Local Music Friday: Anthony “Zee” Donaldson

If you are even a passing fan of live music in Central New York, chances are you’ve encountered Anthony “Zee” Donaldson. Donaldson has been a fixture on the area’s music scene for over 20 years in just about every capacity one can be involved in the music industry.

Donaldson is the host of EC Radio, a daily live podcast based in Utica that runs on the Disruption Network and its social media platforms. The network is the hub for 12 shows with topics that range from music talk to sports talk to lifestyle to real estate.

Anthony “Zee” Donaldson performing last-minute emcee duties at Woods Fest 2
(Brian Cornish)

But to call Donaldson just a podcast host is to severely undersell what he does. He’s affectionately known among the younger musicians as Uncle Zee for the support he throws behind the local music scene, especially the up-and-comers. He’s much more than a podcast host. He’s a musician, a promoter, a producer, a business owner and, first and foremost, a true ambassador for Central New York and Utica in particular.

Donaldson has used the Disruption Network platform as a community catalyst. Not only does the platform support and promote local music, culture and business, he has also used the network’s reach to organize several charity events. This devotion led to the Disruption Network being named by the Greater Utica Chamber of Commerce as a Catalyst Rising Business at their annual awards ceremony in January of this year.

The music industry has been a constant in Donaldson’s life. His grandparents and father were all musicians. In addition to all the other duties he performs, he is also a musician, playing bass in the metal band Street Rock Mafia.

The EC in EC Radio comes from the name of the Varick Street bar Donaldson used to run in the early 2000s, the Electric Company. The Electric Company opened in October 2002 and lasted until May 2012. It was the place to see national touring acts for several years, particularly many of the third wave of jambands that started to take hold in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The EC was also an incubator for many local bands and, at the time, one of the very few bars in the Brewery District.

Ryan Montbleau (center) at Electric Company’s 2006 Halloween party
(Photo submitted by Anthony “Zee” Donaldson)

Some of the bands that passed through the EC’s doors during its run include Aqueous, Ryan Montbleau, Sophistafunk, Conehead Buddha, Enter the Haggis, Floodwood, Bernie Worrell, Brand New Sin, Dopapod, Los Blancos and many others. In addition to the Electric Company being a place for musicians to perform, it was also a place for musicians to hang. Take a listen to Donaldson’s EC Bands playlist on Spotify below.

It was during the EC years when Donaldson developed a relationship with legendary Central New York promoter and SAMMY Hall of Famer Chuck Chao of Creative Concerts. That relationship led to Donaldson joining Chao and Stacey Waterman’s team at Creative Concerts, providing production for the Chevy Court and Experience Stage shows at the New York State Fair and the Saranac Concert Series at the Saranac Brewery, among others. The team calls themselves The Pirate Crew and spends the entirety of the New York State Fair providing production, hospitality and transport for all of the acts that perform on the two stages.

The Disruption Network began with Donaldson and his friend Rich Massucci interviewing their friends’ bands in a garage. That evolved into a webcast called UCs with Zee and eventually, the Disruption Network was born on January 30, 2017, with Todd Williams working the tech behind the scenes and Donaldson steering the ship.

Anthony “Zee” Donaldson with Woods Valley Ski Area owner Tim Woods broadcasting live at Woods Fest 2 last summer (Brian Cornish)

Operating out of a studio on James Street in Utica, “The D” hosts 12 different shows that are available to stream through the network’s YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, Periscope and Twitter channels and some are also available on-demand as audio-only podcasts on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and Apple Podcasts.

EC Radio airs live Monday through Thursday on all of the network’s platforms. Mondays are dedicated strictly to local music with Donaldson joined by musician Justin Smithson of local favorites Showtime. Visit the Disruption Network website for other shows available on the platform and streaming times and catch Zee on EC Radio and hopefully at a show near you soon.

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