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 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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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

XRIJF announces final 2018 headliners: Boz Scaggs, Jill Scott, Lake Street Dive

Posted By on Tue, Jan 30, 2018 at 11:17 AM

Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival producers John Nugent and Mark Iocona have rolled out the final three headliners for the festival's 17th edition. Jill Scott, Lake Street Dive, and Boz Scaggs join the previously announced headliners Seal, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, and Alison Krauss. The 2018 Jazz Festival runs June 22 to June 30.

lake_street_dive.jpg

Here for his second XRIJF performance, guitarist and singer Boz Scaggs will prove once again he's more than just "Lido Shuffle" or "Lowdown," two staples from his hit 1976 album "Silk Degrees," recorded with session musicians that would later morph into Toto. Scaggs performs Saturday, June 23. Tickets are $52-$102.

Grammy-winning singer Jill Scott has worked with The Roots, is a New York Times best-selling poet, and has performed at the White House. Her sound is a proactive cry from deep in the soul. Testify. Scott performs Friday, June 29. $75-$135.

Formed in Boston in 2006, Lake Street Dive has blasted all over the world with its infectious, jazzy pop. Once singer Rachael Price's smooth contralto gets in your head, it stays there. There are seven albums for you to try, including 2016's most excellent "Side Pony." Lake Street Dive plays Thursday, June 28. $30-$75.

All headliner shows are at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, and start at 8 p.m. Tickets for previously announced headliners are now on sale (Alison Krauss sold out). Tickets for Scaggs, Scott, and Lake Street Dive go on sale Friday, February 2. 454-2060; rochesterjazz.com.


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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Seal, Bela Fleck, and Alison Krauss among XRIJF 2018 headliners

Posted By on Tue, Dec 5, 2017 at 11:42 AM

Seal will play Kodak Hall on Friday, June 22, as part of XRIJF 2018. - PHOTO COURTESY XEROX ROCHESTER INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL
  • PHOTO COURTESY XEROX ROCHESTER INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL
  • Seal will play Kodak Hall on Friday, June 22, as part of XRIJF 2018.
It's the most wonderful time of the year, and no, we aren't talking 'bout Xmas or even Festivus. We mean The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival when jazz artists as well as musicians of all stripes descend  upon our fair city for nine days in the summer. Well, the bigwigs at the XRIJF have just announced three of the headliners for the 2018 edition: Seal, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, and Alison Krauss. The 2018 XRIJF takes place June 22 to June 30 in downtown Rochester. Each headliner show is in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, starting at 8 p.m.

Known for his hit single "A Kiss From a Rose" and his soulful, tenor with a hint of rasp, the British-born singer Seal has earned countless accolades, including four Grammy Awards. He also made history in 1992 at the Brit awards when he walked way with the Best British Male, Best British Video, and Best British Album awards.  Seal in November released an album of jazz and swing standards — cleverly titled "Standards" — which include "Luck Be a Lady," "I Put a Spell on You," and "Love for Sale." Seal plays Friday, June 22. Tickets are $70-$115.

Innovative banjo master Bela Fleck played Kodak Hall as part of the Jazz Fest back in 2011, and sold the joint out. Not necessarily known for it's melodic beauty, the banjo, when in Fleck's hands positively sings and swings.  Fleck was also just at Kodak Hall in February 2016 when he performed his banjo concerto, "The Imposter," with the Eastman Wind Ensemble. Bela Fleck & the Flecktones play Tuesday, June 26. Tickets are $40-$85.

Bluegrass revivalist Alison Krauss warbles sweetly amidst the sweet patter of the genre. This two-time Grammy Nominee has toured with Robert Plant and her own outfit, Union Station. Alison Krauss plays Wednesday, June 27. Tickets are $70-$115.

Tickets go on sale Friday, December 8, 10 a.m., at rochesterjazz.com or by phone, 454-2060.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

SNEAK PEEK: The Fox Sisters, "My Finest Hour"

Posted By on Wed, Jul 26, 2017 at 4:22 PM

SNEAK PEEK

The Fox Sisters

"My Finest Hour" b/w "On The Upside."

Dive Records

Another fantastic party platter from Rochester's frantic soulsters and R&B upstarts The Fox Sisters. This 7-piece band puts some gas in the brass like James Hunter, only a little faster, with their eyes clenched shut, no hands on the wheel, and no brakes. "My Finest Hour" is a party starter, for sure. But it's the B-side that that gets my vote; the A-side hides the frantic, frenetic, and wild sounds of "On The Upside" and of a band too legit to quit, too sly to die.

The Fox Sisters celebrate the release of the band's new single Saturday, July 29, at Skylark, 40 Union Street, 9 p.m., $5, theskylarklounge.com.

Or you can check it out NOW:

– BY FRANK DE BLASE

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Jazz Fest 2017, Day 9: Ron reviews Donny McCaslin, Matthew Stevens Trio, and Benny Green

Posted By on Sun, Jul 2, 2017 at 4:00 AM

Donny McCaslin played Xerox Auditorium on Saturday night at the XRIJF. - PHOTO BY KEVIN FULLER
  • PHOTO BY KEVIN FULLER
  • Donny McCaslin played Xerox Auditorium on Saturday night at the XRIJF.

The final night of the Jazz Festival was a disappointing end to a great festival for me. For instance, I expected a lot from Donny McCaslin's set at Xerox Auditorium. McCaslin is a fine saxophone player, and his recent involvement in David Bowie's final album has given him new visibility. But if tonight's show is any indication, he has become pretty much an electronics artist and left jazz behind.

There were occasional melodies, but much of the set was spent setting off petals that provided effects like echoes, delays, and at one point, turned his sax into an elephant screeching. The same can be said for the excellent musicians in his band. Jason Lindner, who has enhanced several groups at the festival over the years and released excellent albums, was reduced to playing simple patterns on synthesizers or other electronic keyboards over and over again with little variation.

About three quarters of the way through his set, McCaslin paused to give a little speech in which he came out against President Trump's misogyny and racism. He was obviously preaching to the choir and got some applause, but it seemed to me to be pandering. He was at a Jazz Festival, not a Ted Nugent concert.

For more on Donny McCaslin, go to donnymccaslin.com.

McCaslin's set was way too loud, but at least it was in a fairly large venue. Earlier in the evening, I tried to listen to the Matthew Stevens Trio at the Wilder Room. Stevens sets himself apart from other guitarists when he plays choral melodies over complex rhythms, as he did at times early in his set. But when electronic loops and effects were added, along with bass and drums, it just got absurdly loud for such a small room. It was uncomfortable, and I just couldn't stand to stay.

Find Matthew Stevens at mattstevensmusic.com.

The only normal listening experience I had Saturday night was with pianist Benny Green at Hatch Hall. Green has kind of a shy, nerdy personality, but when he sits down at the piano, he's a monster. He played an excellent set of tunes by McCoy Tyner, Duke Pearson, Sonny Clark, and others, along with an evocative original, "Enchanted Forest."

His technique was phenomenal, especially when he launched into a two-handed doubling run, which he did for long periods several times. From my vantage point in the balcony it looked like twin spiders running down the keyboard but sounded much better.

Benny Green can be found at bennygreenmusic.com.

Looking back over the nine days of the XRIJF my favorite artists included three singers who were back for a second (or in Tessa Souter's case a sixth) visit to the festival. Eivør brought her ethereal sound and haunting tunes to the Lutheran Church; Youn Sun Nah unleashed her other-worldly voice at Harro East; and Souter charmed audiences at Xerox Auditorium and Christ Church with her understated but gorgeous vocals.

It was thrilling to hear saxophonist Miguel Zenon and his band (including the great pianist, Luis Perdomo) blast through tunes from his latest album, "Tipico," at Kilbourn Hall. Eri Yamamoto was glorious in her piano playing and personality at Hatch Hall. Charles Pillow at Xerox Auditorium turned me on to "Electric Miles" with big band arrangements of "Bitches Brew," "In A Silent Way," etc. 48 years after I rejected that side of Miles Davis. And finally, I loved overdosing on Thelonious Monk with the four pianists in 4 By Monk By 4 at Kilbourn Hall.

One complaint: the outdoor shows are so loud that music from one of the stages several blocks away was leaking into Xerox Auditorium during Souter's show Friday night. Nobody cares about this -- not the people who run the festival and not the city health department. But it's a serious situation; a lot of people stand right in front of those speakers.

All things considered, it was another great year with no shortage of great music for a wide range of tastes. If only we could find a way to multiply these nine days (and the days of the Rochester Fringe Festival) and bring downtown Rochester to life all year round.

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Jazz Fest 2017, Day 9: Daniel reviews Balkun Brothers and Bonerama

Posted By on Sun, Jul 2, 2017 at 4:00 AM

The Balkun Brothers played a free show Saturday night at the XRIJF. - PHOTO BY KEVIN FULLER
  • PHOTO BY KEVIN FULLER
  • The Balkun Brothers played a free show Saturday night at the XRIJF.

When the band playing consists of only electric guitar and drums, somehow you just know it's going to be gritty. Such was the case when the Balkun Brothers, Steve and Nick, took the stage with their Southern-style blues rock. There's something about a rock duo that can sound incredibly full and satisfying, despite the lack of additional instruments.

There was rock 'n' roll fire coming from the band; I half expected smoke to come out of Steve Balkun's guitar. The feisty, in-your-face style was refreshing in a festival lineup that included only a handful of rock acts. In addition to rowdy originals, the brothers played classic rock covers, like The Jimi Hendrix Experience's "You Got Me Floatin'" and Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild."

The riffs were down and dirty, and the vocals had a touch of the down-home blues. The Balkun Brothers were a great choice to help close the festival on this breezy, comfortable summer night. If you were at the show, and you weren't at least tapping your toes, I don't know how you did it.

Balkun Brothers can be found at balkunbrothers.com.

The Balkun Brothers played a free show Saturday night at the XRIJF. - PHOTO BY KEVIN FULLER
  • PHOTO BY KEVIN FULLER
  • The Balkun Brothers played a free show Saturday night at the XRIJF.

Unfortunately, the second set of Gard Nilssen's Acoustic Unity at the Lutheran Church was canceled due to the illness of a band member. I decided to head over to the Big Tent to hear the New Orleans-based Bonerama. The group's name says it all. When your group has not one but three trombonists, what else do you call yourselves?

On paper, Bonerama may appear to some as gimmicky; the unusual horn section is an entertaining if unsustainable gambit. Live, nothing could be further from the truth.

The distinctive instrumentation gave the music an unexpectedly taut sound with bold and boisterous attitude. Additionally, I wouldn't have necessarily expected a band with a sousaphone to be funky, but it was. The cohesion of the horn section alone was impressive, but as a whole, the group was just as lean and precise. Bonerama was just as unbridled as any rock band.

Another bonus was hearing the trombone filtered through various effects. If I ever wondered what a trombone-sitar hybrid would sound like, I found out. The vocals were more hit-or-miss, but the overall musicianship was strong enough to override any minor miscues.

The band closed the evening with Black Sabbath's "War Pigs," a thoroughly left-of-center choice that at first sounded too jubilant be an effective cover of the original's dark mood. But after hearing that descending, chromatic hook, I was convinced. If I wasn't sure before, I knew then: Bonerama was yet another hard-working rock band -- with a killer trombone section.

You can hear the band's music at boneramabrass.com.

Another talent-packed jazz festival has come to a close here in Rochester. There were some familiar artists revisited, and many more new favorites discovered. Is it crazy that I'm already looking to next year's artist lineup?

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Jazz Fest 2017, Day 9: Frank reviews Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People and The Hooligans

Posted By on Sun, Jul 2, 2017 at 4:00 AM

PHOTO BY FRANK DE BLASE
  • PHOTO BY FRANK DE BLASE

Shootin' pretty pictures (instead of dirty pool) and trying to give solid testimony to the plethora of artists I've seen over the last nine days has left your boy a little punchy folks -- tore up from the floor up; beat up from the feet up. But just the same, I once more lugged my gear and my mind full of metaphors and similes down to the blood bank to file this report.

After witnessing the boundless joy our community filled Parcel 5 with, I'm now completely against putting a building there, theater or not. But that argument is for another day. I'm here to tell you about Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People. What a grand lady she is. Ponder is powerful and cemented solid in her convictions, which she shared with a thrilled throng of roughly 15,000 people. She stuck closely to the material from her "Blow Out the Sun" album, with a few re-workings in their arrangements -- in particular, on the song "Work," the band worked in an ominous driving beat reminiscent of The Doors' "Five to One." The band was beyond excellent with a steady rock 'n' soul groove, which Ponder easily mounted. There were horns that blasted like a brass kiln on high; way solid drums and percussion; keys -- even a keytar -- slashing 'n' burn guitar; backing vocals; and bass that swung low like an elephant's trunk.

Danielle Ponder and The Tomorrow People played the Midtown Stage Saturday night at the 2017 XRIJF. - PHOTO BY FRANK DE BLASE
  • PHOTO BY FRANK DE BLASE
  • Danielle Ponder and The Tomorrow People played the Midtown Stage Saturday night at the 2017 XRIJF.

Find more about Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People at daniellepondermusic.com.

The Hooligans followed and came out with a sort of disjointed jam that had the drummer absolutely clobbering his kit. The trombone and trumpet poked their heads up when they could, and tried to soothe the savage beat. I left with the Earth literally quaking from the combination of three stages at high volume. Man, it was epic.

And speaking of savage beat, I've got something to say: the Jazz Fest is magnificent. It's my favorite thing to write about and report upon as a journalist here in Rochester as well as to dig as a musician and music fan. I just want to remind the thousands and thousands who make the annual trek downtown that this is a music town during more than just this glorious festival. Bands like Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People hit stages every day of the week.

Please go out and dig them some night; let the Jazz Fest be your guide, your gateway drug. Believe me, there's plenty for everyone. Picture this: imagine all the people that were out tonight at Parcel 5 going out each week to catch some live music, whether it's blues, jazz, reggae, funk, punk, country, Americana, rock 'n' roll, and so on. What a wonderful word this would be.

Frank has left the building.

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