Monday, November 25, 2019

The F Word: 'I've Got Rhythm'

Posted By on Mon, Nov 25, 2019 at 3:46 PM

With an appropriate amount of hometown pride and fanfare, there’s no way vibraphonist Joe Locke couldn’t feel the outpouring of local love from the capacity crowd at the newly renovated Little Theatre Friday night as he launched into Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed.”

It was fun to watch the song’s pop rudiments get jazzified as the melody popped its head into the proceedings to take a look around. Song numero two and things got heavy with Locke’s take on Sonny Rollins’ take on “I’ve Got Rhythm,” which would show up again this week in the most unlikely of places. Keep reading and you’ll see.

In a set that lasted little more than an hour, Locke touched the sky with a flurry of notes sent cascading skyward in a hurry. Some notes were rendered with a kiss… yes a kiss, that he gently blew over a single note. Magnificent.

It was a quick jaunt over to the Bug Jar for The Stedwells and The Demos, two groups that have complementary styles. The Stedwells chopped and bopped through a set full of original and powerful hooks. But this left the audience with little choice; it was so packed that the only way to move was up and down.

Feeding the fires set by The Stedwells, The Demos served up some stone-cold pop. Now, this is a singin’ band. They harmonize effortlessly and aren’t afraid to get in touch with their falsetto side, without sacrificing any tenor machismo.

John 5 absolutely blew me away as he, despite his metal leanings, played every guitar style imaginable at Montage Music Hall on Sunday. Looking like The Joker in drag, 5 started off loud, grinding and blisteringly fast. The place was feverishly packed. He whipped out a banjo at one point and nobody ran away. He chopped on some fingerstyle jazz guitar, a la Lester and Chester, and the band swung mighty behind him — especially when he jazzed out…on...wait for it …“I’ve Got Rhythm.” They were handing back peoples’ heads on their way out to the door. Hell, we don’t want folks driving home headless on a school night.

Frank De Blase is CITY’s music writer. He can be reached at

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The F Word: Watch this space

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2019 at 3:50 PM

For over a year now, I've been writing "The F Word" for CITY Newspaper exclusively on the web. Through this scratched screed, I've expounded wisdom, swapped recipes, observed the absurd, and called bullshit.

But that's all gonna change slightly as we introduce "The F Word" in CITY's print issue every week. But don't panic: The column will still run world-wide on the web as well. This is all very exciting for me, even though there may be a little bit of "This oughta shut him up" going on.

I never thought I'd see the day when the higher-ups would green-light anything called "The F Word." I didn't even think there would be a place in editorial cyberspace where I could riff on various topics, from music to whatever else was clamoring to get out of my skull — from the insane to the profane. I wanna start the conversation. I wanna chew the fat until it falls off the bone.

"The F Word" will continue in my version of the English language — a mixture of Beat jive, carny Z-speak and pig Latin — telling my version of the truth as it hangs from the monkey bars. I don't blab the drab gab. I chatter the hep patter. There should be some oonerspisms in there as well. Tune in every week and in no time you'll be doing it, too.

It was this past Sunday night that Buddy Holly made his second appearance at the Auditorium Theatre. It was his first show there since January 19, 1958 — a little over a year before he and the music died on February 3, 1959. Here in 2019, the occasion was the "Roy Orbison & Buddy Holly: The Rock & Roll Dream Tour," in which Holly and Orbison played their hits via hologram, backed by a live band. My interest was piqued.

I'll be honest: I prayed for cheese. Something made me want it to be transparently schmaltz-adelic. I wanted these veteran, deceased rockers to be Godzilla and Mothra-huge: battling each other, destroying buildings up and down Main Street — in other words, the perfect rock show. But no.

Orbison was up first and it was shocking how realistic he looked. Not bad for a ghost. Holly followed and came off animated and impish. Both holograms really upped the realism with waves and thank-yous to the enthusiastic, near sold out house.

I can't wait for this technology to be available for home viewing. Just imagine your favorite band playing in your living room. And of course, there is the adult film industry...

Frank De Blase is CITY's music writer. He can be reached at

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The F Word: Tears in ¾ time

Posted By on Tue, Nov 12, 2019 at 5:10 PM

Got to poke my head into the studio during Scott Regan's "Open Tunings" broadcast Friday to eyeball French jazz guitarist Stephane Wrembel disassemble his guitar and the way I listen to it. He jumped and chopped and swirled about the neck on new material from his painstakingly researched album "Django L' impressionniste." He indicated in his mini-tutorials between numbers that Django's hints at Debussy and Ravel were really there, but damned if I could tell before Wrembel prompted me.

I doubled my pleasure, doubled my fun, and caught Wrembel Saturday night at Lovin' Cup for the second show of his two-night stand at the joint. The place was packed.

Wrembel opened the set by playing two cuts all by his lonesome, before being joined by his modest but wildly proficient backing ensemble. The entire combo burst into a waltz and I almost burst into tears. It was just so f***ing beautiful.

I told the slightly concerned woman next to me that my cat had died recently and yes, thanks, I was OK. I doubt she believed me as a few lonely tears rolled down my cheeks in ¾ time.

Wrembel continued with the between-song clarifications, explaining the songs' beauty and raw emotion above and beyond what we were hearing. Wrembel is charming as hell and not the least bit elitist, giving out-of-genre detours every once in a while — like the Bo Diddley beat he snuck in on his original composition "Apocalypse." This music is like ketchup; it's good with everything. Wrembel even mimicked his hero Django Reinhart by playing the first solo on "Minor Swing" with just two fingers.


Fired up the jalopy and pointed the operation downtown to see Sarah Borges & The Broken Singles rock the hell out of Abilene. Her guitarist Eric "Roscoe" Ambel is the kind of cat that makes an audible "thud" when his name is dropped. He is a founding member of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and has worked with The Bottle Rockets, Jimbo Mathus, RUN DMC, and Steve Earle. He complimented Borges' voice with fills and textures and straight-ahead muscle and elbow grease.

And just like that, my tears were dry.

Frank De Blase is CITY's music writer. He can be reached at

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Friday, November 1, 2019

The F Word: Black market prom

Posted By on Fri, Nov 1, 2019 at 3:11 PM

Rochester guitarist Brian Lindsay dug into his influences during Happy Hour at Johnny’s Irish Pub on Friday, October 25, and kept it in the pocket. It was a beer-guzzlin’ groove, and the suds went down easy to songs by The Beatles, The Stones, Petty, Lowe and Young. This note’s for you, Mr. Lindsay.


I and I tripped the light fandango, amidst the prevailing inclement weather, down to the Historic German House in the Wedge later that evening. The Televisionaries were onstage, peeling paint and loosening ceiling tiles as I darkened the doorway. In matching velour dinner jackets, the three Lake brothers who make up the band played as if they’d beaten the real band up, stolen their instruments — and matching jackets — and played like it was a black market prom. The brothers bashed out an astounding set and set the crowd to howling.

The howling continued as swingin’ surf sophisticates Los Straitjackets took the stage with a one and a two and a —. It was at least 90 minutes of bangin’ on their DiPinto guitars before they were done, their luchador masks glued to their sweaty mugs. I’ve seen the band at least a dozen times, and I have to say this was a louder, more aggressive Straitjackets. The night was brought to a climax when lead guitarist Eddie Angel mixed a two-handed, doggy-paddle strum along with some B-bender stunts that sounded like a fight on “Batman.”


From matching velour dinner jackets to luchadors to bats, I rounded out this week with legendary 70’s doom metal pioneers Pentagram, who entertained a modest crowd of black-clad headbangers at The Montage Music Hall, the Tuesday night before Halloween. The band features singer Bobby Liebling, the only original member (he has returned to the group after serving an 18-month prison sentence for the "Abuse and Neglect of a Vulnerable Adult Custodian"). Liebling's voice sounded amazing, despite the fact that he looked like a witch that had been set on fire.

Frank De Blase is CITY's staff music writer. He can be reached at

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

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