Fred Costello is on deck again

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Fred Costello at the 2019 Rochester International Jazz Festival. (Photo: Fred Costello)

He started off on the squeeze box as a kid before graduating to the Hammond B-3. I don’t know, maybe

he just found it lighter.

Fred Costello is the organist of who I am preaching, beseeching, reaching. This is where baseball and jazz collide in a one, two, three strikes you’re out in a Frigidaire kinda way. I’m tellin’ you, Jack, Costello is so cool, sheep count him.

Rochester Red Wings jazz organist and all around cool cat extraordinaire, Costello has banged the keys for millions around the globe at prestigious jazz joints including the Fremont in Las Vegas and the Playboy Club in Hollywood, and he tickled the keys at Sinatra’s Cal Neva Ranch with Trini Lopez.

“That was a kick,” the organist says. 

Costello was and is the definition of swingin’ cool and had the damn pandemic not introduced its ugly head, the season that never was would have been. It would have been Costello’s 40th season behind the keys.

“I’m at 3,235 straight games,” he boasts. 

Costello even played the organ with nine fingers after catching a rogue line drive while screwing around pre-game. Costello says he’s missed three games in his 46 seasons.

And he’s been courted by other teams including the Yankees, the Mets, the 76ers, and the Bisons, to name a few. They all wanted Costello’s dancing fingertips and his organ’s whooping war cry. They were all turned down. Rochester is his home.

“Oh, man, I still love it,” he says through his trademark Cheshire pearlies.

With this year’s opening day on Tuesday, we will once again be assailed by the smells and tastes of ballpark chow getting washed down with the man’s B-3. That’s right, Costello ain’t goin’ nowhere, daddy-o.

Sue Foley

Sue Foley

The first time I saw blues guitarist Sue Foley, it was at the Lafayette taproom in Buffalo, some 30 odd years ago. She was good, but somewhat of a shrinking violet standing at the back of the stage picking timidly at her pink guitar.S

Well, there she stood one Friday night at Abilene with her pink guitar, a little worn and torn since that Buffalo show, with her pointed toe boots hanging over the edge of the stage wailing to a packed house. She was fantabulous,

From her T-Bone opening to her Blasters’ goodbye with a little Gatemouth and Ike Turner thrown in there, she relentlessly rocked the joint with guitar tone so sweet it could have been poured over waffles. I can’t wait for the return of this  redheaded blues chanteuse.

Record Review

Greg Townson/Todd Bradley/ Caitlin Moss: “Beyond the Horizon”

This fine how- do- you- do- from instrumentalist Greg Townson  is nothin’ but an easy going stroll through a cool  shimmy sharkskin shag. Townson ( Los Straitjacket when he dons a luchador mask) is responsible for this excellent example of crisp guitar bop and twang. It’s called “Beyond the Horizon,” and you’re just gonna love it.

Towson  spent the last six months or so (unmasked) to polish off the 10 songs you hold in your hot little hands right now. Credited accomplices found rubbing elbows with Townson are his hi-riser partner in crime bassist, Todd Bradley who has a new album himself in the coming months. Drums are handled by Caitlin Moss.

“Beyond the Horizon” is more of a collaboration between Townson with Bradley and drummer Moss. It still comes across as a Townson -driven vehicle. Though he shies away from the surf/twang cocktail of Los Straitjackets and the genius wordplay of NIck Lowe both featuring Townson’s instantly recognizable guitar style that makes it  through without too much ostentatiousness. Don’t sweat it; this platter will rock you right down to your socks.

Record Review

Brian Lindsay Band: “Revival”

Lanky roots rocker and Rochester hardcore troubadour, Brian Lindsay has put out a new record titled “Revival,” a redemption-seeking, guitar twangin’, walls shakin, rubber burnin’ good time.

Brian Lindsay

This time, it’s got Roy Stein sauce on it along with a splash of John Kelley. “Revival” boasts the two plus Lindsay. They all share the wheel equally. And honey, it works.

I saw the band last week and from what I can tell they’re slipping a lot of the new material in the set list; the  new songs can mix in with the new ones if they are so inclined. It shouldn’t be a problem as the band are more than capable by controlling the rumble of three electric guitars without it sounding like an avalanche. Nice hat, too.

Coming to town: Buckcherry

Suffice it to say, these guys are better than Aerosmith. There’s rock, there’s hard rock and there’s hard rock n’ roll. Anaheim’s Buckcherry play hard rock n’ roll; 

off the rails rock n’ roll, better than anyone. Just forget what I said about Aerosmith earlier. I actually love them.


Buckcherry’s spotty existence hasn’t seemed able to kill them. Off and on, They’re too tough to die; Their first album was the first record album to go Gold for dreamworks records. So they’ve got moxy, they’ve got appeal.

Buckcherry first made the scene with the eponymous record in 1999 and let fly with ‘Time Bomb’ in 2001 before imploding in 2002. Slide driven guitar and singer Josh Todd’s super howl — there was talk of his replacing AC/DC’s singer Brian Johnson — got the band back together in 2005 where they just can’t seem to get to the mountain top schlogging  around dirty dives in the U.S. and festivals worldwide. Who knows, maybe they are too much rock for their own good.

Buckcherry plays with Blacktop Mojo and Sumo Cyco, Friday,  May 13, 6 p,m., at Montage Music Hall, $27.50


Danny  “Knuckles” Sullivan or “Sully’’

Danny  “Knuckles” Sullivan or just plain old “Sully’ ’looked like a Batman villain. With a smirk, classic tails and an intensely ominous presence, he prowled this city’s nightlife like a hungry, albeit affable, character predator. Knuckles passed away suddenly last weekend. He was 66.

Danny Sullivan

Name a joint…any  joint in this overcast Gotham that has a piano parked in a corner and you can sense this late piano player’s presence  amidst the  cobwebs and chipped piano keys. If Hoagy Carmichael were a clown —  or at least tickled the ivories (all 88, even the black keys) while Ballard the Great did his deeds on the trapez. That’ll give you a sense of the impact he had on his friends, fans, and loved ones.

Now here comes the ghost of Knuckles Sullivan.

From here on, whenever you hear “My Melancholy Baby” or a thunderous left hand roll know that it’s the man playing the barrel house blues and he’s all right, yeah we’ll miss him like crazy, but the echo of his blues will make it alllll-rrr-iight. We’ll miss you, pal. Play it again, Sully.

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

Frank De Blase is Rochester Beacon music writer. The Beacon welcomes comments from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name.

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