The Audiostars are a Capital Region staple.
If it’s a Friday night during track season, you will find them at the Horseshoe Inn in Saratoga. The four-piece band has delivered its classic-rock setlist in Albany, Scotia, Schenectady, Troy, Watervliet, Lake George and throughout the region. But Saturday night was a first for the local group.
“This is our first time over the Montgomery County line,” said lead singer Jay Yager from the soundstage in Amsterdam’s Riverlink Park, “and I would like to thank the Amsterdam police for allowing us to make a contribution to their speeding fund on the way out here.”
The crowd that shows up for the Riverlink Summer Concert Series on Saturday nights is generally a mix of local residents looking to enjoy nice weather and free music and out-of-towners willing to drive for a good band. If organizers are lucky, the setting is enough to make the out-of-towners come back the next week.
A few hundred people showed up to the riverfront park Saturday night to kick off the 2013 season. The concert series is put on each year by the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that relies on local and state grants, corporate sponsors and individual donations to keep the series free for the public.
“The Waterfront Foundation once had a broader mission to promote waterfront development throughout the city,” said foundation President Paul Gavry. “But once this park was built out, our primary focus turned to these concerts.”
Over the last few years, the foundation has had an annual budget of $12,000 to $14,000. This year, the board was able to spend a little more on advertising and promotions thanks to a county tourism grant. The rest of the money is used to pay the bands, which tend to be a mix of local, regional and national acts, depending on their availability and cost.
Although organizers continue to hope for a wider demographic to show up — in particular the teenage and young-adult sets — they admit they’ve found a devoted following among families and baby-boomers.
Denise and Jason Fiet of West Glenville sipped on cold bottles of beer and cheered between songs. The couple blew off a few events to see the band.
“I upset my kids and said, 'Look, we’re going to see this band,’” said Jason Fiet. “We missed a Fourth of July party at a friend’s house. We left a graduation party early.”
With a guilty smile, Denise Fiet added: “And we had that christening, remember?”
But Jason Fiet wanted to support an old friend: He first met Yager about 20 years ago when they worked at a Clifton Park bar.
“It’s our first time out here,” Fiet said. “We came specifically for this band, but I would definitely come back. We want to see Amsterdam thrive and do well, you know? We want to support it. I work here in Amsterdam, so I try to follow what’s going on.”
It was a different case for the Sandels, who drove just a few miles from the town of Amsterdam for no other reason than to enjoy the warm weather and some free music.
“We went to one of these a few years ago with our granddaughter, but we decided to come back tonight because it’s such a beautiful night,” said Gayle Sandel, who sat at a picnic table with her husband. “We’ll probably grab dinner in a little while at the cafe, but not for a few more songs.”