Despite all the rumors, there are the occasional rays of sun in Ithaca, although few are as consistent as Sunny Weather. Rarely does a band's name so precisely indicate their sound. Yes, one might accurately guess what Slayer sounds like without hearing them, but there is no better way to describe the music of Sunny Weather than their namesake. Theirs is the music of open fields and children dancing under blue skies. And things are only looking up for the quintet.

Sunny Weather rose in 1996 as a trio playing all original music. The band hit a turning point when frontman Trevor MacDonald traveled to Louisiana in 1998 on a musical Odyssey of sorts. "It's a lot different down there," Trevor says. "Music brings everyone together, and everybody dances. The music really is for the dancing." After falling in love with the rural music communities, Trevor picked up the accordion. On returning to Ithaca, he continued to be influenced by the eclectic roots and zydeco scene in Trumansburg, championed by the likes of Donna the Buffalo and fostered at the annual Grassroots Festival.

The latter served as a powerful influence on what became the Sunny Weather sound, bringing Cajun and zydeco musicians straight from the holy land of the genres, New Orleans. Accordionist and band leader Preston Frank, one of the Mardi Gras town's most beloved performers, has become a good friend of the band. Trevor's own rhythmic squeeze box quickly become a trademark of the band, as it soon transformed into a 5-piece, with Amy Glicklich on vocals, scrubboard, and percussion. Glicklich remained for about three years, and has since moved on to a solo career, releasing Mosaic- Songs of Many Traditions, showcasing her hypnotic voice.

As for their consistency, the band has remarkably appeared yearly at Grassroots since '97, and has put out a studio release perennially since '99, no small feat for a young touring band. This illustrates Trevor's and guitarist/vocalist Corey Small's prolific and adept songwriting, as well as a penchant for combining the spontaneous energy needed for the live setting with the musical chops necessary to produce consistently notable albums. The band has certainly grown since its inception (Greg English had never even played drums before joining the band). MacDonald describes it as going from playing "just as friends and having fun, to playing as musicians." This mutual creative growth has brought the group closer and influenced their approach to music.

The band's eponymous debut immediately became a regional favorite. The bright harmonies and funky grooves of "Come On Home" and "Livin' On the Dance Floor" show why the band was topped only by international Celtic stars Sol

December 3, 2015

Fred Van Sickle Named Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development

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Fred Van Sickle has been named the next vice president for alumni affairs and development, President Elizabeth Garrett announced Thursday. He will succeed Charles Phlegar, who departed the University earlier this year.

Van Sickle, who is currently the chief development officer at the Institute for Advanced Study — a postdoctoral research center  — will assume his new position on Jan. 18, according to the University.

He earned his bachelors’ degree from Lake Forest College in 1983, master of education from Harvard in 1989 and doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1996, according to a University press release.

Van Sickle’s career in fundraising and alumni relations has spanned for three decades. He became deputy vice president for university development at Columbia University in 2002, and served as a vice president for eight years until he was named executive vice president for university development and alumni relations in 2011.

At Columbia, Van Sickle was a major player in the university’s $6.1 billion capital campaign, according to the release. He also created Columbia’s first Giving Day, which raised $6.8 billion from thousands of donors over social media.

In his new position at Cornell, Van Sickle will be responsible for the University’s development and alumni relations program, and will lead a team of approximately 350 people.

President Elizabeth Garrett said in the release that she is “delighted to welcome a leader of [Van Sickle’s] caliber” to Cornell.

“He brings unparalleled experience and a proven track record of accomplishment in higher education fundraising and community building,” she said. “We are setting ambitious goals for the university, and Fred will be key to developing and implementing many of the strategies to enable our success.”

Van Sickle said he was excited to lead a “strong group of seasoned professionals.”

“Cornell alumni, parents and friends have a reputation for being incredibly engaged, vocal supporters of the university, and I look forward to tapping into that energy,” he said. “Cornell has all the ingredients necessary to achieve even greater heights.”