New York City, Los Angeles, Nashville, Atlanta — these cities are best known for bringing up our most beloved musicians. But believe it or not, even the small snowy towns of Central New York have produced some notable artists of their own.
1. Ani DiFranco – BUFFALO
With more than 20 studio albums to her name, Ani DiFranco is nothing if not prolific. The folk rock singer-songwriter has been outwardly political, with much of her music addressing issues of human rights. It’s no surprise, then, that the legendary Pete Seeger served as one of her mentors. In a piece she wrote for The Wall Street Journal in 2014, she recalls: “I learned a heck of a lot from him about being a folksinger and an activist.” She has performed many a benefit, and even created “Aiding Buffalo’s Children” through her record label, Righteous Babe Records, to support the Buffalo public school system.
Song: 32 Flavors
2. Earth Crisis – SYRACUSE
Not just a delicious milkshake at Strong Hearts Cafe: pioneering hardcore outfit Earth Crisis hail from right here in the salt city. Formed in 1989 and rebirthed with a new lineup in two years later, the band felt major success through the early 90’s. Hardcore is notorious for being a political genre, and Earth Crisis are no exception: they’ve remained vigilant in animal rights activism as well as supporting the vegan, straight edge lifestyle. The band ceased a 6-year-long hiatus in 2007 and have been active since. In 2014 they released their latest studio album Salvation of the Innocents, which is focused on animal rights.
Song: Gomorrah’s Season Ends
Fun Facts: Andy Hurley of Fall Out Boy toured with Earth Crisis in 2010!
3. Goo Goo Dolls – BUFFALO
“Iris” may have rocketed Goo Goo Dolls into stardom, but there’s much more to the band than the track written for City of Angels. The alt-rockers everyone knows and loves as Goo Goo Dolls got their start in the Buffalo underground scene in the late 80’s. They released their first studio album, Goo Goo Dolls, in 1987 under Mercenary Records. Over the course of their ~30-year career they’ve been nominated for a few Grammys, and have remained connected to Buffalo by lending a hand to organizations like the Food Bank of Western New York and Compass House.
4. Gym Class Heroes – GENEVA
Though they haven’t released anything since 2011, Gym Class Heroes are an important thread in the fabric of New York State-born music acts. The eccentric group began as a result of – you guessed it – gym class at their Geneva, NY high school. Frontman Travie McCoy and drummer Matt McGinley created the group in 1997 and have released a wide range of music that garnered attention enough to win them the MTV Video Music Awards: Best New Artist category in 2007 (despite the fact that they’d been around for 10 years at that point…)
5. Ra Ra Riot – SYRACUSE (SU)
The babies on the list, Ra Ra Riot found almost immediate success after forming at ‘Cuse in 2006. 11 years later, the indie-rock band have 4 studio albums to their name, a substantial social media following and they haven’t forgotten where they came from. In an interview with NPR, lead vocalist Wes Miles credited the SU live music scene as part of the reason for their energetic sound: “The house party vibe is not really a place to get emotional and quiet… So basically, when we started, we had to make sure the attention was always coming toward us — you know, being loud and a little crazy.” With success stories like Ra Ra Riot (and, let’s face it, Drew Taggart of The Chainsmokers) we might all want to keep our eyes peeled for the Next Big Thing.