Vocal Trash brings ‘variety show’ to Amp stage for FES

Jessie Cadle | Staff Writer

One man’s trash is another man’s instrument when it comes to Vocal Trash, the dance and vocal performance group that takes the Amphitheater stage at 7:30 p.m. tonight as part of the Family Entertainment Series.

“From age 2 to 92, they will be tapping their feet,” said Kelsey Rae, co-owner of Vocal Trash and the group’s lead singer and dancer.

The group creates beats using trash can lids, cans and bottles, encouraging recycling, as its members breakdance across the stage. Though the group is often compared to Stomp, Vocal Trash also offers 40 songs sung by the group’s six members in 90 minutes, Rae said.

“We are a variety show,” she said. “It’s like something you would see on Broadway.”

The group, founded 11 years ago by Rae and Steve Linder, kicks off its summer tour at Chautauqua and will perform throughout the nation and across the world. Rae estimates the group travels 150 days per year and plays 225 days.

Though Chautauqua’s performance caters to a cross-generational audience with songs such as “Sing Sing Sing” and from pop group the Black Eyed Peas, Vocal Trash also performs for kids to promote recycling by creating all its instruments and props with reused materials. The most recent addition to its stage is a toolbox guitar and toolbox bass, Rae said.

The group even penned its own tune, called “Think Before You Throw It Away.” The song urges audience members to recycle.

Beyond its hopes to make a greener world, the group’s goal is to have each audience member walk away with a smile, regardless of his or her age, Rae said.

“We really pride ourselves on people feeling good when they leave the show,” she said. “If you don’t hear a song you know, then in five minutes, you are going to,” Rae said.

The group will spend the rest of the summer on a hodge-podge tour, including local festivals, corporate events, schools and Madison Square Garden — all while teaching that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.