Sioux falls, S.D  11/12/99
"We're not worthy..."

BLOO's groovin sound rocks the elmen

BLOO band members Pat Hurley, Marc Fichman, Earl Maneein, Dave Ferrara, Brendan Lynch and Mike Saganic jammed out in the Elmen Center last Sunday as several members of the audience dropped to their knees and chanted "We're not Worthy!" Memorable crowd-bang interactions included conga lines that streamed through the audience, a pirate sing-along song and drummer Marc Fichman doing a strip tease that riled up their new-found fans. The members of the band claimed Augustana was one of the best stops on their tour.

NightBeat/Li Newsday November 4, 1999:
Iaasac Guzzman
Bloo: No Labels Apply


Its been a little more than two years since Bloo scarfed up victories in three separate battles of the bands, emerging champions of the WBAB /Sam Ash Talent Search, the Guinness Fleadh Band Search and the MasterCard American Collegiate Talent Search.

The jamband grooves of this tight collective of friends had wowed so many that it seemed Bloo was sure to land a juicy record deal. But last year, the band settled for self-releasing "Land Mimes," its second album. Long hungry for greatness, the boys in Bloo haven' t sat around stewing about their lack of success in label land. They‘ve taken their explosive mix of blues, folkrock, goofy lyrics and wild-fiddle solos to the people, touring across the U.S. at dozens of college campuses and clubs.

Last week I caught up with the band via there cell phone, just a few hours after they set up their R.V. in an Arkansas trailer park.

"It actually one of the nicest ones," said guitarist Mike Saganic. "We actually get a game room and a swimming pool, not that it s open. It’ s one of the glam parks, with the cleanest bathrooms we’ve ever seen.

"Slated to play Thursday at the Bulldog Grille, the band was looking forward to its first homecoming in nearly two months. Not because they were home sick, but because they were hungry. "We re real psyched to eat pizza," said violinist Earl Maneein. "Real pizza. Most pizza outside New York is total _____"

Ever since auditioning at a convention of the National Association of Campus Activities, the band has been in demand at college parties. At one welcome to school mixer, the students actually got college credit for watching Bloo do its thing.

So far the gigs have been steady enough to allow every member of Bloo - which also includes singer Brendan Lynch, drummer Dave Ferrara, percussionist Marc Fichman and bassist Pat Hurley - to abandon his day job. For a band without label support, that s an impressive accomplishment. We opened up for Gov. Mule recently and every body was like what label are you on?" Harley said. "And when
we say we re not on a label, they say then, how are you on tour?

BILLBOARD October 25, 1997
A Short-List Of The City's Unsigned Acts

One of the most exciting live bands to start playing around New York over the past year is Long Island, N.Y.'s BLOO. And if reaction from the impressive crowds it has been drawing to recent gigs at the Westbeth Theater and Wetlands is any indication, it won't be long until this group is the talk of the town. BLOO's eclectic blend of folk, funk, jazz, and blues rock evokes the flowing jams of the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers, or Phish; the jazz quirkiness and irreverence of Frank Zappa; and the folk/funk hoedown of Dave Matthews Band. Add to that mix soft, four-art harmonies, the electrifying fiddle solos of violinist Earl Maneein and drummer Dave Ferrara's imaginative percussion playing.

Earlier this year, BLOO won the $25,000 grand prize in the Mastercard American Collegiate Talent Search held in Philadelphia and beat out 70 local bands in the Guinness Fleadh Band Search for the chance to appear with Sinead O'Connor, Soul Asylum, and Van Morrison, among others, at the Fleadh Festival on Randalls Island this summer. The band clearly struck a chord with its Fleadh appearance: Its album, "The Geology Of Planet Weird," outsold all but two other acts' releases at HMV's on-site store at the festival. Together just two years, the quintet possesses the chemistry of a seasoned unit. Part of that comes from the fact that three of the members have played together since junior high school. The other factor is that Ferrara and Maneein are classically trained musicians who met while attending the Aaron Copland School of Music - though that hasn't kept Maneein from plugging his violin into a wah-wah pedal. Live shows see the string-playing members of BLOO routinely trading guitars with one another, which bass guitarist/lead singer Pat Hurley says was an outgrowth of the songwriting process in which they would "go in a circle and switch around and feel out what each of us liked most."

Singer/front man Brendan Lynch emphasizes the democratic process, saying that each song starts from "any one of us bringing in a little piece or a riff," with the remaining members all contributing to the final result.

Perhaps the band's collective effort is best exemplified by the communal spirit in which its members live and rehearse. The BLOO house - complete with dog Meathead, family, and friends streaming in and out, and the BLOO bus parked in the driveway (in requisite color, of course) - is "a pretty positive thing." Says the band's elder, 23-year-old Ferrara. "It's kind of like a nice foundation for the future."

LONG ISLAND VOICE December 18-24
Ron Strauss
True BLOO: Homegrown champs

In front of a guest-judge panel of invited major record-label reps, publicists, press and supporters of LI's local scene, BLOO dropped industry jowls, winning the WBAB-Sam Ash Homegrown Talent Search over the weekend at Mulcahy's. BLOO's blend of groovy ducklings and the textured electric-violin-driven raunch of "Rob's Green Basement" and other fan favorites proved too much for the suave groove of Brother Stump, who beat the BLOO boys a week before in the semifinals. BLOO earned a trip to the finals via a wild-card placement. Once back on stage, they spewed the jamming thunder that landed them the huge win --blowing away the competition by 25 points. Besides earning the title of "Best Local Band," they'll receive 50 hours of studio time, a cash prize and, most importantly, they'll get continuous airplay on WBAB (102.3FM). Other bands that performed included Tribe 7, the tonk riffers' Bourbon Still, gasoline-alley rockers Rooster and Earth Eats Dog.

THE COURIER-NEWS Thursday, January 22, 1998
Robert Makin
BLOO making its presence known

When the Long Island-based BLOO made its debut opening for From Good Homes at Irving Plaza last month, the crowd was given blue glow sticks to bop to the band's mix of Beatlesque pop, Celtic fiddle, Latin percussion and psychedelic jams.

Each time the five-piece switched instruments, a sea of blue roared approval. Not bad for a band whose average age is 21.
"We were happy when a 'Billboard' write up compared us to bands we didn't feel worthy to be compared to," drummer David Ferrara says. "At out age to be compared to Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band is a great honor."

While Ferrara sounds like a character from "Wayne's World," he had his bandmates, who'll be at Wetlands, 161 Hudson St., on Saturday, are much better musicians.
The drummer is pursuing a degree at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College in Queens, N.Y., where he met violinist Earl Maneein, who also plays bass and keyboards and sings.
The well-rounded musician fit with Ferrara's West Islip High School buddies - Brendan Lynch, Patrick Hurley and Mike Saganic - like cold beer and hot wings.

"There's a different bass on each tune, so it's a totally different feel," Ferrara says.

BLOO also varies composers, which makes the band even more eclectic.

Usually, the music industry doesn't like to be kept guessing, but BLOO's energetic fun, excellent musicianship and proven marketability makes it an exception.

The independent CD, "The Geology of Planet Weird," a reference to the house the group shares in West Islip, N.Y., was financed by winning three high-profile band contests last year.

One of the prizes was $15,000 in cash. Another was the opportunity to play Guiness Fleadh at New York's Downing Stadium with the likes of Van Morrison and Sinead O'Connor.

More than 4,000 Irish music fans waved blue handkerchiefs as BLOO frolicked through its Celtic-flavored set After an unexpected encore, the band sold out the first run of "Geology."

"We're not trying to impress anybody or be different," Hurley says. "We hope that's what the record labels see."

"As long as we like it, we don't care if anybody else does," Ferrara adds. "We're having fun. We don't want to take it too seriously. People who take their music too seriously, I don't think their music is very real."

Like Phish, BLOO plays music more seriously than it takes it.
"Tedious Cupcake," a Phishy epic that goes from ragtime jazz to Hendrix-like space jam to klezmer pine, impresses most. From a commercial standpoint, the heartfelt, wide-eyed romanticism of "She Said She," the rocking silliness of "Wild Bill Webber" and the coming-of-age tale "Little Boy" all could be singles.

BLOO will open for the New Brunswick jam band Fatty Lumpkin on Saturday and then headline Wetlands next month.

LONG ISLAND VOICE August 28-September 3, 1997
Ron Strauss

Crunchy or smooth, it's youthquakin'

They entered the 4,000-plus field of the MasterCard Acts of American Collegiate Talent Search on a goof - and won. Then this MasterCard Best Student Act in America finagled the Guinness Fleadh Battle of the Bands and landed a Guinness Fleadh bid on Randalls Island - selling 225 copies of their release, "The Geology of Planet Weird," and outselling the likes of Sinead O'Connor, Van Morrison and Soul Asylum. Now Long Island's Rusted Rots with a big-time Allmans' flow (along with their dog Meathead) will take their blend of gritty backyard medleys, lounging percussion, classical-music structure and schizophrenic crescendos and attempt to "Blloicize" more followers.

"Some guy came up to me and said, 'I hear you guys have a band. Why don't you enter the Best Student Act contest?'" says BLOO violinist/keyboardist Earl Maneeian, an ex-New York Youth Symphony member who has performed at Carnegie Hall.

It is this classical background that has provided the rich backbone for a band whose reach far exceeds their youth. While their self-funded effort reveals the holes that boku pocket wads could polish, BLOO's grasp of folk-sensitive bluegrass and rock steady humor creates a thick rhythm just one notch below perfect.

Drawing on the symbiotic relationship between Maneeian's overwhelming electric and acoustic violin action (yes, violin) and the slithering progressions of drummer/percussionist Dave Ferrara (also an ex-Youth Symphony member), BLOO constructs an "organized insanity" with a true method of madness. Even though "this is more or less a demo album," says Ferrara, the album has substantial merits.

Their folkie, jazzy, bluesy rock has a structured groove-driven vibe that out-shanks L.I. powerhouses, like Sunburst Jalopy and Deep Banana Blackout, with jam-slammin' original material. The declamatory brass of "Wild Bill Webber" has slowly become a fave, but plucky hip tracks like "Brandy," "Rob's Green Basement" and "Plasticman" surge through remnants of '70s mind funk, bottleneck rock and an elusive synthesis created by bassist Pat Hurley and acoustic guitarist Brendan Lynch.

The music "can show how musicians within the confines of musical structure can really go off," says Lynch. And going off is exactly what BLOO is all about, as they started pounding out a brain-busting, candlelit jam of "Rob's Green Basement" - in their basement - risking blowing out the circuit breakers of their fraternity-style home in North Babylon.

"Let's blow the place up. Let's play," laugh the BLOO boys, who all (except Maneeian) graduated from West Islip High. Maneeian graduated from Bronx Science.

Some of the most sparkling violin can be heard in the bashy, tonk-laden, spaghetti-stringed "Second Opinion" and in Maneeian's crunchy chromatic frenzies in "Tedious Cupcake." Both tracks incorporate classical elements with the guitar of Mike Saginich. But there's also the Paul Simon-esque ballads "Little Indian Girl" and "Little Boy," which blend classy soul with rich meter.

"It may sound pretentious, but I really must say this album is a rebellion to radio-friendly teen pop," says Maneeian. "What we're trying to do is touch with the original."

That may be the definitive draw of the album, considering the mob of alt-rock and young techno-pop stigmata, which Hurley labels as "copies of copies," cluttering radio airwaves. You rarely find a group of young, diversified musicians with a grip on musical structure. They represent their music with intelligent, explainable poise and convey their knowledge through full-bodied musicianship.

"When we started, we were just a couple of guys with some songs," says Lynch. Maneeian adds, "We're still a couple of guys with some songs."

Tina Morales

Silly, Satirical Song Propels Queens College Band

A band of Queens College music students made random acts of violence the top attraction at a talent contest in Poughkeepsie last weekend.

Playing an original song about a band member who shot another one's dog for no good reason, BLOO, a group of young musicians from Queens and Long Island, won the semifinals of the MasterCard American Collegiate Talent Search. The win advanced them a step closer toward earning the title of "The Beast Student Act in America," as well as a chance to compete in the finals, scheduled for the end of the month. At stake: a $15,000 cash prize and an audition in front of entertainment industry professionals.

"It was a very tough competition," said drummer David Ferrara, 21, of West Islip. "But it was a lot of fun and a great trip."

In November at Queens College, the 2-year-old band and its members (Ferrara, Queens residents violinist Earl Maneein, singers and guitarists Mike Saginich and Brandon Lynch, singer and bassist Pat Hurley and percussionist Virgil Tabije) played in a local contest for the nationwide talent search created by MasterCard International and coordinated with the National Association for Campus Activities. Not too big on talent contests, band spokesman Maneein said they entered this one as a fluke.

"We were hanging out at school when someone mentioned the show to us," said Maneein, 20, of Bellerose. "At first we thought it wasn't such a great idea, but then thought, hey what have we got to lose?"

So they polished up their favorite song, "Wild Bill Webber Shot My Dog."

"It's just a silly, satirical song about random acts of violence, not a true story," Maneein said. "We rehearsed it because we wanted to blow the audience away."

It was an easy win, Maneein said.

"We weren't surprised because there were really only two or three other acts that put up a good fight," he said. "We were pretty sure then we would at least get a runner-up prize."

What they got was an all-expenses paid trip to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie for the semifinals, Maneein said with a chuckle. So he and the group worked their award-winning song even more, and hoped for the best, he said.

But as they waited for their set ("Sixth from the end," emphasized Maneein), their confidence dipped.

"We began to have doubts," Maneein said. "The six other bands were really good."

Chosen with piano student Hsing-Ay Hfu of Juilliard, BLOO will represent the Northeast region in the final competition scheduled for Feb. 23 at the Philadelphia Convention Center in Philadelphia. There they will compete with 10 other acts from all over the country.

To win this last hurdle and a chance for the great prize, the band plans to stick with success.

"We'll do exactly what we did the last two times," Ferrara said. "Tightening up the song because we know it's a winner."

Susan L. Pena

BLOO blends variety at city concert

City Park got a taste of alternative rock Friday night as BLOO took over for the previously scheduled Anders Osborne Band as part of the First Union Bandshell Concert Series.

It was easy to see why the six-member band captured first prize for Best Sudent Act in America in the MasterCard American Collegiate Talent Search last year. Their special brand of arrangement - somewhere in the region of R&B with some rock, bluegrass and Beatles thrown in - combined with unbeatable chops make this a special group.

The sound is friven, above all, by violinist Earl Maneein, a classically trained musician who can wail like Jimi Hendrix or play a haunting blues or swing a la Stephane Grappelli.

But all six - David Ferrara on drums, Mark Fichman on percussion, Mike Saganic on electric guitar, Brendan Lynch on acoustic guitar, Patrick Hurley on bass guitar and harmonica, and all but Ferrara on vocals - maintain a tight ensemble while pulling out musical surprises at every turn.

These guys are clearly sailing along on a wave of acclaim and affirmation; they play with plenty of excitement and confidence.

However, their musicianship far outweighs their material; while they have the skill to make almost any song at least interesting, their songwriting - particularly the lyrics - needs some work before they can truly compete in that realm.

Still, there were some catchy tunes in evidence Friday night, and as a band BLOO is hard to beat.

They started out with a beautiful, haunting violin solo that grabbed attention, then burst into "Wild Bill Webber Shot My Dog," a song they played in the talent search, complete with howls.

The spirit of fun continued for the next two numbers, which were bouncy and upbeat. They switched to a mellower mood with two vocal pieces; the second, with its overlapping lines and violin solo, was one of the more interesting of the evening.

The introduced a new song with the working title "Kismet," with a bluesy, sinuous melody line and a restless middle section.

Showing their versatility, Lynch, who did all the talking, introduced a "seafaring song," with a rolling beat and a sing-along chorus.

"It's so hard sometimes to walk the length of my day," said the chorus of the next song, which built into a big, noisy crescendo - a cliche that kept appearing throughout the show. Still, the drum and percussion duet showed off two terrific players.

The second half featured a funkier, more hard-friving sound, except for a triple-meter tune somewhat reminiscent of the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood."

The band played mostly original material, some of it from their self-produced CD, "The Geology of Planet Weird." But they did an impressive cover of the Bob Dylan song, "All Along the Watchtower."

While the crowd for BLOO was not as large as in past weeks, there was a respectable number of people who turned out to hear this up-and-coming band, which also won the Guinness Fleadh Band Search, resulting in an appearance with Sinead O'Connor and Van Morrison.

The free concert was presented by the Berks Arts Council.

Susan L. Pena

BLOO a prize catch for Bandshell Concert Series

When five college students started the band BLOO in 1995, it was a way of maintaining the friendships they had started at West Islip High School on Long Island.

There was no way of knowing that two years later, they would be selected out of 3,500 entrants to win the $25,000 first prize in the MasterCard American Collegiate Talent Search for Best Student Act in America.

Now the band - which will play its special brand of "R&B with a jazz'folk twist" tonight in City Park as part of the free First Union Bandshell Concert Series - has firmly established its reputation with a CD and one on the way, and gigs all over the East Coast.

"It was a lot of fun; we tried not to take it that serously," said drummer David Ferrara of the contest, which attracts classical, jazz and rock bands and solo acts.

After using the prize money to buy a public-address system and to record the first CD - and to buy a Sharpei puppy named Meathead - the band went on to enter two more competitions: the Guinness Fleadh Band Search, a state competition, and the local Long Island WBAB Homegrown. They won both, the first resulting in appearances with Sinead O'Connor and connections to play in Ireland, and the second in airplay on WBAB radio.

"Each contest got more stressful," Ferrara said, laughing. "I think we're going to stop entering contests now. There's always that moment when they say, 'And the winner is..."

Ferrara said he and guitarist/vocalist Mike Saganic, bass guitarist/vocalist/harmonica player Patrick Hurley and guitarist/vocalist Brendan Lynch were friends in high school; he graduated in 1993 and they graduated in 1994.

Saganic went off to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Lynch went to the New Yourk University Tisch School of the Arts and Hurley attended the Virginia Military Institute, the University of Suffolk County and the Fashion Institute of Technology. Ferrara attended the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, where he met Earl Maneein, who plays electric and acoustic violin, bass guitar, keyboards and is a vocalist.

After their freshman year, Saganic, Lynch and Hurley started playing together, and invited Ferrara to join them. He invited Maneein and BLOO was born. (They have since added percussionist Mark Fichman).

Ferrara had planned a career as a classical musician, and was studying with Roland Koloff at the Juilliard School and Michael Lipsey at Queens. He was a member of the New York Youth Symphony at Carnegie Hall for three years and envisioned himself as a timpanist with a symphony orchestra after graduating.

Maneein also had classical training on violin, studying first with Nicole De Cecco, then touring Italy in 1988 with the New York Young Musicians Ensemble under her direction. He studied piano beginning in 1989, and won first place for three years in the New York Music Teachers Association Piano Competition. He, too, was a member of the New York Youth Symphony.

Lynch began with classical piano training, then studied clarinet and classical jazz voice.

But once BLOO was under way, the three realized they "couldn't do classical and rock at the same time."

Ferrara and his friends have all taken an indefinite leave of absence from their colleges, having decided to pursue the music that has earned them notice and prestige. They share a house in Queens where they have a studio and rehearsal space, and "we're playing a lot now, locally and in the city." Ferrara's father Tom manages the group.

"As long as we don't give up and keep a family attitude, I think we'll be around forever," Ferrara said.

All the First Union Bandshell concerts are free, and are presented by the Berks Arts Council. Refreshments will be available at stands run by various area restaurants. Those planning to attend are encouraged to bring their own chairs, since seating in City Park is limited.

IRISH ECHO June 4-10, 1997
Mary Power

BLOO almost blew the deadline, but when opportunity knocked, they didn't blow their big chance. As an air of frenzied anticipation filled Paddy Reilly's in Manhattan last Wednesday night, BLOO rocked and rollicked to victory in the final of the Guinness Fleadh Band Search competition. The talented but still relatively unknown New York-based sextet will now join numerous internationally renowned music acts at the first Guinness Fleadh, which will be held June 14-15 at Randalls Island. Over the course of five hours, The Prodigals, Celtic Fire, Pinwheel, The Jim Kelly Band, The Itinerants, The Churchills, Island Earth, and BLOO belted out a range of musical styles - from Celtic-rock and folk to grunge and pop - to a screaming mob of supporters that spilled out of Reilly's onto Second Avenue. The judges scored acts on originality, musicianship and presentation.

"We can't wait to get to the Fleadh and play in front of 25,000 people and get 10,000 to love us," said an excited Tom Ferrara, BLOO's manager. "The band practiced very hard and rehearsed every day and they are ecstatic that they won the competition and to be representing Guiness." In March, Festival Marketing Inc., co-producer of the festival, put a call out for unrecorded bands to submit demo tapes to qualify for the first level of the talent search. More than 70 bands responded. In all, there were 14 marathon shows in Brooklyn, Long Island, Yonkers, Manhattan and the Bronx. Only these elite eight remained. "In Ireland, the fleadh is traditionally the culmination of regional competitions throughout the country to see which bands actually play on the stage," said Howard Pulchin, director of corporate communications for the Guinness Import Company. "It's a wonderful event and it tied in beautifully with what the Fleadh concert is all about and it also provided some exposure for some unknown bands." BLOO were a late addition to the line-up and almost didn't make the deadline, but they went on to win top scores at all of its appearances. This lively young outfit's catchy harmonizing pop, which might be described a a cross between Then Hansen Brothers and John Spencer Blues Explosion, displayed the distinctive self-styled originality and superior musicianship the judges were looking for. Comprising Brandon Lynch, Patrick Hurley, Mike Saganic, Earl Maneein, Virgil Tabije and David Ferrara, the band began playing music together as early as the 8th grade while attending West Islip High School. They recently won the 1997 MasterCard Best Student Act in America, representing Queens College.

The Prodigals was also a favorite among many of the judges. "The excitement here tonight has been just brilliant," said a red-faced Gregory Grene, singer and accordian player with The Prodigals. He was elated after a riotous performance, which had fans punching the air to the band's energetic rocked-up Celtic ballads. "Taking part in the competition has been wonderful," said Grene, who is from Belturbet, Co. Cavan, and now lives in Manhattan. "It would be great to win, but we really enjoyed taking part in the even. I'd do it all again, no questions."

The Prodigals formed only six months ago and it has briskly built up a healthy following from its appearances in New York-area bars. Their supporters showed up in droves Wednesday night and were raucous throughout the band's performance. Other bands also brought reinforcements, who cheered fiercly in the hopes of swaying the judges.

"The philosophy of the competition was to seek out an original band with potential to go far with its music," said Robert Young of Robert Young Promotions, who orchestrated the competition. "The band with the biggest response doesn't necessarily get the highest marks. The standard of music was very high and I think that out of the whole competition the right bands got to the final." He added that the band search received such a positive response from musicians and supporters that festival organizers are discussing making it an annual event.

Festival recruited 10 judges for the final show, including journalists, record industry representatives, Guinness representatives and musicians, who discreetly and anonymously observed from every corner of Paddy Reilly's.

Although there was a distinctive Celtic flair to most of the acts, to be an Irish band wasn't a requirement. The Churchills, for instance are a quirky Californian-style outfit who appeared in three-piece suits, and Pinwheel played hard-core grunge guitar-based rock.

"What a wonderful way to introduce the first Guinness Fleadh to America by having a competition that really took some of the best undiscovered bands in the New York metropolitan area, giving them a chance for their exposure," Pulchin of Guinness said. "The competition provided people with the chance to see some great bands that today may not be household names but potentially, in the future, may very well be and it's really their first exposure."