Monday, December 23, 2019

The F Word: A night for the blues

Posted By on Mon, Dec 23, 2019 at 3:30 PM

After a rousing pinball escapade with Miss Em and Mrs. D at Skylark late Saturday afternoon, I snuck down the Valley alley where the Cadillac Coupe de Villes used to roll and found myself in the midst of about 200 Allman Brothers’ fans at Anthology. We were there to see Live at the Fillmore,  “The Definitive Allman Brothers Tribute.” The instrumentation was all there — from the old, faded, sunburst Les Paul, a la Dickie Betts, to the Butch Trucks + 1 drum set, to the Greg Allman, battered B-3 that looked like it had been driven through a carwash.

This tribute band was mostly from the East Coast and note-for-noted the Allman Brothers’ sound, kicking off with “Statesboro Blues,” “Done Somebody Wrong,” and a nice version of T-Bone’s “Stormy Monday.” There was no theatrical interpretation, and despite the material’s overwhelming familiarity, the band played a little stiff. I seemed to be the only one who felt this way, as the audience roared its approval.

Back at Skylark for some more blues, this time with Steve Grills and a completely new group of Roadmasters, which rocked steady like a Swiss watch. Grills worked the room like a pro from a stage so cluttered it looked like a pawn shop holding a garage sale. The dance floor ebbed and flowed, as alcohol kicked in and cooperated, and a pretty girl even asked me to dance. I’ve still got it.

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

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Monday, December 16, 2019

The F Word: Ka-ching

Posted By on Mon, Dec 16, 2019 at 3:38 PM

For the swingin’ side of things, I caught Big Bad Voodoo Daddy playing its holiday show at Kodak Center on the Ridge Sunday night. Though small in number, the audience ate up all the big bad voodoo the band could throw at it.

Since Brian Setzer’s tinnitus grounded his Christmas tour this year, the kids still needed a yuletide fix. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was the perfect substitution for the Brian Setzer Orchestra, and I actually prefer smaller big bands. Setzer is good — too good — and tends to overplay in spots. It’s jaw-dropping for sure (cue the “ka-ching” cash register sound effect here), but a little exhausting to behold. Smaller bands like BBVD leave air between the notes, leaving the listener with a more dynamic high.

At Sunday’s show, they didn’t overplay the “Christ is born” schmaltz, nor did they plug jingle bells into every arrangement, nor did they toy with the “coming down the old chimney” double entendre. And I’ve never said this before, but I hate the word “swaddling.”

It was a night of secular swing as well. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy played their hits, “Go Daddy-O,” et al. Anyway, there was plenty to love, stylistically: some New Orleans second line, some low-down swing a la Cab, and an overall attack of brass that was world-class, as was Kodak Center’s sound and general layout. Overall, a dazzling show to behold. I look forward to more shows here in the future. And to all a good night.

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

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Friday, December 13, 2019

The F Word: Deafening silence

Posted By on Fri, Dec 13, 2019 at 3:00 PM

Tommy Stinson was a quiet storm as he vacillated between righteous anger, subtle inebriation, and sheer showmanship this past Wednesday night at Bop Shop Records. After an opening set from Chicago’s Dash Down, Stinson plugged in his seafoam green guitar and preceded to wail with mucho swagger. Sure it was too loud, but none of the roughly 50 attendees gave a shit.

Neither did Stinson, who — realizing by the third song that the crowd wasn’t going to leave their comfortable chairs without some coaxing — unplugged his guitar and played the rest of the show in the middle of the crowd that encircled him.  Sans amp, sans microphone, sans set list — a stunt I’d seen Alejandro Escovedo do years ago. It was like standing around a campfire indoors.

Stinson took no requests, stating that it was “No Request Thursday,” even though it was Wednesday. He stuck mostly to solo material and though the fans ate it up, there was some room for some Replacements material that never came. And if it did, it went over my head in its obscurity. There were plenty of sing-along opportunities on tunes like “Nothing” and “Chicago Around the Corner,” which featured a whisper-soft, fingerpicked guitar pattern beneath. One helluva show.

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

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Monday, December 9, 2019

The F Word: Blood and bar-b-que

Posted By on Mon, Dec 9, 2019 at 4:05 PM

It’s a matter of priorities, I guess, but I’d be hard-pressed to choose between bar-b-que and rock ‘n’ roll. Bar-b-que is the rock ‘n’ roll of all meat dishes. And I’ve always felt that rock ‘n’ roll is what bar-b-que sounds like; and both are equally messy. My wife deserves canonization after an episode with me sitting across from her, mowing down some ribs. It’s all in the percentages. If I get 80 percent of what’s on my plate in my mouth, and not in my hair or on my clothes, I’m doing good and can leave “sassified.”

Well then, it was clearly a 75 percent night on Thursday at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que as I took on a plate of brisket sliders head-on, awaiting the Rochester band Soul Passenger’s set of mid-tempo joy to the world. They were waiting, too, for the nice couple that simply couldn’t finish their meal and vacate the stage area so the band could set up and play, dontchya know. When the band finally got onstage — again, through no fault of their own — they leaned into it the only way they knew how: upbeat and rockin’. The crowd was modest to say the least, and Soul Passenger kept it pumpin’ for a good two-hour set, consummate performers and fellow sloppy bar-b-que eaters as well. A surefire sign of a good show is one where you need napkins in between numbers.
Friday night I went dashing through the snow to Iron Smoke Distillery to witness a pile of Rochester’s finest pay tribute to Tom Waits — the hyperbolic, wayward beat poet and walking adjective on a pair of broken legs. You can’t really cover this man’s material, but you can try. Best to put a spin on it, lest you get run over by the galloping enigma. Admittedly, I’ve tried it, too, in the past. But if you cop to Waits’ hellhound gravel voice, you’ll wind up tasting blood. With that in mind, everyone who sang put enough personal spin on their selections. And I can’t say enough about the backing band of Brian Williams, Greg Andrews, Phillip Marshall, and Alan Murphy, which made this show the parade of controlled calamity we all needed...especially with leftover bar-b-que in our beards.

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

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Monday, December 2, 2019

The F Word: Must be nice

Posted By on Mon, Dec 2, 2019 at 2:57 PM

Started out Saturday evening at Three Heads Brewing, adding my head to the pile of heads bobbin’ away to the legendary one-drop spectacle put on by The Majestics. The band locked in rapidamente and held on as the groove washed over the multitude. The area in front of the bandstand soon became a dance floor. The band delivered a flagrant groove, good for your wailin’ sciatica and any other joints giving you the business.

Alright, alright, alright. I get older, the kids at the Bug Jar stay the same age. I can’t think of a better lineup than Saturday’s rock ’n’ roll triple-header: Televisionaries, with Alex Patrick & His Noise Boys (culled from the ranks of Dangerbyrd), and The Abyssmals, straight outta the Capital Region. The Noise Boys brought all the jukebox hits for the ride, with tunes from Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, what sounded like The Count Bishops, and the MC-5.

Patrick’s lead guitar work was manic and explosive, which made it hard to hear. I ran into a young man who seemed quite angry with me and proceeded to tell me why, but I couldn’t hear a word he said. The only thing I could make out was “Must be nice.” So, to the angry young man at the Bug Jar: please email your entire diatribe to me here at CITY, so we can put this to rest and be friends.

From reggae legends to future stars, I decided to end the night right with the blues. Joe Beard comes off regal and tall, even when sitting down as he did for the late-night set at the Dinosaur, where the public was dining on swine, slaking their thirst, and cutting some rug. Beard had keyboardist Annie Philippone bangin’ on the elephant teeth. I haven’t seen her since the old Clarissa Street days. F out.

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

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