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Chicago’s Jason Scheff Dishes About The Stanley And The Utica Roasting Company

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At the beginning of the month Chicago rolled through and played with the Utica Symphony at the Stanley Theater and apparently our town made quite the impression on the band. Jason Scheff, their lead singer and bass player who replaced Peter Cetera back in 1985 has a blog and wrote about playing Utica and even more about the coffee and atmosphere at the Utica Roasting Company.

One local Utican who helped run sound that night quoted the band as saying it was the best show they’d ever played in their 35 years in the business!!! WOW. Here is Jason in his own words…

Anyway… we are out on our last tour of the year and are in the New York State area as well as New Jersey… we were in Utica, NY with a day off and left yesterday.

We played a BEAUTIFUL theater in Utica with the Utica Symphony… the theater is called the “Stanley”.  WOW!  Check this place out…

As I always say, to hear the actual instruments playing these incredible arrangements from the Jimmy Haskell charts… “If You Leave Me Now”, “Searchin So Long”, etc. to the phenomenal Jeremy Lubbock charts, “Hard Habit To Break”, “You’re The Inspiration” and then the first song I was fortunate to enjoy the success of a hit record with Chicago, “Will You Still Love Me”…

It’s otherworldly to have that sound in your ears to perform these songs.  It would be one thing if there were new arrangements… which would be great as well, (and some songs we perform with the symphony are *after the fact* arrangements written to make an evening with a symphony full).

But to hear the REAL ARRANGEMENTS!  Whoa… Just the opening string lines of “Searchin So Long”… some REAL high violins… it takes me right back to when I first heard that song, and I know it does for the audience.

So now I’ve gone on a super tangent about the Stanley, Chicago and symphony dates… I’ll get back to coffee…

…I ask the girl at the front desk of the hotel… She says, “You need to go to Utica Coffee Roasters”… she points me toward the place, I head out and start smelling it about a half a block away from the front door!

AHHHHH!!!  Yes, I’ve found it…

I walk in, see a GREAT local scene… not terribly crowded but you can tell this is one of those *3rd places* Starbucks likes to call them…

We have home, work and a 3rd place to go… I understand that now being that when I’m on the road I can open up my laptop, start working away but there is something inspiring about being “out in the world”.  So whenever I can find a local coffee joint I’ll go laptop in toe… or, Starbucks if there isn’t anything local.

I spent a good 2 hours, maybe even more, in Utica Coffee Roasting Company, because the internet in the hotel was almost non existent.  (amazing how we get so tethered to things)…

And the next day I walked back in and met who I *thought* was the owner… (I was right).  His name is Frank and I started asking him about the place…

ANOTHER great story of a guy who was just walking around down in this area and just had a vision… he bought the building when there was NOTHING else of value going on around it… mostly vacant building but a topless dancing establishment… that was his neighbor!

He said he just had this feeling, went with it… and bought the building… wasn’t thinking coffee… just tried some things out… they didn’t quite work… and he eventually looked at the roaster… bought it… hadn’t quite turned it into an actual place to walk in and have coffee… I believe, at first, it was just a roasting company…

I’m ALWAYS a sucker for places that roast on the spot… they’re usually VERY good.

He keeps growing and eventually opens the doors to patrons to come in, order their coffees and eats… and I’ll tell you this… EVERYTHING in this place is fresh, local and PHENOMENAL.

Local honey, baked goods… GREAT shirts, hoodies, etc.  (I bought a hoodie!)

So I was chatting it up with Frank… we became friends and I left for my show…

Came back the next day and met his wife and partner in the business, Heather… GREAT people!  Several of the other band members showed up during my 3 hours I spent hanging out working on my computer and drinking awesome Brazillian and Tanzanian coffees.

It was a touch sad when I said goodbye… it’s amazing how in just a few days you can actually feel close to people like that.

That’s just an EXERPT and you can read much more at Jason’s blog… HERE.

Chicago Rocked It With The Utica Symphony Orchestra!

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