Bassel Almadani of Chicago Bassel and the supernatural said he thought performing in front of a live audience was more like having a conversation with them than just playing music.
The group’s soul and rhythm and blues continue the free Levitt AMP Utica Music Series Concerts Monday, August 1 in Utica. The visit is long overdue for the group and almost happened a few summers ago.
“We can’t wait to come to Utica,” Almadani said. “We were supposed to come in 2020 before the pandemic – and we did a virtual show for those who tuned in – but it will be the real thing live.
Blending a Syrian heart and a Chicago soul, the band’s music shares Almadani’s experiences as a first-generation Syrian-American. Their soulful melodies, funk-inspired beats and moving lyrics reveal love, loss and war in Syria. In addition to their concerts, the band also works closely with organizations to raise awareness and show empathy towards Syrian refugees.
Almadani found inspiration in singer Otis Redding and became fascinated by artists’ ability to effectively tell a story through their music.
“It’s like you’re engaging in a conversation and you’re able to connect with people immediately after hearing about their experiences and how they relate to some of these topics,” Almadani explained. “Looks like there’s a conversation going on and that’s a very nice thing.”
Levitt AMP Utica coordinator Michelle Truett said this season of Levitt AMP has seen an audience of 500-600 people each week and the diversity of bands “has been amazing and very complementary to Utica and our vibe.” .
A highlight has been the youth intermission acts this year, Truett added.
“Tabo Bo – a recent graduate of the University of Utica and founder of Nomadic Voices – has been recruited as assistant coordinator and handles selection, booking and entertainment for intermission,” she said. “He introduced our audience to some exceptional talent, including many from the Utica Karen community. Having him work with us, having youth intermission acts every week and our Levitteen interns all add to our promise to make Levitt AMP a creative training ground for young people.”
Although they’ve performed in central New York in the past, Bassel and the Supernaturals’ 2020 virtual show was actually their only “visit” to Utica so far. Almadani said they can’t wait to meet their new Utica audience.
“Arriving with a new purpose in a new place really allows for some of the most special experiences we have ever had,” he said. “You can have this conversation for the first time and see what kind of fires it starts. We can’t wait.”
The concert takes place from 6-9pm in Kopernik Park with local opening act The Lower Tolpa. Admission is free and the public is encouraged to bring their own blankets and lawn chairs to concerts. The series will also offer artistic activities for young viewers and food trucks will be on site.
Kopernik Park is located at 317 Genesee Street at the corner of Eagle Street and Park Avenue near DeSales.
Mike Jaquays is the community reporter for the Mid-York Weekly. Email him at[email protected].