6 out of 8 ain't bad


Published: December 28. 2006

Saturday's Rock House Arts Foundation benefit at the Docksider isn't a full-fledged Plato's Cave reunion, but it's darn close.
After his dad died last year, former Plato's Cave member Dan Ostrowski did some serious reflecting. He remembered how much his father encouraged his musical exploits.

Ray Ostrowski went so far as to set up a music room inside his printing business, where Dan and his friends from Cathedral Prep could jam away as long as they wanted.

Later, during Plato's Cave, his dad printed posters and flyers for the group.

"We referred to it as the Rock House," Ostrowski recalled. "After my father passed away, I was thinking of a way to honor him. The one thing I thought of was he gave us this place to play, to grow. He supported us in everything we did, as did all our fathers."

With his father in mind, Ostrowski founded the Rock House Arts Foundation, which donates music instruments to schools and youth organizations. Through his musical connections -- he runs Alive! With the Arts, a Baltimore company that books entertainment into colleges -- he's able to procure good deals on instruments. The Rock House passes them along to places that need them.

Of course, the Rock House itself needs money to operate, which is where Saturday's benefit comes in. Six former members of Plato's Cave will perform at Docksider, the first Cave show in more than three years, which ought to mean a jammed, jumping place.

Through his buddy Jim Donovan of Rusted Root, Ostrowski has already lined up assorted percussion instruments to donate to the Sarah Reed Children's Center and Neighborhood Art House.

This isn't a full-fledged reunion, not without Randy Bauman and Matty Walker. But six out of eight ain't bad.

Besides Ostrowski, the lineup will include singer-acoustic guitarist Erik Walker (coming from New Hampshire), lead guitarist Gary Bauman (in from Florida), bassist Doug Phillips, drummer P.J. Askey, and guitarist Scotty Cravener. Also playing: Percussionist Randy Hetherington (in from Colorado), former Dollhouse Caper member Craig Stevens, and keyboardist Frank Singer.

This version of Plato's Cave will focus on the band's early days, said Ostrowski. Expect such songs as "Ishtar" and "Soul Provider."

"We can tackle the early stuff, like the 'Funkus Spelunkus' era. So you'll definitely hear a handful of those songs, and the stuff we were always covering back then -- Allman Brothers, Rolling Stones, Neil Young."

Phillips says he's psyched about playing with Gary Bauman, who rarely makes it back to Erie.

"I'm really excited because Gary will be there. I haven't seen or played with Gary in five or six years," he said. "I expect a nice, raw approach with Gary up there, being a guitar god. He's a great guitar player. He's living his family life now, being a lawyer and all that. So it'll be great to him shredding away again."

Bill Burke, who lives near Ostrowski in Maryland, will open the show, playing his eight-string Warr guitar. He was one of the frequent guests at Ostrowski's Rock House, along with Philips, Randy Bauman, former Prep running back Tim Colicchio, and assorted Plato's Cave members.

"Through 1995-96, that's where we practiced, at the Rock House," Ostrowski said.

Now, through his new agency, the Rock House spirit will continue.

"My dad served a lot of people in the Erie community. As a businessman, he was close to his customers and gave them fair deals and did a lot of work for gratis," Ostrowski said.

"We're hoping to keep that spirit going, and I'm able to do that through this foundation. So we'll be able to raise money and name it after the place he gave us."

Rock House Arts Foundation
Benefit with Plato's Cave members and Bill Burke is scheduled Saturday at 10 p.m. at Docksider, 1015 State St. Tickets, $5, are available in advance at Docksider, Molly Brannigans, and Grasshopper. Tickets previously purchased for $10 will admit two.