As part of Jamestown Savings Bank Arena's Big City Summer Concert series, area residents enjoyed more than an hour of free tunes performed by singer-songwriter Oliver Burdo on Friday evening.
Burdo's performance was located in Sully's Irish Pub following a live performance by 3 Dead Frets, an area acoustic rock trio, outside the arena. JSBA will host several other local and regional artists on select Fridays from 7-9 p.m. through August 23. Following each performance, more live music will be found inside the arena at Sully's from 9-10:30 p.m. The performances are free and open to the public.
Burdo is a 2013 Jamestown High School graduate who has plans taking a semester off to head out west to places such as Colorado, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona.
"It's not exactly a spiritual journey, but rather a search for something more than the small town nature of Jamestown, N.Y.," said Burdo.
Burdo has also been a student at Infinity Visual and Performing Arts, and has taken instruction from Chris Connor.
"I taught myself previous to ever taking lessons there, but it helped me along," said Burdo. "It's a great organization, and it's really helped me get a lot of shows. Chris Connor is my guitar instructor, and he is a phenomenal man and a phenomenal guitar player."
Oliver Burdo and Jordan Seager performing at Sully's Irish Pub in the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena on Friday.
P-J photo by Dusten Rader
In addition to performing often as a solo acoustic act, Burdo is joined on occasion by one of his best friends, Jordan Seager, another Infinity student who plays keys and also graduated from JHS in 2013. During Burdo's Sully's performance, Seager's keys added a welcome level of jam to create a blues-esque sound. But, he'd also consider the music he performs to be folk and campfire, he said.
As a singer-songwriter, Burdo strives to present his audiences with original music that is poetic and reminiscent of greats such as Bob Dylan.
"I'm a poet and a writer," said Burdo. "I'm halfway through writing a novel, and most of the way through finishing a collection of poems for a poetry book, and songs kind of go along with it all."
During the performance, Burdo and Seager played several originals, including: "Hey Little Lady" and "Bluebird." They also performed a number of Dylan and Grateful Dead covers.
"I always start with an original of mine, 'Hey Little Lady,' which means a lot to me," said Burdo. "In revealing why the song means a lot to me would be sharing the meaning of the song, which would defeat the purpose of playing it in front of people. The writings of artists such as Bob Dylan are interpretive, and that's the way I see my own - you take from it what you want - and I don't want to define what a song is to anyone. Art is in the eyes of the beholder, not the artist. But, that song puts me in a place of peace, ready to then play more music."
Several other originals Burdo really enjoys performing live include: "Limbo," "My Son," and "Loving You Tonight." But, according to Seager, "Bluebird" is likely the best representation of the atmosphere the band attempts to create.
"Stylistically it's what we sound like, and it's the kind of music we play," added Seager. "I like the song personally because it has one of the more catchy melodies. Lyrically, stylistically and instrumentally - it's a blues song all the way around."
According to Matt Hanson, event director for JSBA, supporting a musician such as Burdo is part of the mission of the Big City Summer Concert series, which is to provide local and regional acts with access to a professional venue and area residents a free family-friendly Friday evening of live music.
"Oliver came recommended by booking agent Sandy Raynor," said Hanson. "I like folk-type music, and that seems right up his alley. I always enjoy new, original artists in the area because we've got a lot of cover bands and established bands, but it's nice to see some new blood too. We try to get different genres in here, and I don't feel that the folk genre isn't well represented in the area. I'd really like to see a band like The Lumineers or Mumford and Sons come out of here, and if we provide venues for artists such as Oliver to play at, it will help develop the scene."
Burdo is currently working with a group called Oliver and the Bats, which consists of Seager and Joshua Reuter, an Infinity student who plays percussion. He is also the lead vocals and guitarist for Rat Ivy, a band which also includes: Seager, keys, synth, vocals, bass and mandolin; Claud Schuckers, trombone, bass and guitar; Alex Devereaux, drums; Caelan Register, guitar, keys, bass and synth; and Dan Davis, bass and harmony.
For more information about Burdo, search for "Rat Ivy" on Facebook.
Jamestown Savings Bank Arena is located at 319 W. Third St. in Jamestown. For more information call 484-2624, visit jamestownarena.com or the JSBA Facebook and Twitter pages.