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Publicity/Europe |Peter Holmstedt, Hemifran |

Lonesome Highway

Reviews by Paul McGee
Paul McGee | January 17, 2017
The Spanish word Esquela apparently means ‘notice’ or ‘announcement’...
The Spanish word Esquela apparently means ‘notice’ or ‘announcement’ and that is precisely what happens here. This is the third release from a very versatile group of musicians, Esquela, comprised of a five-piece indie-roots-Americana band featuring vocalist Rebecca Frame, lead guitarist Brian Shafer, Chico Finn on bass/vocals, Todd Russell on drums and Matt Woodin on guitar.

Guest Musicians on the project include producer Eric “Roscoe” Ambel on guitar/vocals, Brian Mangini on keyboards, Matthew Polashek on saxophone, Mark Spencer on Pedal Steel and Tom White on Banjo/Tin Whistle/Fiddle.

The song arrangements are very bright and the harmonies are full of fun and spark. Their sound is up-tempo and driven by the strong vocals of Rebecca Frame which carry the fine playing through the 10 songs included here. A pleasing contrast is the world-weary delivery of Chico Finn on songs like Sorry, a salutary plea for forgiveness from a lover to his partner.

Pine Tar tells of a famous baseball game in 1983, played between the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals that was abandoned on a technicality just as the Royals were winning. Heated protests followed and the debate raged until the game was replayed 24 days later.

This band has a quirky, independent streak to their music and topics such as corporate greed (Too Big to Fail) and racial inequality against the Irish (Need Not Apply) are balanced against parasitic females who crave wealthy husbands to keep them in a pampered life of luxury (Gold Digger). Best of all is a song called Animals that celebrates the joys of our four-legged friends and is a real joy.

This is a recommended release that will impress and bring a smile…

Link to article

The Long Journey

Canis Majoris
Remo Ricaldone | 2016
Behind the name Esquela is a solid quintet...
Behind the name Esquela is a solid quintet coming from the State of New York on the third album, a combo from good local reputation formed in 2010 by the current front man John ‘Chico’ Finn, bass player and author of almost all the proposed material.

He grew up with a passion for country music of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, ‘Chico’ then embraced certainly sounds ‘classic rock’, from the Rolling Stones to Bruce Springsteen, from the Ramones to Creedence Clearwater Revival, with the intact fascination for the fifties and sixties, whose traces can be found clearly among the ‘grooves’ of this Canis Majoris.

Significant in this sense the opening of It Did not Take, a typically ‘fifties’ spirit and interesting voice that Rebecca Frame with guitarist (solo) Brian Shafer, Todd Russell drummer and another guitarist and mandolin player Matt Woodin complete a very well blended training. To help give a sound to the band and to treat the particular there is the expert production of Eric ‘Roscoe’ Ambel, plus wonderful guitarist who provides its ‘services’ during the sessions.

The alternative country and roots rock of Esquela is certainly not revolutionary but is particularly original, just an enjoyable mix of tradition, like the rough country song Sorry with the notable pedal steel Mark Spencer or spirited bluegrass of Animals. Emphasized among the best moments Pine Tar, lilting ballad from the electric sports theme, Irish charm of Need Not Apply with banjo and tin whistle Tom White, cadences ‘swampy’ Gold Digger, likely influence of ‘Roscoe’ Ambel and solid Blue Canoe to turn a pleasant album.

Link to article

R2 Rock’N’Reel, UK magazine/website

Publication staff: DH, DJ, and PT | 2016
Featuring the distinctive and powerful vocals of Becca Frame...
Featuring the distinctive and powerful vocals of Becca Frame, Esquela are a five-piece indie-roots-Americana band based in New York State. Their third album Canis Majoris proves that they’re not about to be limited by their rural roots, as country, rock, folk and blues combine entertainingly.
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Esquela "Canis Majoris"
David Hintz | July 2016
This may be Americana, but there are a lot of old time rock’n’roll moves at the core...
This may be Americana, but there are a lot of old time rock’n’roll moves at the core. And if it goes country, it is far more honky tonk than Nashville. Lots of electric guitars here make this fun for me. The vocals are spirited and clearly this is a fine live act. I really enjoyed their heavy ballad, ‘Pine Tar’, but everything here is quite good with plenty of energy and quality playing as well. Bonus points for the cat in the photos.

Alt Country NL, Dutch magazine/website (translated)

| June 9, 2016
From upstate New York comes Esquela a band of producer Eric 'Roscoe' Ambel...
From upstate New York comes Esquela a band of producer Eric “Roscoe” Ambel. Canis Majoris offers roots rock of the street. It conjures up the formation of out back and several decades of street. It Didn’t Take is doo-wopp and rock and roll with mincing guitar and saxophone which takes you back to the fifties or sixties. It is answered by the steel guitar underlined wailing of John ‘Chico’ Sorry Finn on a skewered singer Becca Frame. Highlight of the album’s Pine Tar, a brilliant retrospective of a legendary baseball game between Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees on July 24 1983. A baritone guitar makes for a long intro to Gold Digger with Doobie Brothers-like guitar licks to higher gear. Need Not Apply adds a unique Irish element. We hear a piece of cake and banjo and fiddle. Animals is a nonsense song about a bluegrass menagerie. Esquela concludes with a very fine cover of Blue Canoe from Blue Mountain where Frame sings like she wears unwashed jeans.

Blues Matters! (Magazine in the UK)

Album Review
| 2016
For those with a memory that goes back to the early days of the West Coast music scene...
For those with a memory that goes back to the early days of the West Coast music scene this will be at once familiar and very welcome. They sit in the space between rock & roll and Americana crossing over into country and occasionally straying into bluegrass territory – and then there is their folk music elements. The vocals are never less than ‘interesting’ with no purer voices to be heard than the likes of Becca Frame and Chico Finn. There is a great sense of sympathetic humour while the quality of the musicianship is remarkable. Songs such as Need Not Apply talking about the discrimination against the early Irish settlers to New York or Too Big To Fail touching on the bail out of the bankers add a political element. There is plenty of humour in Sorry – pure country schlock with a whining pedal steel (Mark Spencer) except that the tongue is well in cheek and the pedal steel is actually superb. Animals is a super bit of bluegrass and features some seriously odd lyrics about animalistic habits – a chorus of “Moo Moo Moo Cheep Cheep Cheep” suggests how seriously they take the song. They have been around for around 6 or so years and they’ve developed both as individual musicians and as a band, creating two albums before this effort but they seem to have had the sense of fun in the music from the get go. My first thought about the album was that it was a bit of a piss-take but I have to say that I would love to see them do this stuff live because I suspect that they would have a great deal of fun with it and share that with their audience.

Strutterzine (Dutch magazine/website)

Esquela: Canis Majoris
| 2016
Canis Majoris is the 3rd album of the 2010 formed New York based band Esquela...
Canis Majoris is the 3rd album of the 2010 formed New York based band Esquela. This female fronted band is basically playing a sorta mix between 60s rockabilly rock and roll, blues and some Americana, roots and alternative country, with even an Irish folk tune slipped through the fingers. The vocal work of singer Rebecca Frame is quite stunning, sorta reminding of Janis Joplin. Guitarist Brian Shafer was part of the 80s American Hair Metal genre, but over here it is a different kind of approach. The bluesy rock of songs like Valentine’s Day, Need Not Apply and Pine Tar are sounding quite nice and although nothing new emerges here, Esquela offers quality music. Check for yourself at:

Gondola, Hungarian magazine/website (translated)

Esquela: Canis Major's
| 2016
The American band Esquela is active in the so-called 'American rock' genre...
The American band Esquela is active in the so-called “American rock” genre. So far they have two albums- 2010 The Owl Has Landed and three years later Are We Rolling? Now, here’s the new album which received the Canis Major’s address. The album’s repertoire of 10 songs can be found in a book. Each composition corresponds to a short story. The band’s concert calendar is quite crowded so the musicians are on the move continuously. This album is virtually collected during the trips and concerts experiences and “condensed.” Everything is now together on one plate. The new album is a great entry for those who are getting the “American rock” of the world. The repertoire for attention- “Too big to fail”, “Valentine’s Day” and “Gold Digger”

Rootsville, Belgian magazine/website (translated)

Esquela: Canis Majoris
| 2016
This American band makes roots music of that country certainly worth listening to...
This American band makes roots music of that country certainly worth listening to. Esquela has only existed since 2010 but as a true ‘Canis Majoris’ she managed to shine.

Guest musician Eric “Roscoe” Ambel was producer for their album. Nearly all the songs were written by John ‘Chico’ Finn and for the song “Sorry,” he gets the help of his spouse Becca Frame. They do the majority of the vocals and on this track they both offer their apologies as they bring good listening Alt-Country.

Sound barrier “Blue Canoe” is the only cover on the album and where the vocals of Becca and John are in perfect harmony. ‘Gold Digger’ is a song where some blues influences come into play. The voice timbre of Becca makes us think of Janis Joplin. With ‘Need Not Apply’ we are somewhere on the Irish coast in the folk scene. With the banjo and tin whistle Tom White lets us immediately taste the green island, delicious.

An album of “Esquela” contains enough variety to appeal to many different lovers tendencies.

Keys & Chords, Belgium magazine/website (translated)

Esquela: Canis Majoris
| 2016
Canis Majoris is the third album from the five-man Americana Band Esquela, founded in Bovina, New York in 2010...
“Canis Majoris” is the third album from the five-man Americana Band Esquela, founded in Bovina, New York in 2010. In the northeast of the States, the band already has a serious live reputation and in September 2015 they managed to win the playoffs at the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland. ‘Canis Majoris’ is a title that aroused our curiosity and after a search on the internet, we discovered that it is the name of a constellation and means ‘big dog.’ The producer of the band, Eric “Roscoe” Ambel is known for his work with Marshall Crenshaw among others. Anyway, let’s talk about the songs. ‘Canis Majoris’starts straight away with delicious “It Didn’t Take” an up tempo, doo-wop song reminiscent of the fifties. Becca Frame sings in true retro style, and even the classic sax solo was not forgotten here. However Esquela has even more up its sleeve. Americana, roots and alternative country have little or no secrets kept from this quintet. Surprisingly, we even loved the bickering between Becca and her partner bassist John ‘Chico’ Finn in “Sorry” a handsome call and response number. That bickering soon turns into a love song ‘Valentine’s Day’, where valentines are not limited to one day, but reign throughout the year. ‘Need Not Apply’ is a folk song in the good old Irish tradition, with a nice contribution guest musician Tom White on banjo, tin whistle and fiddle. A solid cover of Blue Mountains ‘Blue Canoe’ closes the album.

Love and loss are just some of the topics discussed. One item, however, generally warns the daylight, that the criticism of the lazy, for not being good, always in search of wealth being American, gets attention in the bluesy, in crescendo, with blazing guitar work and Becca’s power voice-ending ‘Gold Digger’.

Esquela hopes this album reaches a wider audience. With undersigned they have already won a soul. Great album!

Ung Tro, Swedish magazine/website (translated from Swedish)

Style From Earlier Recognized
Roger Bengtsson | March 25, 2016
The third album from New York rock and roll band Esquela is as pleasant to listen to...
The third album from New York rock and roll band Esquela is as pleasant to listen to as the previous “Are We Rolling?” (2013). Rebecca “Becca” Frame sings with the same fervor and even John “Chico” Finn is singing parties. In “Sorry” I think just the vocal part is a little weaker. I rather listen to bluesy “Gold Digger” or the hugely comfortable “Too Big to Fail.” Overall, a nice piece where the style of previous works is recognized.

Popgeni, Swedish magazine/website (translated from Swedish)

A lift with Roscoe | March 29, 2016
Five people strong, Esquela, upstate New York's rock and roll/Americana band has just released their third album...
Five people strong, Esquela, upstate New York’s rock and roll/Americana band has just released their third album “Canis Majoris” (Live Stock Music). Produced by ace Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (ex. Del Lords) who worked with bands and artists Steve Earle, The Bottle Rockets, Marshall Crenshaw and The Yayhoos to name a few from his grandiose and timeless CV in recent decades. With Ambel in the driver’s seat Esquela has gotten a boost sound wise.

Since they started the group in 2010 the band has gone from strength to strength and created a growing reputation for a warm and genuine live feeling. Solid proof that man evolved in the right direction in September the quintet when in competition with over 200 other bands from around the world won the Playoffs at the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland.

Bassist and front man John “Chico” Finn has not let the success turn into cockiness. “I play music for the great bit of fun, and not to compete. It was a great and instructive experience to be in such a large context and obviously really pleased that we won. At the same time, it became obvious why I play music and how valuable it is to music mostly are freed from the constant rush and competition that exists in the workplace. ” (translated from Dutch)

Esquela - Canis Majoris | May 2016
We did not know what we were hearing when we came across the new album...
We did not know what we were hearing when we came across the new album “Canis Majoris” from American roots rock band Esquela from Bovina, New York. We put it in the CD player and the beginning of the opening doo wop track “It Did not Take” reminded us of the old song “Speedy Gonzalez” by Pat Boone.

Singer (Re) Becca Frame, singer-bassist John ‘Chico’ Finn, guitarist Brian Shafer, mandolin player guitarist Matt Woodin and drummer Todd Russell treat “It Didn’t Take” in a very cool way. It is a very nice song on this album. “Canis Majoris” follows the previous two albums of the newly established 2010 “Esquela:” debut album “The Owl Has Landed” from 2010 and “We Are Rolling” 2013.

In total the band has ten new songs on “Canis Majoris” – one cover version of the song “Blue Canoe” from the album “Dog Days” of 1995 by the American alt country and roots rock band Blue Mountain. The other songs are original compositions by John ‘Chico’ Finn alone or with the help of Becca Frame or Emmylou Finn.

The quintet seems, from the picture on the inside of the CD case, to be a fun gang that enjoys creating their music and that’s clear to be heard in the songs on this new album, including “It Didn’t Take” and the subsequent “Too Big to Fail.” The more peaceful, John ‘Chico’ Finn sang country ballad “Sorry” and the bluesy song “Pine Tar” provide a moment of peace and rest in between all the swinging rock violence. We see in these songs some similarities with the work of the Drive-By Truckers.

Particularly joyous sounds come from the traditional love song “Valentine’s Day” and “Need Not Apply” appears to be an ancient Irish traditional folk song with fiddle, banjo and tin whistle in the instrumentation. For “DKC” Esquela returns to the alternative country sound like with the cover version of “Blue Canoe” in which John ‘Chico’ Finn and Becca Frame sing in duet. This song is a worthy close to the album. Our decision: “Canis Majoris” is another prime quality work from this New York quintet and they need do no more for us. Replay!

New York Music Daily

A Clinic in Purist Guitar Rock from Eric Ambel and Esquela
Delarue | April 20, 2016
“Who needs pedals?” Eric “Roscoe” Ambel asked the party people in the house at a private event at Bowery Electric last week.
“Who needs pedals?” Eric “Roscoe” Ambel asked the party people in the house at a private event at Bowery Electric last week. His pedalboard was acting up, so he pulled the plug on it. Running straight through his amp, switching between a vintage black Les Paul and his signature Roscoe Deluxe Tele model by Stonetree Custom Guitars, Ambel put on a clinic in lead guitar, playing a mix of old favorites and material from his new gatefold vinyl album, Lakeside. Behind the guitar icon and head honcho of the late, great Lakeside Lounge were Brett Bass on bass, Phil Cimino on drums and Spanking Charlene‘s Mo Goldner taking on a Keith Richards role on second guitar. They kicked off hard with Song from the Walls, the angry, acidic riff-rock opening track on Ambel’s 1995 Loud and Lonesome album.

It’s amazing how few notes Ambel uses, considering what kind of chops the guy has. Everything counts for something: the lingering bends on the simmering, amped-up Jimmy Reed groove of Here Come My Love; the gritty, enveloping roar of the anti-trendoid broadside Hey Mr. DJ; the sunspotted, precise blues bite of Don’t Make Me Break You Down. Spanking Charlene frontwoman Charlene McPherson lent her powerful pipes to the vocal harmonies on Have Mercy, a soul-infused number that she wrote with Ambel. They sent a shout-out to the Ramones with Massive Confusion, then chilled out with Gillian Welch’s Miss Ohio. Ambel’s playing the album release show on April 29 at around 8:30 PM at Berlin (in the basement under 2A). He’s doing double duty that night: after his set, he’a adding “power assist guitar” with the ferociously funny Spanking Charlene.

The opening act, Esquela – whose album Canis Majoris Ambel recently produced – were excellent too. They work a country-oriented side of paisley underground twang and clang. The push-pull of the two guitarists, Brian Shafer’s snaky, sinuous leads against Matt Woodin’s punchy, uneasily propulsive drive had an intensity similar to great 80s bands like True West and Steve Wynn‘s Dream Syndicate. They also hit hard with their opener, Too Big to Fail (as in, “too rich for jail”), frontwoman Becca Frame’s big, wounded wail soaring over the twin-guitar attack and the four-on-the-floor drive from the band’s main songwriter, bassist John “Chico” Finn and drummer Todd Russell.

From there they hit a wry Del Shanon doo-wop rock groove with It Didn’t Take, went into stomping mid-70s Lou Reed territory and then rousing Celtic rock with Need Not Apply, a snarling look back at anti-Irish racisim across the ages. Their best song was a bittersweetly swaying dead ringer for mid-80s True West, but with better vocals and a careening, shoulder-dusting Shafer solo. Or it might have been an echoey psychedelic number that they suddenly took warpspeed at the end. They brought up harmony singer Allyson Wilson, whose soulful intensity was every bit the match for Frame’s – which made sense, considering that she usually can be found singing opera and classical repertoire at places like Carnegie Hall. Her most spine-tinging moment was when she tackled the Merry Clayton role on a slinky cover of Gimme Shelter.

The band closed with Freebird, a sardonically funny, Stonesy original that Finn wrote to satisfy all the yahoos who scream for it. Perennially popular indie powerpop road warriors the Figgs – who haven’t lost a step in twenty years – were next on the bill. Which was where the whiskey really started to kick in – this was a party, after all. Sorry, guys – for a look at what they sound like onstage, here’s a snarky piece from Colossal Musical Joke week, 2012.

Ink 19

Review of Canis Majoris
Carl F Gauze | April 11, 2016
Great bands can pop up anywhere; this one comes from the wonderfully rustic locale of Bovina, New York
Great bands can pop up anywhere; this one comes from the wonderfully rustic locale of Bovina, New York. A million miles away from the hustle and heroin scene in “The City,” Bovina has the rustic sensibility that makes people entertain themselves and this band is highly entertaining. Opener “It Didn’t Take” sounds like a modern band is trying to copy the 1960es girl group without having ever seen or heard one. A steel guitar sound fills the backing of “Sorry”; here some sad sack of a guy is trying to apologize his way out of being caught in the wrong bed. Too bad his girlfriend overheard him practicing his speech. “Pine Tar” is a song only a true sports fan could love; it’s a ballad about losing an important game for having too much tar on a bat. Based on a true story is has more detail about the game’s line up that any normal person should worry about. But these guys aren’t normal, they CARE about their sports teams.

There’s an American cultural history lesson in “Need Not Apply.” Here we travel back to the days when the Irish were despised by “good thinking” people, just as Mexicans are viewed today by those same blue bloods. Lastly let’s take a spin with “Gold Digger,” it’s what the band has chosen for today’s version of the hot single. Here we transport to a universe of old school blues. Whispers of “Smokestack Lightening” underlie the juicy female vocal. She sings “No Nine to Five, it’s not up your alley” and hey, what better reason could there be to start a band? Good, clean vocals, clever song writing and a variety of American styles make this an excellent entertainment choice for the modern twenty something as well as the aging boomers. And as for the Millennials? They should get a copy as well.

The Walton Reporter

Esquela Plays with the Big Dogs
Abby Butler | February 2016
The Bovina-based band Esquela is releasing a new album...

The Bovina-based band Esquela is releasing a new album, , on Feb. 20. A five-piece group, they find their roots in “the deep grit of rural America with lyrics that speak to everything that is uniquely American – war, politics, relationships, even baseball.”


The Daily Star

B Side to host Esquela release party
The Daily Star | February 2016
Local Americana band Esquela will mark the release of its third album...

Local Americana band Esquela will mark the release of its third album, “Canis Majoris,” with a release party on Feb. 20 at the B Side Ballroom in Oneonta.

Produced by Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, whose past projects include collaborations with The Bottle Rockets, Marshall Crenshaw and The Yayhoos, “Canis Majoris” “continues Esquela’s exploration of the themes and traditional music of rural America,” a media release said. “The new album is filled with songs of love and loss, a stinging critique of our unique brand of American greed, and even a musical retelling of one of the most infamous games in baseball history.”

Front man and bassist John “Chico” Finn describes how he and the other members of Esquela evolved as musicians and bandmates during the album’s songwriting sessions:

“This album was more of a collaboration in the songwriting process,” Finn said in the release. “I brought ideas to the table, and the band provided input to shape the final arrangements. The band has grown a lot and these songs are more fully evolved.”

Founded in 2010 by Finn and guitarist Keith Christopher, Esquela took first place in September at The Playoffs at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, a competition that featured more than 200 bands from all over the world.

“I play music for enjoyment, so it was an engaging experience to be in a band competition,” Finn said. “It gave me insight into why I play music and how valuable it is to me that music can be free of the competition of the work world. It was extremely gratifying to win but I am happy to leave the battling out of music.”

The B Side is in the Clinton Plaza in Oneonta.

For information, visit Find Esquela on Facebook or visit


Payroll Company Indiepay Wins Inc.'s Battle of the Bands
Graham Winfrey | September 2015
Indiepay founder John Finn can now add award-winning band frontman...

Indiepay founder John Finn can now add ‘award-winning band frontman’ to his resume.

The CEO of the entertainment payroll company led his band “Esquela” to the championship at Inc.’s company battle of the bands on Saturday. The competition, called The PlayOff, and held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, featured eight company bands from around the U.S.

Washington D.C.-based Excella Consulting, a six-time Inc. 5000 company, took home the third place prize for its band “Detached Retina.”

Here are the other companies that walked away with musical accolades.

  • 1st place: Indiepay’s “Esquela”
  • 2nd place: Erie Insurance Group’s “Above All In Volume”
  • 3rd place: Excella Consulting’s “Detached Retina”
  • Best guitarist: Patrick Rasche, Excella Consulting’s “Detached Retina”
  • Best drummer: Jonathan Bruskin, Excella Consulting’s “Detached Retina”
  • Best bass player: Chris Roy, Mattel’s “The Toys”
  • Best vocalist: Crystal Waters, Erie Insurance Group’s “Above All In Volume”
  • Best horns: Tony Yocco, GE Aviation’s “Title 14”
  • Best keyboardist: Steve Cooper, Excella Consulting’s “Detached Retina”

The Reporter

Former Delaware Academy Students Play Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Sara Andros | September 2015
Most bands only dream of playing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...
Most bands only dream of playing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Esquela, a local band from Bovina, will be realizing that dream when they take the stage this Saturday, Sept. 12, in Cleveland, Ohio. After winning the regional competition of The Playoffs in Nashville, Tenn., they earned the privilege of competing against seven other regional winners in the finals at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. According to band founder and bass player John Finn, the band is thrilled just to be able to play there, and they plan to enjoy every minute of the experience.

Watershed Post

Bovina's Esquela is country's “best company band”
Julia Reischel | September 2015
Esquela, a rock band based in the Delaware County town of Bovina...
Esquela, a rock band based in the Delaware County town of Bovina, took home a national title on Saturday: the best company band in the world.

The band won The PlayOff 2015, a battle-of-the-bands contest sponsored by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Inc. Media that pitted company bands from around the country against each other.

Half of Esquela’s members work at Indiepay, a payroll processor for arts companies that has an office in Delhi. Band founder and bassist John Finn is Indiepay’s CEO.

Esquela beat out over 200 other corporate bands from around the country in a regional qualifying event earlier this year.

On Saturday, Sept. 12, Esquela bested seven other finalists, including bands from GE and Mattel, onstage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland to win the contest, according to the band’s Facebook page.

According to an interview with John Finn in the Walton Reporter, getting to play at the Hall of Fame was already prize enough:

Finn chuckled when asked about the prize for winning The Playoffs in Cleveland. “I don’t even know if there is a prize” he said.

As far as he is concerned, they have already won; they’re playing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.