Hello, and welcome to the Rochester music scene. We’ve got everything you want right here. I’m Frank De Blase, and I’m the Rochester Beacon’s new music writer. In introducing myself, I’m also introducing the scene to those who aren’t that familiar with it—yet—and celebrating it with those who are.
There are artists residing here, right here, with international impact and worldwide allure. Dig: Artists such as soul-singing social activist Danielle Ponder, or YouTuber and ukulele wielder Julia Nunes. There is the irreverent garage rock of bands like Harmonica Lewinski and the Televisionaries. You wanna dance? There’s the rock ’n’ roll beat of the Hi-Risers along with the band’s globetrotting front man and Los Straitjackets guitarist, Greg Townson. You like reggae? I said do you like reggae??!! Well, we’re lucky to have the same ZIP code as the Billboard chart topping Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad. Got a jones for barebones, guitar-driven barroom rock? The Ginger Faye Bakers have just what you need.
And I’m not just talking ’bout today. It’s always been this way. Our history runs deep, baby. And significant. In the 1960s, The Rustix were the first white band signed to Motown Records. The late punk chanteuse Wendy O. Williams grew up in Webster. The vintage rock sensations of the Chesterfield Kings earned the band a serious following in Europe with their talent. Recently, The Kings bassist Andy Babiuk got together with The Cars’ guitarist Elliot Easton, The Romantics’ singer Wally Palmer and Blondie’s drummer Clem Burke to form power-pop supergroup, The Empty Hearts.
Rochester has blues legends like Joe Beard. Delta blues hero Son House lived in Corn Hill for a while, and the human blues encyclopedia Steve Grills and the Roadmasters play somewhere in town virtually every night.
And there’s a healthy new generation of roots rockers poppin’ up on the scene as well, like The Demos, Dangerbyrd, and the Stedwells.
All this music is just bursting at the scenes and nightly blowing the lids off of live music joints like Three Heads Brewing, Photo City Music Hall, Abilene Bar & Lounge, The Back Room @ the Record Archive, Lux Lounge, Anthology, Flour City Station, Lovin’ Cup (the home to heavy metal), the Montage Music Hall, punk and live music champion The Bug Jar, and so on and so on.
Just wait until these places can open up fully; it’s gonna be a bloodbath.
And let’s not forget the fans—the best-looking collection of characters and roustabouts you’ll see anywhere.
I could go on and on and I will continue to go on and on because the list goes on and on. Email me here with your suggestions of live music to check out, then come along with me as we dig deep into this beautiful scene.
Frank De Blase is music writer for the Rochester Beacon.