Uncorked and Unplugged gets a youthful musical kick

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:18

    WARWICK-Every weekend afternoon, the Warwick Valley Winery has free, live music. The music styles range from American folk to jazz. It is an intimate setting, warm and cozy with a roaring fire in the woodstove going throughout the winter. Next weekend a new chapter unfolds at the winery, when younger musicians take the stage on Sunday. Bringing teenagers to the winery is the brainchild of Jim Elwell, who calls the series "May the Circle be Unbroken." He is one of the musicians who has played at the winery since the music series was started in 1998. Elwell's connection to the winery is not solely as a musician. He is a carpenter and built the music room in 2001, giving an indoor venue and allowing owner, Dr. Joseph Grizzanti, to have year-round entertainment, something he dreamed about when he bought the winery in 1988. Elwell and his wife, Joanne Shortell, host an open mic at Caffe ala Mode in the Village of Warwick each Friday night. There are regulars who come and play their guitars and harmonicas and keyboards each week. There are those who just stop by and sign up on a whim. There is poetry reading. There are novices and those with so much talent you figure you will see them someday in the big time. No matter who comes by, it's like a party every Friday night. What Elwell noticed was the number of teenagers who took the stage and played their hearts out. They were good, really good. "I talked to Joe (Grizzanti) and told him how blown away I was so many of these kids. They're just so good," said Elwell. So, Elwell approached Grizzanti and said he thought it would be a great idea to bring these kids to the winery as part of the Uncorked and Unplugged series. Grizzanti agreed. That starts next week, Jan. 9, as two Warwick teenagers take the stage at the winery. It will continue each month on the first Sunday. Ryan Starks, 16, sings and writes what he characterizes as alternative acoustic folk music. He covers some of the artists he has been influenced by, including John Mayer and Counting Crows. He is a student at Warwick Valley High School. This will be his debut at the winery, but he is well-known in Warwick for his excellent guitar work and lyrics. Kyle Hancharick is no stranger to the winery. He began playing there in 1999 at the annual Bob Dylan festival, when he was just 8 years old. Now 13, he plays folk rock on his acoustic guitar and his keyboard, along with accompanying harmonica. His tastes range from Dylan and Springsteen to Simon and Garfunkel and Richard Shindell. "I just want to keep the live music flowing," Elwell said. "There was a time in the 1980s when there was no live music except a guy with a drum machine or a major concert. Live music around here is enjoying a tremendous rebirth and kids hold the future of music," Elwell added. The "May the Circle be Unbroken" series is not just folk and alternative music. Elwell emphasized he is encouraging all types of music for this venue, including jazz and classical. "We are not limiting people," he said. Grizzanti started his music series out of his love for Bob Dylan's music and the folk genre. Every weekend some of the best musicians in the area play at the Warwick Valley Winery. The special event festivals have grown tremendously-from the Bob Dylan Festival each May to the Harvest Moon Folk Festival in September. Many of the winery's festivals are now sponsored by WFUV, Fordham University's public radio station, a step that has allowed Grizzanti to reach even more of an audience. But he always wanted theatre to be part of the winery arts. Two years ago that dream came true as the Illustrious Theatre Company began producing plays at the winery, including an outdoor Shakespeare in the Orchard summer festival. Elwell will also play some tunes with the younger folk next Sunday. He encourages any young musicians who are interested in playing at the winery to contact him by phone at 258-4147 or to stop by Caffe ala Mode on Oakland Avenue some Friday night and sign up for the open mic. The Warwick Valley Winery music begins at 2 p.m. and runs until 5 p.m. Along with award-winning wines and ciders, the Orchard Bakery prepares homemade breads, gourmet pizza and sandwiches, soups, and baked goods.