30 years later, founder Dave Cerrone says refrigerators are still a fun “party bunch”

Dave Cerrone has led and played trumpet with the Refrigerators since becoming a founding member of the band in 1992. This year marks the 30th that the Refrigerators have played in the Capital Region, and the band has had over 25 members composing various iterations of the group. from. This year also marks the band’s return to the top of the Best Local Band category in the 2022 Best of the Capital Region poll.

This Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: How did it all start with refrigerators?

A: I stopped playing the trumpet when I was in college, and wanted to focus on school and playing football. My senior year in college, I replaced with a wedding band and immediately caught the bug. I thought, “I have to start a band.” Since I play trumpet, there must be a horn section. Anyway, that’s the impetus for it all. I had a keyboard player of my own, with a sequencer keyboard to get pre-recorded bass and drum tracks. We sang and had horn and keys. It was starting to take shape. But I wanted the full band stuff, so we put out ads for the horn players. At the same time, there was another group which started with a drummer, a guitarist. We contacted each other and we put everything in place. We started practicing.

One of the guys, his friends owned a bar and said we could play a gig, so we wanted posters, but we didn’t have a name. We were at the bassist’s that week and decided to grab a few beers and talk about it. The beers start flowing, we start talking. The bassist walked around the house and said, “Oh, the Cinder Blocks, oh, the Bricks”, and continued. He walked into the kitchen and said “Refrigerators”. And we said, “Hey, that might work.”

Q: And when did this all start?

A: I have a tattoo on my shoulder with the year 1992. Thirty years. If it hadn’t been for the pandemic environment, we were going to have a 30 year anniversary. The 20-year-old show, we started with the original seven members, then we played songs with them, then we invited the next generation of the band and we played. A portion of the proceeds went to charity. So that was pretty cool. By the time I started talking to theaters about having this big 30th anniversary thing, it just wasn’t the right time.

Q: Many concerts were canceled when COVID arrived. How do refrigerators bounce?

A: At the end of 2019, we were looking at the 2020 calendar and we had predicted a great year, a phenomenal year. It exploded. 2020 was next to nothing, only a few venues allowed anything to happen, and we had a few private gigs. Then mid-late 2020, it started picking up a bit. It’s almost normal now. It’s quite normal. I think a lot of sites are still suffering with their results. We are still working a lot with them on compensation. One of my mottos for years has been, “It has to be a win-win.” It can’t just be good for the band and it can’t just be good for the venue.

One of the songs I lead is “Let’s Get It Started” (by the Black Eyed Peas). I’m going to go out and try to do that with people sitting down and wearing masks. I’ll tell you about the first wedding where the venue allowed them not to wear masks, I was hosting that one, and my opening was, “How about not wearing masks?” The place roars.

Q: You started the band as a man, but that eventually changed.

A: When I started the band, we were all young men. It was an all-male band for 23 years and, you know, we never had a female member. One night in Saratoga, we were strolling the streets on a break, getting some fresh air. We heard from this phenomenal singer – wow that sounds great. I nudged my male buddies and said, “If we ever hire a girl, we’ll hire that girl.” Fast forward a few years, I was on a break and logged into my phone on social media. She had left her other group. I sent her a quick email and the next morning she emailed me back. Three years later, Amelia pulled me aside and said, “My husband and I are moving to New Orleans. Oh my god, I think, how am I going to replace her? But God works in mysterious ways. We started the audition process and have never heard of our current singer before. We are blessed to have Beth Tranka.

Q: What is the process when you bring in a new party member?

A: Other group leaders have asked me, “What have you done to keep the group at this level for all these years?” It’s a matter of standards. There are a couple of things to think about in the audition process. And I, again, I think what we do really well is that as band members we treat each other like family, and that’s not by mistake.

Our audition process, every time we have a new member, can they play? So we’ll select songs that we think show different sides of bass players, if we audition bass players, so we’ll have an apples to apples comparison. When all is said and done, there is the first pass. If we want to see them again, we bring them back for a second run. Are they consistent – ​​did they play the same way as the first time around? And what is their interaction (with the other members of the group)? I have people who tell me that during the break. That’s part of it. If we’re up there smiling, punching each other, it gets offstage. We have always been a band full of energy.

Q: In your 30th year, what are you expecting this year?

A: We meet every year to see how we describe ourselves now and what we can improve. Regarding what we talked about last time – a collective thing and that’s not congratulating ourselves, we currently describe ourselves as very energetic, fun, a party band, musically diverse, family friendly and interactive with the crowd .

In terms of things to describe more like: More current. We don’t want to be overwhelmed. Sometimes our set list can be a little predictable, but we want more of a surprise. We think we’re musically tight, but we don’t hear that language there (from listeners). The last one is unique maybe something a little bit different. I guess in any “business” you always want to be different with others. In summary, we want to keep the way we are perceived today but evolve.

I mean, in terms of the schedule this year, we feel good so far. After a few years (of the pandemic), we are perhaps cautiously optimistic. But it feels good right now, and I hope it stays that way. As we start looking, we also say, it doesn’t matter if it’s 31, 32, we’re planning (a birthday) a show at some point. For the 20s, it wasn’t just about getting everyone back and raising money at the time for Albany Children’s Hospital. So, we think, what’s the right thing for the community and the environment now? It’s not lip service, we need to find ways to give back to the community – the only way to stay in the community is to serve the community. We try to find ways to give back.

Best of the Capital Region 2022

Best of the Capital Region 2022

Union Times

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Members of refrigerators include:

Kevin Barcomb (saxaphone and backing vocals), Chris Beck (trombone and vocals), Kevin Brandow (vocals), Dave Cerrone (trumpet, percussion, vocals, rap), John Costello (keyboards), Chris Haley (drums), Greg Mataruga (trumpet and vocals), Dave Messick (guitar), Mike Shudt (bass) and Beth Tranka (vocals). Tower East Productions works as a team, led by Patrick Parvis.


Karl M. Bailey