Monday, February 26, 2018

The F Word: The right to keep and arm bears

Posted By on Mon, Feb 26, 2018 at 1:14 PM

The F Word. An online column for Frank De Blase to pontificate, ruminate, placate, and salivate. We'll have reviews and previews, we'll discuss trends in local and national music scenes, and we'll try to do it as reverently as possible. Yup. Let's get started.

Who am I to argue with Ronnie Van Zant? He was right when he sang, "Hand guns are made for killing / Theyain't good for nothin' else" on the tune "Saturday Night Special." You could include assault rifles in there as well. But people get into a knot when you threaten their precious firearms and their definition of the Second Amendment. It's a firearm fetish, and clearly with yet another mass shooting in Florida the right to bear arms isn't working.

We need to outlaw guns plain and simple. As long as firearms are in the equation, people will continue to die — with alarming frequency and staggering numbers.

I'm getting rid of mine. Who's with me? Seriously. If I don't feel safe without carrying a pistol or without having a shotgun in the house, I'm living in the wrong neighborhood or I'm walking down the wrong streets.

Meanwhile mass shootings are happening with alarming regularity and we offer up thoughts and prayers and promises of better background checks and buttloads of more paperwork and rhetoric. More guns mean better safety? Bullshit.

I grew up around guns. I got my first 20 gauge shotgun when I was 8, and killed my first duck when I was 9. I have a lot of fond memories hunting with my dad and grandfather. And I enjoyed skeet shooting, but haven't done it in years.

While writing an adventure article for a men's magazine a while ago, I went out in the Nevada desert with some gun collectors. We shot up a bunch of old TV sets and watermelons with AR-15s, AK-47s, and assorted handguns. I'll admit, it was awesome. The noise, the feeling of power was exhilarating. And I know there are people who like doing this type of stuff, but I'd like to think it's more important that so many Americans are dying. If I don't get that sensation again, fine, I'll live. If you never got that sensation, fine, you'll live. There are a lot of things I want, but have accepted their improbability and I'll live.

The Second Amendment is dead as it leaves a trail of dead in its wake. It has to go. Guns have to go. It'll be a sacrifice. Fine; we'll live.

I Scene It

And we can always just brandish a guitar for that feeling of power like Dave Riccione did last Wednesday at The Record Archive's happy hour. The place was packed, with Riccione's screaming flurry ricocheting off the walls. He is really one of the most underrated players I know, tackling the blues, soul, and rock 'n' roll. The music served as the only fanfare on stage. And in keeping with this week's firearm theme, Riccione even took a stab at The Sonics' "Shot Down."

By The Way

The Rochester Music Hall of Fame just announced its class of 2018 inductees at a press conference on Thursday. On the list is John Beck, The Campbell Brothers, Steve Gadd, Tony Levin, and Ferdinand Jay Smith. All these artist are terrific but The RMHF Board of Directors still seems to be skewing the same age — and gender — in its lineup, and in its intended audience.

There's the whole punk and new wave scene of the late-70's and early-80's, and a garage rock scene that could use some attention. And there were all-female outfits like The Antoinettes and The Raunchettes. RMHF inductees have been predominantly male, and I know there's enough fame to go around.

And check out my interview with Seth Faregolzia in this week's CITY Newspaper, where we discuss his new band, Multibird. F out.

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Campbell Brothers, Steve Gadd among inductees to 2018 Rochester Music Hall of Fame

Posted By on Thu, Feb 22, 2018 at 12:29 PM

The Rochester Music Hall of Fame this morning announced its lineup for the seventh annual induction ceremony. The ceremony will be held Sunday, April 22, 7 p.m., in Kodak Hall at The Eastman Theatre. This year's inductees include percussionist, composer, and  Eastman School of Music faculty member John Beck; the Grammy Award-winning sacred steel supergroup The Campbell Brothers; the go-to drummer for Clapton and beyond, Steve Gadd; bassist for Peter Gabriel and King Crimson (and Gadd 's frequent partner in crime) Tony Levin; and the Emmy-nominated composer Ferdinand  Jay Smith.

John Beck has been  a faculty member at ESM for 60 years, and is now Professor Emeritus of Percussion . His book "Encyclopedia of Percussion" is in its second edition. Beck will perform solo at the ceremony as well as with an ensemble and Prime Time Funk, the RMHF house band.

Since 1997, The Campbell Brothers have been at the top of the sacred steel scene and have influenced  disciples like Robert Randolph, who will perform with the band at this year's ceremony.

Drummer Steve Gadd  appeared on "The Mickey Mouse Club" at age 12, but that wasn't big deal — by age 11 he had already jammed with Dizzy Gillespie. Gadd is still as in-demand as ever, playing drums with Paul Simon, James Taylor, and Eric Clapton. Incidentally,  Gadd played in the Chuck Mangione Quartet with fellow 2018 inductee Tony Levin.
Tony Levin is a monster bass player with his trademark percussive attack. He has released six solo albums and has played on more than 70 collaborative recordings. He and Gadd will perform together with the group L'Image at the induction ceremony.

You'll recognize Ferdinand Jay Smith's  music from the  HBO main theme  as well as from the 1980 and '88 Olympics. You'll also recognize Smith's rich speaking voice from advertisements for national clients like Chevrolet and all the way down home with Wegmans and Raymour & Flanigan. A medley of Smith's compositions will be performed.

The Seventh Annual  Rochester Music Hall of Fame 2018 induction ceremony happens Sunday, April 22, at Kodak Hall in Eastman Theatre. 7p.m. $31-$76 Rochestermusic. org

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Monday, February 19, 2018

The F Word: Stay cool

Posted By on Mon, Feb 19, 2018 at 5:21 PM

The F Word. An online column for me to pontificate, ruminate, placate, and salivate. We’ll have reviews and previews, we’ll discuss trends in local and national music scenes, and we’ll try to do it as reverently as possible. Yup. Let’s get started.

When the curtain went up on the Kodak Theater for RAPA’s production of Eddie Money’s Broadway-style musical “Two Tickets To Paradise,” one question popped in my head: Could Money maintain his cool with this endeavor to go from Sin Alley to the Great White Way? Could his backlog of cool endure?

If you remember seeing Ozzy Osbourne on the TV show “Meet The Osbournes” a few years back, you know why I was concerned. Ozzy was exploited and made to look like a doddering old fool — a far cry from the Prince of Darkness personae he had taken years to build up with Black Sabbath. Perhaps Ozzy’s upcoming farewell tour can re-instill some cool that he lost at the hands of Sharon and the kids and a trainwreck obsessed America.

It’s just that sometimes it’s better to let it go. There were rumors that Josh Todd from Buckcherry was being courted for Brian Johnson’s job in AC/DC. Though Todd is an amazing singer, it would have seemed like a desperate attempt to flog a dead horse. Sometimes it’s just time to leave the party, maintain your remaining cool.
Left: Veteran rocker Eddie Money created the Broadway-style musical "Two Tickets to Paradise," based on his life. Right: Alec Nevin portrays Money and Morgan Troia plays Money's wife, Laurie, in the show. - LEFT PHOTO BY RYAN WILLIAMSON; RIGHT PHOTO PROVIDED
  • Left: Veteran rocker Eddie Money created the Broadway-style musical "Two Tickets to Paradise," based on his life. Right: Alec Nevin portrays Money and Morgan Troia plays Money's wife, Laurie, in the show.
But back to Money and the show I attended Friday night with roughly 800 folks. While it was close to three hours long, the onstage interplay between Money and the actors was great. It was Dickens-esque as the ghosts of rock ‘n’ roll past, present, and future visited the real Eddie Money and helped him tell his tale of stardom.

Rock ‘n’ roll is a young man’s game, but we shouldn’t be forced to have some of our rock royalty put out to pasture. Some still come off relevant, keeping things going as always — Elvis Costello, for example.

In the case of Eddie Money, he felt it was time to diversify his portfolio and write the story of his life as a musical. And as I sat there thoroughly enjoying myself, I searched in my head for the name of someone bold enough to try something like this. I couldn’t think of anyone. Money somehow knew he could do it. He knows the depth and elasticity of his own cool.

It’s harder, I find, to suspend belief in stage productions than movies, but with Money’s spot-on narration, it pulled you into the story. The songs were great, especially the way the show’s music director, Yunjin Audrey Kim, wove melodies and sub-melodies beneath and throughout the story as it unfolded.
Money was a consummate — and at times funny — host and storyteller, as he framed the story with doses of cool and realism. He didn’t force anything and didn’t seem to be out of place. And I said something earlier about suspending disbelief, remember? Well, there were several scenes so poignant and heartfelt that I fought back tears. The song between Eddie’s mother (played by Dresden Engle), a young Eddie (played by Alec Nevin), and Eddie’s little sisters, Peggy and Kathy Mahoney (played by Natalie Cincotta and Colette Roes), was absolutely beautiful.

Overall it was a fun show that certainly has wings. It was absolutely cool.

I Scene It

After digging the Money man’s cool, I pointed the new blue jalopy toward downtown to score some BBQ at the Dinosaur. As I mowed through a half rack, Mitty and the Followers — with my man Too Tall on the guitar — were mowing through some classic funk, soul, and R&B to a packed dance floor full of remedial movers and money-maker shakers just having a blast. Twas tres cool.

Saturday night, I headed over to The Blossom Road Pub to hear Dave Marbelis as it threatened to remove the lid from this little joint. The sound was big and dangerous, showcasing Marbelis’ talent as a songwriter and as a hook-laden guitar god. Talk about cool.

By the Way

Check out my story on The Krooks this week, out on Wednesday.  F out.

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Monday, February 12, 2018

The F Word: Good art, bad artists

Posted By on Mon, Feb 12, 2018 at 3:55 PM

The F Word. An online column for me to pontificate, ruminate, placate, and salivate. We’ll have reviews and previews, we’ll discuss trends in local and national music scenes, and we’ll try to do it as reverently as possible. Yup. Let’s get started.

There’s a menagerie of despicable people roaming the Earth today. Sexual predators are in our midst and are being uncovered for their pasts — men with closets full of skeletons are now deservedly coming to face the music.

It’s playing out across America, and heads are rolling, not just because what they did was an abuse of power and trust, but in the fact that we as a society (especially us, men) have ignored it for far too long. As allegations are rolled out, we’re making up for lost time with righteous anger, shame, and a profound sense of disappointment.

But as we address these revelations, an interesting (probably unanswerable) question is raised: In the creative fields, how do we react to an accused person’s past art?

Are we supporting bad behavior when we consume an abuser's music, film, or theater, or does art stand over and above those who created it?

I grew up listening to Bill Cosby; I collected his records. He’s now a pariah, and his career, all his philanthropy, has been called into question. But should his comedy be shunned as well?

Look back to the not-so-distant dark ages and the artists that made major contributions to their fields but crossed the line morally. David Bowie and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page both had relationships with 14-year-old girls, but in the grand scheme of things, society largely considers them musical legends and they haven't lost their lofty position in the courts and the court of public opinion. William Burroughs was a junkie who killed his wife. Is his writing less relevant? Go ahead and Google Frank Sinatra and the FBI. The Feds had a 1,300 page case file on the singer. And don’t even get me started on Woody Allen.

There is no bad art, some might say, just bad artists — people who suck as human beings. But it could be said there’s no telling what art and music would become if left strictly in the hands of the sanitized, the vanilla, the good. We shouldn’t encourage bad behavior for the sake of art; I just don’t know if good is up to the job alone.

That leads back to the unanswerable question: Does the artist’s art get a pass? Can we in good conscience still enjoy it?

Chime in. Let's have a conversation. What do you think?

By the way

Congrats, attaboys, and hearty back slaps to Rochester’s Joywave. The band performed its song “Doubt” from the album “Content” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week. The band also released a music video for the song.

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

The F Word: Can The Struts save glam?

Posted By on Thu, Feb 1, 2018 at 11:57 AM

Introducing The F Word. This will be an online column for me to pontificate, ruminate, placate, and salivate. We’ll have reviews and previews, we’ll discuss trends in local and national music scenes, and we’ll try to do it as reverently as possible. Yup. Let’s get started.

The Struts are more than they appear to be. On the surface, it’s a band of glam androgyny and flash. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find an arena-grade rock band in larval form with room to explode. You’ve heard it before, but when it’s done right you want to hear it some more. With The Struts it’s safe to believe the hype.

I got my ya-ya’s out last Friday night over at the Main Street Armory as I was bathed in the sweaty swagger of the English glam rockers. The band isn’t too cliche, but they sure let you know where they are coming from: Queen, The Sweet, T-Rex, and so on.

Most view glam rock in the rear view mirror (as they check their lipstick). And while no one is out to destroy it, glam is moving into obscurity or becoming misunderstood. There are a few bands with flourishes of glam, and there are bands like The Struts who pay it tribute and keep it viable. But is it enough to save glam rock?

And I find it hard to believe that name — The Struts — hasn’t been taken. Anywhat, front man Luke Spiller sounded and looked great. He hit theatrical highs, egging the crowd on as if it were cheerleader boot camp, and cathedral, vocal highs. He has the Jesus Christ rock star personae down ... almost. The man doesn’t yet pose with enough dismissive cool.

What’s missing in their street strut is some street swagger like, say, The New York Dolls. The Struts are nice. The Dolls were not. The Struts could use a little mean, a little intimidation — pour a little slop and sleaze on it why don’t ya?

And though not nearly as over the top as KISS, The Struts owe a lot to this generation’s Fab Four, in particular Paul Stanley. Guitarist Adam Slack repeatedly went to the upper octave hammer chords that I can’t get enough of. Maybe The Struts could cover “Strutter.” Hell, The Replacements did.

I Scene It

Saturday night, after spending the day car shopping — I’d rather shave my ass and squat in a bowl of gin than go through that again — I headed over to The Rosen Krown to watch American Acid play a feverish set of low down, guitar-driven rock. The trio rocked the specters in this upper Monroe ghost town, who mixed and mingled with a crowd I could count on the fingers of one hand. AA brought the heat anyway.

Instrumentalists The Tombstone Hands followed as a few more people trickled through the door. Guitarist Steve Litvak took the stage and proceeded to blend precision big tones with Link Wray abandon. Litvak is obviously a disciple of the instrument on the whole and manages to shoehorn the ghosts of its masters admirably. It was big and loud. But to bastardize an old saying: if it’s too loud, you ain’t old enough.

By the way

After getting wrung out by The Struts, a good portion of the audience made for the door — they wanted to avoid the risk of seeing headliners Dashboard Confessional, I guess — which resulted in an Uber clusterfuck as people clutching their cell phones routinely got into the wrong car. It was like musical chairs on wheels or an episode of “Black Mirror.” I would’ve laughed, but I was one of the confused standing there in the cold, trying to find my way home.

Congratulations to Mastodon for its Grammy win. Upon the occasion of another Grammy nod, I remember asking Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor what he was going to wear to the festivities and he said something along the lines of a diaper and bunny ears while riding a tricycle. Well, Dailor’s tastes have matured some as he sported a cool blue suit instead this year.

And check out our new, single-rich feature, “Fresh Cuts.” We're debuting The Mighty High and Dry's new single, "I Was Living Here."

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My Gal Patsy: The Ultimate Tribute to Patsy Cline @ OFC Creations Theater Center

My Gal Patsy: The Ultimate Tribute to Patsy Cline @ OFC Creations Theater Center

Josie Waverly stars as Patsy Cline. Details here....
RPO: Mozart, Mendelssohn & Martinů @ Nazareth College Glazer Music Performance Center

RPO: Mozart, Mendelssohn & Martinů @ Nazareth College Glazer Music Performance Center

Kilbourn Concert Series: Voices @ Kilbourn Hall

Kilbourn Concert Series: Voices @ Kilbourn Hall

“Clear and Gentle Stream": Two Centuries of Choral Song will feature gems...

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