Senior Isabella Barbagallo is the main vocalist for BB Dang, a local cover band in the Rochester area, alongside keyboardist Matt Edwards, drummer Mike Valle, guitarist Alex Sherwood, guitarist/vocalist Reid Burton, and bassist/backup vocalist Cam Carlson. The Campus Times had the opportunity to talk to Barbagallo and her bandmates about being in an off-campus band, getting gigs, and the process of working collaboratively with people from different backgrounds and schedules.
Responses have been lightly edited for grammar, clarity, and/or style.
How did BB Dang start out, and how have you grown?
Barbagallo: We started out with ROC Star Academy here in Rochester, which helps kids who want to be in bands form them, but since then we’ve had a couple of switches in lineup due to people moving out of the area, so we only have one current member in the group, Alex.
Carlson: You mean the BB in BB Dang doesn’t stand for Bella Barbagallo, contrary to popular belief?
Barbagallo: As a result of the program, they provided gigs for us, and our first real break out of that was when we did our first gig we got ourselves opening for Heartstruck in 2016. Our first major milestone was a gig at Rochester Beer Park and, later, the Fireman’s Carnival, and we’ve just been doing more gigs more frequently since then.
For those of you who aren’t original members, what made you want to join BB Dang?
Carlson: For me, I was just a random selection through the ROC Star Academy — they said “hey, you’re 13, we’re putting you with our best band,” and I said “okay, weird flex?” and it’s been great ever since.
Burton: I transferred colleges to be back here in Rochester, so it was convenient, and I had just gotten out of a band and was solo trying to do things when Bella asked me to audition for the group.
Edwards: I actually work at ROC Star Academy, and when their old keyboard player went to college, I stepped in.
What’s it like being a cover band?
Burton: I think it’s all a matter of making the songs feel like you wrote them — they’re all about refinement and practice, and our work ethic has gotten us to where we are, but what we’re looking to do is please the crowd however best we can. We also do have an original song Cam’s been working on that we play.
Barbagallo: We try to make our repertoire span as many genres as we can, so we have things spanning from the 70s to now, so there’s something for everyone.
What’s your rehearsal process like?
Barbagallo: We have one time that works for everyone!
Burton: Sundays, 7:30-9 p.m., like clockwork. If someone can’t make it, we’ll just have people practice on their own throughout the week.
Barbagallo: Some of us are full-time students, Mike works 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Matt’s also a full-blown adult, so if it doesn’t happen when we have it scheduled, it doesn’t happen.
Burton: A lot gets done in that hour and a half, and it’s all on us to learn what we need to on our own time. We’ve learned up to three songs in a rehearsal, because we’ll master them to an extent alone and then work together to refine them and bang them out.
How do you choose what songs you want to work on?
Burton: It normally comes down to a 30-minute meeting where we figure out what people would want to hear, but we do play some things we just love playing as well. It all comes down to three things: Can we do it? Are people going to enjoy it? And, are we going to enjoy it?
How do you schedule your gigs and promote to your audience?
Barbagallo: We’re lucky enough to have my dad help us out with gigs, but we’ve developed a good relationship with some venues to where we can come back pretty easily, such as Nashvilles. We’re also starting to gain an organic audience that isn’t just part of our social circles, so we’re working hard to promote on Instagram and Facebook to keep people informed of what we have going on.
Any upcoming gigs we should be on the lookout for?
Barbagallo: We’re trying to reach out and get more regional in Buffalo and Syracuse, but soon, we’ll be having a gig with USP at Nashvilles on April 8 again, which is exciting since we both have members from UR! In the summer, we have a performance at the Spencerport Fireman’s Carnival on June 9 for anyone who’s here for the summer, which is a festival gig so it’s a bigger event.