Monday, February 10, 2020

The F Word: the neighbor of the beast

Posted By on Mon, Feb 10, 2020 at 5:49 PM

The Tin Man and I rolled out and into the upstate tundra Friday night to a gallery downtown, to give thanks and praise to the sensational photographer Aaron Winters. He shoots wildlife in the Serengeti region in Africa, risking life and limb; he also shoots wildlife on stage at concerts in Rochester, where there isn’t as great a risk of getting trampled in a stampede or becoming someone’s lunch. This photography show was for his African material, and I’ve got to say there’s two things that have me in awe: Winters’s precision shots, and the access the beasts afford him.

Later the same night,
The Iron Maidens entertained a sold-out audience at Montage Music Hall, playing all of the IM hits, like “Run to the Hills” and “2 Minutes to Midnight.” The Los Angeles-based band was polished and impressively tight. But it must be tough defining yourself with someone else's catalogue, especially in a genre in which pulchritude is not necessarily on-brand. I’m just saying, a lot of us are used to getting our metal from gargoyles like Dio or Ozzy. Elvis and Dean Martin impersonators have been trying to live up to similarly high standards for years. But can you imagine Eddie officiating a wedding in a little chapel off the Vegas strip? Hell, I’d go.

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

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Monday, January 27, 2020

The F Word: Parkinson's just got a little cooler

Posted By on Mon, Jan 27, 2020 at 1:00 PM

I’m certainly not in the “we’re not handicapped, we’re handi-capable” camp, nor do I want to give Parkinson’s disease too much deference in my life. But my jittery friends Ozzy Osbourne and Neil Diamond recently added their names to the list. Now Diamond has up and quit touring because of his diagnosis. Of course, I don’t know the details, but I think that may be a bit drastic. Ozzy and his wife Sharon are fighting with all their might, though I’ve had a sneaking suspicion he’s had it for years. Alan Alda and Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton have all joined the ranks of those who have the disease. I’m proud to be among them. Parkinson’s just got a little cooler. And what the hell, maybe I am just a little handi-capable.

I went from a true negative to a False Positive last Friday at the luxurious Lux Lounge, where it was déjà vu all over again. When it was Snake Sisters Café, I used to stomp the stage. I was reunited inadvertently with members of The QUiTTERS, Nod, and The Thundergods who made up the scene and filled in the gaps back then. The False Positives’ Dave Harrison was slinging his guitar from the altar and driving his band hard, which played with a vintage garage kerrang. These guys were more than capable.

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

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Monday, January 20, 2020

The F Word: Grandpa Presley

Posted By on Mon, Jan 20, 2020 at 5:26 PM

Even as I celebrated what would have been Elvis Presley’s 85th birthday this past week at Record Archive, it was getting harder and harder to keep up his legacy amid the fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches, and virtually everything from his square movie catalogue (except “Pocket Full of Rainbows”).

But if you’re like me and Albany’s The Lustre Kings, you still indulge in the music, the voice, and even some of the stuff from Elvis’s “Hollywood” period. The Kings rocked the joint as the scent of peanut butter and bacon wafted out from the door.

And hey, here’s another way I put Elvis in perspective: He was a grandpa. Allow me to elucidate with a quick anecdote.

I was backstage at a Chris Isaak concert in Pittsburgh a while back. Elvis’s daughter, Lisa Marie, was opening the show. At one point she introduced her two young children, and I, slicker than snot, burst out with “Wow, your grandpa is Elvis.”

Tammi Savoy and Chris Casello rocked the Abilene foundation a little looser than their debut there in autumn. I think you can blame that on the fact that the audience knew what to expect a little bit more, and weren’t wrapped up in “Holy shit, what’re they doing up there?” And man you just gotta hear Casello play the super-vibrato of The Viscounts’ “Harlem Nocturne.” The spirit of Grandpa Presley rocked among us.

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

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Monday, January 13, 2020

The F Word: 'No one will ever know'

Posted By on Mon, Jan 13, 2020 at 4:48 PM

“If All Rochester Wrote the Same Song” is nothing short of brilliant. This year, participants were instructed to write a song including the phrase “No one will ever know” in the title or in the song itself. Rochester songwriting nobility and lyrical glitterati set to the task like rabid dogs.

In large part, credit has to go to Sarah Long Hendershot, who ran with this concept and fleshed it out a few years back with “Don’t Go Drinkin’ on an Empty Heart,” performed by a few musicians who piled into Bernunzio Uptown Music. Friday night’s show at Hochstein Performance Hall was a near-sellout. MC Rick Staropoli kept things rolling at a decent clip, offering up baby-boomer trivia between performers — with references to Jimmy Hoffa, D.B. Cooper, and Linda Lovelace, whose name I shouted out, knowing full well Staropoli was looking for Mark Felt as an answer...I was robbed.

Now, I could go on and on about the various performers, 21 in all. But there are far too many highlights to shine a single light on. Ross Bracco did a treatment of the song with stringed accompaniment that was heartbreakingly gorgeous. We’re talking goosebump territory here. The Lipker Sisters were dyn-o-mite, with the Lipker Mom filling in for an absentee sister. Jeff Riales’s voice boomed deep, and is suitable for weddings, funerals, dancing with your sweetie, or even ordering Chinese takeout. My WXXI homeboy Jeff Spevak waxed weary, Beat, and blue. A personal highlight was Dick Storms, with the phrase “We storm the dance floor waxing Argentine,” among other notable quips. Storms appeared on stage with two dancers, cutting a tango rug that came off sublime and subtly salacious.

All were supported by a crackerjack house band that brought the music home. But this wasn’t just about the music. It was about the community as a whole. No one will ever know — unless we keep this up. Whaddya say, Sarah?

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

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Monday, January 6, 2020

The F Word: Ska brother number one

Posted By on Mon, Jan 6, 2020 at 3:55 PM

Friday night was some night for Some Ska Band at Flour City Station. The band, numbering virtually in the teens, nearly exceeded the parameters of the stage with its crushing groove. As a musical style, ska has its limits. Sometimes there’s not enough subtlety perpetrated by its purveyors...but sometimes there is.

Some Ska Band plays like the Harlem Globetrotters being introduced to flubber: It’s bouncy, it’s jazzy, and at the same time, a little snotty. What sews it up for me is originality. And Some Ska Band rocks the original compositions with maximum booty-shake appeal. But they ain’t too stuck up that they won’t touch stuff by The Specials, The Clash, and Madness, as they did with manic bursts of excitement and brass. Speaking of brass, to the delight of fans, the band has amped up its horn section, led by ska brother number one, Charles Benoit. Get some.

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

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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

Crossmolina @ Virtual Little Cafe

Crossmolina @ Virtual Little Cafe

5 Second Rule @ Penfield Amphitheater

5 Second Rule @ Penfield Amphitheater

Attendee guidelines are listed on Penfield Rec's website....
Trio Ghidorah @ Virtual Little Cafe

Trio Ghidorah @ Virtual Little Cafe

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