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Buy the kid a good guitar 

Man, what a great year it's been so far. I guess I'm still waiting for the other shoe to fall. Sure, there're a few new maladies, a couple more gray hairs, but rock 'n' roll is still pogoing all around me. And you all look fabulous. Christmas shopping was a cinch: I bought potholes on Lake Avenue and registered each in a loved one's name with The National Pothole Registry. My friends don't need no stinkin' stars.

          Uncle Rog's memorial show went off flawlessly. Thirty bands of virtually every genre paid tribute in front of roughly 1,000 fans. Some highlights: The Fugitives, with Nate Coffee, covered the bottom end for Rog; The Veins roared incredible and large with a little boost from Venice Beach monkey man, Ron Mesh,at the dials; Bacci bopped acoustically tight and sweet; and The Buddhahood brought their irresistible polyrhythmic dirge to the middle of the dance floor. Let's do it again real soon.

          I recently surfed the Web in search of ordination --- the complete opposite of what I'm usually searching for. A couple of clicks and a few random questions later and I found myself ordained as a minister in The Universal Life Church of Modesto, California. I can now marry, bury, bless, and confess. However, I can't perform circumcisions. I'm not sure I'd want to anyway.

          So last Friday, in my first official duty as man of God, I stood in judgment of 16 high-school bands who battled for cash prizes while anointing the Water Street stage in teen sweat and exuberance. Over 1,000 kids (and almost as many parents) piled into the joint. This was an outstanding opportunity for budding musicians to play for a big audience and field-test their music, as opposed to pounding it into the basement.

          It was also a great opportunity for parents to encourage their youngsters' forays into rock 'n' roll. As I pointed out to one young mother: "You hear that? That's the sound of you saving $20,000-plus in college tuition. Buy the kid a good guitar and you'll save loads of cash on an education, that as a musician, he'll never use. OK, so he may still be living at home when he's 30, but just think of the savings. And all the chicks." She ran away sobbing.

          The one band with particular promise was Public Aggravation, a band that copped a real punk sound with a real punk attitude, despite being all of 14 years old. They just need to beef up the set with a few more originals and they'll really be something to see. Very, very encouraging.

          Caught The Steve Green Quartet at The Montage Grille this past Saturday night. With all the kinks worked out --- and a few new ones worked in --- Green's new quartet played with elegance, precision, and a smirk. Green's slow-burn cool permeated the entire room like a comfy fridge. He's probably the only cat who can actually feel the earth spin.

          Then it was off to The Bug Jar to dig Rochester's friendliest band. Keen chops and manners. In a scene where the majority of band members look like they'd sleep with your girlfriend and steal your car, members of The Hi-Risers, though fiercely talented, look like they'd help old ladies across the street. Or at least ask them to dance. This is barroom rock 'n' roll as it should be.

          Monty's Krown was the final stop Saturday, to dig Los Fadeaways, a band I hadn't seen in 20 years. Though they were a little quieter than I remember, their Beatle-esque barroom rock grooved steady with an occasional contempo-lean and a stomp on a wahwah.

          God bless you all.


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