Freelance Nichole Grant

Hank and Cupcakes Thrill at Nail Creek

Everyone loves cupcakes so who doesn’t love Hank & Cupcakes! The electro pop pair who currently call Atlanta, Georgia home…

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Everyone loves cupcakes so who doesn’t love Hank & Cupcakes!

The electro pop pair who currently call Atlanta, Georgia home stopped by Nail Creek and gave an electrifying performance. Originally from Israel, husband and wife duo Ariel “Hank” Scherbacovsky & Sagit “Cupcakes” Shir made their way to Brooklyn in 2008 to progress their music career. Since then, they have evolved into the successful eccentric independent artists that they are today. No strangers to the area, Hank & Cupcakes have been visiting for years and were greeted by many excited fans (myself included), ready for them to get the party started!

I had some time before the show to talk to Hank & Cupcakes. With each performance, they bring a vibrant energy that radiates through the crowd. I asked them where this energy comes from and Hank said, “Every place has a different energy and we feed off that.” It seems that energy is a key factor behind their music and that is what is there driving force, seeing their fans energized and happy. “Were really looking forward to a fresh energy and were happy to be here in Utica, it’s one of our favorite cities and the last time I was here I was very pregnant and I’m not anymore so I can go crazy like I usually do,” said Cupcakes.

Along for the tour is the couples four-month year old daughter Sasha. Cupcakes confessed that it’s been a lot of fun touring with her daughter. Although she doesn’t attend the shows she does know her parent’s music well. Cupcakes noted that Sasha could hear her parents jamming out while still in the womb.

During my time talking to Hank & Cupcakes, I wanted to know how they felt about their success over the years and the answer I received was genuine to who Hank & Cupcakes are as musicians. According to Hank & Cupcakes, “Success feels like a point of arrival and we don’t necessarily perceive it as success, we think of it more as where we are going to go.” When it comes to being on tour it seems like Hank & Cupcakes are always thinking their fans and this time was no different than any other.

As far as performance venues, Hank & Cupcakes don’t seem to have a preference. All that matters is that their fans are there. “It’s always about the people and all of the venues we play are great but when it really comes down to it, it’s about the people, that’s what makes a great show.” Hank & Cupcakes were thrilled to be playing at Nail Creek and they said everyone there is always very friendly and welcoming and they were happy to be back. However, Cupcakes did confess that one of their favorite “OG” venues to play in the past was the Electric Company.

The show featured songs off their most recent album Cheap Thrill, released in 2016. From the start of the show, to the very end, there was not a single person standing still. While Hank jammed out on the base, creating an intriguing mix of electronic effects, Cupcakes dominated on the drums while singing with a powerhouse energy that had everyone jumping. It’s hard not to get caught up in the moment, let loose and dance to the electricity that is Hank & Cupcakes!

Before Hank & Cupcakes made their headlining debut, a local band from Syracuse, that goes by the name of Professional Victims, took the stage first. The band is an electric alternative rock duo comprised of band members Ashley Cox on keyboard and vocals and Shawn Sullivan on Guitar and vocals. The Professional Victims started the show on the right note with dream like songbird melodies from Cox and show stopping guitar riffs from Sullivan. The crowd was instantly drawn in by the electric vibes and video footage of mesmerizing images that complemented each song.

Overall the show was a mind-blowing experience for all who attended. And for those of you who can’t get enough of Hank & Cupcakes they’ll be back very soon with another performance set for August 3rd at 9 p.m. at the Gig at Turning Stone Resort Casino.

Freelance Nichole Grant

Conquering fear with Inner Genius

A few months ago, I was let go from my job. You may have read my story as it was…

A few months ago, I was let go from my job. You may have read my story as it was previously featured on Through writing about the experience, I came to realize that it’s not the end of the world if you lose your job, it’s just one door closing leading to another opportunity.

I was looking forward to this new opportunity but there was one problem, I was lacking motivation and inspiration. I needed something to help me achieve my goals – and that’s when I had a realization moment, “what are my goals and where do I go from here?”

Feeling lost yet again, I began looking for something that could help. And boom it was right there. In front of me on my Facebook feed, the thINCubator was hosting the Inner Genius program. I had a feeling this was what I needed so I signed up. Little did I know it was one of the best decisions I could have made, by investing in myself.

I remember walking into the first class feeling excited! Ready to go and regain control of my life but, by the end of the class I was left feeling of hopeless. After listening to everyone in the class talk about their ideas and dreams it hit me that I really didn’t know what I wanted.

As thINCubator Director Ryan Miller best put it, “I was a hot mess.” Well that’s at least how I felt.

I went in thinking I would get an immediate sense of what to do next and when it didn’t happen right away I felt like I let myself down. As hard as it was, I reminded myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day so I went back the following week and that is when the work began.

Every week we were given assignments that asked deep questions about our past, growing up, interests and dreams. At first it felt kind of silly reverting back to my past as a child. I thought, “how is this going to help me figure out my goals?” But, I decided to ignore that voice in my head and go with the flow.

It became hard and emotional digging into things we might have otherwise forgotten or just let go.

During the class, we didn’t have to share our discoveries with one another but we were encouraged to. I quickly discovered that by sharing I could get more out of the class. By talking about our experiences together, we could help one another.

After four weeks, it was time for the “F***it, Ship It” challenge.

This is basically where you say F*** It and breakthrough whatever it is that has been holding you back. When it came down to it, the ultimate factor that kept everyone from further pursuing their dreams was fear. By doing the “F*** It, Ship It” challenge you “just do it” and don’t think twice. Through this challenge our fears became our motivation. And with this knowledge I started implementing this way of thinking into other aspects of my life and I instantly started seeing a change. I used to allow my fear to turn me away from what I wanted but, now I’m using the fear to drive myself toward my dreams. And now, opportunities have begun knocking on my door. By the end of the class I received the job offer I had been waiting for all along…it just took some time and self-work to see that what I wanted was attainable. The Inner Genius program gave me the necessary tools to gain a better understanding of myself and develop a true sense of confidence.

thicubator inner genius

During the final class, everyone shared their future goals and how they planned to obtain them. It was enlightening to hear everyone’s inspirational stories and the journey they took to get to their realization. It’s crazy to believe that in five weeks people can create a game plan on how to achieve their dream but it happened. We created these goals and in the grand scheme of things some might be short term goals and others may be long term but, everyone had that light bulb moment and gained an understanding of how to achieve their dream.

The Inner Genius program at thINCubator has tremendously improved the way I think and how I view the world around me. Anything is possible and it’s up to ourselves to break the mold, conquer our fears and make bold moves.

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Freelance Nichole Grant

MWPAI Art Festival Inspires All

Between dodging rain drops almost every day this past week I was able make it to Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute Arts Festival and Sidewalk Show.

As I wandered down the sidewalk, I couldn’t help but notice there was a lot of artwork on display ranging from several mediums including oil and acrylic, photography, watercolor, prints and drawings, mixed media, and sculptures.

The show also had submissions from area high school students. The talent displayed was amazing! It certainly is a fantastic opportunity for students to showcase their work to the public and I can truly say this first hand as it was the original connection that sparked my creativity. Ten years ago, as a senior at Whitesboro High School I submitted my first photograph to the sidewalk art show and that is what inspires me to share my work to this day.

Throughout the event, Sidewalk Show goers had the ability to vote on artwork by participating in the People’s Choice Awards by choosing one work from each category. I must say this was a challenging task to complete as there were so many beautiful works of art and it was hard to choose just one for each category.

As it hit the lunch hour the side walk started to become full of viewers admiring the local works of art. The band Leg Up took the stage which added an element of cool blues into the mix. And the smell of deep fried Oreos was in the air! The art show was in full swing with all that it had to offer including a Big Ol’ Steamrollin’ Print exhibition.

The exhibition was held just on the other side of the sidewalk art show in the parking lot, and for a good reason. A full-size steam roller was on site to roll and create art!

MWPAI Institute School of Art, Community Arts Education Coordinator Audrey Taylor said the event showcased a mix of art from students, staff and members of the community. “It takes a large group of people to make this happen so it’s a communal event. Most people don’t realize that you can make large prints and when they see it happen they think it’s the coolest thing.” According to Taylor, large scale print making events, such as this happen all over and she said that this specific event was brought to creation through the inspiration of another. “We were inspired by Pratt Institute in Brooklyn so this is our own version of large scale print making,” said Taylor.

The steamrolled prints created during the event will be on display at the Big Ol’ Steamrollin’ Print Exhibition at the School of Art Gallery from July 5 – July 28.

  • Gallery hours are Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • A reception will be held on Friday, July 28 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • This event is free and open to the public.

Although there was some not so fun weather mixed in with the week long Arts Festival, it was still a fun event, that celebrated the talent and creativity within the community. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event, especially since I have been re-inspired to submit some artwork of my own!

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Freelance Nichole Grant

Meow-Maste Yoga

Full Lotus Yoga held its first ever Meow-Maste Cat Yoga class this past weekend to benefit the Humane Society of…

Full Lotus Yoga held its first ever Meow-Maste Cat Yoga class this past weekend to benefit the Humane Society of Rome.

Pictured above are the eight cats that were present during the Meow-Maste yoga class.

Humane Society Manager Helen Rudiak said the cats have never been a part of something such as this, but she knew they would enjoy it. “Our cats are very friendly and they live in a free roam shelter where they are used to running around, so this will be a great experience for them as well as those attending the event.”

The Rome Humane Society currently houses 40 cats (8 of which were in attendance) plus 17 dogs at their Rome shelter as well as others living in foster homes.

The event was a wonderful way to introduce the practice of yoga while bringing awareness to the Humane Society of Rome.

Full Lotus Yoga Owner Bianca Johnson is very passionate about animals. The idea came about because she used to volunteer with the humane society and was looking for a way support the shelter again. “I wanted to help out the animals at the shelter, so I offered the cat yoga class to help raise money for the humane society but to also give the cats the opportunity to show off their personalities in hope of getting adopted.”

The yoga session was a packed house with about 30 attendees. It began with some mediation and stretching, and as the class took the first sun salutation everyone was greeted with meows and purring from eight new furry friends.

At first the cats were a little hesitant to join in, but after receiving some affection from the class yogis they became more comfortable with the yoga environment. Some cats made themselves comfortable and sprawled out on the yoga mats while others were running around and zipping about- making poses such as downward dog a little tricky. One cat even used the mat as a scratching pad! And some cats cozied up in the blankets and next to yoga attendees to get a much-needed ear scratch.

Although it was a little different from the typical yoga class, it was an amazing experience.

It was very easy to break concentration since most of the attention was focused on the cats rather than deep breathing, but there was an element of calmness with the cats. It was hard not to feel pure joy when the cats were playing within the studio.

The best part of the class was Shavasana, the final resting pose in which some of the new furry friends cuddled right up next to the yoga attendees, including myself! I couldn’t help but to feel at ease with my new friend Maxwell, an orange tiger-like cat, right there by my side.

My new furry friend Maxwell the cat sits beside me as I lay in Shavasana.

Meow-Maste yoga was certainly a hit! Everyone who attended the class couldn’t get enough of the cats and some yoga attendees said they would be interested in adoption and giving a fur-ever home. 

The event raised over $500 with all proceeds benefiting the Humane Society of Rome. 

Keep your eyes open for the possibility of another Meow-Maste yoga class in the fall at Full Lotus Yoga in Rome!


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Freelance Nichole Grant

Woman’s Day at the Range

Saturday, May 20th marked the third year for Trenton Triggers Women’s Day at The Range at Trenton Fish & Game…

Saturday, May 20th marked the third year for Trenton Triggers Women’s Day at The Range at Trenton Fish & Game Club in Holland Patent.

It was my third year attending but this year would be even better than before. As a squad leader and the owner of a newly minted pistol permit, I had a new-found confidence and was ready to share it with the other women.

The day began with one hundred “locked and loaded” women ready to shoot! Some had experience with firearms ranging from shotguns, rifles and pistols and some had never shot a gun in their life but, they were ready to check it off their bucket list.

Woman's Day Range
Dean Grant of Air Wing Marksmanship Training instructs Women’s Day at the Range participants how to properly aim at their target during a SIRT Laser pistol lesson.

The theme throughout the day was to have fun and the women did!  It was even repeated during the morning safety course. One instructor reminded the women,

“If you aren’t having fun you won’t enjoy what you’re doing.”

The event consisted of five stations including: high power rifle, rimfire rifle, pistol, shotgun and the SIRT Laser pistol. At each station, the women received a safety briefing provided by a Trenton Trigger Members and certified instructors. After the instruction, the fun began and the ladies took the guns for a test drive.

Woman's Day Range
Women are seen taking turns shooting on the shotgun trap range.
Woman's Day Range
A woman is seen shooting a shotgun at the shotgun trap range.

As for the squad I was in, our first stop was the shotgun trap range. As I joined the women on the range I couldn’t help but notice there was a bit of hesitation for everyone involved but that only lasted a few moments. Once the women felt comfortable handling the shotguns you could see they were focused and determined to hit the clay pigeon as it flew through the air. And when the women hit one, we all celebrated!

After firing a few round myself, I noticed a familiar face. Kim Myers of Barneveld was an instructor and I remembered shooting with her during the event in its first year.

She said the Women’s Day event helped her to learn more about shooting.

“I wanted someone to show me how to shoot and through the Women’s Day event I learned when the trap range would be open with instructors available. I started coming on my own and I was able to learn from other shooters,” said Myers. She also said that women shouldn’t be intimidated to shoot and they can overcome their fear by going with a friend. “Find a friend who’s also interested in shooting and talk to members of the club, there’s always someone here who can teach you how to shoot.”

Anyone who is interested, even nonmembers, can learn. Trenton Fish & Game Club offers open trap to anyone for a small fee on Wednesday’s at 4 p.m., then on Saturday and Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. All you need is a shotgun, some shells and you’re ready to go!

Woman's Day Range
Women’s Day at the Range participants are seen shooting high power rifles.

A lot of the women who attended the event not only learned about shooting but they created a bond with other women.

Squad Leader Tracey Kaminski said, “there’s a lot of knowledgeable people at each station and the instruction is great for learning and creating comradery between the women.”

Woman's Day Range
Rachel Champney is seen instructing on the rimfire rifle range.

On the rifle range, the women met and were instructed by Rachel Champney of Sherrill. Champney started shooting during the Women’s Day at the Range event three years ago and since then there’s been no stopping her. At just 15-years old, Champney is Trenton Fish & Game Club’s resident shooting pro for Tactical Solutions. She’s traveled throughout the state of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to shoot competitively. Champney said she is getting ready to hit the road again for a .22 Rimfire competition in Alabama. Champney instructed last year has been looking forward to coming back to be an instructor. “This event is all about having fun, not competition and I’m teaching these women how to do what I love to do.”

Woman's Day Range
Rachel Champney watches a shooter on the rimfire rifle range.

Also on the rifle range was Shooting Instructor and Tactical Solutions Pro Staff shooter Brian “Kruzer” Kruszewski. Kruszewski is from the Lake George area but made his way to Holland Patent to help with the event. “This is my first year helping with the event and it’s all about giving back to the sport. If a new shooter doesn’t have a good experience they won’t come back so I want to them to have a good time and enjoy the sport.” Kruszewski explained the best way shoot is to take your time and remember to breath. “It’s important to remember there is nothing to be embarrassed about, you’re safe here and if anyone is not sure of what to do, I am here to help. This is a wonderful event and it’s great to have the ladies come out and try something new.”

Kruszewski also touched upon the importance of learning gun safety.

“Some people think firearms are dangerous but they aren’t. We can control firearms by teaching proper firearms instruction and we won’t have accidents.”

According to Kruszewski, competition shooting is on the rise. “Rimfire shooting is the fastest growing sport in the nation. This year there were 240 entries in the US Steel Challenge, the largest rimfire shooting event nationwide,” said Kruszewski. He noted this is the largest number of entries the event has ever received.  

Woman's Day Range
Julie Sahl of Whitesboro shoots a Revolver on the pistol range.


Woman's Day Range
Barb Cieslewitz of Whitesboro shoots a Ruger pistol at the pistol range.

Overall the third Women’s Day at the Range was a success.

Lisa Abel of Whitesboro was on my squad and when I asked her what she liked best about the day she said, “I’ve never shot before and there was so much to learn and so much to do, I really enjoyed it and I cannot wait to go shooting again!”

Woman's Day Range
Lisa Abel of Whitesboro shoots at a clay pigeon on the shotgun trap range.

As someone who’s been around firearms most of their life, I believe safety and instruction are the keys to proper firearms training. You also need to enjoy what you’re doing. That’s such as Women’s Day at the Range come into play and turn what many think of as an intimidating sport in to one that’s full of excitement. There’s no better feeling than shooting that clay pigeon, hitting the bullseye and beating your past time in a rimfire challenge. You are in control when you shoot and you will become more confident with every shot you make!

Woman's Day Range
I shot an AR 15 high at the high power rifle range.

* Trenton Triggers is a women’s group at the Trenton Fish & Game Club that is there to support, empower and teach women about guns and their safe use in shooting sports, hunting and self-defense. For more information on Trenton Triggers and Trenton Fish & Game club visit

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