Fairview Avenue lines up gigs as its members bring a variety of musical styles to the table

For more than a decade, Scott Hopkins has belonged to one bluegrass band or another. So when he moved to the Capital District about four years ago, he decided to start his own band.

Hopkins' wife, Liz, is a classically trained pianist, but she didn't have a bluegrass background. Still, she asked Scott if she could be in his band.

I used to listen to him, and I always wanted to play, she said. "I really liked the music."

Scott agreed, so long as Liz was open to learning a new instrument. She was, and Scott, a music teacher, taught her how to play the bass.

They placed an ad on Craigslist and found their next member, Tony Califano. Then, through a mutual friend, they brought Morrie Safford on board.

The result was Fairview Avenue, a bluegrass band that's beginning to find a foothold in the region. Liz Hopkins has been busy lining up gigs for the group, including a show at the Schenectady County Library on Sunday, March 28. Fairvew Avenue will play at 2:30 p.m. as part of the "Beat the Snow" concert series.

All four members of the band say the group's chemistry was noticeable from the start.

"Things just happened really quickly and smoothly," Califano said.

In fact, Califano, like Liz Hopkins, gladly learned a new instrument for the band. A natural guitarist, "I played in rock bands forever," he said. But when Safford joined the band, Califano and the others realized his bluegrass background made him a better fit to be the guitarist, so Califano volunteered to take up the mandolin.

"I figured it would be easy to learn, and it has been," he said.

Despite his rock background, there were a couple of things that drew Califano to the Hopkinses' ad on Craigslist. First, he was a huge Grateful Dead fan, and that band's Jerry Garcia played banjo in a bluegrass band, so the genre had always interested Califano. Plus, when he saw a link on the ad to some of Hopkins' music, he was seriously impressed.

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