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Downright infected 

That Joe Beard is one suave individual. After I made a mess of the Clarissa Room stage on March 5, Beard and his blues crew came out swingin' and rocked the joint. All it takes is a little shakin' on the dance floor and Beard really leans in.

I packed up my gear that night and finally caught BML (Bailey, Mason, Lickers) close out the Low Ton CD release show at the Bug Jar. This band is amazingly progressive and tight. The guitar work was blistering and incessant but still left room for the other two. The bass player is a monster. BML is one tweaked motor, man.

The following day I got to rock the suburbs for Paul Thatcher's Rock a Million CD release party for local breast cancer research at Fat Moe's. Jeff Cosco was just wrapping up his classic rock before The Meddling Kids took the stage with plenty of loud and tight pop rock. The place was jammed, so hopefully some sizeable coin was raised. The CD features mostly Rochester-area artists and is available all over town. You don't have to know someone with breast cancer to buy one. Chances are, someday you will.

Steel Music Hall is closer than you think and they've got some killer shows. For instance, the March 11 show with New York punk legends The Casualties and Rochester punk legends Bludwulf. This was the first time I heard Bludwulf and, I gotta say, they're really, really cool. They fused classic '80s metal (without getting retro or cheesy) with sloppy punk and circumstance. Singer James is Rochester's Jim Jones. He had the kids hanging on his every word, singing along, punching the air, and essentially eating out of his hand. When he finally suggests they drink Kool Aid, I have no doubt they'll drink it.

The Casualties were textbook punk: loud, a little out of tune, and more concerned with the attitude they projected and the feedback they got back from it. Hell, I'll take balls over talent any day. And it's real encouraging to see young kids get into punk full bore, not just for its keen fashion statement.

Skipped out of Steel and headed downtown to Lola to catch Bacci open for NYC songstress Nicola. It was virtually impossible to get in. Folks were packed like lemmings (into shiny metal boxes). Once I got in it was like doing the lambada in a room full of pickpockets. Bacci was on stage laying down a thick funky groove riffing off the radio and working the crowd into a sensuous boil. By the time I made my way back onto the street my hat was gone and my pants were inside out.

Saturday the 12th and it was back to more familiar territory at Monty's Krown, equally crowded for The Priests' Texas sendoff where they played a few new tunes and enthralled me, anyway. Missed the Teenage Junkies opening. I know they're cool kids but I probably won't see them until they change that stupid name. The Seeds' Sky Saxon (who has been hanging around town for the last couple of weeks) suggested they change their name to Ian & The Teenagers. It's better than Junkies, anyway. Heroin is so passé.

The crowd seemed a little subdued. Singer Matt Allyn wondered aloud if perhaps a recent drug bust somewhere was at the heart of all the contagious mellow.

Got to sip coffee to Trio East at The Little Theatre Café once again and paid particular attention to the cascade of gentle low notes from the bass for some reason. I dunno, I just liked 'em.

I'm pretty sure Lil' Ed has gotten taller. Man, his blues are as big as his bass-playing half-brother, Pookie. Ed and his Blues Imperials rocked a modest Dinosaur crowd two Wednesdays ago with plenty of greasy slide and rich, soulful vocals. It's downright infectious and I got downright infected.

NOLA's BBQ down by the lake is a swell place to catch a show like Rhode Island's jump blues legends Roomful of Blues, there on Friday the 18th. After 30-some-odd years crisscrossing the globe, these fellas have no problem burning the house down like it was a gin-soaked juke joint behind on the rent.

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