a handful of other clubs in the area. The pop-rock ensemble has released one record, last year’s Mode to Joy. Another is set to come out in April. You can find more info at  glintonline.com.



Moonspank band members (from left to right) Dave Kiere, Greg Saracino, Darren Lipper and Anthony Packes (Casey Howard not pictured).


The five members of Moonspank may be no older than 30, but they have nearly a decade of experience in the music biz. Since forming in 1999, the band had been hitting the local music scene with its independent rock music, playing hundreds of gigs before taking some time off last year. “We just got really burned out and started getting into general band drama,” says lead guitarist Anthony Packes, who grew up and still lives in Hawthorne.


Now, the band—which includes Packes, Greg Saracino from Valhalla, Dave Kiere from Ireland, Darren Lipper from Manhattan, and Casey Howard from Queens (all of whom have day jobs, by the way)—is back and hoping to get into the studio some time this spring. “Right now we have about two albums’ worth of material,” Packes says, “but we’re hoping to finish this next album by June. It’s such an important album for us.”  Currently, there is one full album, Moonspank (released in 2004) and an EP, Just Another Day, which came out in 2002.


Wondering about the name? “The name came from a lyric we wrote,” says Packes, “something called, ‘the night of the moonspank.’” Check out their website: moonspank.com  for news, photos, and upcoming shows.




Elza Mueller-Roemer began singing—well, perhaps “scatting”—before she could even speak. “My mom said I was emulating Ella Fitzgerald when I was two,” the Mamaroneck resident says. After graduating from SUNY Purchase, the 36-year-old singer/songwriter (and voice teacher and producer) jumped head-first into the industry, oftentimes acting as her own agent. “In the beginning, it was so hard to book big festivals and well-known venues without an agent, so I would use a fake British accent, pretending I was a booking agent,” she says. (She later hooked up with Mamaroneck-based agent Chris Ann Sepowski.)


Today, she has two CDs released on her record label, Elza Music, and her latest, Gettin’ Free, will be released in the late spring on BeBop Records. She describes her style as “acoustic soul,” a mix of blues, folk, and rock.


The South Carolina native has had her songs featured on hit shows like the WB’s Smallville, gives voice lessons to up-and-comers, and recently worked on a yet-to-be-released American Idol-style TV show called iRock, where she collaborated with Santana band member Andy Vargas. 


“She’s a first-rate songwriter with a very strong stage presence,” says Phil Ciganer, owner of the Towne Crier Café in Pawling, New York, where Elza has often played, “and she’s as talented as she is beautiful.” See for yourself at elzamusic.com.




Chances are, if you listen to 107.1 The Peak regularly, you’ve heard Josh Rutt. The 28-year-old New Rochelle native’s music has been played on the station for the past two years. “What I like about Josh is that his music reflects his personality,” says Mike Battiste of the Peak. “He’s very laid-back and down to earth, and his music is powerful and extremely clever.”


Rutt, who plays piano and keyboards, books his own gigs, and writes his own lyrics. “I play solo acoustic gigs, but lately I’ve been playing with my band a lot,” he says. He lives in the city (he spends a few days a week in Westchester giving guitar, piano, and trumpet lessons) and currently has an EP out with five songs, a pop-rock mix with strong elements of soul and folk (think Jack Johnson or John Mayer), and plans to  head into the studio this spring. Check out his tour dates at joshrutt.com.



To hear the music of all our homegrown talent, visit westchestermagazine.com








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