Spring Street Family Band performs in unique rock style at Rochester Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

Syracuse locals, the Spring Street Family Band, rocks central New York venues on its way up.

It's about 10:45 p.m on Friday night at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Rochester, New York, and people are having a hard time hearing over the music. The manager of the restaurant goes to the stage and tells the band to keep it down. For two songs, they do.

After the second song, bassist Dennis Lingel calls for a huddle.

Photo: Amanda Piela
Members of The Spring Street Family Band drove up to Rochester to perform at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.

“If we don't play louder, people are going to think we f------ suck,” Lingel said.

The Spring Street Family Band went back to rocking. The loud five-man band out of Syracuse had just driven an hour from their shared catering jobs to be there.

Ryan Vendetti, Ben Blujus, Dennis Lingel, Dan McCollum and Michael “Bird” Redmond make up The Spring Street Famliy Band and are coming off three straight nights playing last weekend. One of those was at the Middle Ages Brewfest, where the band had the largest crowd in its three years.

Lingel said they performed in front of about 2,000 people and the group heard great things from the crowd.

Friday, there were only two real fans, a few drifters, and the people in the background eating and half-heartedly clapping when the music stopped.

"It's tricky when we go from playing a show in front of 2,000 people to playing for five, and to give that same kind of energy, but, at the end of the day, look at what we're doing, we're playing instruments on stage and it's awesome," Vendetti said.

Vendetti is the pony-tailed front man and vocalist with a dynamic and raspy voice who's always vibing. His strong stage presence can be seen at any moment.

“People say I look like Mick Jagger up here,” Vendetti said. “I love his music but I hate his stage presence. F--- me, right?” he said.

The band plays a fusion of rock and funk, mixing classic sounds with new-age sound effects and energetic riffs. Almost a cross between Sublime, Beastie Boys and Metallica.

Blujus and Vendetti write the lyrics, and they tend to be sentimental and anecdotal.

Blujus said he and Vendetti have been writing music for about eight years now.

Blujus’ favorite lyric that he's written was for the song "She’s Got Fire," which goes, “she's got fire, she's got rain, she's got desire filled with pain, she's got emotion lost in vein, now she's got me.”

Vendetti wrote, “gaze through the eyes of a demon, I've been graced with the light of the holy, I let the randomness in life be the sculptor who molds me.”

“That was probably my favorite,” Vendetti said.

Like most bands, they practice often. Their vast style couldn't exist if they didn't spend countless hours getting comfortable playing with each other.

“We’ll just be playing something and then there's that 'ohhhh' moment, just jamming and improvising,” Blujus said. “Then these two rhythm kings (Guitarist McCollum and Lingel) will give their interpretations, whatever they hear, we go with it, it's kind of like a building blocks process, a collaborative effort, once we all agree on the best product, that's it.”

Redmond, known for his red muttonchops, directs the band from the drum set.

“I'm just trying to make everyone else look good,” Redmond said. “They've gotta follow my beat, though; they don't have a choice.”

At this music-endorsing restaurant, the band played high-quality covers as well. They busted out "House of the Rising Sun," by the Animals, "The Ocean" by Led Zeppelin and put a fun spin on C+C Music Factory’s “Everybody Dance Now.”

"When you play your original stuff at a bar, no one cares, they can't sing along, so when you give them an opportunity to hear a song like, 'Oh, I love this song, I'm gonna get into this,'" Vendetti said. "Now when you play your song, they actually pay attention to it. That's way more effective, it sticks in the listener's brain."

The group said its proud of their sound. They're sticking with it for better or for worse, with McCollum saying that the group is bringing the rock back.

Vendetti said that scares some people, but those who love it make it special for the band.

The inconsistent crowds don't alarm the band, either; they say it's just growing pains. And, although it's difficult to play in those conditions, none of them let it distract them from their purpose or goal.

“We're at a show’s point of view, trying to present things to a crowd and yet there's no one to be all excited with you besides your band and it's a little weird to be going all out crazy when no one else is, but you just gotta do it," he said.

The Spring Street Family Band wants to make this music its livelihood. They want to take their music cross-country and share it with other music lovers. They are finishing up their second album; the first was Blissfully Damned and they have an EP called Snicklefritz.

"We were all working today, we all got out of work, and rushed just to make it here in time, just to be here," Lingel said. "I was sick today and it was about an hour drive out here, but, this gives me purpose, going to be on that stage, instead of going home and just waiting for the next day to come. It's like, no, I've got this to do, this is what I'm doing, this is me."

Around 12:15 a.m, the band glanced at each other, nodded their heads in accord, and walked off the stage clapping and congratulating each other louder than the crowd.

“I've got these four dudes backing me up and it's like we're all a bunch of goofballs,” McCollum said. “On a night like tonight, when there's nobody, nobody's cheering so we cheer on ourselves, we love this s---, this is what we were born to do and it just feels right with these guys, especially being up on stage.”

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