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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 19, 2008

Flame to warm up this summer season at GPAC

By Saranac Hale Spencer

GUILDERLAND — The mellow tones of Michelle King washing over “Rainy Days and Mondays” brought 11 developmentally disabled musicians together.

Five years ago, her rendition of the Carpenters’ song won the Lexington Center talent show and, soon after, the recreation director of the center, where King gets services, held auditions to form the band that became Flame.

Last year, the group played 92 concerts, said the band’s manager, Maria Nestle.  After it performed at a New York State Association of Retarded Citizens event in 2003, “The phones just rang off the hook,” she said of the band’s popularity.  “And it’s been like that ever since.”

Flame’s schedule this year includes a number of stops at events for the developmentally disabled as well as venues like the Guilderland Performing Arts Center, where it will open the summer concert series at Tawasentha Park today.

“This was definitely a new group,” said GPAC’s Dennis Moore, of choosing Flame.  Guilderland tries to offer a variety of music every year, he said.

Classic rock is the cornerstone of Flame’s repertoire, Nestle said, but the band plays whatever its members agree would be good.  Its debut album offers “Brown-Eyed Girl,” “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” “Crazy,” and “All for a Reason,” the titular song, which is an original written by King.  The band’s lead singer and guitarist, King, is autistic and “slightly mentally retarded,” said Nestle.

“They just do it,” said Nestle.  “We can’t figure that out… Our drummer always knows when Michelle is going to end the song.”  The group hopes to foster understanding about those with mental and physical disabilities, she said, and they’ve certainly made an impression.

“They’re like a jigsaw puzzle,” she said; everyone is different but they fit together so well.

Other acts

Other acts to play for free on Thursday nights at 7:30 at the Guilderland Performing Arts Center this summer are:

—         The Guilderland Town Band, with Kathleen Ehlinger conducting, on June 26;

—         The Zucchini Brothers, who play children’s music, on July 3;

—         Rick Rourke & Lost Wages, which plays blues, country, jazz, and soul, on July 10;

—         The Guilderland Town Band, with guest conductor Col. Gilbert Mitchell, on July 17;

—         Livingston Taylor, who plays classic, folk, and pop music, on July 24;

—         Groove Syndicate, offering Motown and disco, on July 31;

—         The Guilderland Town Band, with conductor Kathleen Ehlinger, in its third performance, on Aug. 7;

—         The Lee Russo Quartet, presenting an evening of jazz, on Aug. 14;

—         Captain Squeeze & Zydeco Moshers, playing “Nouveau Zydaco,” on Aug. 21; and

—         Albany Pro Musica on Aug. 28.

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