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All-Westchester Soul/Funk Band Looking Forward to a Bigger Stage

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The members of the northern Westchester-based band Smooch will be on the Main Stage Saturday afternoon at the Pleasantville Music Festival. 

The northern Westchester-based indie soul/funk band Smooch has played in all types of venues throughout the county, from bars and breweries, to farms and street fairs.

It took a bit of a fortuitous break for them to land a spot at this Saturday’s Pleasantville Music Festival.

The band was playing one evening at The Garage at Lucy’s, the popular bar, restaurant and music hotspot a short walk from where the festival takes place at Parkway Field, when they were approached to see if they were interested in playing this year’s festival. Another band had to cancel and a slot opened up when they were least expecting it, said drummer and vocalist Mike Cesario.

“We’re very excited. It feels like we work very hard, we play a lot and we’re trying to make ourselves known just through that hard work,” said Cesario of the opportunity to perform on the festival’s Main Stage. “So it does feel like a little bit of a payoff in a way, just to be recognized because we do play a lot locally, and I feel like at a certain point someone’s going to notice.”

The seven-member ensemble (when they’re at full strength) all hail from Westchester, five of whom are from Yorktown, including Cesario and lead vocalist Tori Ciarcia. It will also be a special day for original member Matt Crossett, a Pleasantville product, who has since moved to Spain, but is returning to play the festival in the community where he was raised, Cesario said.

Since none of the band members play music professionally full-time, Smooch needs to be an adaptable group, Cesario said. There are other commitments that take up their time, so for some performances there are different configurations, even before Crossett relocated. For a smaller, more intimate atmosphere, the band can scale it down, while for a larger show, everyone will come out.

“We kind of morph to change to fit the needs of the gig and who can make it,” Cesario said.

The needs of this engagement will differ from a lot of their other performances around the county. Whether it’s a bar or another outdoor weekend event, Smooch has been accustomed to playing for two or three hours.

On Saturday, the band will bring out “the best of the best,” of their original songs and maybe sprinkle in a cover or two to complete the 40- to 45-minute set, Cesario said.

Even if their performing is confined to evenings or weekends, it takes at least as much of a commitment to be prepared to play when there are other things in life that each member has to take care of. But the love of music and their craft never wavers, he said.

“It’s basically passion,” Cesario said. “We all care enough about it that we make the time and the energy to make it happen.”

Smooch is scheduled to take the Main Stage at about 1:45 p.m.

Headliners at this year’s festival include They Might Be Giants, a Brooklyn-based alternative rock band, on the Main Stage, Nashville’s The Criticals, a four-member rock band on the Party Stage and Sophie B. Hawkins in the Chill Tent.

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