Pro drummer remembers Norwood Green inspiration
To the Editor,
The following letter is submitted by me, Joe Liotta, president of the Norwood Village Green Concert Series. It was written to Jon Hunkins, a member of the Norwood Village Green Concert Series board of directors, by his childhood friend and fellow drummer Jason Sutter. It will find its way into the 2015 program guide of the Norwood Village Green Concert Series.I am choosing to share this with your readers at this time when the Potsdam Summer Festival has concluded, CPS summer musical theater productions are in progress, and the Norwood Village Green Concert Series is in full bloom.
Jason began his musical education at Norwood-Norfolk Central School under the tutelage of Andy Van Duyne (NVGCS vice president) and Scott LaVine (NVGCS board member) and it continued under Elmer James at Potsdam High School, all under our excellent public school music programs. I’m pretty sure he studied privately with master percussion teacher Jim Petercsak, Crane School of Music.
Jason Sutter has played in, and toured the world with various well-known groups such as Marilyn Manson, Smashmouth, and many others. He has given drum clinics world-wide. His testimony below is a tribute to our area, its culture and its people.
Growing up in Norwood I was always so fortunate to be able to drive a few short miles to the cultural center of Potsdam and be exposed to fantastic music at a young age. From the concerts at Crane School of Music or at SUNY Potsdam, or the summer festivals or street fairs, there was always music. I even fondly remember standing on the water meters in the backs of bars to look through the window to catch a glimpse of some band passing through town while I waited to get picked up after the movies. I was soaking it in where ever I could.
I’m not sure exactly when I attended my first Norwood Village Green series concert but I remember thinking “where did this come from?” I was blown away that I could see a new great band or performance each weekend and it was practically in my back yard, a bike ride away! I vividly remember watching from the side of the stage so I could get as close to the music as possible and racing home to practice after seeing some hot drummer or band that night. It was truly a wave of inspiration and I still remember not being able to sleep because of the excitement of all the valuable “information” (Music) I had just been exposed to that evening! The best part was I didn’t even need to leave my town of Norwood to see it.
I recall this feeling and think of it when I am approached by young players after a show. I can only hope that I could have as positive of an effect on them that the Village Green concerts had on me. Shortly after my first few summers of concerts, and a whole lot of practice, I was playing my first (steady) gigs at the municipal building with members of my band from Potsdam and Norwood grade schools called “Paragon.” There were dances and we would play three short sets and there would be door prizes and raffles and kids could come and enjoy the night from all around. It was my first professional training and I am forever grateful that I was given that opportunity. I remember winning a copy of the record “Foreigner 4” at one of those dances and never forgot that, especially when I joined the band to tour the US, Europe and India in 2010. Talk about full circle!
l applaud Joe Liotta for having the foresight to realize that Norwood deserved more music and culture and for seeing to it that we all were able to take part for free. I welcome you to enjoy this summer program but don’t take it for granted as it is not only a great social opportunity for the community to meet and enjoy great entertainment but it could just be the wind that gets under the wings of one of those kids you see around you and be enough to help them take flight. I know that it certainly was for me.