Rochester rocker Phil Naro dies

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The Rochester music community mourns the loss of Phil Naro, a singer of endless range and endless heart. Naro  died Sunday night after a courageous battle with throat cancer. He was 63.

Phil Naro/Photo: philnaro.com

Known for his work with the heavy-hitting outfit Talas with Billy Sheehan in the 1980s and more recently D:Drive with Don Mancuso, he was finishing up work with Lips Turn Blue with former D:Drive members. A Talas reunion album on Metal Blade Records was in the works as well.

Naro’s voice was unmatchable, unstoppable, and unbelievable. Everyone in this scene and beyond will miss this sensational singer. Today, the rock ’n’ roll flags around the world are flying at half mast. 

Naro is survived by sons James and John; brother Joseph; and his mother, Maria.

Jitterbuggers in hip huggers 

After a year-plus dose of live music blue balls I found myself back in this electric church, getting some much-needed release and screeching my approval through a mandatory mask—mask it or casket, kids. My rocks had been on entirely too long. There were friends I hadn’t seen in over a year. I found myself reintroducing myself to people that I already knew, including my wife, who doesn’t think that’s funny. Regardless, it was a magical night. 

Friday night’s destination: Photo City Music Hall was close to capacity as fans kept floating in like steam to hear the Manda-Tones playing as part of the nightclub’s “Wheel of Fortune”-themed happy hour: “The “Happ*est F*ck*ng hour of your l*ife.” The Manda-Tones are a song-making machine. Their last album clocked in with 50 songs, covers to classic rave-ups. They were the perfect band to perfume the air with plenty of greasy swing and greasier rockabilly. Singing in harmony and backed by a lone guitar—a beautiful White Falcon—the Manda-Tones added a voluminous vibe to the room full up of jitterbuggers in hip huggers.

But the serious carpet cutting began in the remodeled showroom; I guess you could call it palatial. There was a plethora of red velvet to wallow in and plenty of dark corners to act upon your desires. The sound system could’ve talked to god if it weren’t busy making the Televisionaries good and loud for a roughly 90-minute set. This young band banged and twanged stuff from Buddy Holly to one of my faves, Big Joe Turner. Plenty of originals, too. Best show of my recent life. 

And as soon as we start admitting to ourselves that streaming music is no match for the real thing, the healing can begin. I know, I know we did what we had to. But it’s like prison; you do what you gotta do. F out.

Frank De Blase is Rochester Beacon music writer.

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