A behind-the-scenes scenester

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Besides every actual musician that clutters and crowds this music scene of ours, it still relies on those lurking in the shadows, behind-the-scenesters doing time and the unwanted or less-glamorous jobs associated with live music. Tasks like booking the talent, providing the venue, printing up showbills, promoting shows and events, fixing equipment, making T-shirts and bumper stickers, serving up drinks and cleaning the puke out of the lavatories. 

One such media mogul is Will Carroll. Looking like Baron Von Zipper with a splash of Cruella de Vil mixed in, Carroll has his fingers in any number of pies. 

“I do a lot of things,” Carroll says. “I’ve got a lot of pots boiling on the stove at the same time. I do a radio show, I publish a magazine and I do a comic book. I’m a gong show host, I do events, I’m working on a movie now and video stuff. I’m all over the place.”  

But, Carroll admits, he’s never played music. 

“I’ve dabbled with the jaw harp a little and the harmonica,” he says. “But I’ve never been in a band. I’ve always been into DJ-ing and recording music. My place has always been promoting the bands, documenting the bands. I think that’s just as important as being in the band.”

Carroll is most widely known for his magazine National Teen Set Outsiderpublished since 2010, with 36 (nearly 37) issues, this ragtag mag is an informative, impish punkzine in the spirit of Kicks, Maximum Rock ’n’ Roll and The Trouser Press.

“It initially started as a parody of the Rochester Insider magazine.” Carroll says. “It just talked about parties and wishy-washy stuff. I was starting to resent seeing people partying on East Avenue, getting drunk, playing beer pong. The Teen Set part of the title was an homage to ’60s culture. So I started it as a kind of Mad Magazine for Rochester.”

In the magazine’s pages, Carroll cracks wise, calling out charlatans, phonies, fakers and posers. And offers advice with his acerbic wit and sarcasm. Adding to National Teen Set Outsider’s biting tone, Carroll has a staff of a dozen or so writers positioned around the United States. But he takes the majority of the heat.

“I’m writing stuff here I’d get in trouble writing on Facebook,” Carroll says.  

He’s never out-and-out mean. “I get my digs in, though.”

Will Carroll

Speaking of sticks and stones, as they say, he’s getting into the promotional end of wrestling. Carroll is working behind the scenes with XPW wrestling, but isn’t actually getting in the ring.

“You can say anything you want to me and I won’t get mad,” he says. “I just don’t wanna get dropped on my head.”

The physics, barbs and insults aimed at his head don’t really faze him. A classic move like a Swingin’ Neckbreaker? That’s another story. He’s still steering clear of the physical aspect of the sport. The next wrestling event happens Nov. 7 in Rochester.

Successfully slaying the print dragon, Carroll has set his sights on the airwaves. He can be heard live on the air Sundays at midnight TeenSet Radio on WAYO 104.3.

“I do a different guest every week,” Carroll says. “Since COVID started, the show has changed a lot. I’m just having guests call in now, which is good because I can have people from other cities call.”

And though his roster consists mostly of musicians, he will fill in the blanks with colorful characters that pepper the scene. And that’s not to mention the endless parade of wrestlers and strippers and the radicals and raconteurs who already darken his doorway.

“Around Halloween, I had a ghost hunter,” Carroll says. “Or one year I had a psychic on. I had a homeless guy as a guest once; that didn’t turn out so great. I didn’t have a guest for the night and I found him picking up cans in my yard.”

And then there’s the 45 Kid.

“The 45 Kid was just the mascot for my DJ nights,” he says. “Whenever I drew a flyer he’d be on it. When I got fired from the Bug Jar, I gave him his own comic book. I draw like 15 to 20 hours a week. I haven’t shown a lot of improvement, but I’ve got a lot of content.”

But wait, there’s more. Carroll is now jockeying to be a movie star. His pal, Travis Indovina, is working on a film called “Blue Murder” that Carroll insists is not a horror movie despite Indovina’s horror rep.

“Though he is a horror movie guy,“ Carroll says, “this is actually an action film where Carroll gets to play a really disgusting bad guy. You’re gonna hate me by the end of the movie. I think my range can handle it. I can be a bad guy.”

And he’s still found time to start a late night show with the fine folks at Photo City Music Hall he calls “Tonighty Night” featuring music, interviews, and commentary with each episode focusing on a topic often ripped from the Teen Set headlines. Next issue’s topic for discussion is the police.

“It’s going to be funny cop stories, stories about celebrities who got arrested,” Carroll says. “I’m there for the comedy. If I could go out every night and get a pie in the face, I would, or get beaten up like the Three Stooges. I like the comedy. I like the attention.

“I think Rochester is like a free zone for people who have been thrown out of other cities,” he continues. “It’s like Australia. You get kicked out of Boston and come here, no one will bat an eyelash. Like a safe haven? Living In exile in Rochester?

“I don’t think you can get kicked out of Rochester.”

Diet Motorhead and scrambled eggs

They call it Rochester’s “premier modern outlaw country band,” even though their moniker comes off kinder and gentler. I’m talkin’ ’bout Public Water Supply, a band that commands the stage with an all-around slick instrumentally sound output. 

The band rocked the walls at Photo City Music Hall last Wednesday with a decidedly crisp bop and twang, especially with what was coming out of singer Ignatious “Iggy” Martino’s face. I guess you could call him a crooner, or a balladeer. But what a voice. 

This is where we pause and contemplate throwing the word “Americana” around. I haven’t done that in a while, but the bands that quote the late, great John Prine open themselves up to that tag. This is a good thing and you can get it stuck in your head if you’re not careful. Oh, and the night was a little hard-boiled as well, as the “I Like Eggs” page on Facebook hosted an Egg-stravaganza. Hard-boiled egg sandwiches, and people dressed as deviled eggs and fried eggs scrambled about the place. I’m not making this up … and the band played on. 

With the remnants of eggs at their feet, American Acid played like Diet Motorhead the following Thursday. It ain’t metal, it ain’t really hard rock either, it’s the perfect sonic swirl of guitar, chainsaw, and denim. Show closers, The Remakes played right off the WCMF playlist with dangerous agility and accuracy, closing as they opened with some Cheap Trick.

Back for the second night of Water Street Music Hall’s reintroduction to the masses. The double bill of the Dirty Pennies and Buffalo’s Handsome Jack was nothing short of amazing. I had forgotten how much I liked these bands.

The Dirty Pennies frame their progressive power chord within their dynamics and melody. It’s bluesy, it’s raw, and inescapable. You can run but you can’t hide.

Handsome Jack writes some incredible songs—simply, guitar-driven, incredible. Equally as dynamic as the Pennies, but a little more referential; from what I’m not quite sure, but I like it, I like it. Hell, I love it.

The weather held up nicely for the first annual Jam on the Bay music fest in Webster raising money for the Shriner Children’ Hospitals. It was quality packed with bands around the funk, blues, and soul lineup lining up to take a swing at bat. Me and the wife packed up the jalopy and headed east to hear a couple of the entertainers, like Dave Riccioni and the Blue Cats, who play beyond the limitations of what playing in a trio entails.

It was a big space at the Shriner property, which presented no real challenge to Miller and the Other Sinners who presented their rock ’n‘ soul with a classical-type application, allowing guitar player/singer Dave Miller and everyone in the band for that matter more to fill in than the just the texbook breaks … and the band played on.

Frank De Blase is Rochester Beacon music writer.

Here’s a comprehensive list of live shows in and around Rochester: Get Your Gig On

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