With two CDs and many gigs under their belts, The Bogarts have played music festivals, regional venues and local bars throughout the past five years. The band will continue to focus on original music and live performances in 2012.
"The gigs that we get seem to be at quality places that appreciate original music," said bassist Chris Rammacher. "That's what we like to play."
In 2011, The Bogarts played roughly 20 shows, most of which were in Chautauqua County. With roots in punk, jazz, blues and early alternative genres, the band has performed at the Edinboro Arts and Music Festival, the Flood City Music Festival, and the Great Blue Heron Music Festival, where it will play for its fifth consecutive year in 2012.
The Bogarts played their fourth consecutive Great Blue Heron Music Festival in 2011 and will return once again in 2012.
All of the band's members live and work in the Chautauqua County area. Rammacher lives in Maples Springs, where the band practices, and his band mates - Chris Passamonte, Shawn McKane, Jamie Trusler and Warren Sischo - live in Jamestown. Rammacher, Passamonte and McKane remain from the band's original lineup that played its first gig at Carol's Silver Dollar in 2007.
The Bogarts have booked a show at The Regency Pub at Peek'n Peak on March 17 and hope to add more shows throughout the year. From venue to venue, the band has learned to change up its sets in hopes of pleasing audiences.
"At the Kennedy Grill, we'll kind of country it up," said Passamonte, who sings and plays guitar. "At Mojo's, we'll play some alternative and some heavier stuff. There's a lot of bands that are great, but they probably can't play at Plummer's (Tavern in Ripley). We've been fortunate enough to fit in with a lot of different scenes."
The band plays mostly originals, occasionally mixing in a cover or two throughout its sets. At times, Passamonte will judge the audience's interest and modify the set list on the fly.
"It's great we've grown to the point where we can switch in and out," he said. "I'd love to have 120 songs that we can pull in and out. I think the more comfortable I am, because I'm the singer and I'm out front, the more spontaneous it is. We can have a guy who is milking cows all day come to the Kennedy Grill and really get us on one level. Then we can play Mojo's and get a great response there."
Recently, The Bogarts' progress slowed slightly when Passamonte's wife, Alicia, was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. The band typically practices once a week but has only gathered twice a month of late.
Fellow acts Ken Hardley and the Henways, BandHanna, Ray D. O'Flyer, Tiny B, and Shawn and Andy, along with Skip Lamphere on sound, will donate their time and talents in support of the Passamontes on Sunday, March 11, from 1-6 p.m. at the Celoron Legion.
Following the benefit, the band plans to hit the stage more throughout 2012. Audiences might hear some new songs when The Bogarts play.
"We're hoping for a gig or two a month for the rest of the year from March on," said Passamonte, who has written a few new songs for the band. "I write most of the songs, and I try to bring them to the band with a rough framework."
From there, the band practices the songs, records them and sees how they evolve over time. At times, McKane will bring in completed songs that The Bogarts add to their repertoire.
The band has released two CDs of original music: 2008's "Redemption & Retribution" and 2010's "We Used to Know the Skies." The band's music spans the realm of the musicians' experiences. At times, the songs focus on political trends and broken relationships.
"You look at the context of those songs, and it sounds heavy," Passamonte said. "But that's not really the way of the band."
"Some of the songs might have a heavier context, but then the music might be country-swing," Rammacher added, noting the band would like to record a third CD in the future. "When we record, it's a really cool process. I'm just impressed and happy to be in a band that has put out two CDs of original music."
Moving forward, Passamonte hopes the band will do what it has done during its first five years.
"To keep our integrity is one of our goals," he said. "We play what we play, and the great thing is when people give us a chance."
"Backstage Pass'' is a feature of The Post-Journal showcasing local artists, their music and their accomplishments. Send recommendations for future "Backstage Pass'' subjects to Scott Shelters at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 487-1111, ext. 253.