The Nelson Odeon was packed to near capacity Friday Jan. 21 as Canadian performer Treasa Lavasseur brought her mix of bluesy funk and sensual soul to the local stage.
Her appearance at the Odeon continued a string of first-class concerts brought to the community by Jeffery Schoenfeld, his family and their team of area volunteers. Over 100 listeners are able to pack into the Odeon’s audience, and nearly every seat was filled Friday night for Levasseur’s performance. Patrons drove anywhere from three to 30 miles away to come and enjoy the evening of music. The Nelson Odeon has featured a number of notable artists and has many national as well as international acts planned to perform in upcoming months.
While they are always looking for artists to feature, Artistic Director Colin Nekritz and the Schoenfeld family are selective about who graces the Odeon’s stage.
“These people are all professionals, touring musicians and entertainers. We look for that. We just can’t have someone up there that can play a few songs well, they have to be able to entertain,” owner Jeff Schoenfeld said, “Every band or group that we book, one or all of us have seen previously.”
Levasseur was backed by her band mates, guitarist James “Champagne” Robertson, bassist Brian Kobayakawa and percussionist Brat Hart. The quartet formed about two years ago, after having played in a number of different groups together. It was apparent that they have worked on each song extensively and enjoyed doing so, as they all wore smiles and hit every beat in unison. In between songs Levasseur playfully engaged members of the audience, sharing candid stories of her musical and personal experiences in Canada. She performed numerous tracks from her early albums and treated listeners to cuts from her upcoming record, even debuting a never-before-performed song “That’s the Way it Goes.”
Levasseur is talented at piano, guitar, accordion as well as the mandolin. Her band also displayed a wide range of musical abilities, guiding the audience through soft delicate tunes and transitioning seamlessly into foot stomping, head bouncing anthems. The band played two 50-minute sets, separated by a short intermission. When the end of the second set came about and Levasseur warned listeners of a pending encore closer, a number of cries could be heard throughout the audience, asking for more.
After the performance, the Odeon was still packed with attendees milling around, discussing the music and congratulating Levasseur, the band and the Schoenfeld family for an incredible concert experience. Visit treasalevasseur.com to read more about her history as a musician, purchase two of her albums “Low Fidelity” and “Not A Straight Line” as well as see where she will be playing next.
The Nelson Odeon sprang from the skeleton of the Nelson Grange, which in prior incarnations was a municipal building for the town, as well as an antique store. In the 1930s a stage was added with performance art in mind. However, the building slowly fell into disrepair over the years. When the Schoenfelds assumed ownership two years ago, they saved the building from a certain future as a storage warehouse and decided to turn the historic 150-year-old structure into a music venue. After countless hours of hard work and restoration, the Nelson Odeon boasts an intimate atmosphere that both artists and audience members can enjoy.
The Odeon’s wooden floor and walls carry a warm acoustic sound that resonates from the front of the stage to the back row of seats. What makes the venue such a special addition to the area are the local residents that keep it in operation. Jeff and his wife Linda Schoenfeld greet attendees at the door, offering programs as people enter and mints as they leave at the end of the night. The sound engineer is Cazenovia High School graduate and Berklee School of Music alumnus, Ralph Mietz. Max Schoenfeld, fellow Cazenovia classmate and son of Jeff and Linda, mans the ticket booth and assists Skaneateles-raised Nekritz with audio and lighting fixtures.
Max also gave the venue its title, borrowing from Greek terminology. Traditionally, odeons of ancient Greece were small theaters in which poets and musicians would perform their works, contending for prizes and public approval.
Coming up on Feb. 4 the Nelson Odeon will host the Brooklyn-based country group “Yarn.” Information on the band, videos of performances and tickets are available for purchase on the venue website, nelsonodeon.com. For additional information call 655-9193 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.