Mohawk Place hosting Tiny Desk Contest showcase

Feb 27, 2017

NPR's All Songs Considered is whittling down the list of submissions for its 2017 Tiny Desk Contest. It's a chance for independent musicians to showcase their work. Coinciding with the contest is a celebration of local talents that will be held inside a downtown Buffalo club.

The Tiny Desk project has provided valuable exposure to many of its participants. One former guest, Gallant, was among this year's Grammy nominees (for Best Urbam Contemporary Album, which ultimately went to Beyonce). NPR's annual Tiny Desk Contest, which opened in December and will announce its winner this week, also draws numerous artists including some from Western New York.

Buffalo musician Tom Stahl (left) and Mohawk Place's chief sound engineer Tony DeRosa sit on stage at the club that will host a showcase celebrating Buffalo's original music scene on Wednesday evening. The showcase coincides with NPR's scheduled announcement of its 2017 Tiny Desk Contest winner.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

To coincide with the conclusion of NPR's annual contest, Mohawk Place in Buffalo is hosting a showcase of the city's own music scene.

"It's original music and that's the whole point of Mohawk Place. It's to showcase the local talent that's making music you've never heard before, but you should," said Tony DeRosa, chief sound engineer for the downtown Buffalo club. 

DeRosa welcomed WBFO into the club on a quiet morning. Chairs were still atop tables and the bar while he arranged a table and stools on the stage where, on Wednesday, more than a dozen local artists will perform. 

Tom Stahl will be one of them. A member of the Dangerfields, he is among the school of Buffalo musicians who write and perform their own material. 

"I started writing songs because I couldn't remember anybody else's," he said. "I'd have this mental block where I'd start singing this song and I'd have to turn the page to see it. So I started writing them and I kind of had a knack for it."

And it has served him well for many years as one of the members of the Buffalo music scene. Many Buffalo artists have gone on to enjoy national success, including the Goo Goo Dolls, Ani DiFranco, Brian McKnight, Rick James, Cory Wells and Green Jelly, just to name a few. The local music scene, DeRosa says, is deeper and more diverse than what many may appreciate. And he's among those who feel it's ready to be discovered again.

"Live music, original music, local music tells the story of the local area," DeRosa said. "You don't get the whole picture until you see many musicians working. This is the place to do it, for sure."

Wednesday's showcase begins at 7 p.m. Admission is $5.