The Acoustics
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The Acoustics

Brantford, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2000 | SELF

Brantford, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2000
Band Folk Instrumental


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Great double bill of folk, roots, rock and more"

A while back I remember pushing my way through the sweltering crowds at Port Dover's Friday the 13th celebrations to take in the Port Dover band, Radical Road, headed up by Dover's own Tia McGraff.

Ever since, I've been looking forward to the day I'd get a chance to take in this excellent vocalist/entertainer again. This happened last Friday at Brant Park Inn Best Western where she appeared with husband/singer/vocalist Tommy Parham and violinist Cyndi Dell, who also plays mandolin and sings backup harmony. This trio took the stage during the second half of the show.

Appearing during the first half was a super six-piece ensemble known as the Acoustics.

I did article on this group when it was featured at a Sunday roots revival show at The Station Coffee House. I knew I was going to be hearing more exciting sounds coming from this accomplished band.

The group, led by Brantford accordionist and composer, Alfonso Spoto, met McGraff at the Hamilton Music Awards show last fall. Each developed a mutual respect for the other's musical style and friendships were launched.

The resulting combined concert produced many unforgettable songs and instrumentals. Nearly all of which were originals.

The remaining members of The Acoustics membership, all from Hamilton, include

Alfonso's nephew, Enzo Spoto, who, after starting on bass picked up the guitar. He has become a self-taught musician with great natural abilities. His voice is strong on the vocals.

And, with the addition of Ally Jed singing excellent vocal backup harmony on many of the songs, we discover the reason for the band to include eight vocal tracks, as well as six instrumental tracks on its third album, Erie Long," produced in January of 2013. The previous two CDs, produced in 2003 and 2007 and titled A Thousand Yesterdays and Forever and A Day, featured world/roots instrumentals music.

Both of these albums have won top place at the Hamilton Music Awards. With the latest CD, the band has expanded its horizons. To my ears, this is definitely a step in the right direction.

Jed, the newest member, has been with the band for about two years and certainly adds much on stage humour, great looks and a fantastic voice filling out the band's sound and visual presence.

Violinist Bonnie Bell, a graduate of the Royal Conservatory, has played in a number of orchestras in the Hamilton area. She has an extensive repertoire of music ranging from classical, to pop, and to the original sound of the Acoustics. Just watching her perform on songs like Sweet Loving Lady and particularly on "Erie Long" is a joy as she really gets into her playing with great conviction, commanding and getting exactly what she wants out of the instrument.

During the band's lively instrumentals drummer/percussionist Richard Hone and bassist Andrew Eckart kept the tempos solid and steady as we were treated to some rhumba, tango, salsa, slow and fast rock, and mellow moments where Richard demonstrated some excellent brush work.

The band actually got the crowd involved, singing, "Ooh, Ahh, S-s-salsa," on one instrumental where Alfonso's accordion expertise again shone through.

On many tunes the instrumental interplay between accordion, violin and Enzo's solo guitar was marvellous. And the beautiful overlap of melody and harmony that resulted was a unique sound that I've never heard from any other group that I've encountered.

The band's final song of the set sent a message of encouragement to achieve your goals as strive to get Through To The End.


Tia McGraff, born in Simcoe, spent six years Nashville, where she honed her craft performing and writing songs. It also where she met her talented husband, Parham, a Colorado native and guitarist.

While writing lyrics from personal memories, stories, history, nature, world problems, or just gaining some inspiration at the moment, she has found a way to capture that experience in each song that is a perfect match for Parham's melodies.

Parham sang harmony on most tunes. He added beautiful and tasteful guitar accompaniments during the evening. Cyndi Dell provided some lovely violin and vocal backup.

McGraff amazed in the second half with her unique voice on a variety of songs, many of which were taken from her latest CD. Produced in 2013, it is titled: "Break These Chains," a strong vocal which speaks of the determination to escape from the demons that try to control you.

This and many others on the CD, like Abigail, Reckonin', Conductor for a Day, and Whiskey Ship, were performed at the show and brought out the various colours of McGraff's voice.

Her voice has been described as "liquid honey," "hard-edged," "authentic," "stolen from angels" and more. All certainly fit the bill but it depends on the song and its message.

What really captures the audience is the sincerity and the look of joy on her face as she delivers the lyrics in a way that seems to come from her soul. One knows, absolutely, that she loves what she is doing on that stage. And she realizes, I'm sure, that her audiences are totally engrossed in her performances.

Some of her influences have been Joni Mitchell, Patty Griffin, Mary Gauthier. Others like Johnny Cash, whom she met at a CBC TV special, was so impressed with McGraff that he invited her into June Carter's dressing room to introduce the two. Cash wasn't the only one to recognize a shining star. Soon heavyweights, such as Randy Bachman, Dan Hill, Andrew Gold, Mark Slaughter and others, were inviting McGraff to write and record with them.

Following six CD releases, four CMT videos and 15 years of main stage festivals, she is still performing at these events, concert halls, song writing venues, and even house concerts.

She and her husband soon will be heading for three weeks to the U.K.

The show's finale was an excellent version of I Shall Be Released, which brought back the Acoustics to join McGraff and company.

After a thunderous standing ovation, we all joined in performing the encore of Cash's Burning Ring Of Fire. - Brantford Expositor

"The Acoustics CD Release at Hamilton's AGH Design Annex: Review"

I love the AGH Design Annex. The flexibility of seating (ie. folding chairs), the simple, clean bar, and the modern art on display combine with the knowledge of being in an "older" building. All these work together to create a favourable location for an intimate musical performance. Now all you need is to add some fine music.

The Acoustics launched their new CD Erie Long at The Annex last night. I've written previously about the band's background here. It was a pleasure to be welcomed by Al Spoto once again and to be introduced to the other band members Enzo (guitar, vocals), Richard (drums), Bonnie (violin) and Andrew (acoustic bass).

The band was joined by the lovely Ally Jedrzejek on vocals.

The audience appeared to contain lots of family and friends of the band, totaling about fifty in number. The friendly banter of the musicians with the audience and with one another, including the occasional poking-of-fun, kept the atmosphere friendly and fun.

The Acoustics have lots of experience from their ten years of making music, and they were obviously well-prepared for tonight's show. They have a polished sound that is largely defined by the interaction of the violin and the accordion, with an ever-present, subtle rhythm guitar. The musicians communicated well: beginnings were confident and endings were spot-on.

The sound levels were well-balanced and not too loud for the size of the room. I was surprised to see the main speakers placed back in the corners of the room, far away from and behind the musicians, rather than the usual close placement at the front of the stage area. Perhaps there were mitigating circumstances because of the room's acoustics, I'm not sure. In any event, there were no problems with distinguishing any of the parts.

It was a good choice for Richard to keep to the cane sticks. It allowed for the subtle timbres of the other instruments to come through. He played an exciting solo which raised the excitement level just in time for the final two numbers. There's an opportunity for him to cut loose a bit more to create some variety.

The lighting was controlled throughout the show in order to sync with the music. That was a very nice touch which is often ignored. Lighting is extremely important, especially when there are beautiful people and instruments to look at! It got a little too flashy for my tastes a couple of times, but only because there was no constant flood light to temper the flash contrasts against the darkened room. There were absolutely no other technical problems whatsoever.

Without question, the highlight of the show was the vocal selections sung by Enzo Spoto. For such an introspective musician, it must give him a wonderful sense of relief to be able to express his feelings in song and lyric. He put his all into delivering those songs.

I wonder where Enzo's songwriting will take the Acoustics? Is there the possibility of doing further work with Ally? She would shine as a featured soloist in this setting, and the two of them would be brilliant doing selected duets. With the two of them sharing vocals and including some duets, the Acoustics would bring even much more to the stage. With so much talent equally tempered by experience, I see no reason to hold back.

As it is, the Acoustics have got a wonderful, unique sound. Al's accordion and Bonnie's violin blend beautifully through all of the huge variety of songs they play. At times I closed my eyes and felt like I was in a fine restaurant in Paris, or at a wedding reception for a billionaire. The Acoustics have that quality and presence that makes them suitable for all kinds of entertainment settings.

Pick up your copy of Erie Long now. - Greater Hamilton Musician

"The Acoustics’ Erie Long"

Alfonso Spoto’s musical dreams began when he was growing up in Hamilton’s north end. A lot has changed in the last fifty years around Barton and James Streets, and Spoto and the Acoustics are excited to be offering their latest collection of songs in the old neighbourhood.

As a budding musician, Spoto’s formal training began at the age of eleven, studying at the the National Conservatory of Music in Hamilton. He’d gravitate to the covers scene and build a repertoire of traditional, pop, rock and country tunes but when his original music began to get attention, Spoto had to follow his dream.

“I had a group in the late ‘90s, we did banquet music and stuff like that but we decided to record an album of covers to get potential clients and gigs,” recalls Spoto. “During that time, I wrote a tune and we put it on the album. I ended up sending a copy to the CBC and one of the programs on Sunday that plays world music ended up playing my tune. That got us inspired and really begun the band.

“All bands have the same goals no matter how old they are,” adds Spoto. “The group has always had a mixture of ages. We all want to make music and have everybody hear it on the radio and go on and do things with what you’re doing. We’re just looking for a little more popularity so that when we do more gigs with more people but in the end, we just want to be able to make the music we love and share it with the world.”

The Acoustics would get that radio play as well as a few awards for their albums “A Thousand Yesterdays” released in 2003 and “Forever and a Day” released in 2007 and even sell some of their songs to a CBC documentary. For the last decade the Acoustics have been showcasing a unique blend of traditional world, folk and roots instrumental music with a pop sensibility.

But this weekend, the current incarnation of the Acoustics — featuring Spoto (accordion), nephew Enzo Spoto (lead guitar), Richard Hone (drums/percussion), Bonnie Krenciglowa (violin) and Andrew Eckart (double bass) — release their newest collection of songs, Erie Long that offers 14 tracks, including six in their traditional instrumental vein as well as eight songs that now feature vocals.

“We’ve always done a world style roots music but this time around we’ve crossed over a bit to a different genre,” offers Spoto. “Enzo had written all of these songs and we decided that we should do it with the Acoustics. The style is different, the instrumentals we tried to have them fit more in with the newer tracks — except for one, that maybe has more of a Latin feel. Everyone in the band contributes creatively so we thought we’d try to shake things up a bit. It is still the Acoustics. People think the accordion is for more traditional or ethnic stuff or polkas. I’ve always tried to create my own style; the Acoustics aren’t an accordion band but a band with an accordion in it and the things I try to do are out of the box.”

Recorded at Grant Avenue Studio, the Acoustics have expanded the palette they paint with on Erie Long but long time fans should be able to relate and new fans could be enticed with their new approach. All kinds of audiences can thrill to see what the Acoustics are doing at the different kind of party they offer in a more novel locale.

“My family immigrated to Hamilton when I was seven and we lived on Murray Street near John and Barton,” notes Spoto. “I was there until I was 29 so that’s my neighbourhood. We’d hang out in the pool halls on James but the place has changed totally. I love how it’s more of a cultural arts and music scene with more restaurants. You’d never see women walking up and down James Street when I was a kid — only if they lived in the area and they were going to the market. You get a lot more people visiting the area now.

“It was quite challenging trying to find a place for our CD release,” adds Spoto. “We definitely wanted it downtown Hamilton and checked out the AGH Design Annex on James — we didn’t want to do a bar — we thought more of a gallery and this spot felt right. It used to be one of the old Sam The Record Man locations [Ed. Actually the same building but the CBC now occupies the original Sam’s space] and we used to sell that CD of covers of mine from 15 years ago at that location. It’s kind of interesting to have a CD release for this album at this space after all of these years.”

The Acoustics play this Saturday April 27 at the AGH Annex with Ally Jedrzejek opening. Tickets are $20 and you can reserve your tickets by calling 905–719–6396. Click on - View

"Acoustics evolve with third studio CD"

Four years in the making, Erie Long, the Acoustics' third studio CD, marks an evolution in style and genre for the mainly Hamilton-based band.

Unlike their previous albums that showcased the group's cosmopolitan Mediterranean sound, Erie Long has a more folk-rock vibe due to Enzo Spoto's song writing and expressive vocals.

"Primarily, I was the songwriter in the past," said Alfonso Spoto, Enzo's uncle and the co-founder and band leader of the Acoustics.

"Then he started becoming more creative with his writing. The album is influenced a lot by his originality."

In part to thank their loyal Brantford fans, the Acoustics will give a CD release performance on Friday at the Station Coffee House and Gallery.

Formed in 1998 to play at banquets and weddings, the band has always been anchored by Alfonso Spoto's lively, lilting and sometimes poignant accordion work. Erie Long is no exception, with eight vocal tracks and six instrumental. All of the music was composed and arranged by the Spotos, with all the lyrics written by Enzo.

"It's not as much world music as previous songs," said Spoto, who struggles to categorize the band's sound. "It's more contemporary."

The Acoustics' first original work, A Thousand Yesterdays, won best instrumental recording at the 2004 Hamilton Music Awards.

In 2009, Spoto, an accomplished accordionist, was nominated for special instrumentalist.

Rounding out the band are Andrew Eckart on bass, Richard Hone on drums and percussion, and Bonnie Krenciglowa on violin. Enzo plays acoustic and electric guitar and performs lead and backup vocals.

Spoto, who has lived in Brant County for about 25 years, said the songs on Erie Long began as a solo project for Enzo who planned to release his own album.

"When I heard the first four songs, I rather liked it," said Spoto. "I liked the sound. I thought that maybe we needed to evolve as a band."

He is especially pleased with a track that has a Latin-America flavour called Heartburn-a-go-go, which features former Blood Sweat and Tears saxophone player Darcy Hepner among the brass section.

Like the previous albums, Erie Long was recorded at Grant Avenue Studio in Hamilton. It was a long process that began in January 2010.

"Being independent you have to work around everyone's schedules and finances," said Spoto. All of us have day jobs. When you're a big band with big money you can live at the studio for two months."

The time between CDs might be lengthy, but Spoto said that having other work -- bassist Eckart is now practicing law in Toronto -- means "the pressure of making money to survive through music isn't as critical."

Spoto is an office manager at a Hamilton construction company called On the Level Carpentry and Millwork, where the band practices every Thursday.

Last December, the Acoustics released their first Christmas single called Christmas Every Day, with all proceeds from its sale going to the Hamilton Out of the Cold program.

The recording was originally composed for 2011's Design Hope holiday compilation project.

Spoto called the project "a blast."

The band is now turning its attention to promoting Erie Long and tries to play a gig at least once a month, often in Brantford.

"Brantford people have always been very good to us." - Brantford Expositor


A Thousand Yesterdays (Dec. 2003)
Forever and a Day (Dec. 2007)
Erie Long (Jan. 2013)



The Acoustics are a lively band from the Hamilton Ontario Canada area, playing their own original folk/rock, world/roots, music. 

For the past 14 years, they have been cultivating their own unique music for local fans and venues.  During this period they have released three studio CDs, their debut CD (Dec. 2003) A Thousand Yesterdays, their second CD, Forever and a Day (Dec. 2007), and their third CD, Erie Long (Jan. 2013).

Erie Long, is an evolution of new musical styles featuring vocals and instrumental original compositions.  Unlike their previous two CD's that featured all world/roots instrumentals music, this new CD Erie Long, features more contemporary folk/rock  genres, with 8 vocals tracks and 6 instrumental tracks.

Released their first online single "Christmas Every Day" (Nov. 2012).  This was a Design Hope Project, with all proceeds from sales going to the Hamilton Out of the Cold.

The Acoustics' music has been featured on several radio shows including: CBC
Radio 1 and 2, CFMU 93.3 FM (The Freewheeling Folk Show),
and CIUT 89.5 FM (University of Toronto, Global Rhythms). CBC also selected
their music for the political drama series "Snakes and Ladders", which premiered
on CBC TV in February 2004. In 2005, the City of Hamilton also selected one of their tracks for a tourism video, promoting Hamilton at the international level.

In August, 2007, The Acoustics recorded two instrumental tunes: Snow Day and Calling of the Bells, for December Songs, a Design Hope project, for Out of the Cold, a Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, fundraising organization to provide shelter and assistance for the homeless. December Songs was released on Oct. 20, 2007.

The Acoustics were first recognized for their musical achievements in 2004, when
their CD A Thousand Yesterdays was the winner of the Hamilton Music Award for
Best Instrumental Recording of the Year
. Next, their CD Forever and A Day was
named Folk/Traditional recording of the year at the 2008 Hamilton Music Awards,
with Etelka Nyilasi winning Special Instrumentalist of the year for her violin

Forever and a Day went on to come in second place for World Album of the year at the 2009 JPF Music Awards in Nashville, Tennessee. Subsequently, the album was nominated for two 2009 Hamilton Music Awards: Folk/Traditional Recording of the year and Instrumental Recording of the year.

Their new Erie Long, has been nominated for Folk/Traditional Recording of the Year at the 2013 Hamilton Music Awards .

Current members of the band are:

Andrew Eckart, Bass - Hamilton

Bonnie Krenciglowa, Violin - Hamilton

Richard Hone, Percussion & Drums - Hamilton

Alfonso Spoto, Accordion - Hamilton

Enzo Spoto, Acoustic Guitar - Hamilton

Past members of the band are:

Etelka Nyilasi: Violin
Natalia Manley: Violin
Nick Davis: Double Bass
Sam Spoto: Rhythm Guitar
Brian Ropcean: Percussion

Band Members