Schenectady-based Union Street Brothers band back together for Saturday show in Delanson

The Union Street Brothers are shown performing at Bound By Fate Brewing in Schuylerville.
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The Union Street Brothers are shown performing at Bound By Fate Brewing in Schuylerville.

DELANSON After a hiatus, the Union Street Brothers are slated to return this weekend, with a Saturday show at Back Barn Brewing Company in Delanson.

The Schenectady-based band is a supergroup of sorts, combining a host of varied music influences. Composed of Judd Staley, Brian Lawlor, Robert Carreau, Shane Bargy and Michael Baish, each member connected through their work in the Schenectady community.
Staley met Carreau, who is the executive director of The Schenectady Foundation, during his career in banking and served as board chair of the United Way of Schenectady County while Carreau was the organization’s executive director.

Lawlor, an attorney specializing in housing issues, was instrumental in the development of the new Boys & Girls Club facility in Mont Pleasant. Bargy serves as executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady, where Baish works as an administrative assistant.

The band came together around 2017 when Carreau co-hosted the Eighth Step’s monthly open mic nights at Proctors. He’d often performed there with Staley and eventually recruited Bargy, who then brought on Baish and Lawlor to complete the group.

To prepare, they began with jam sessions at Staley’s Niskayuna home, and over time, their style evolved and they started playing regularly at Upper Union Street’s Strawberry and Harvest Festivals, as well as at a few local breweries.

The Brothers’ style is eclectic, mixing American roots and rock with bluegrass. They perform a blend of covers and originals.

“Our catalog is pretty interesting; it really spans decades and genres,” said Baish, who plays bass guitar. “But we generally will put our own twist on any song we’re doing. If you hear us do a song, it’s not the version that’s on the radio. It’s the Union Street Brothers’ version.”

That includes an upbeat version of Radiohead’s “Creep,” along with songs like MGMT’s “Kids” and Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky.”

Bargy and Staley pen original songs for the group as well. Bargy’s are emotive, strongly influenced by 1970s rock, with contemplative lyrics while Staley’s are more humorous, rooted in a bluegrass style.

“I think the originals that we do . . . are really exceptional and that’s that’s what drew me into this group in the first place,” said Lawlor, who plays drums and vocals.

One of the things that makes the band’s covers distinctive is the addition of the mandolin, played by Carreau.

“The mandolin possesses not only beautiful tonality but is a percussive force when added to the bass and drums,” Carreau said. It allows them to put a twist on classics like Prince’s “Purple Rain.”

“The other thing I think is a strength is our vocals,” said Carreau, who also plays electric mandolin and electric guitar in the band. Four members of the band perform vocals.

“We layer on as we’re developing the vocal harmonies, and really try to bring that out as a strength in the songs. That’s something you don’t always hear in bands . . . is a focus on those harmonies,” Carreau noted.

In recent years, the band took a hiatus in favor of other artistic pursuits.

“Everyone pretty much has a side project,” Carreau said. “I had also taken a step back because I had sort of lost touch with some of the things I . . . used to love doing. I’ve gotten back into pottery, which is a time-consuming practice.”

Lawlor has been performing with The NoLaNauts, Bargy recorded and released his debut album “Turn on the Light” and Baish has been performing with The Sugar Hold.

While their schedules have only seemed to get more packed since they last performed as a band, they made it a point to come together again for at least Saturday’s show.

“It’s really fun, even with all our side projects, because . . . we bring stuff from those projects to the table,” Bargy said.

“These guys are fun to play with, and the music that we make when it’s good. it’s really good,” said Staley, who plays acoustic guitar and slide guitar.

There aren’t other shows on the docket for the summer but they’re open to playing out more.

“We like to have fun. We’d like to put on a good show for the audience and put smiles on their faces. I think people can expect that,” Carreau said.

Saturday’s show is slated to run from 4-7 p.m. For more information visit BackBarnBrewing.com or find the event on Facebook.

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Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts, Schenectady, Your Niskayuna

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