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July 23, 2013

Cooperstown Central School grads to open Ommegang show

By Greg Klein The Cooperstown Crier
The Daily Star

---- — Playing a hometown show brings with it a lot of pressure anyway, but for three members of the band Alpenglow, opening for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals on Thursday at Brewery Ommegang has really gotten their nerves going.

“It is definitely a bit nerve-racking,” said bassist Colin Weeks, who graduated from Cooperstown Central School in 2005. “We have always wanted to play in Cooperstown because Cooperstown in the summer is one of the best places on Earth.

“When you get out on stage though, you just have to enjoy yourself,” he continued.

Weeks was the final musician to join the five-person band, which was started by 2007 CCS graduate Peter Coccoma and two of his Middlebury College classmates, Elori Kramer of Minnesota and Graeme Daubert of North Carolina.

“We play folk rock, sometimes indie folk is what people call it,” said Coccoma, who plays lead guitar, keyboard and also sings. “We all play multiple instruments. I think the bands we get compared with the most are Fleet Foxes and The Low Anthem.”

The band, which formed in 2011, started with three members. When they decided to add a drummer, Coccoma recommended his CCS classmate Kenneth Root.

“Ken and I graduated the same year,” Coccoma said. “We played in jazz band together and in concert band in school. We both went to colleges in Vermont, so we kept in touch and occasionally played in other bands together. When we needed a drummer, I knew Ken was 40 minutes away in Burlington.”

Added Root, “They were very much an acoustic band in the beginning. Adding drums was difficult at first, not in a bad way, but just filling the sound with drums. We started very simply, and as we built the sound, I began to build up my drumming.”

Root said he too is excited to play at Ommegang.

“I saw Wilco there last year. It is a pretty cool situation to be in,” he said. “To play in front of a lot of familiar faces is going to be great.”

This year, the members of the band all quit their jobs to focus on playing full time. They spent June on the road, playing all along the east coast. They have been running a Kickstarter campaign to pay for a studio album and are planning to release it in October.

“After playing together for two years, we can do some things without so many words,” Coccoma said. “Going out on the road and traveling together — you hear so many horror stories — but we all get along really well.”

According to band members, opening for Potter and her band, who are also based in Vermont, is one of the highlights of the tour, ranking right up there with opening for Jim James of My Morning Jacket, which the band did last month in Portland, Maine.

“She’s definitely in the top echelon in terms of start power,” Root said. “She’s pretty big, and since she is from Vermont, it is a really cool connection for us.”

Added Weeks, “Playing with Jim James is like playing with Grace Potter … it is really cool to see someone who is at the top of their game. It is just a pleasure to see how hard they work and how good they are. It makes you realize how much work we still have to do.

“It is humbling, but in a very positive way,” he said.

The band played a show at the Smithy on July 15, the second time they have played there. The Ommegang concert will be their third show in Cooperstown, but it is certainly their largest homecoming.

“I grew up right down the road from Ommegang,” Coccoma said. “To see my friends and family and family friends, and have them see us on stage, that is a really exciting thing.”

Alpenglow will take the stage at 6:30 p.m. with JD McPherson and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals to follow. Gates open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 the day of the show. For more information on Alpenglow, visit www.alpenglowmusic.com.