After COVID hiatus, Eddie Music Fest back on this year to honor beloved local musician

PHOTOGRAPHER:

In honor of the late, local Johnstown musician Edward Lakata, 14 bands are scheduled to take the stage during the annual Eddie Music Festival at the Concordia Club in Gloversville on Saturday.

By Jordan Ries

For The Leader-Herald

GLOVERSVILLE — In honor of the late, local Johnstown musician Edward Lakata, 14 bands are scheduled to take the stage during the annual Eddie Music Festival at the Concordia Club in Gloversville on Saturday. 

The festival kicks off at noon and should wrap up by 10 p.m., although, organizer John Lakata said the festival has tended to run a little longer in past years. Admission is $5.

“The feedback has been that the music at the Eddie is fantastic,” John Lakata said. “We’ve never had complaints about any of [the bands].”

Edward Lakata died in a bicycle crash in 2013 when he was struck and killed by a motor vehicle. He was 55.

After his tragic death, relatives and friends of Lakata organized the music festival as a tribute to him and his career in music.

After a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s event will be the eighth Eddie festival. A great relationship between the organizers and the Concordia Club, and a seasoned committee, help the festival’s planning run smoothly, John Lakata said.  

The daylong event features two stages underneath the Concordia Pavilion where guests can listen, mingle, participate in raffles, drink and eat from the food trucks parked near the venue, which is on Concordia Club Road.

Most bands seek out the festival on their own and agree to volunteer their services, John Lakata said. 

The proceeds go to the Edward Lakata Memorial Scholarship for Johnstown High School students for music or math and science — two pastimes to which Edward Lakata dedicated most of his time. Yearly recipients of the award earn a $1,000 scholarship towards their pursuit of higher education.

Edward Lakata loved to perform and even built a recording studio in his home, where other artists were invited to use the space. Often, he helped mix records and musicians stayed longer to hang out with the Fulton County native.

“I’ve never seen a funeral where that many people attended,” John Lakata said. “I mean, it was twice as big as any funeral in the viewing audience I’ve ever seen. It really showed us how many lives he really touched.” 

“He was a consummate professional. He was a fun-to-be around guy. You know, he was one of those personalities that attracted people,” Phil Schuyler said, lifelong friend of Edward Lakata, and former bandmate. 

Schuyler, 60, played alongside Lakata on and off for 30 years, writing music together, performing, touring, and enjoying each other’s company as lifelong buddies. 

“[Lakata] studied on his own. He was one of those guys. He went and bought books and learned. And then somehow ended up better than everybody else,” Schuyler said. “His talent, his approach, his style. It’s really hard to put a finger on one thing.”

A teacher at the Johnstown BOCES for the Career and Technical Center and director of the Gloversville High School musicals, Schuyler’s former students will be the opening act for the Eddie, performing as Stump City, starting at noon. Edward Lakata’s son, Austin Lakata, will also be performing on Saturday at 5:50 p.m.  

“The first [festival] was tough,”  Schuyler said. “It’s just amazing that it’s still as popular as it is. It’s literally grown even after all eight years. It’s quite a tribute, honestly.”

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