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

"I thought, I can't really pass that up," Califano said.

He said he and the Hopkinses had an instant rapport. He got along especially well with Scott, the group's banjo player, because Califano is studying to become a music teacher " he has a bachelor's degree in recording, but when he dated a music teacher, he realized "that's a sweet gig."

"Scott and I are very similar in a lot of ways," he said. "We both tend to take a little bit of an intellectual approach to things."

Safford, meanwhile, acknowledges that he's not as "studied in music" as his bandmates. Califano said Safford is "such a straight-up bluegrass player, and we need that."

Like Scott Hopkins, Safford grew up around bluegrass music.

"My dad played banjo as far back as I can remember," he said.

Safford was only about 12 when he started playing in his first band, the Bluegrass Upstarts. Later, he played in a group with his dad before joining the service. Eventually, he moved back to the Capital District and was looking for a "band I could grow with" when he hooked up with Fairview Avenue.

That the band has been growing is a testament in large part to the work of Liz Hopkins, who describes herself as a full-time mom, part-time nurse and part-time band member. In recent weeks, she's sent e-mails anywhere and everywhere, hoping a few people might bite and sign Fairview Avenue to play. The response has stunned her.

"I probably get an e-mail back everyday from someone I've contacted," she said. "People in general really do like bluegrass."

Starting in May, Fairview Avenue will regularly perform at Emack and Bolio's ice cream parlor. Other gigs include LT's Grill in Nisakayuna and the Moon and River Cafe in Schenectady. It's also slated to play concert series in Clifton Park and Altamont this summer.

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