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UltraViolet cover band members are local music chameleons

BEST IN BUFFALO — UltraViolet has won various local music awards including Best New Band in 2012, Top Alternative Rock Band and Best Female Vocalist in 2013. Pictured from left: Mike Criscione, Amy Zielinski, Doug Griffith and Michael Schunk. Photo submitted by Zielinski.
Cover and tribute bands range from highly professional to amateur. Some tour nationally, paying homage to legendary bands in music; for fans of the dancing bears, Dark Star Orchestra recreates The Grateful Dead, or Bad Fish, Sublime’s reincarnate.

Some cover bands’ purpose is more simple. Hamburg resident and native Amy Zielinski, founder of local cover band UltraViolet, said that her band is different.

“When you’re in a cover band, your job is sort of to keep people drinking and make money for the bar,” she said. “It’s more like entertainment than about music, because you’re not playing your own songs. You’re playing someone else’s.

“You want to keep people entertained and make the bar as much money as possible,” she added. “There’s always this fear, when you’re in a cover band: There might be nobody that shows up, and then you have to have this awkward conversation about if you’re going to get paid or not. This is the first band I’ve been in that I really don’t worry about that conversation.”

Zielinski formed the band in 2012, after her experience in two local bands, Category 5 and Widow Maker. She began singing in her early 20s, without any training or adolescent experience.

By night, she sings and raps; by day, she works toward earning her Ph.D. in molecular biology at the State University of New York at Buffalo, while also working twice per week at East High School in the city of Buffalo.

She said she understand the dynamic under which cover bands fall, but she refuses to let that restrict her. Incorporating progressive ideas, UltraViolet becomes less of “just a cover band” and more of its own performance.

“We do different stuff,” Zielinski said. The band covers artists ranging from Rage Against the Machine to Katy Petty, to Eminem to No Doubt.

By incorporating their own covers of songs into various forms, the band members create both mashups and medleys. A mashup track will take two or more songs that blend and weave them in and out of each other. Listen to this technique in songs by mashup specialist producer Girl Talk, or in the TV series “Glee.”

A music medley is similar to a mashup, but rather than intermixing throughout the tune’s entirety, it will stretch consecutively from one song segment to the next. Each track within a medley will relate to each other, with some sort of theme. UltraViolet has performed “cheesy pop song medleys” and R&B medleys, and currently has a ‘90s grunge theme in the works.

“We’re musical chameleons,” Zielinski said, adding that she is good at mimicking voices and changing her voice, whether it be a female or male vocalist that she is attempting to mirror.

The remaining members of UltraViolet also reside in the local area. Zielinski’s boyfriend, Doug Griffith Jr., the band’s drummer, is originally from Middleport, but relocated to Hamburg. He was the sound person for the initial band; Zielinski said that they started dating “quite some time before we formed this band.”

Mike Criscione of Orchard Park was the sound person for Widow Maker. After seeing him play an acoustic set, Zielinski said she reached out to him about UltraViolet; “In my opinion, he’s one of the best in the city,” she said.

The original bassist for the band left for personal reasons. Mike Schunk, an Angola resident, is the current bassist. Schunk was in a handful of local bands and Zielinski said “he has been in some of the top bands, and is a really talented guy.”

The band’s logo was designed by 3G Graffix LLC, located at 7138 Transit Road in Williamsville, with creative direction from Zielinski herself. It sports a hand-picked font typeface, a biohazard symbol on a galactic-esque backdrop.

Catch performances by UltraViolet from 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8 at Jack Devine’s Irish Pub, located at 4170 Southwestern Blvd. in Hamburg.
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