NEWS. ARTS. LIFE. | JUNE 2022 | FREE | SINCE 1971 THE GREAT OUTDOORS
ON THE WATERFRONT
IN PHOTOS: OUR PARKS, OLMSTED’S LEGACY
THE ‘DAFFODIL MAN’ OF MOUNT HOPE CEMETERY
FOR SALE: TOXIC PRIME REAL ESTATE IN PLEX
I S B AC K ! MUST-SEE SHOWS, SPOTLIGHT ACTS, AND MORE! STARTING ON PAGE 20
R O C H E ST E R ’ S DA N I E L L E P O N D E R P E R F O R M S J U N E 2 5 @ PA R C E L 5
IN THIS ISSUE OPENING SHOT
East High School Principal Shaun Nelms greets Minister Clifford Florence, center, and Constance Mitchell-Jefferson, left, at the unveiling of a mural depicting Mitchell-Jefferson’s mother, Civil Rights leader Constance Mitchell, and Florence’s father, Minister Franklin Florence, with Malcolm X. The mural was painted by Rochester artist Ephraim Gebre, background. PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
A MATTER OF TRUST
Questions about “inferior defense” dogged the search for a new Monroe County public defender.
TAKING AIM AT ‘PREGNANCY RESOURCE CENTERS’
OUR OLMSTED PARKS IN PHOTOS
A photographer captures intimate scenes in Rochester’s public spaces designed by the legendary Frederick Law Olmsted. BY LAUREN PETRACCA
REVEL IN THE DETAILS
SPOTLIGHT ON BEAUTY
Photographer Adam Eaton emphasizes the radiance of Black people and bolsters creatives of color.
BY DAVID ANDREATTA
BY LAUREN PETRACCA AND DAVID ANDREATTA
OUT OF THE SHADOWS
Transgender comedian Penny Sterling is out to break hearts in a collaboration with PUSH Physical Theatre. BY KATHERINE VARGA
CITY VISITS . . .
We rubbed elbows with skateboarders, roller skaters, and BMXers at the city’s sweatiest hotspot.
BY REBECCA RAFFERTY
THE ‘DAFFODIL MAN’ OF MOUNT HOPE CEMETERY
Who’s planting all of those daffodils in Mount Hope Cemetery?
BY CITY STAFF
Legislators are exploring the intricacies of little-known pregnancy resource centers, and whether they manipulate clients. BY GINO FANELLI
THE HEPCAT’S GUIDE TO THE JAZZ FESTIVAL
Must-see shows, features, and more!
BY JEREMY MOULE
ON THE COVER
WHAT ALES ME
BLACK BUTTON TURNS 10
Happy birthday to Rochester’s first modern distillery. BY GINO FANELLI roccitynews.com
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JUNE, 2022 Vol 50 No 10 On the cover: Photograph by Jason Kramer
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HIGH FALLS FOLLY Gino Fanelli’s article on High Falls (“Rochester takes another swing at revitalizing High Falls,” May 2022) neglected to mention that the area was abandoned in the 1990s except for WXXI and two small businesses. The restaurants helped attract developers and tenants that filled multiple vacant buildings. The restaurants are gone, but the development they helped catalyze continues to provide significant property tax revenues. The larger point is that downtown Rochester remains a fragile real estate market and presents considerable investment risk. Most new housing disproportionately serves low-earning households. The number of marketrate units is modest compared to other cities, and almost all is rental rather than owner-occupied. Virtually nothing is done without public subsidies, and still the risk of failure is high for the handful of local private developers working downtown. High Falls, Midtown, Sibley’s, the East End, and other initiatives received large public subsidies but had an economic development component: buildings were restored and people and businesses moved in. It’s difficult to see how the proposed public monies for a High Falls park or aqueduct deck removal will result in comparable economic benefits for the specific sites or for the larger downtown. Downtown will continue to struggle unless the real estate market is strengthened. Limited public funds must be employed strategically where they can best raise the value of adjacent and underutilized properties, especially city-owned land, and create direct investment opportunities. 4 CITY
Unfortunately, the recent “placemaking” and “transformative” chuttering of new city officials leaves the unsettling impression they have never actually closed a real estate deal in their lives. John Tadin, Rochester The article “Rochester takes another swing at revitalizing High Falls” (May 2022) attempts to justify spending millions and millions of taxpayer dollars as has been tried, unsuccessfully, in the past to showcase the waterfalls in the High Falls area, a tax dollar sponge. In her justification for this outpouring of tax money, Lisa Baron, chairperson of Greentopia’s board, states that people will not travel to Letchworth State Park, in her words, “to go see a tree” because they do not feel welcomed. She gives no reasons to justify that statement. Who then does not feel welcomed and how does Baron know they do not feel welcomed? I wonder what is not welcoming — the abundant flora and fauna; the many varieties of trees; the diverse population of animals, birds, and mammals; the beautiful Genesee River gorge; the many interpretive hikes offered; a history museum; a nature center; cross-country skiing; picnic areas galore; snack shacks; gift shops; a sledding hill; Mary Jemison information; a beautiful restaurant; hiking trails for all abilities; a nature trail specialized for those with autism; and, oh yes, three beautiful waterfalls? How much money will need to be spent to make people feel “welcomed”? Sherri Trietley, Canadice
EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT firstname.lastname@example.org Editor: David Andreatta News editor: Jeremy Moule Staff writer: Gino Fanelli Arts editor: Daniel J. Kushner Life editor: Rebecca Rafferty Contributing writers: Jim Catalano, Geary Ann Lewin, Lauren Petracca, Mona Seghatoleslami, Jeff Spevak, David Streever, Katherine Varga CREATIVE DEPARTMENT email@example.com Creative director: Ryan Williamson Designer/Photographer: Jacob Walsh ADVERTISING DEPARTMENT firstname.lastname@example.org Sales manager: Alison Zero Jones Advertising consultant/ Project manager: David White OPERATIONS/CIRCULATION Operations manager: Ryan Williamson Circulation manager: Katherine Stathis email@example.com CITY is available free of charge. Additional copies of the current issue may be purchased by calling 585-784-3503. CITY may be distributed only by authorized distributors. No person may, without prior written permission of CITY, take more than one copy of each monthly issue. CITY (ISSN 1551-3262) is published monthly 12 times per year by Rochester Area Media Partners, a subsidiary of WXXI Public Broadcasting. Periodical postage paid at Rochester, NY (USPS 022-138). Address changes: CITY, 280 State Street, Rochester, NY 14614. Member of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia and the New York Press Association. Copyright by Rochester Area Media Partners LLC, 2021 - all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, photocopying, recording or by any information storage retrieval system without permission of the copyright owner. WXXI Members may inquire about free home delivery of CITY including monthly TV listings by calling 585-258-0200.
SCALE OF JUSTICE
A matter of trust Questions about ‘inferior defense’ dogged search for new public defender. BY JEREMY MOULE
he search for Monroe County’s next public defender has been contentious and fraught with controversy, largely over the qualifications or connections of candidates. As the rancor of critics peaked in mid-April, an appointed selection committee held a forum where the public could meet the finalists. A flier announcing the event proclaimed innocuously enough that “We want to hear your voice!” and encouraged people to share their opinions of the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office and what they want in a public defender. But it also included a suggested topic of conversation that left some in the legal community scratching their heads, largely because it hinted at controversy where there seemed to be none: “The last public defender decided that public defenders will no longer represent city residents in City Court for violations and misdemeanor cases,” read the announcement. “Instead, those will be handled by conflict defenders. What do you think of this change?” The plan in question was hashed out by former Public Defender Tim Donaher and county Conflict Defender Mark Funk to ease the transition toward meeting statewide caseload standards that will take effect next year. Under the arrangement, representation in City Court of indigent defendants facing violations or misdemeanor charges now falls to attorneys in the Conflict Defender’s Office — an agency whose purpose is to defend people accused of crimes only when the Public Defender’s Office cannot due to a legal conflict of interest. (An example of a conflict of interest would be the Public Defender’s
Office representing someone accused of causing harm to a person who is already a client of the office.) The announcement seemed to suggest that the Public Defender’s Office was farming out cases to conflict attorneys that public defenders should have been handling. But Emily Fusco, a criminal defense attorney at Trevett Cristo and a former assistant public defender who serves as vice chair of the Monroe County Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section, said she’s unaware of any concern about the arrangement from the legal community or the public at large. “I kind of feel like that was a red herring,” Fusco said. A few speakers at the April forum did bring up the arrangement, with some suggesting the Conflict Defender’s Office might not provide the same quality of representation as the Public Defender’s Office. Patricia Warth, director of the state Office of Indigent Legal Services, which is charged with improving the quality of legal services provided to indigent defendants across New York, dismissed as flawed any notion that conflict attorneys provide inferior
representation. The Conflict Defender’s Office is staffed by attorneys who do public defense work. “There should not be a hierarchy of providers in the county,” Warth said. The Office of Indigent Legal Services saw the plan developed by Donaher and Funk as a way to improve the quality of representation for indigent clients in City Court. The plan was developed to address a couple of ongoing problems, according to a memo submitted to county legislators by former acting Public Defender Jill Paperno, who applied for the Public Defender’s job but was snubbed by the selection committee. Paperno has since left the Public Defender’s Office and has taken a position with Empire Justice Center. In 2021, the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office handled more than 3,400 cases in City Court, down from 4,000 in 2020 and 6,000 in 2019. By comparison, the Conflict Defender’s Office handled 747 City Court cases in 2021, 342 in 2020, and 589 in 2019. The pandemic caused a substantial drop in court case numbers across the board for 2020 and 2021. New statewide caseload standards
are set to take effect next year and to meet them, the Public Defender’s Office would have needed to add staff. The office, which has hired additional attorneys in recent years, is out of space to expand, but the Conflict Defender’s Office had extra space. It made sense to add attorneys in that office, Paperno explained. Under the plan, the two agencies essentially switched their roles in City Court. The Conflict Defender’s Office became the primary representation for indigent defendants while the Public Defender’s Office handled conflict cases. “This was a decision that was not agreed on by all staff or supervisors,” wrote Paperno, who was Donaher’s deputy. “But the decisions to be made were not between a great choice and a bad one — instead it was which of the difficult decisions was the best for our clients and the office to ensure that we could continue to provide high quality representation.” She later added that reducing the Public Defender’s Office’s presence in City Court was intended to help cut down on conflicts in other cases, particularly felonies. In the past, some of those conflicts haven’t surfaced until just before trials were to begin. The move also allowed the Public Defender’s Office to shift some attorneys from the City Court bureau to handling felony cases, which will be subject to the new statewide caseload standards set to take effect in 2023. Many public defenders start their careers in town, village, and city courts, then move into more specialized areas, such as felony cases. “Please remember,” Paperno said in her memo, “if it were to be undone, that would...have a tremendous impact.”
For Sale: Toxic riverfront property
A judge has ordered developer Tom Masaschi to sell 5 Flint St., shown above, and nearby 15 Flint St., to satisfy an unpaid loan. PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
The two Vacuum Oil site parcels were the subject of a foreclosure case. BY JEREMY MOULE
n the west bank of the Genesee River in Rochester, about a quarter mile south of where the city is in the midst of a multimillion-dollar riverfront beautification project, the long abandoned Vacuum Oil refinery building is the capitol of a ghost town of graffiti and garbage. For decades, the hulking warehouse has sat derelict where Flint Street dead-ends at the river, and has been a stubborn obstacle to the revitalization of its surrounding neighborhoods. A pile of car bumpers strewn about the building recently only added to its stature as a symbol of neglect.
Developer Tom Masaschi had envisioned a mix of housing and commercial spaces there when he bought the building and another contaminated riverfront parcel nearby in 2008 through his company, DHD Ventures. But that vision, which made no visible progress, has become even more unlikely after a state judge in March ordered Masaschi to sell his two parcels — at 5 and 15 Flint Sts. — as part of a mortgage foreclosure case. Masaschi had used the properties as collateral for a loan that he has not been able to pay. The order, by state Supreme Court
Justice Scott Odorisi, means yet more uncertainty for the beleaguered properties, as well as for the neighborhood that has suffered in their shadow for generations. Masaschi is appealing the ruling. “We feel it’s a blessing in a way to possibly work with either a new developer, hopefully, or for the neighborhood to go out and try to find a developer that would be willing to help do the development of a project in the neighborhood that is very inclusive of the neighborhood,” said Dorian Hall, vice president of the association for the neighborhood known as PLEX,
for the Plymouth and Exchange street corridor at its heart. If the properties are sold, that would likely bring a new developer into the fold, which could mean a new vision for the properties. There does appear to be some interest in the site. Dana Miller, the city’s Neighborhood and Business Development Department commissioner, said that a local company had previously approached the city about obtaining the two properties, which were not for sale at the time. “We certainly don’t want them
to sit in limbo,” Miller said. “We want a dedicated owner to take those properties, get them cleaned up, and then return them to useful activity in the city, whether it’s the plan that DHD had pushed forward to build housing and some small commercial area and some student housing on those sites, or some other use that someone might have.” Hall said he and some residents are concerned the city may seek out a new developer without input from the neighborhood. The PLEX Neighborhood Association has advocated for mixed income housing that would include units people already living in the neighborhood could afford. Neighborhood leaders have also pushed for the construction of a public playground in connection with development of the Vacuum Oil sites. Odorisi’s order coincides with a handful of judgements against Masaschi and his companies that reportedly total in excess of $20 million. Masaschi did not return a call seeking comment. The 5 and 15 Flint Sts. properties have a long history of pollution, making cleanup and redevelopment of the properties complex and expensive. At one point, DHD submitted a $17 million proposed cleanup plan to the state Department of Environmental of Environmental Conservation. More recently, though, it was planning for a less aggressive cleanup. Vacuum Oil was formed in 1866, the year founders Matthew Ewing and Hiram Everest patented a method to produce kerosene from crude oil using vacuum distillation. By the time the refinery complex shut down in 1935, it had expanded to 40 acres along the river, bordered by Violetta Street in the north and Cottage Street in the south. The heart of the complex, however, was along Flint Street. That’s where a series of spills, explosions, and other events saturated the soil with petroleum and related chemicals. Part of the site was later used as a dump, adding to the contamination. In the years after DHD bought 5 and 15 Flint Sts., the company and the properties became enmeshed in a handful of lawsuits, including one filed
DHD Ventures, developer Tom Masaschi's company, bought 5 and 15 Flint Sts. in 2008 with the idea of redeveloping it. PHOTOS BY MAX SCHULTE
by DHD against ExxonMobil in an effort to force the fossil fuels giant to cover cleanup costs. ExxonMobil is the legal successor to Vacuum Oil.
That lawsuit and related negotiations are still active. Even if Masaschi sells or loses control of the Flint Street properties, he and his
companies can still seek damages from Exxon Mobil, said environmental attorney Alan Knauf, who represents Masaschi and the DHD companies in the proceeding against ExxonMobil. Any new owner could join the lawsuit proceedings. The sale order stems from a 2019 foreclosure proceeding filed against Masachi, DHD, and other affiliated companies by US Income Partners, a Henrietta-based lending institution that specializes in real estate development. The company had lent Masaschi $1.6 million. The proceeds of any sale are to go toward paying off that debt, according to Odorisi’s order. Masaschi will be liable for any residual obligation not fulfilled by money from the sales. The city of Rochester, which owns and is cleaning up several other key properties that were part of the Vacuum Oil complex, would make a logical owner, if only in transition. The city could assemble its lots along with 5 and 15 Flint Sts., which would allow it to offer potential developers a larger site. Massaschi had offered the city a chance to buy the properties, but officials passed because the cleanup costs would have been too much for the public to bear, Miller said. But city officials haven’t ruled out buying the properties under the right conditions, he added. For example, Miller explained that the city might be interested if ExxonMobil and DHD were to negotiate a plan to split cleanup costs. Such an agreement would also make the properties more appealing to private developers. Brownfield redevelopment projects are complex and they often take longer and cost more money than originally anticipated. “Without ExxonMobil participating, these properties would more likely than not stay the way they are for the foreseeable future unless we could acquire a grant from the state or the federal government for some kind of cleanup,” Miller said. “There isn’t money in the normal city budget process for these kinds of major cleanup activities.”
Lawmakers take aim at pregnancy resource centers
A proposed state study on pregnancy resource centers would evaluate whether the facilities offer legitimate healthcare, or are designed solely to persuade women to not have an abortion. PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
A proposed study would examine whether the facilities manipulate patients. BY GINO FANELLI
ocus Pregnancy Help Center looks unassuming enough, distinguished largely by its blue awning and the blue sign in the window that reads “free pregnancy tests.” The front reception area of the building, located on University Avenue near Planned Parenthood, is no different. Volunteers guide mothers of young children toward free infant clothing, diapers, and other essentials which have been donated to the center. But in the main office of Focus’s founder and director Mary Jost, the atmosphere changes. Pamphlets, 8 CITY
newspapers, magazines, and DVDs cover most flat surfaces. They warn of the dangers of condoms or birth control, discuss atonement for sexual sins, and argue that abortion amounts to Black genocide. Jost’s aim is to convince as many young women as possible not to have abortions to end unwanted pregnancies. “We tell the truth, that’s what the girls aren’t hearing out in this big, bad world: the truth,” Jost said. “They’re being deceived all of the time…they’re not being told anything, they’re just told to make an appointment over at Planned
Parenthood and kill their baby, that’s what it is.” But critics view facilities like Focus as manipulative. They argue that instead of offering well-rounded healthcare options, the facilities offer a limited perspective framed around shame, fear, and questionable advice, and they do so with little oversight. A bill passed by the New York State Assembly in April that’s under consideration by the Senate could change the situation. If enacted, the legislation would direct the state commissioner of health to conduct a study of so-called “limited services
pregnancy centers” in New York. “The way they are framed in our community as healthcare, or as community healthcare, really has been frustrating to say the least,” said Assemblymember Sarah Clark, a co-sponsor of the bill. “And if we’re going to do anything about it, we need to study it.” The study would evaluate whether the facilities use coercive tactics, fail to inform clients of the full scope of health care services available to them, and delay care for women, including abortions. The legislation would require the health commissioner
Mary Jost of Focus Pregnancy Help Center says her mission is to save lives. PHOTOS BY JACOB WALSH
to make recommendations for addressing any service gaps or negative effects resulting from the operation of pregnancy resource centers in New York. WHAT IS A PREGNANCY RESOURCE CENTER? Facilities like Focus go by many different names, including pregnancy help centers, pregnancy resource centers, and crisis pregnancy centers. They are often quasireligious organizations with the goal of deterring women from having abortions, regardless of circumstance. Some, like Focus, have no medical professionals on staff and can only offer pregnancy tests. Others, like CompassCare, which
has facilities in Rochester and Buffalo, have some medical staff on hand and offer limited medical services, which critics say are employed to discourage people from terminating pregnancies. Many pregnancy centers with medical staff, CompassCare included, offer ultrasounds and a controversial progesterone “abortion reversal pill” meant to counteract the abortive drug mifepristone. The pregnancy centers sometimes operate as a network of like-minded people and groups. For example, Focus owns an ultrasound machine, but Caring Choices, another local pregnancy help center, parks a van with the equipment in it in front of Focus and offers free ultrasounds to pregnant women, Jost explained. The
ultrasounds, Jost added, are more about showing a picture of the fetus to the mother and less about looking at the health of the fetus. “They’re trying to drive you to what they want, they’re trying to counsel you to keep the pregnancy, regardless of what you want as a patient or individual,” said Michelle Casey, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Western and Central New York. “They do ultrasounds, there’s nobody there with a medical license. For me, that’s a little creepy. From what people have said, they wear white coats, presenting as medical people when they’re not medical people at all.” Jost said her mission at Focus is to “save lives.” She believes there’s never a justification for abortion,
including in instances of rape or incest. She believes in abstinence, with the sole exception of a married man and woman having sex for the purpose of procreation. “Every life is created by God and every life is precious,” Jost said. “It’s selfish women that say, ‘I just wanted the sex, I didn’t want the kid, let’s go and take care of it.’ That is not what a woman does, she bears a child. We’re not asking her to raise a child, we’re just asking her to deliver a child.” Jost sees adoption as the alternative to abortion. Every abortion, she said, could have been a child who went to a “loving couple that would be glad to raise her child.” Clark, the Assembly member, took exception to that claim, arguing that there is already a massive gap in placement of children in New York. “Go to (Children Awaiting Parents) any day of the week and you’ll see hundreds of children waiting, particularly older children, that have been trapped in the system for years,” Clark said. “No one’s coming to help them, no one’s offering their time. Instead of standing outside Planned Parenthood being deceptive, why don’t you go to CAP and take on a child that doesn’t have anyone else?” In 2021, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services counted 21,544 children in the foster care system, 717 of which were in Monroe County. A BATTLE OF INFORMATION Critics of the centers have for years argued that the educational resources the facilities offer do not provide an accurate and encompassing view of reproductive and women’s health care. The proposed CONTINUED ON PAGE 10
pregnancy resource center study legislation would give the state health commissioner a charge to evaluate the “the nature of information given to clients or potential clients at pregnancy centers.” Many of the handouts Focus makes available employ religious dogma, cherry-picked medical statistics, shock, and fear tactics to address sex, contraception, birth control, and abortion. One pamphlet, which proclaims that “In the New Klan lynching is for amateurs,” features a cover cartoon of a doctor in a Ku Klux Klan hood. When opened, the pamphlet features a graphic image of an aborted fetus, with text describing Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s ties to the eugenics movement. It argues birth control and abortion are tactics to eradicate the Black population. A documentary offered to Focus visitors, “Maafa 21,” spends two hours arguing the same. Another pamphlet details a man wasting away from HIV as a likely consequence of having casual sex. Another states a man’s body is subject to autoimmune disease and cancer due to built-up sperm after a vasectomy. Yet another lays out prayers for atonement in the eyes of God for a woman who receives an abortion. Others argue against the efficacy of and preach the dangers of condoms, IUDs, and other safer sex practices. People familiar with pregnancy resource centers characterize these materials as a clear tactic to sway people in vulnerable situations. “They’re making sure they’re targeting areas with a large population of women of color, a large population of people in poverty,” said Lauren deLancey, a member of the Rochester Socialist Feminist Collective, a group which has advocated against pregnancy resource centers and keeps a running list of such organizations operating in the Rochester area. “There’s a lot of discussion they have about how to just get people in the door, so they can start that conversation of how abortion is wrong, abortion is evil, abortion is murder, the typical rhetoric of places like this,” she continued. 10 CITY JUNE 2022
Focus volunteers Betsy Goebel and Martha Malone organize baby clothes. PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
Focus collects donations of items ranging from baby food to books. PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
Jost, however, argued that Focus’s tactics aren’t manipulative and that Planned Parenthood has been the one guilty of coercing and manipulating women into abortions. Casey scoffed at that sentiment and said that when people come into Planned Parenthood regarding a pregnancy, they are given counseling sessions where all of their healthcare
options are laid out clearly. “There absolutely can not be any coercion,” Casey said. “The goal of counseling is to let our patients know what their options are, and let them choose based on their own values and life circumstances what they want to do that’s best for them.”
ROE V. WADE AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTHCARE Early in May, a leaked draft opinion from Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito indicated that the nation’s highest court planned to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade and 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions. The draft decision, if it stands, would eliminate federal abortion protections, making abortion a state issue. In 2019, New York enacted the Reproductive Rights Act, a package of laws that provides for the ability to get abortions up to the 24-week mark of a pregnancy. Clark believes that even if those rights are protected in New York, the state still has a way to go to ensure that reproductive healthcare, including abortion, is treated as healthcare. To get there, pregnancy resource centers need to be limited in how they can operate, she added. “This is a movement that has killed doctors, this is a movement that lives on scare tactics, that blows up clinics,” Clark said. “It’s painful.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 12
roccitynews.com CITY 11
Focus Pregnancy Help Center, across the street from Planned Parenthood on University Avenue, advertises free pregnancy tests in its storefront window. PHOTOS BY JACOB WALSH
Casey and Clark both believe that reproductive healthcare is still treated with some level of stigma, even in New York, which has liberal views on abortion compared to other states but has allowed pregnancy resource centers to keep a solid foothold. “You wouldn’t dissuade someone from coming in and getting the prostate cancer treatment they want, like, ‘Oh, Western Medicine is bad, you should just live with it and whatever happens happens,’” Casey said. “You just wouldn’t do that. It’s a pure manipulation and not letting people make their own decisions about their lives and health care, and it wouldn’t be accepted in any other place in medicine.” Both also emphasized that abortion and the rhetoric around it is not simply a moral litmus test for politicians, but a real issue with human lives on the line. Almost 12 CITY JUNE 2022
always, it involves a woman making a profoundly personal choice. Lindsay Weldon was 30 in 2015 when she made the trip home to Rochester by way of London. She was early into an unplanned pregnancy. Her first stop after arriving back in America was Planned Parenthood on University Avenue. She was on birth control at the time, but due to Crohn’s Disease,
she was unable to adequately absorb the pills, something she did not know about until visiting Planned Parenthood. She also was advised to take abortion pills after visiting a clinic in England, which also likely would have not worked due to her condition. Weldon, in the end, received a surgical abortion known as dilation and curettage (D&C for short), and had an IUD implanted. “It was probably the best healthcare experience I’ve had ever really,” Weldon said. “...They laid out all of the options: ‘Here is everything that can be done, here’s why some people do this, some people do this, we’ve looked at your health history, we can give you recommendations, but you can do whatever you want.’” Jost proudly calls herself “an extremist,” but said that does not mean Focus is a fringe resource. She
estimates that she sees about 200 women a month, although there is no way to tell how many are actually receiving counseling and how many are just taking donations. Casey, meanwhile, warned against dismissing the danger to public health posed by places like Focus. “I think it’s a very shame-based approach and that they convince women in a vulnerable time that what they are doing is not okay,” Casey said. “...Some people have an abortion and they don’t think twice about it, it’s an easy decision and it’s just matter of fact, and other people struggle with it. “The important thing is they make their own decision with it, without being manipulated.”
roccitynews.com CITY 13
Our parks, Olmsted’s legacy Words and photos BY LAUREN PETRACCA
his year marks the bicentennial of Frederick Law Olmsted’s birthday. The renowned landscape architect is perhaps best known for designing Central Park in New York City, but he is also responsible for the layout of six of Rochester’s green spaces. Rochester is just one of a handful of American cities with park systems designed by Olmsted, who completed around 500 commissions during his career, from parks to private estates and academic institutions. His creations reflected his belief that parks should promote a sense of community and be accessible to all people, regardless of economic status, who could share in the experience of interacting with nature within an urban environment. In Rochester, Olmsted urged city leaders to acquire land along the Genesee River, from which he crafted what he called an “emerald necklace” of parks and gardens. Today, 134 years after the inception of Rochester’s park system, whether patrons walk among the blooming magnolia trees in Highland Park, jog the trail system in Genesee Valley Park, or feed the ducks in Seneca Park’s ponds, they have Olmsted to thank.
Monica Ortiz and David Treu, of Greece, picnic in the shade at Highland Park.
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Autumn Arnold, left, and Kimberly Ward practice yoga at Highland Park. “Anybody can come here and enjoy this space together,” Arnold said.
roccitynews.com CITY 15
Madeline Hubert, a florist, arranges flowers for a photo shoot at Highland Park.
Nate Homan and Faye Romero birdwatch in Highland Park. Homan and Romero recently moved to Rochester from the San Francisco Bay area. “I am really grateful for the people who had the foresight to set these spaces aside,” Horman said.
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Sam Kelly wheelies on his dirt bike through the parking lot of Maplewood Park. Kelly and his friends use the park as a meeting spot before riding through the city.
Zero Walker, 10, talks with her dad and brother as they have lunch in a tent in Maplewood Park. “I wanted to bring the grill, but they wanted McDonald’s, so that was the compromise,” said her father, Alvin Walker.
roccitynews.com CITY 17
Heaven Murphy, 6, of Irondequoit, quacks like a duck as she feeds the geese at Seneca Park. “They’re so kind,” she said. “I think their quacks are saying, ‘Thank you.’”
People stop to take pictures of blooming magnolia trees in Highland Park.
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Shannon Strauss, a volunteer with Rochester Animal Services, walks Zinnia through Brown Square Park.
Christophe Simpson tosses a rugby ball while waiting for his weekly kickball game to start at Genesee Valley Park.
Helez, 7, and Theo, 6, traverse a dirt mound at Genesee Valley Park.
roccitynews.com CITY 19
IS BACK! I FEATURED ACT, PAGE 22
RANKY TANKY SC-based band celebrates Gullah culture with a modern twist on generations-old songs.
LOCAL SPOTLIGHT ACT, PAGE 24
MIKE COTTONE Rush-Henrietta grad and Eastman alum brings his take on authentic jazz back home.
t has been two long years since the Rochester International Jazz Festival infused the city’s East End with sound — from joyful jazz to swing staples and avant garde sonic experiments. But the festival is back with nine days of head-bopping, foottapping music. Before the pandemic, the event was estimated to draw upward of 200,000 people annually, making it the region’s largest festival by far. With that many people converging on downtown and the 325 shows in the lineup, you could be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed. But fear not, hepcats. This guide was built with you in mind. We’ll help you navigate parking, ticket booths, and introduce you to the best of the best must-see shows.
FEATURED ACT, PAGE 26
NYCHILLHARMONIC A band that began as a joke has now played five continents with a roster of 400 musicians.
IN THIS GUIDE YOU’LL FIND: MUST-SEE SHOWS: Our team of music writers curated a list of the daily shows that should be on your radar, from the big-name headliners, to critically-acclaimed traveling acts and the obscure but unmissable.
LOCAL SPOTLIGHT, PAGE 28
SPOTLIGHTS: Our spotlights include a mix of feature stories about far-flung acts and performers with roots in Rochester.
The Fairport native brings her indie-pop ukelele sound to the MLK Park Stage.
LOCAL SPOTLIGHT, PAGE 30
THE 411: What is there to do? Where do I go? How much will I spend? Where the hell do I park? Where are the bathrooms?
We’ve got you covered.
The Eastman grad trumpets his way back to Gibbs Street.
20 CITY JUNE 2022 2022
GET EVEN MORE JAZZ
Headliner shows this year are free events held at the City of Rochester Midtown Stage at Parcel 5. Each day of the festival will feature three acts at Parcel 5 at 5, 7, and 9 p.m.
Pets, coolers, and food.
SPEVAK ON THE STREET
WXXI Arts & Life Editor Jeff Spevak will be reporting (and living) all nine days of the RIJF. You can catch him at wxxinews.org, @wxxinews, and on WXXI-AM (1370) and WRUR-FM (88.5).
* All shows go on rain or shine. * Food and beverages are available at all outdoor stage venues. * Bring lawn chairs or stools. CLUB PASS SERIES The Club Pass series gives access to 196 acts across 11 smaller venues and clubs. The Jazz Festival offers two options for club passes: a three-day pass and the traditional nine-day pass, which gives a concert goer access to every act at every venue for the duration of the festival. A three-day pass runs $194, plus taxes and service fees. A nine-day pass runs $244, and typically sells out quickly ahead of the festival. Be advised, seating at the Club Pass events are on a first come, first served basis. Get there early if you want a seat. Doors to every Club Pass show open 30 minutes before the start of the performance. If you don’t have a Club Pass, tickets for every show run $30, save for Kilbourn Hall Shows, which are $35. The Big Tent shows at 6 p.m. are free.
All venues are handicapped accessible. Accessible portable bathrooms for those attending outdoor shows are located: * Outside the RIJF Club Pass Big Tent on East Main for people attending shows in the tent. * The Kilbourn Hall alley, between Gibbs and Swan streets. * For Friday and Saturday free shows at MLK Park.
Many routes run until midnight or 1 a.m., making an evening out without the hassle of parking an easy option. * Visit myRTS.com for more information and to download the Where’s My Bus? app for real-time bus arrival info on your smartphone from Google Play and the App Store.
* Near Midtown Stage on Parcel 5,
FIRST AID TENT
all nine nights.
On Jazz Street near E. Main Street. * Masks are available at no charge.
BIKE RACKS You may park your bike in racks located in the parking lot of the RIJF Big Tent at the corner of Main and Chestnut Street. RTS BUS ROUTES * Rochester’s East End can be directly accessed from several east side transit routes, including 31 Park, 33 Goodman, 38 East Main, 48 University and 57 East. * The East End is a short walk from the RTS Transit Center, where all bus routes stop.
PARKING Street parking will likely be scarce. Parking for all East End events can be found in the East End garage at the corner of East Avenue and Scio Street. Additional parking can be found in the Washington Square Garage (111 Woodbury Blvd.) and the NYSUT lot (30 North Union St.). Daily parking at the East End and Washington Square garages is $7.
If a little walking isn’t out of the question, additional parking can be found at the Sister Cities Garage (28 North Fitzhugh St.), Midtown Garage (270 East Broad St.), and the South Avenue Garage (39 Stone St.). These garages charge $2 an hour, up to $10. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The Rochester International Jazz Festival’s official website is rochesterjazz.com. On site, you can visit the Jazz Ticket Shop and Info Center at 100 East Ave. The website also includes maps, schedules, and additional information to help navigate the festival.
roccitynews.com CITY 21
RANKY TANKY’S GULLAH MUSIC IS GONNA GETCHA SOUTH CAROLINA-BASED BAND CELEBRATES GULLAH CULTURE WITH A MODERN TWIST ON GENERATIONS-OLD SONGS.
BY JIM CATALANO
ong known for its eclectic programming, the Rochester International Jazz Festival explores new musical terrain in its lineup this year with the addition of Ranky Tanky, the South Carolinabased band that celebrates the region’s Gullah culture with a 22 CITY JUNE 2022 2022
modern take on generations-old songs alongside originals that both pay tribute to and push forward the tradition. Songs such as “Kumbaya” and “Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore,” which have long been staples of the American folk-music canon,
originated from the Gullah culture, which is based in the Sea Island region of the southeastern United States. (The word “Gullah” comes from West Africa and means “a people blessed by God.”) The four core musicians of Ranky Tanky — trumpeter
Ranky Tanky performs two days at the festival: at 6 and 9 p.m. on June 18 at the Eastman School of Music’s Kilbourn Hall; and at 7:45 and 9:45 p.m. on June 19 at the Hyatt Regency Rochester Ballroom. The shows are included in the Jazz Fest Club Pass. Paid admission to each set is also available for $30 on June 18 or $35 on June 19.
Charlton Singleton, guitarist Clay Ross, bassist Kevin Hamilton, and drummer Quentin Baxter — met at the College of Charleston in the mid-1990s, and then formed a jazz band, Gradual Lean, in 1998. They eventually split to pursue other projects but reconvened in 2016 at Ross’s behest to explore the Gullah traditions of their native state. Singleton, Hamilton, and Baxter have Gullah lineage. With the addition of singer Quiana Parler — a fellow Charlestonian who has appeared on “American Idol” and performed with Clay Aiken, Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, and others — Ranky Tanky was born, taking its name from a Gullah phrase for “get funky.” “We’d all been making music, slugging it out with other bands, and had been lucky enough to earn a living,” Ross said in a recent interview. “But then we formed this band, and really quickly things started to click. It was kind of like early in our career and late in our careers at the same time.” In 2017, the band released its self-titled debut album, which made it to No. 1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart and garnered critical acclaim. Downbeat magazine reviewer Bobby Reed wrote of the work: “Whether Ranky Tanky is unleashing a high-energy dance number or carefully sculpting a lullaby, such as ‘Go To Sleep,’ the music always feels fresh. This band can take tunes from yesterday and make them sound as lively and relevant as 21st-century electronic beats.” Ranky Tanky’s second release, “Good Time,” won a 2019 Grammy Award for “Best Regional Roots Album,” which Ross called a “mind blower.” Ross described Ranky Tanky’s music as providing several entry points for listeners, from the accessible lyrics to the blend of
traditional Gullah influences with jazz, funk, R&B and gospel. “I like to think of it as deceptively complex — there’s so many layers to this music,” he said. “You can really latch on to it, and it feels very familiar. But there’s a complexity in what’s going on underneath and the rhythmic dialogues that we’re having in the way that we’re improvising on stage, even in the context of this very specific musical language. And I think that’s what’s fun about it for us as the artist, and then that joy carries over to the audience.” The band has an educational component to its mission, but it’s a subtle one, according to Ross. “We just want people to have fun and enjoy great music,” he said. “That said, people in the audience are going to have some ‘Aha!’ moments where they realize what Gullah is, and how Gullah has informed and inspired so many of the musical styles that we know and love today — from rock and roll to jazz to country music. Gullah as a very specific African diaspora music in the Americas has played an important role in the bigger conversation of American music, so we share that and we connect those dots.” Ross noted that Ranky Tanky’s sound continues to evolve. “We’re like a different band than we were four years ago — it’s unreal,” he said. “I’m always doing new musical projects, and that really brings into focus how far we’ve come with Ranky Tanky in terms of developing a group sound, and working within a really specific vocabulary as a group. “For a lot of my favorite groups, that’s really what it’s all about. It’s not necessarily about any individual in the group — it’s about the vibe that the band is able to create as a whole.”
MUST-SEE SHOWS FRIDAY, JUNE 17
RICHIE & ROSIE Little Theatre, 7 and 9:15 p.m. Veterans of the Ithaca and Trumansburg scenes, Richie Stearns and Rosie Newton found an instant kinship when they decided to form a duo. Despite the minimal elements — two voices, Rosie’s fiddle, and Richie’s banjo or tenor guitar — they manage to create a full sound both on stage and in the studio. A mix of old-time standards, covers such as Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You,” and originals fill out their excellent two albums, 2013’s “Tractor Beam” and 2017’s “Nowhere In Time.” Admission: $30 or a Club Pass.
Kilbourn Hall, 6 and 9 p.m. Comprising stellar vets of the 1960s jazz scene — Billy Harper, Cecil McBee, George Cables, Eddie Henderson, and Billy Hart — along with a couple of players from the next generation — David Weiss and Donald Harrison — the Cookers carry on the spirit of the post-bop era with their sublime instrumentation, telepathic interplay, and fiery improvisation honed by their 250-plus years of collective experience. They’ve released five albums, including “The Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart,” which was named iTunes top jazz album of 2016. Admission: $35 or a Club Pass. JC SATURDAY, JUNE 18
CALIFORNIA GUITAR TRIO Innovation Theatre, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. It can be hard to pin down what the California Guitar Trio is up to beyond the fact that, yes, they are a trio playing guitars. In what style? What indeed. Whether they are playing Bach, surf rock, jazz, Pink Floyd, or venturing into other territories, you’re generally guaranteed to hear some hypnotic soundscapes, amazing technique, and a preternatural sync-ed up connection between these three musicians, whose collaboration grew out of Robert Fripp’s Guitar Craft courses in the late ’80s. The trio’s music has built a following around the world and even traveled (with the crew of space shuttle Endeavor) out to the stars. They touch down in Rochester for two shows at the Innovation Theater on the first night of the fest. Admission: $30 or a Club Pass.
DEVON ALLMAN PROJECT Midtown Stage at Parcel 5, 9 p.m. The son of Gregg Allman, Devon didn’t meet his father until he was 16. But the talented singer-guitarist has shown that he’s more than capable of carrying on the family tradition by forming bands such as Honeytribe, Royal Southern Brotherhood, and the Allman Betts Band before circling back to his own eponymous project, which blends songs from the Allman Brothers and Gregg Allman with choice covers and Devon’s soulful originals. Admission is free. JC CONTINUED ON PAGE 25
roccitynews.com CITY 23
MIKE COTTONE COMES HOME WITH A “THANK YOU”
BY DANIEL J. KUSHNER
ochester native and jazz trumpeter Mike Cottone is a soloist at heart. Despite bolstering his career as a top-flight touring musician — having performed with legacy acts such as Don Henley, Bette Midler, and Blood, Sweat & Tears, as well as crossover sensation Postmodern Jukebox and Iranian pop singer Ebi — Cottone sounds most at home floating smooth melodies over his own compositions and arrangements. Now based in Los Angeles, the Rush-Henrietta High School graduate and Eastman School of Music alum returns to the Rochester International Jazz Festival on June 20 to play tasty soul, R&B, and funk tunes sprinkled with a jazz sensibility at the Innovation Theater. His sets are sure to include selections from the 2020 album “Thank You,” a culmination of the cool and composed sound he’s honed over his career. Long before “Thank You,” Cottone, now 37, studied at Eastman under a trio of teachers — jazz professor Clay Jenkins, RPO Principal Trumpet Douglas Prosser, and then-doctoral student Denver Dill — who helped him 24 CITY JUNE 2022 2022
find his tone and musicality. “Clay warmed up my sound, Doug Prosser made it ring, Denver Dill made it all easy,” Cottone says. At Eastman, Cottone says he learned authenticity as a jazz musician, not only through playing with technical proficiency, but by understanding the historical struggles that made Black American music what it is and allowing it to inform his performance. But Cottone also notes that Eastman’s curriculum stuck strictly to traditional repertoire. “Playing something like a Marvin Gaye tune wasn’t the norm at Eastman,” he says. Cottone’s arrangement of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” made famous by Gaye, is a slow-burning highlight on “Thank You.” It wasn’t until he went to pursue his master’s degree at The Juilliard School in New York City that he began to perform music that wasn’t part of the accepted jazz canon. “Do you want to appeal to an audience that’s already small and relatively closed-minded, and give them all the gratification of being able to tell you whether you’re a good enough
musician or not? You’re picking the hardest path possible,” Cottone says of playing music that caters only to traditional jazz die-hards. In addition to originals such as the appropriately named “Funky Sam” and the hot jazz-meets-funk of “98.6 Degrees F,” Cottone’s latest album features ’60s and ’70s hits such as “Killing Me Softly” and “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay.” Cottone says he made a conscious decision about the songs he chose for “Thank You.” On his debut album, “Just Remember,” Cottone recalls writing songs with melodic hooks he believed in, but coming up with off-thecuff solos was challenging. Now he prioritizes songs that feel good to play in front of a live audience, and not just whether a tune sounds good. “Is it going to make it feel like I have handcuffs on or is it going to let me be free?” he asks. “And I think that’s why many times I like playing everyone else’s music because I don’t have any emotional attachment to it necessarily. And I can just play the way I want to play.”
* MUST-SEE SHOWS GUITAR
MARTIN TAYLOR Max of Eastman Place, 6:15 and 10 p.m. When Jeff Beck says a guitarist can out-shred him, that’s a big statement. Jazz guitarist Martin Taylor has a totally different sound from Beck’s dirtied-up blues-driven licks, instead employing a laid-back sound with songs propelled by arpeggiated chords and precisely plucked scales. Taylor’s technical prowess is accompanied by artistic vision — he doesn’t just play notes, he builds melodic tension and then gives the listener a release at just the right moment. In addition to the performances at Max of Eastman Place, Taylor is scheduled to perform at 6 and 10 p.m. on June 19 at Montage Music Hall. Admission: $30 or a Club Pass. JC STEELY DAN
BAD SNEAKERS RIJF Big Tent, 8:30 and 10 p.m. “More than just a band” — that’s how one documentary described Steely Dan, and its oddly enduring appeal, mixing yacht rock, jazz harmonies, ironic lyrics, and studio sophistication. It’s also a fitting appellation since the constellation of top-notch studio and session musicians who play on their songs have been a major part of the sound, beyond core members Donald Fagan and Walter Becker. A baker’s dozen of local musicians have formed a new tribute to “The Dan” called Bad Sneakers, and the line-up includes saxophonist Bill Tiberio, as well as members of Hard Logic, Prime Time Funk, Goodness, and The Klick. They’re taking the band out for a test run at Lovin’ Cup on June 4th, and then will be reelin’ in the Danfans to the big tent at the fest. Admission: $30 or a Club Pass. MS SUNDAY, JUNE 19 GUITAR JAZZ
BILL FRISELL TRIO Temple Theatre, 7 and 9:15 p.m. A frequent performer at the festival, Bill Frisell has won fans around the world with his sophisticated yet accessible guitar style. His deep jazz roots are seamlessly ingrained into his original compositions and also allow
him to put his unique stamp on pop and Americana standards from the past 60 years. He’ll be joined by drummer Rudy Royston and bassist Thomas Morgan for this year’s appearance. Admission: $30 or a Club Pass. JC
TOMMY EMMANUEL Midtown Stage at Parcel 5, 9 p.m. Guitar nerds will salivate over this free performance by Tommy Emmanuel, a heralded Australian fingerstyle guitarist generally considered one of the all-time greatest practitioners of the technique. Expect a mind-altering demonstration of acoustic guitar prowess stretching the boundaries of rock, jazz, and bluegrass. GF MONDAY, JUNE 20
RAVI COLTRANE FREEDOM TRIO Innovation Theatre, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. There are few names in jazz that carry more weight than Coltrane. But saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, scion of music legends John and Alice, has forged his own path. Over the course of six studio albums as band leader, Coltrane has continued the legacy of lightning-fast licks and complex chord progressions his father used in helping canonize as bebop music, while also cultivating his own smooth yet sultry tone. Coltrane will be joined by bassist Nick Jozwiak and drummer Savannah Harris. Admission: $30 or a Club Pass. DANIEL J. KUSHNER SOLO GUITAR
ANDY MCKEE Midtown Stage at Parcel 5, 7 p.m. Fans of mid-2000s guitar YouTube will instantly recognize Andy McKee as the player behind “Drifting,” a piece of instrumental guitarwork where McKee uses his six string as a mix of a drum, melody instrument, and bass in tandem which has racked up over 60 million views. McKee was an early adopter of an innovative style of fingerstyle guitar playing made popular alongside other artists on Candyrat Records, which incorporates plenty of tapping, harmonics, and a hefty dose of aweinspiring “How did he do that?” This is a free show. GINO FANELLI
VOCAL & PIANO JAZZ
LISA FISCHER WITH TAYLOR EIGSTI Temple Theatre, 7 and 9:15 p.m. Spotlighted in the 2013 doc “Twenty Feet from Stardom,” Lisa Fischer is best known for contributing her powerhouse vocals to the Rolling Stones for 26 years of touring; she’s also worked with Tina Turner, Sting, Nine Inch Nails, and Luther Vandross. But in recent years, she’s focused on new projects, such as her Afro-Caribbean soul-prog band, Grand Baton, and creating a symphony show. She’ll be accompanied by versatile jazz pianist Taylor Eigsti, who just won a 2022 Grammy Award for best contemporary instrumental album for his album, “Tree Falls.” Fischer also provided vocals for Eigsti’s latest project, “Imagine Our Future.” Admission: $30 or a Club Pass. JC CONTINUED ON PAGE 27
roccitynews.com CITY 25
NYCHILLHARMONIC PUTS JAZZ ON THE ROCKS THE BIG BAND THAT BEGAN AS A JOKE HAS NOW PLAYED FIVE CONTINENTS WITH A ROSTER OF 400 MUSICIANS.
BY JEFF SPEVAK
reconceptions can be killers. “I think people see us billed as a big band,” says Sara McDonald, the creator of NYChillharmonic. “And obviously, that evokes a very specific idea of what it’s going to look and sound like.” How did this collective of 18 musicians look and sound to the audience at the Perth International Jazz Festival? This music from the mind of a woman who grew up on the twittering Icelandic vocals of Bjork and the deafening hammer of Nine Inch Nails? How did this kind of jazz, this kind of metal, this kind of techno,
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look and sound to the reviewers? “It was like, ‘It was good. But this was weird,’” McDonald says. “I was like, ‘I don’t know if this review was good or terrible or what?’” Now it’s our turn. The Brooklyn-based band plays June 18, the second night of the Rochester International Jazz Festival. NYChillharmonic’s two shows that night are part of the Global Jazz Now series at Glory House International, a room that festival regulars will remember under its previous name, the Lutheran Church of the Reformation. And this is jazz under a different name as well.
“It’s obviously not the jazziest thing in the world,” says McDonald, the group’s songwriter and singer. “But I also think that’s a pretty, at least in my opinion, ambiguous term at this point. Unless you’re really talking about, like, straight-ahead jazz.” “Surface Tension,” the first track from the band’s self-titled 2019 debut album, is the mission statement. It slides from a shimmering minimalist opening, something like Philip Glass, to a chiming pop as McDonald’s vocals move in. As the piece unfolds, there’s a lot going in there, the music caroming from understated
* MUST-SEE SHOWS to energetic, then back again. McDonald concedes that the group’s very name — NYChillharmonic — suggests a tongue-in-cheek attitude. A band that was supposed to be a oneoff music moment, but has now played on five continents, joined along the journey by an estimated 400 musicians. She now takes this project very seriously. “And while it started as a joke, now it’s like, you know, there’s some name recognition associated with the group,” she says. This difficult to categorize outfit suits McDonald’s finelytuned sense of showmanship and chaos. “Oh, there has to be a lot happening at once,” she says. “Like, I really kind of function in this organized chaos state of being and it’s like there are so many moving parts all the time.” Growing up in a musical family, McDonald started performing in plays at 6 or 7 years of age. By the time she graduated from high school she estimates she’d appeared in 30 or 40 musicals. She had a high-school rock band as well. A graduate of The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, McDonald was also a recipient of the ASCAP Foundation’s Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award. She was covering a lot of territory in a short time. “To me it was the norm,” she says. A run-on sentence of norm. “Like OK, every time there is a concert there is a million people here and there are a million things and it’s like you have to rehearse and learn all this music and everybody plays a part,” she says. “And each part is so integral to the overall, to the overall production and outcome and experience.” McDonald is similarly musically scattered, managing a dual career as musician and artist manager. “So my whole life is literally just managing people and crisises,” she says. “Crisis, if you will, including my own.” NYChillharmonic didn’t emerge fully formed, it’s been an evolution. “I wrote the first song when I
Orleans-style jazz and more modern pop sensibilities, along with some goofy theatricality, as in “Jestern” - their jazz recreation of an old western movie. Admission: $35 or a Club Pass. MS TUESDAY, JUNE 21 PIANO/COMBO JAZZ
ANA EGGE PROVIDED PHOTO
was 22, and I’m 31 now,” she says. “So really, just trying to find out what worked.” It works like a complex piece of machinery: The components are rhythm section, horn section, string quartet, synthesizers and McDonald’s lead vocals. After releasing a debut album, COVID slowed the band’s progress. New songs have been trickling out as single releases. And they’re sounding heavier than the band’s earlier work. “Mean” is a complex, assertive prog piece. The lyrics — “You’re so mean to me” — are not a conversation between two people, but an internal conversation in one person’s head: Split yourself to let me see All the wars you’ve been hiding Hold my eyes open and scream “You’re so mean to me” Good or terrible or what? If this is a jazz band, it’s on the rocks. In a good way. “In the beginning, everyone was like really timid,” McDonald says. “Myself included, I couldn’t even make eye contact with people because I just didn’t have the confidence in myself or confidence in the project.” But now? McDonald describes her band as “a little beast,” and one with a dual purpose: as dance band, and listening experience. “I think writing lyrics in general is weird and hugely personal,” she says. “Whether or not you intend for it to be, because other people will expect it to be.”
Little Theatre Roots & Americana Series, 7 and 9:15 p.m. Ana Egge caught my attention because of her backstory. When she was a teenager she built her own guitar and then moved to Austin to pursue music. DIY or die, am I right? I’m not well-versed in the world of Americana so it’d be futile to try to rattle off comparisons, but I know Neko Case and Emma Ruth Rundle and can confidently say that fans of those two will want to check this show out. Egge’s captivating voice and catchy guitar melodies have a lovely sadness to them that will hook you quickly. Admission: $30 or a Club Pass. JEREMY MOULE
HELEN SUNG QUARTET+ WITH GUEST VIOLINIST SARA CASWELL Wilder Room, 6 and 10 p.m. Whether holding forth as part of the Mingus Big Band, playing wild solo sets, or jamming with her quartet, pianist Helen Sung always has something interesting to say in her music. Her latest project adds strings to the mix, drawing in part on her early experience studying classical violin. Sung will be bringing this music to Rochester with jazz violinist Sara Caswell joining her quartet. The musicians will perform their take on works by fellow notable women of jazz - Geri Allen, Mary Lou Williams, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Carla Bley, and Marian McPartland (Helen Sung will also play solo at Hatch Recital Hall the next night). Admission: $30 or a Club Pass. MS JAZZ TRIO
THE PICKLE MAFIA
SAMMY MILLER AND THE CONGREGATION Kilbourn Hall, 6 and 9 p.m. Generosity, community, and joy — those are the aims of this seven-piece band led by Juilliard-trained Miller on drums. They’re all excellent players (who can also sing pretty harmonies when they put down their horns), and it’s hard not to smile as you hear them play music that draws on elements of old New
Avangrid Foundation / RG&E Fusion Stage, 7 and 9 p.m. Pickle Mafia’s track “Driving Down Lake Avenue” mixes a lively blend of piano, bass, and drums that definitely conjures visions of Rochester drivers careening down that long, heavily traveled road. It also makes me think of the title credits to a ’70’s movie — though not one in particular — that opens with a main character riding the bus or scurrying through busy city streets. These locals play catchy as hell high-energy jazz that doesn’t relent, a style that is made for the stage. The show is free. JM CONTINUED ON PAGE 29
roccitynews.com CITY 27
JULIA NUNES BRINGS HOME THE BACON, AND THE BACON BROTHERS BY JEFF SPEVAK
t took Julia Nunes six years to go from strumming her ukulele while sitting on her bed at Skidmore College to sitting in a chair next to Conan O’Brien on the set of his late-night talk show. That long indie-fan fueled journey for the Fairport native, which began in 2007, comes back home June 24, when she opens for The Bacon Brothers for a free show on Parcel 5 at the Rochester International Jazz Festival. Nunes’ career has spanned seven albums of often quirky songs, driven by a savvy use of social media. She first caught fire while playing her uke in her dorm room, covering songs by familiar acts such as The Beatles and Destiny’s Child and posting them on YouTube. Some of her versions on the platform have soared beyond a million views. Her YouTube channel has over a quartermillion subscribers. Nunes has opened previously for The Bacon Brothers, the acoustic project headed by the actor Kevin Bacon and his brother, Michael. She’s also opened for Ben Folds and Ben Kweller, played the Bonnaroo Arts & Music Festival twice, chatted with David Dye on NPR’s “World Café” and toured England twice, which included being interviewed on BBC1. Nunes runs on a do-it-yourself ethos. Her loyal fan base donated $77,888 through Kickstarter to fund her fourth album, “Settle Down,” which went on to No. 9 on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart. Subsequent YouTube campaigns pulling in $134,403 and $71,025 backed her next two albums. Videos have also been a part of Nunes’ story. “Stay Awake,” the song she performed on O’Brien’s show, features her walking through an office, impishly playing tricks on sleeping employees, then performing for a sleeping audience. As her songs have grown less cute, and more challenging, so have her videos. Now living in Los Angeles, Nunes identifies as queer, and the video for “No Sudden Moves” features her luxuriating with another woman in a bathtub filled with glass beads. The video accompanying “Dear Ben” is awash in pink imagery — balloons, flowers, candy hearts — as she issues a gentle warning, very heavy on a prime obscenity, that Ben had better not try any romancing with her again.
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* MUST-SEE SHOWS
BRUBECK BROTHERS QUARTET Hyatt Regency Ballroom, 7:45 and 9:45 p.m. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more appropriate band to host the Dave Brubeck Centennial Celebration — as the sons of the legendary pianist, Chris (bass, trombone) and Dan (drums) Brubeck have ably carried on the family tradition for decades, both with their father, and since 2012, their eponymous quartet that also includes guitarist Mike DiMicco and pianist Chuck Lamb. Their latest album is “TimeLine,” which includes a modern spin on their dad’s standard, “Blue Rondo a la Turk.” Admission: $30 or a Club Pass. JC
SHEILA E. City of Rochester Midtown Stage at Parcel 5, 9 p.m. She’s played with Prince, Madonna, and Beyoncé, scored movies with Hans Zimmer, and toured with Marvin Gaye and Ringo Starr, and beyond all this Sheila E. has become a star in her own right. She knows how to lay down a groove, sing with soul, and her presence on stage is electric. In addition to her pop success, Sheila E. has her roots in jazz, turned out a few country hits, and recently has released her first foray into salsa. All hail the queen of percussion: she holds court out on Parcel 5 in one of the coolest (free) shows at this year’s fest. MS VOCAL SOUL JAZZ
EMMALINE WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22 VOCAL JAZZ
SAMARA JOY Max of Eastman Place, 6 and 10 p.m. If you’re not already one of her thousands of followers on Instagram or TikTok, let me happily introduce you to Samara Joy. Fans of jazz vocal greats like Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald should especially take note. This young phenom has been surrounded by singing all her life, but only found her way to jazz a few years ago at the age of 18. She’s dug deep into the genre since then, winning the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2019, releasing her self-titled album just last year, and touring internationally. Joy’s voice is warm and expressive, her taste and timing impeccable, and she has an incredible range and sensitivity in her singing. The lines for shows at Max of Eastman Place have been intimidating in the past, but I’ll brave them to hear Samara Joy sing live. Admission: $30 or a Club Pass. MS
Hyatt Regency Rochester Ballroom, 7:45 and 9:45 p.m. The daughter of a jazz pianist, Emmaline Campbell draws inspiration from jazz, R&B, and classic soul on her independently released EPs, “All My Sweetest Dreams” and “Necessity.” Now 23, the singer has harnessed social media to build a fan base of nearly half a million followers since 2018. She’s recorded with fellow Cincinnatian Bootsy Collins, performed with Postmodern Jukebox — the video of her sultry take of Jessie J’s Domino” has garnered more than a million views — and opened for Chaka Khan. No wonder that Galore.com called her “a mix of old Hollywood and her modern self, with a little bit of glam and a cool tempo.” Emmaline is also scheduled to perform in the Big Tent at 8:30 and 10 p.m. Thursday, June 23. Admission: $30 or a Club Pass. JC CONTINUED ON PAGE 31
roccitynews.com CITY 29
NABATÉ ISLES TRUMPETS HIS WAY BACK TO GIBBS STREET
BY JEFF SPEVAK
aybe if Nabaté Isles had developed a better jump shot, you wouldn’t be reading this. Those junior-high dreams of playing basketball faded long ago, although the Manhattan-based trumpet player and Eastman School of Music graduate has nevertheless carved out a presence for himself in the sports world. He’s done public-access broadcasts, production work for ESPN, and has his own podcast, “Whe’re They At,” in which he’s interviewed sports figures such as George Foreman, and even sports fan Chuck D of the hip-hop icons Public Enemy. But it’s the music that matters for Isles at the Rochester International Jazz Festival, with two shows June 21 at Max of Eastman Place. His résumé is an array of top names in the industry, including Jill Scott, Dianne Reeves, The Mingus Big Band and dozens more. He’s composed music scores for a handful of short films. His debut album, “Eclectic Excursions,” is a collage of 25 disparate genres
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and musicians, ranging from bassist Christian McBride to rapper Elzhi. Isles has been a part of three of McBride’s Grammy-winning albums, and was with McBride’s band when it played the Obama White House. Isles even had a hand in the acclaimed HBO series “Treme.” He taught the actor Rob Brown, in his role as Delmond Lambreaux, how to play the trumpet. Or, at least, how to look like he was playing it. Like a film director who allows actors the space to express themselves, Isles says musicians must have room to work as well. Because musicians are actors, and music is storytelling. “If an actor reads a line, and they say a line,” Isles says, “you can say it in different ways, the director encourages the actor to say it in different ways. Because you never know, that could be a better way than what is in the script.” As that analogy tells us, Isles is a fan of films as well. He’s Bogart with a horn. “I think feeling, and expression, that really means a lot to me,” Isles says. “I really focus on sound and tone.”
And sometimes, social issues. Isles wrote a piece, “Same Strife, Different Life,” a reflection on racism and oppression. The opening movement is trumpet, drums, and the clatter of slave chains. For the Rochester gigs, Isles will be accompanied by guitarist David Gilmore, keyboardist Mike King, bassist Eric Wheeler, and drummer Eric Carlin. Isles was an Eastman student from 1995 to 1999. During that short period, he says, he witnessed a dizzying evolution in the music business. And that emphasis was toward the business end. When he arrived as an Eastman freshman, this thing called the internet was just arriving. Napster was alive, record labels were dying. “It’s all about, we have to be able to know how to promote ourselves,” Isles says. Master the business end, so the musician can devote more time to what matters. “Because,” Isles says, “you want to focus more on the art at the end of the day.”
* MUST-SEE SHOWS THURSDAY, JUNE 23 CLASSIC SOUL
BOOKER T’S SOUL STAX REVUE Midtown Stage at Parcel 5, 9 p.m. Booker T Jones’ tasty Hammond B3 organ parts fueled dozens of classic songs for Stax Records, and he’ll be showcasing hits such as The MGs’ “Green Onions” and Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” in his free Soul Stax Revue, which comprises a 10-piece big band with three lead vocalists, a three-piece horn section, and an in-the-pocket rhythm section along with Jones offering personal anecdotes to set the stage for each song. (By the way, the “T” stands for Taliaferro, which you probably never knew.) JC
LIONESS Innovation Theatre, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. A New York City-based instrumental band, Lioness has the mission to “inspire and educate the community at large by sharing music created by women in jazz, both past and present.” The current lineup includes Alexa Tarantino, alto saxophone; Jenny Hill, tenor saxophone; Lauren Sevian, baritone saxophone; Amanda Monaco, guitar; Akiko Tsuruga, organ; and Sylvia Cuenca, drums. The band’s 2018 debut, “Pride and Joy,” reaped acclaim from various publications, and the collective continues its outreach through concerts and workshops around NYC. Admission: $30 or a Club Pass. JC FRIDAY, JUNE 24 THE MUSIC OF PRINCE
NEW POWER GENERATION
BIG LAZY Montage Music Hall, 6 and 10 p.m. With a penchant for twang, reverb, and minor keys, guitarist Stephen Ulrich has made his instrumental trio Big Lazy a staple of the downtown NYC scene since the late 1990s. With evocative melodies — sometimes lyrical, often ominous — and incorporation of influences ranging from surf, blues, and spaghetti westerns to vintage jazz, pop and country, it’s no surprise that his songs have been picked up for NBC’s “Homicide: Life on the Streets,” HBO’s “Bored To Death,” and other shows and films. Big Lazy also plays Friday, June 24, at Little Theatre, at 7 and 9:15 p.m. Admission: $30 or a Club Pass. JC
Midtown Stage @ Parcel 5, 9 p.m. There will only ever be one Prince and the late artist’s influence on musicians of all stripes can never be quantified. But his music and talent can certainly be celebrated and who better to do it than members of his old backing band, all of them outstanding musicians in their own right. Prince’s former keyboardist and musical director Morris Hayes got the band back together so you know this lineup is going to be good. The band will perform hits from Prince and the New Power Generation, such as “Diamonds and Pearls,” as well as some of his solo hits, including “1999,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” and of course “Purple Rain.” This is a free performance. JM PERCUSSION
JONATHAN SCALES FOURCHESTRA Montage Music Hall, 6 and 10 p.m. In the right hands, steel drums are as musical as any harp. In the right ensemble, they are sublime. When Jonathan Scales gets behind the steel pans, he brings out every harmonic nuance they have to offer, making them blend in like a string section or using them to cut through the pulsating, tightly controlled backing band. The Jonathan Scales Fourchestra
might be one of the most interesting and atypical acts to hit the stage at this year’s Jazz Fest. Admission: $30 or a Club Pass. JM
songs from Manhattan Transfer, Tom Waits, and Carla Bley as well as his own originals. Admission: $35 or a Club Pass. JC JAZZ SAXOPHONE
BOBBY RUSH Hyatt Regency Rochester Ballroom, 7:45 and 9:45 p.m. Bobby Rush has been on stage playing and singing the blues in one form or another since he was a teenager in the 1940s. Recognition for his efforts has been sporadic, but it seems that longevity, and constant creativity — and a bit of unapologetic zaniness — have paid off over time. You may have caught Rush as part of Scorsese’s documentary “The Blues,” or seen him performing in the movie “Dolemite is My Name,” but these performances are the chance to hear this minor legend in person, with his funky approach to the blues. MS SATURDAY, JUNE 25 VOCAL JAZZ-FUNK-HIPHOP
KURT ELLING’S SUPERBLUE FEATURING CHARLIE HUNTER Kilbourn Hall, 6 and 9 p.m. One of jazz’s most acclaimed singers, Kurt Elling teams with producerguitarist Charlie Hunter and drummer Corey Fonville and bassist-keyboardist DJ Harrison (both of Butcher Brown) in SuperBlue to conjure a gumbo of raucous funk and topical lyrics. His distinctive, dynamic vocal style — which can range from crooning to recitation to scat — adepts well to the variety of grooves and beats driving
Temple Theatre, 7 and 9:15 p.m. After New York Times chose Immanuel Wilkins’ 2020 debut “Omega,” as its top jazz album of the year, the saxophonist and composer didn’t rest on his laurels. His ambitious second album, “The 7th Hand,” is an hour-long suite comprising seven movements in which the musicians seek transcendence to become vessels for the music. “Each movement chips away at the band until the last movement — just one written note,” explained Wilkins. “The goal of what we’re all trying to get to is nothingness, where the music can flow freely through us.” Wilkins will be joined by Micah Thomas (piano), Rick Rosato (bass), and Kweku Sumbry (drums) for his Jazz Fest appearance. Admission: $30 or a Club Pass. JC BLUES SAXOPHONE
VANESSA COLLIER Big Tent, 8:30 and 10 p.m. Winner of the 2022 Blues Music Award for “Contemporary Blues Female Artist,” Vanessa Collier has released four albums that showcase her talents as a saxophonist, singer, and songwriter that melds blues, rock, soul, and funk influences into a seamless whole. She has shared the stage with Buddy Guy, who called her “amazing,” and toured with Joe Louis Walker for two years before striking out on her own as a band leader. Indeed, she’s at her best on stage, winning fans at festivals across North America with her passionate performances. Admission: $30 or a Club Pass. JC FOR A FULL LIST OF SHOWS VISIT ROCHESTERJAZZ.COM
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INSIDE WXXI PUBLIC MEDIA | WXXI-TV PBS AM 1370/FM 107.5 NPR l WXXI CLASSICAL WRUR-FM 88.5 l THE LITTLE THEATRE
Monday, June 20 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV Life is full of joys and challenges for us all — but the experiences of individuals living with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) is something that not everyone understands or appreciates. A Good Life, a WXXI production, takes an intimate look into the lives of six adults living with I/DD and their families. The film shares the challenges they face, as well as the opportunities while offering insight from leading national experts and historians in the field.
Roommates Amy and Katie enjoying some time together.
A Good Life was produced in conjunction with Move to Include, a partnership between WXXI and the Golisano Foundation designed to build a more inclusive community by inspiring and motivating people to embrace different abilities and include all people in every aspect of community life.
Peter stringing lights for his holiday display.
Brought to you by:
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WXXI TV • THIS MONTH True Colors: LGBTQ+ Our Stories, Our Songs
Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness
Friday, June 10 at 8:30 p.m. on WXXI-TV Celebrate Pride Month with music from Indigo Girls, Billy Gilman, Morgxn, Peppermint, Jujubee, Alexis Michelle, Trey Pearson, Breanna Sinclairé, André de Shields, and more along with real-life stories of hope hosted by Harvey Fierstein.
Monday, June 27 and Tuesday, June 28 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV Ken Burns presents a film by Erik Ewers and Christopher Loren Ewers that explores America’s mental health crisis through the eyes of more than 20 young people and the providers, advocates, family, and friends who support them. Photo: Yanerry, one of the young people featured in the film. Credit: Courtesy of Christopher Loren Ewers
Photo: (L-R) Maestro Luke Frazier conducts the American Pops Orchestra with Peppermint, Jujubee, and Alexis Michelle. Photo Courtesy of Kevin Parisi
The Great American Recipe
Jon Stewart: The Mark Twain Prize Tuesday, June 21 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV Join us as we honor the comedic talents of Jon Stewart, this year’s recipient of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The prize is given to individuals who have impacted American society in ways similar to Twain. A star-studded lineup, including Samantha Bee, Steve Carrell, and Jimmy Kimmel, pays tribute to Stewart’s political satire and activism from the stage of the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Credit: Courtesy of the Kennedy Center
Fridays at 9 p.m., beginning June 24 on WXXI-TV Join host Alejandra Ramos and judges Leah Cohen, Tiffany Derry, and Graham Elliot as ten talented home cooks showcase signature dishes, share heartfelt stories and compete to win the national search for “The Great American Recipe.” One of the home cooks is Irma Cadiz, who was raised in Rochester and now lives in NYC. Irma’s cooking is rooted in the Dominican and Puerto Rican food she grew up eating. Her signature dish is Mofongo con Camarones, which is a popular Caribbean comfort food made from mashed plantains and shrimp. Photo: Irma Cadiz, Credit: Courtesy of PBS/VPM
Meet WXXI’s Tashanda Thomas
What’s your favorite part of the job? I would say two highlights are calling a candidate and offering them a job and hearing the excitement in their voice, and being a trusted resource to staff during times of need.
Who is one person who inspires you and why? Tashanda is WXXI’s Chief Human Resources Officer. She was recently named one of the Rochester Business Journal’s 2022 Women of Excellence honorees in recognition of her professional experience, community involvement, and a commitment to inspiring change. We had the chance to ask Tashanda a few questions about herself. Here are her answers.
Any person who has overcome adversity and those who pay it forward and build up their community.
What are three things you can’t live without? Family/Friends, phone, and travel
What is the last book you read? Just As I Am by Cicely Tyson
What do you like to do in your spare time? Self-care: massages, facials, and shopping — there’s nothing wrong with a little retail therapy. roccitynews.com CITY 35
TURN TO WXXI CLASSICAL FOR MUSIC PERFECTLY TUNED TO YOUR DAY
An African American Requiem Sunday, June 19 at 1 p.m. on WXXI Classical The world premiere of African American composer Damien Geter’s “An African American Requiem” was performed on May 7, 2022 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, OR. This 20-movement work, based on the traditional Latin requiem liturgy, infuses spirituals as well as texts from Civil Rights activists Ida B. Wells and Jamilia Land, memorializing the lives of Black Americans lost to racial violence. Performed by Resonance Ensemble, the African American Requiem Choir, Kingdom Sound Gospel Choir, and the Oregon Symphony, all under the baton of William Eddins. Co-hosted by Suzanne Nance and Terrance McKnight. Pictured: Damien Geter, Credit: Rachel Hadiashar
Apollo’s Fire presents Vivaldi’s Four Season’s Rediscovered Tuesday, June 21 at 2 p.m. on WXXI Classical On this first day of summer, Grammy Award-winning early music ensemble Apollo’s Fire teams up with Spanish violin virtuoso Francisco Fullana for a presentation of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Known for bringing early music like Vivaldi’s masterpieces to life, Apollo’s Fire seeks to present musical storytelling as the composer intended. Photo: Applo’s Fire, Provided
Support public media. Become a WXXI Member! The Sound of 13 Weekdays at 3 p.m. on WXXI Classical starting Monday, June 20 Host Garrett McQueen engages the contemporary and historical conversation of race with the 13th Amendment and classical music as the guide. Garrett is a bassoonist who has performed with orchestras across the country, including the Knoxville Symphony, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Today, Garrett works as a producer of digital and broadcast media. Pictured: Garrett McQueen, Credit: Nate Ryan/MPR 36 CITY JUNE 2022
Whether it’s television, radio, online, or on screen, WXXI is there with the programs, news, and information — where you want it and when you want it. If you value PBS, NPR, PBS Kids, WXXI News, WXXI Classical, and so much more, consider becoming a member. Visit WXXI.org/support to choose the membership that works for you. There are many giving levels with their own special benefits, including becoming a sustaining member.
AM 1370, YOUR NPR NEWS STATION + WRUR-FM 88.5, DIFFERENT RADIO
The ARC of Justice Sundays, June 12-26 at 9 p.m. on AM 1370/FM 107.5 For every dollar of wealth owned by the average U.S. white household, the average Black household has ten cents. The ARC of Justice, grounded in the scholarship of prominent African American economist and Duke University Professor William Darity Jr., explores how that racial wealth gap came to be. The three-part series focuses on the roots of the racial wealth gap in U.S. policy. Prof. Darity is joined by folklorist and artist A. Kirsten Mullen. Photo: William Darity Jr and A. Kirsten Mullen, Provided
Music 101 Sundays at 10 a.m. on WRUR 88.5 Host Margot Chobanian explores how music and history both affect one another while highlighting topics like the Wrecking Crew, banned and censored songs, the Civil Rights Movement, CBGB’s, the Hammond organ in rock, and much more. Every week, Margot highlights a different chapter in music history, bringing you songs you love and the stories behind them.
Witness: Pride Month Sunday, June 5 at 9 p.m. on AM 1370/FM 107.5 Hear remarkable stories of LGBT+ rights, told by the people who were there. You’ll learn about the fight for trans rights in Indonesia, the lesbian separatists in Washington D.C., and an activist who stormed the office of a Côte d’Ivoire newspaper, to protest against their depiction of LGBT+ people. roccitynews.com CITY 37
240 East Ave thelittle.org
7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 4 Celebrate Prince’s birthday in style at The Little. There won’t be purple popcorn (we tried, it’s more difficult than it seems), but there will be purple punch! Tickets now available at thelittle.org. About the movie: A victim of his own anger, the Kid (Prince) is a Minneapolis musician on the rise with his band, the Revolution, escaping a tumultuous home life through music. While trying to avoid making the same mistakes as his truculent father (Clarence Williams III), the Kid navigates the club scene and a rocky relationship with a captivating singer, Apollonia (Apollonia Kotero). But another musician, Morris (Morris Day), looks to steal the Kid’s spotlight, and his girl.
Black Cinema Series: “Miss Juneteenth” 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 10 Tickets, plus a trailer at thelittle.org A hit from the Virtual Little, debuts on the big screen. The Black Cinema Series and The Lost Year film series present “Miss Juneteenth.” About the movie: A former beauty queen and single mother prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the Miss Juneteenth pageant.
8 p.m. Saturday, June 11 Tickets and full Saturday Night Rewind lineup at thelittle.org Wear your finest prom attire, and head to The Little for a throwback 1980s classic. Unfortunately, there is no valet parking for your time-traveling DeLorean.
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About the movie: A small-town California teen Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is thrown back into the ’50s when an experiment by his eccentric scientist friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) goes awry.
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REVEL IN THE DETAILS
Adam Eaton, center, surrounded by members of Rochester Artist Collaborative, an organization he founded in 2019 to help artists of color find work. PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
PICTURING SELF-WORTH Photographer Adam Eaton emphasizes the beauty of Blackness and bolsters other creatives of color. BY REBECCA RAFFERTY
dam Eaton is focused on spotlighting beauty. This drive is present in his photography, which is largely portraiture that draws on fashion influences, and emphasizes the rich radiance of people of color — and specifically the diversity of his own community. In Eaton’s images, which range from headshots to moody poses, his subjects confront the viewer with steady, confident gazes, or look away with inward expressions, arms wrapped gracefully around themselves. “I see the beauty of people that 40 CITY JUNE 2022
maybe they don’t recognize, or maybe the society that we live in discriminates against, because the beauty standards of the world are leaning towards white people,” Eaton said. “Black people, our communities don’t feel that they are as beautiful as they truly are, because of our culture. I think that’s what I like about portraiture — I can make people feel beautiful.” His work has gained the attention and respect of other local photographers and art patrons alike, and has earned him collaborations with
organizations such as Geva Theatre (for an audioplay festival) and a solo show in the studio of prominent photographer Richard Margolis. But Eaton wants to share the spotlight with other creatives of color, and he’s using his connections to gather resources and opportunities for those who don’t have access to either. “Many of my artist friends were letting me know how difficult it was to be an artist in Rochester, a full-time working artist,” Eaton said. “And in the past few years, I’ve learned that artists
need connections to opportunities or resources to be able to be successful.” While there are opportunities, he said, many artists of color aren’t in the circles of people who are offering them or even discussing them. That’s why he founded the Rochester Artist Collaborative in 2019. In addition to Eaton, who is the director, RAC is run by studio assistants Rajae Barnes-Wright and Zayan Garba, as well as Christopher Harris, who handles the accounting. The group provides hundreds
of local artists with information about artist opportunities such as grants, residencies, and job postings through a regular newsletter, and access to donated art supplies like canvases, paint, and drawing materials. Members who are photographers or videographers can access a shared workspace in the Anderson Arts Building in the Neighborhood of the Arts. The space, called the Creators Lab Photo Studio, is about 800 square feet with both good natural light and photo studio lighting, soft boxes, stools, props, and backdrops. Photographers need only bring their clients and their cameras. The Creators Lab also has a program for artists to receive one-to-one tutorials on lighting with local experts in studio photography, including photographer Luke LaPorta. “My job as director is to be able to find people who are interested in supporting local artists and also funding these opportunities,” Eaton said. “That’s a big part of what I do with my personal art — it seems like the community connects with me as a photographer. So I use whatever influence I can garner from that to be able to help other artists in the community.” Eaton said a private donor has pledged to give $200,000 to the Creators Lab, which he said will pay employee salaries and fund equipment, scholarships, and micro grants for local artists. By Eaton’s count, there are currently 20 Rochester Art Collaborative members that use the studio, most of whom pay $250 a month for the privilege. Five artists are supported through a scholarship provided by local advertising agency Helen & Gertrude, which has donated nearly $15,000 to the collaborative in the past year specifically to boost women artists of color. “We’re working on getting fully funded so that all the artists that want to use this space can use it for free, or for an even more reduced cost,” Eaton said. Photographer Jackie McGriff, 33, is a portrait photographer who received a scholarship. “Having access to that studio has allowed me to do work that I’m not able to do anywhere else,” she said, citing the problems with Rochester’s unpredictable
Adam Eaton’s work is about uplifting Black beauty and sense of self. PHOTO PROVIDED
weather, and the benefit of having a professional space to bring clients. She said that on-site resources like equipment and books on posing models, and opportunities for grants and classes are also benefits of the space. McGriff feels that efforts like Eaton’s to assuage racial inequity are necessary. “As far as the photography industry goes, I’ll just say it plainly, there’s a lot of white faces, there’s not a whole lot of diversity in terms of who we shine lights on,” she said, adding that disparity ranges from hiring practices and pay rates for professionals of different races to access to space, resources, exposure, and connections to opportunities. Eaton is nothing if not driven.
He talks of one day opening an art center with multiple studios for all types of artists. Looking over his portfolio of work, which includes a 2021 set of portraits titled “Black is Beautiful,” it’s hard to believe that the 29-year-old artist began creating photographs just three years ago. Eaton grew up on Lenox Street, off Genesee Street, and attended high school in Penfield through the UrbanSuburban program. “My mom thought that would be a big priority because of the disarray at the Rochester City School District,” he said. “And I really believe that did help me — Penfield had a great art program.”
He attended Monroe Community College and studied the liberal arts, but dropped out due to anxiety and depression. “I never necessarily wanted to become an artist,” he said. “But for years, I dealt with this depression, and anxiety, and just feeling hopelessness, some suicidal ideas. Because for a long time, I really felt that Rochester was really small. I think because of the racism and discrimination in the community, you feel kind of isolated, like the city is not for you.” He found motivation in his despair. He said he began to think seriously in 2019 about how good making art made him feel, and decided to start something with the tools available to him. He began creating photos of his friends with his iPhone and posting them to social media. “People started telling me how much they liked what I was creating,” he said. Shortly thereafter, he received a professional camera from a supporter as a gift, and photographer Scott Hamilton taught Eaton about studio lighting and how to control light. “It’s been great to be on that journey with the community and be connecting with different people,” Eaton said. “Without the community and the connection it would not have been possible for me to be an artist.” Eaton is gentle and thoughtful in his demeanor, but he is also frank about the problems he is doing his best to offset. “Rochester has been notoriously. . . just racist,” he said. He added that it’s what he sees as casual racism that impacts people the most, like Black artists and young creatives in underserved neighborhoods being overlooked for jobs and other opportunities. But he has also seen and experienced the good in people, and takes that just as seriously. An unflappable hope is a prominent part of Eaton’s character. “Lots of people are connecting with us,” he said. “And we’re just trying to grow the awareness to give all artists of all scopes and all mediums the opportunity to be able to have access to those resources.” Learn more at adameaton.com and rochesterartistcollaborative.com.
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OUT OF THE SHADOWS
Comedian Penny Sterling rehearses “Someone No One Can See,” a show with PUSH Physical Theatre that explores a turning point in her early life. PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
PENNY STERLING IS OUT TO BREAK HEARTS The comedian teams with PUSH Physical Theatre to tell her personal story. BY KATHERINE VARGA
magine being a teenager who feels misunderstood by the world, especially your parents. You pick up an album because its minimalist black cover with a triangle prism appeals to you. The cover is so cool that the music could be polka for all you care, but it’s not: it’s a rock album about feeling isolated. As you put on your headphones and listen to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” you think maybe you’re not alone in feeling like someone no one can see. Now imagine that decades later, you get to put that moment on stage, surrounded by dancers from PUSH
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Physical Theatre. Penny Sterling, who joins PUSH to tell her story in “Someone No One Can See,” describes the experience as both amazing and heartbreaking. The dancers, she says, use “desperate and longing movements that encapsulate my internal dialogue in ways words can’t describe.” Sterling is a comedian, writer, and performer whose work often centers on her experiences as a trans woman. She spent most of her life hiding her true self, even from herself, before transitioning in her mid-50s. Her show plays at Blackfriars Theatre from June 3 through 12. Darren Stevenson, cofounder of
PUSH, conceived of the collaboration after seeing Sterling at a TEDx Rochester conference speaking about the power of storytelling and becoming entranced. Sterling asked her audience to consider the story of why, at a sold out event, people stood in the back while seats in the front row were empty. Perhaps people felt nervous sitting so close to the speakers. As a trans woman who doesn’t have the luxury of blending in with the crowd, she said, she always opts for the front row. Sitting there, she explained, means not having to watch people turn their heads to stare at her. “She just had the room,” Stevenson says. “You could hear a pin drop.”
Stevenson went up to Sterling after the talk to congratulate her — and to be upfront. “I don’t understand you,” he recalls telling her and adding that he wanted to better comprehend her experience. “It isn’t fair that trans people are dying because of transphobia,” he says. “I don’t need to understand very much to agree with that.” Stevenson rejects the notion that collaborators must fully understand each other to work well together. “All it requires is we both have an open hand.” When he held out his hand to Sterling, she accepted. “Someone No One Can See” mixes
Penny Sterling says PUSH dancers’ “desperate and longing movements” capture thoughts and feelings of isolation that she could not put into words. PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
movement and spoken word, including poetry, as it jumps through scenes in Sterling’s childhood and adult life. Some memories, such as the last time she wore a dress as a child, will be familiar to audiences of her one-woman show “Spy in the House of Men.” But now these moments are reimagined with four PUSH performers representing what it’s like to be inside her mind. Those familiar with Sterling as a comedian might be surprised by this show’s serious tone. She says this is the least funny she’s ever been on stage, though that doesn’t mean the performance lacks levity. She says she usually uses humor to give the audience a chance to catch their breath between more emotional stories, but expects that the movements from PUSH will “affect people with the beauty and amazement, which are also things that lighten spirit.” Neither she nor Stevenson expects their audiences to be experts on the subject of life as a trans woman. “You don’t need to agree with us here,” Stevenson says. “The question I want to ask is: ‘Should we kill Penny?’ I think most rational people would say, ‘Well, no.’ Should we, by inaction, allow her to live her life in risk of death or injury at the hands of others? That’s the reality she faces.” Sterling responds with a quip: “I’m not sure I’m ever gonna die. Partly because I never finished anything.” Joking aside, Sterling says she uses storytelling not to change minds, but feelings, because feelings ultimately impact choices.
“The feeling is ‘transgender people terrify me,’” she says. “The behavior is ‘I don’t want to be around them’ and the choice is to try to limit them.” She tries to emphasize commonalities she has with other women, trans people, and even men. “We’re just people trying to live our best lives,” Sterling says. “Everything that’s difficult about being transgender has nothing to do with being transgender and everything to do with the way people react to us. The sad part is, ‘everybody else’ includes the legal system and the medical professions.” The amount of energy Sterling and other trans people must spend justifying their authentic selves can be frustrating. “She’s got all this stuff to say about parenting, about decades of life and wisdom gained and generated, but she’s not really allowed to do any of that because she’s forced into this position of saying ‘I have to keep explaining this thing,’” says Stevenson. Not that Sterling minds being many people’s “Trans 101” crash course. “I’ve always wanted to perform,” she says, “to help people to learn, to get people to think and to feel and to laugh and find joy.” She says she hopes to break some hearts with her show with PUSH. By that, she means the shield that transphobic people “put over their heart that allows them to hate and hurt people.” “The only way you can possibly get them to stop doing that is to break their hearts,” she says, “and that’s what I try to do.”
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NEW MUSIC REVIEWS
“KAREN” BY VIV SOUND If being unable to get a manager to honor expired coupons doesn’t arouse a miffed spirit in a typical Karen, then an anthem that exploits the tantrums of these over dramatic women known as Karens and asks them “Why are you so mad?” will definitely brew up some sentiment. The name at hand rose in popularity during the 1960’s, when it was the thirdmost favored name for baby girls. It can be traced back to biblical times and in Hebrew is defined as “Ray” — as in ray of sunlight. Today, the name holds a much different value — maybe even a lesser value — since in recent years it has become a phrase used to shame a
woman, generally a Caucasian woman, for using her white privilege to dominate circumstances in a way that best suits her emotions and potential gain.
opens with and comprises the phrase “I like Uncle Jimmy, more than I love my daddy / He would take me fishing, we would smoke a fatty.”
On April 18, John Viviani of Viv Sound released a single titled “Karen,” which received nearly 7,000 streams in just a few short weeks. This tune might leave one intended audience — Karens — feeling a little flustered, and the other intended audience — victims of Karens — overjoyed to be able to trigger the first.
Indeed, repetition is a key arrow in Dowd’s quiver. In the organ-driven basher “Ladies,” the lines “Where have all the ladies gone?” “Where have they gone?” and “Ladies!” are repeated over and over. “Dolomite Redux” is propelled by a catchy “Hot pants! I need a spanking!” chant. And the creepy “Shack” concludes with more than a dozen “Walk with the zombies” that pile up on each other as the song fades out.
The song also offers a touch of humor as it portrays a Karen trying to orchestrate her hissy fit routine. She is met with a little push back from Viv, who sings “I know you’re used to getting your own way, but I ain’t having that shit today.” The classic Karen quotes, “Can I speak to the manager….I’m calling the police,” can be heard in the song near the end. Viv sings “Karen, Karen, why are you so mad?” I asked Viviani what inspired the song. “I would say the song is inspired by my own true feelings,” he said. “I personally haven’t had a face-to-face Karen experience. I like songs that are topical and it just seemed like an easy song to write as I thought about how someone might feel when confronted with a Karen in the real world. The song started with the first few lines of the song (lyrics first) and the rest of the song took shape pretty quickly and easily after that.” You can listen to “Karen” on Spotify under Viv Sounds.
And another former Dowd bandmate, Kim Sherwood-Caso, returns to trade vocals and provide harmonies on several songs to great effect, particularly on “Call Me The Wind” and “Gone.”
Dowd, who just turned 74, shows no signs of slowing down. He’s already got more music in the can, he’s releasing monthly singles through his bandcamp page (johnnydowd1.bandcamp.com), and he’s added folk art – postcards, downloadable cards, mobiles, and shadow boxes – to his creative output. You can find out find about all of that at his website johnnydowd.com.
No matter the musical setting, the core components of Dowd’s distinctive style have remained consistent over the years. His drawling vocals — which sit somewhere between singing and talking — deliver his occasionally foreboding, sometimes sentimental lyrics with authority, quickly catching the listener’s ear.
Johnny Dowd will perform at Abilene Bar and Lounge June 10-12, opening for Amy Lavere and Will Sexton’s three-day residency at the club. Advance tickets for each show are $15, and are available online at abilene.showare.com.
He’s a master of the opening couplet. “Rick Ross” leads off with “Cut out my heart, fed it to my dog / My dog’s name? God!” And “Uncle Jimmy”
— JIM CATALANO
CROSSWORD PUZZLE ANSWERS PUZZLE ON PAGE 62. NO PEEKING!
— GEARY ANN LEWIN
“HOMEMADE PIE” BY JOHNNY DOWD Since the mid-1990s, Ithaca’s Johnny Dowd has occupied his own niche in the Americana scene, releasing a string of excellent albums that showcase his dark lyrics, inimitable voice, and blend of country, folk, blues, and rock influences. His latest album, “Homemade Pie,” released on his own Mother Jinx Records label, continues that trend, drawing inspiration from Dowd’s early influences — particularly the garage bands of the 1960s — for the fuzzy guitar riffs and pumping organ lines that drive many of the songs. Most of them are supplied by Dowd’s longtime bandmate Michael Edmondson, who knows just how to support the songs without dominating them. Unlike his recent albums, which were full of drum machines and often-dense electronics, “Homemade Pie” relies on live drums, played by former Dowd bandmate Brian “Willie B” Wilson, giving the tracks a more organic feel and sound. 44 CITY JUNE 2022
H O M E
O W E
R M A
H O M A
W H O
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G M A 80
2022 KENNY CHESNEY
WITH SPECIAL GUEST CARLY PEARCE
FITZ & THE TANTRUMS ST. PAUL & THE BROKEN BONES
JASON ISBELL & THE 400 UNIT AND SHERYL CROW
THE BLACK CROWES
TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND
roccitynews.com CITY 45
Bill Whitney has overseen the planting of some 15,000 daffodil bulbs in a corner of Mount Hope Cemetery where he and his husband, Mykel Whitney, plan to be buried. PHOTOS BY MAX SCHULTE
Daffodils have been called the self-cleaning oven of the gardening world. They need little care and they naturally reproduce annually. 46 CITY JUNE 2022
More than 160 people are buried in “The Kettle,” a natural land depression in Mount Hope Cemetery that Bill and Mykel Whitney have beautified with landscaping and 15,000 daffodil bulbs and counting.
RANDOM ROCHESTER BY DAVID ANDREATTA
THEY CALL HIM ‘THE DAFFODIL MAN’ OF MOUNT HOPE CEMETERY Bill Whitney puts the saying ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ to the test.
he epitaph etched in the headstone waiting for Bill Whitney and his husband Mykel Whitney in Mount Hope Cemetery reads “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” The phrase is of course the title of the famous poem in which Robert Frost evoked the changing seasons as a metaphor for the fleeting nature of all that is beautiful, pure, and precious. But to see the landscaping the Whitneys have done around what will be their final resting place, in a circular recessed area of the cemetery known as “The Kettle,” is to wonder whether the couple is trying to put the metaphor to the test. Over the last three years, Bill has overseen the planting of some 15,000 daffodil bulbs, by his estimation and that of others, cultivating an Instagrammable halo of gold that rings their plot and those of its departed neighbors for a few precious weeks in the late spring. “I want to go everywhere,” Bill said of his daffodils, pointing an outstretched arm toward the horizon of the 196-acre cemetery. “I mean, I can’t get enough bulbs.” The project belongs to the couple, but it is really Bill’s baby. He is a landscape architect by profession who built and maintained gardens for residences and businesses in and around Boston early in his career, and has been doing the same in the Rochester area for the last quarter century through his company, Whitney Designs. Bill, 72, took his inspiration from the time he spent as a younger man gardening in Nantucket. The Cape Cod town explodes with daffodils each year and celebrates the irrepressible beacon of spring with even more zeal than Rochester does its lilacs. Indeed, he dreams of hosting a daffodil celebration. “What I’m hoping is that we’ll be doing a Daffodil Weekend here at Mount Hope and people will come to see the daffodils, and that’ll tie right into the Lilac Festival,” Bill said.
The daffodil has been called the self-cleaning oven of gardens. They need almost no care and they reproduce like rabbits. Even the most cursed greenthumbs can plunge a daffodil bulb into 4- to 6-inches of soil in the fall, cover it up, and find a flower come spring. Most bulbs produce one to three stems in their first bloom. But they multiply in consecutive years, and a mature bulb can produce as many as 20 flowers perennially. It should perhaps come as no surprise that a plant so intoxicated with itself bears the botanical name “narcissus,” after the handsome boy of Greek mythology who was so taken by his own reflection that he pined after it until he died. Bill’s love affair with the daffodil is decidedly less destructive. But he acknowledged that his devotion to the plant and its proliferation throughout the cemetery is an obsession. He said he is in his corner of the cemetery after work on most days and on weekends. If he isn’t planting daffodils, he’s planting ferns or other flowers, like anemones and rhododendrons, or raking leaves in the fall. “I want this to become like a little fantasy,” he said of his surroundings. Much of his time, though, has been spent restoring the walls of the “The Kettle” to meet the vision of the original designer of the cemetery, Silas Cornell. The Kettle, a natural depression formed by glacial ice melt, was tiered in the early days of Mount Hope Cemetery in the 1840s. Over the decades, the layers eroded and, until Whitney assumed oversight of it four years ago, the walls had smoothened like a funnel. Today, The Kettle has three tiers, each of which is blanketed in daffodils and linked by concrete staircases. The Whitneys estimated they have spent upward of $5,200 on flowers and the stairs. “I’ve been known as ‘The Daffodil Man,’ ‘The Keeper of the
Kettle,’” Bill said with a laugh. “They have different names all over the place.” The Whitneys are quick to point out, though, that they have had a lot of help along the way. Most of the 15,000 daffodil bulbs were donated, they said, either by the city or nurseries. While Bill may be the primary workhorse of The Kettle, he has been assisted by dozens of volunteers, from members of the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery to would-be Eagle Scouts and the McQuaid Jesuit High School football team. “Bill’s enthusiasm is infectious,” said Patricia Corcoran, president of the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery, a nonprofit organization that aims to restore and encourage the public use of the cemetery. The fruits of their labors in The Kettle moved the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery to plant 1,000 daffodil bulbs last fall at the entrance of the cemetery’s main gate. They bloomed in April, and now, Corcoran said, they want to plant 5,000 more this year. “That’s what Bill does,” she said. “He makes dreams not dreams anymore. They’re, ‘Hey, we can do this.’” Bill was born in 1950 into a potato farming family in Lincoln, Maine, a small town about 60 miles west of the border with New Brunswick, Canada, and where the motto is “Come for the lakes, stay for the lifestyle.” His mornings as a youth were spent
cutting seed and preparing them for planting on his family’s 50-acre farm. His favorite part, he said, was seeing the potato plants flower. A potato field in bloom is a sight to behold. The uninitiated could be forgiven for being unable to imagine a plant so beautiful producing something so prosaic as a potato. So glorious is the plant that the area celebrates it with an annual Maine Potato Blossom Festival, where it crowns a “Potato Blossom Queen,” who the locals call “Little Miss Potato.” Neither the lakes nor the potato farming lifestyle was enough to keep Bill in Lincoln, though. He got degrees in horticulture from the University of Maine and, later, landscape architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design, and set about his career. While gardening on Cape Cod, he met Mykel, who hails from the Rochester area and described himself as having been Bill’s “assistant on and off for 30 years.” They married in 2005 in Provincetown, Mass., and live in Rochester. The couple said they bought their plot at Mount Hope Cemetery in 2018, after handling funeral arrangements for Bill’s mother prompted them to consider where they might rest in peace. Although cemetery records show that about 160 people have been buried in and around The Kettle, most of the deaths were so long ago that the area and the graves had become neglected. But Bill saw its potential. On their headstone, opposite Frost’s famous quote about beauty being ephemeral, are the Whitneys’ names and birth years under the inscription: “Loving Husbands.” So can gold stay? “Well,” said Bill, who is looking to plant another 5,000 daffodil bulbs this fall, “we’re going to keep trying to keep going here. Yes.”
roccitynews.com CITY 47
THE ROC CITY SKATEPARK
CASEY THESING, 38
ALVIS “THRASHER” RODRIGUEZ, 26
JAZIERE BAKER, 23
NICK PARLET, 36
LINDSAY “PEACH” SANDERSON, 31
TRAVIS SMITH, 21
GREECE, 8TH GRADE TEACHER “I started skating in August 2017. My daughter was riding her bike in the driveway and my in-laws had an old skateboard in their garage and I just started standing on it.”
WEBSTER, PLUMBER “[The skatepark is] built right. Even out in Buffalo, they build them, but not this nice. That bowl is something crazy that we got.”
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ROCHESTER, DISHWASHER “I call myself ‘Thrasher’ because I like to thrash. I’m a big fan of Thrasher Magazine and thrasher videos.”
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN, TATTOO ARTIST ASSISTANT “I traveled here from Michigan. I’m on my way to New England but I mapped out my trip to stop here for the skatepark.”
ROCHESTER, DINOSAUR BAR-B-QUE HOST “I come like once or twice a week. It’s pretty lively, pretty friendly also. Everyone helps each other out.”
GATES, FURNITURE BUILDER “I’ve been waiting for this place for 15 years… As soon as this place got built, I found my little friend group and we’ve pretty much formed into a family.”
PHOTOS BY LAUREN PETRACCA
INTERVIEWS BY DAVID ANDREATTA
We chatted with skateboarders, rollerskaters, and BMXers at Rochester’s sweatiest hangout.
SCOTT HAAG, 31
MEKO FLOWERZ, 23
KEANU PAGANO, 21
JASON SCOTT, 18
JONAH SIEGEL-EDELMAN, 28 LUCCA SIEGEL-EDELMAN, 1
LIANA TORIC, 20
BRIGHTON, HOME INSPECTOR “I try to come here every day. It’s like a family vibe. Like, I know everybody here except a couple of random people.”
ROCHESTER, EAST H.S. GRADUATE “My favorite move is a heel flip. It’s like a kick flip but the other way. It’s harder. It’s what I’m known for.”
ROCHESTER, MODEL “I can jam skate, street skate, park skate. I’ve skated through water before. I’ve off-roaded on my skates. My skates are so busted up my boots are coming off the frame.”
ROCHESTER, CHEF AT LOCALS ONLY “He loves when he hears all the skateboarding happening. All the click and clack of the deck hitting the ground and the grinding on the coping of the trucks. He likes to see all the movement and stuff. It’s pretty good stimulation for him, I’d say.”
OXNARD, CALIFORNIA, RIT STUDENT “I really like airing and 180-ing. It just feels timeless and you’re stuck in that motion and then you come right back down.”
PENFIELD, RESTAURANT SERVER “I always wanted to skateboard ever since I was a little kid, but I was always very intimidated because it’s very male-dominated.”
roccitynews.com CITY 49
QUEEN OF STATE STREET BY DAVID ANDREATTA @DAVID_ANDREATTA DANDREATTA@ROCHESTER-CITYNEWS.COM
new restaurant has opened on State Street in downtown Rochester. That in and of itself is worth noting because signs of entrepreneurial life don’t surface every day — or even every year — on that downtrodden stretch of downtown. But the fact that Queen J’s Diner is an honest-to-goodness greasy spoon with outsized portions and undersized prices makes its presence in the city’s core that much more worth highlighting. The diner opened in late March in the spot formerly occupied by El Sauza Mexican Restaurant near the intersection at Allen Street. You could be forgiven for missing it, though. For most of the spring, Queen J’s was obscured by fencing, pylons, and backhoes that were part of a seemingly never-ending Rochester Gas & Electric rewiring job that tore up State Street and stymied foot traffic. At night, when Queen J’s is closed, the place can look abandoned because its long red, white, and blue sign spanning the storefront is dark. Make no mistake, though, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays, Queen J’s is alive with comfort food from a no-frills menu and a character in the form of Mary Hallford, 63, who answers to “Queen J” and takes nothing from nobody except meal orders. “I paid the sign guy $1,500 for a sign that lights up,” Hallford said. “He put up the sign, the lights don’t work, and he took off. I’ve been trying to get him on the phone.” Hallford explained that her nickname stems from her middle name of Joyce and the fact that she’s the boss and the monarch of her family. She’s a mother to four adult children, including a daughter in the Air Force. “She’s a boss, like her mom,” Hallford said. “The fruit don’t fall too far from the tree.” But the diner is Hallford’s first foray into business after decades of working for other people — serving and hosting in restaurants, from the former upscale Manhattan Restaurant on East Avenue to McDonald’s — and cleaning houses. “I always just dreamed,” she said. “I was the one in the back dreaming: One of these days I’m going to have my own restaurant.” Calling Queen J’s a “greasy spoon” isn’t a knock. While the term was once reserved for restaurants with unsanitary silverware, it now distinguishes neighborhood joints with short-order grills from eateries with menus as thick as phonebooks. Nothing at Queen J’s is greasier than any other restaurant. That goes for the silverware, which is plastic and comes in a sealed baggie with a napkin, and the food. Her breakfast sandwich is stacked tall with two eggs made to order and bacon or sausage on a buttered bun. At a mere $4, it feels like a steal. But letting one crumb from that heaping pile of perfection fall anywhere but into your mouth would be the real crime. I could go on about Hallford’s tasty Queen Omelet with home fries infused with peppers, onion, and spices for $8.50, or her filling two-patty Royal Cheddar Burger for $8. 50 CITY JUNE 2022
Mary Hallford opened Queen J’s Diner at 163 State St. in downtown Rochester after decades of working for others. “I always just dreamed,” she said. “I was the one in the back dreaming: One of these days I’m going to have my own restaurant.” PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
The egg and cheese sandwich at Queen J’s Diner comes with bacon or sausage for $4. PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
CHOW HOUND COMPILED BY REBECCA RAFFERTY
The Royal Cheddar Burger at Queen J’s Diner comes with two juicy patties for $8. PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
But what you look for in a diner like this is not cookery. There is nothing chichi about Queen J’s, either on the menu or in the atmosphere. The walls are painted gray and purple — intended to convey royalty — and adorned with posters of movies and celebrities that speak to Hallford. Her favorite is “A Bronx Tale.” She got misty talking about little Calogero and the life lessons he learned about wasting talent from his workaday father and gangster mentor. Then she turned to an image of Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart raising a glass in a toast. “That right here,” she said of the poster, “is to let people know, listen, anybody can come in here.” That’s what you look for in a diner like this — red, white, and blue egalitarianism — and Queen J’s has it to the bone. Whether it was an RG&E worker who clomped in under a hard hat, or Mayor Malik Evans’s security detail who strolled in wearing a suit, or the regular who lives next door at the Cooper Union, all were equally welcome. “This place offers a different atmosphere, a good atmosphere,” said Steve Ruger, the neighbor, who came for a $2.50 side of home fries. “It means so much because we had nothing here before and there really isn’t any other place to go around here.” Hallford lives off Lake Avenue and grew up on Emmett Street in Rochester. She recalled moving to the city from
The home fries at Queen J’s Diner are loaded with peppers, onions, and spices — a recipe that Mary Hallford learned from her mother. PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with her family when she was 8 years old. Her mother was a teacher and her father was a porter. She said her goal with Queen J’s was to feed the neighborhood in both body and mind and be a beacon of sorts, like something out of an Edward Hopper painting. “I want to look after the little boy who’s at the end of the school line with a hole in his shoe and a hole in his jacket,” she said. “If you can imagine being on a dark street, I’m that diner with that light on that you would come to with a little old lady sitting in there that will tell you your horoscope,” she went on. “That’s me. I can read people very well.”
Grace & Disgrace is a new, cocktailfocused venue that has begun hosting tiny, reservation-only pop-up tasting events at 17 Richmond St. Presented by Ralph DiTucci and Megan Goodney of cocktail and bar supply store Bar Mecca and crystal-clear ice company Cristallino Premium Ice (which both operate from the Richmond Street space) the events accommodate about 15 people and feature a small tasting menu of six to 12 cocktails and mocktails and three to seven small bites. @grace.and.disgrace At Winton Place, theater company OFC Creations will open The Old Farm Café, a coffee shop featuring gourmet beverages, light breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, and special events in its own theatrical setting — featuring animatronic farm animals, and theater lighting designed by set designer Jack Haldoupis. A soft opening and ribbon cutting are planned for June 23, and interactive performances of “The Wizard of Oz” are scheduled for the grand opening dates of June 24 through June 26. You can nosh on Yellow Brick Oven Pizza or a Wicked Witch’s Wrap while the two-hour production takes place around the tables and on the gazebo stage. Tickets to the opening weekend seatings are $25-$32. theoldfarmcafe.com
JUNE EVENTS It’s the roaring ’20s all over again. On June 2, Black Button Distilling, Rochester’s first craft distillery to open since Prohibition, will celebrate a decade of crafting high-quality small batch spirits with a Cheers to 10 Years Anniversary Party from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Black Button Distilling Tasting Room (85 Railroad St.). blackbuttondistilling.com
The Rochester Cocktail Revival returns for its 9th year, featuring dozens of educational events, film screenings, themed dinners, a gala, and more from June 6 through June 12. Many events are free to attend, while ticketed events range from $5 to $100. rochestercocktailrevival.com
On Monday, June 20, Laughing Gull Chocolates will present a Blind Chocolate Tasting at Salena’s Mexican Restaurant (302 North Goodman St. in the Village Gate). Local chocolate sommeliers will guide participants to share what they detect of taste, scent, and texture as they blindtaste four craft chocolate bars and two confections, all hand-made by Laughing Gull. Tickets are $45 and the event takes place at 7 p.m. laughinggullchocolates.com Good Luck Restaurant (50 Anderson Ave.) will host Wait. A Luck Lab Pairing Dinner on Tuesday, June 21, an event in the “Luck Lab” series created by chefs Christopher Cullen and Dan Martello. This dinner will emphasize an element of cooking that’s often taken for granted, or dismissed in favor of quick results: time. The meal will feature 12 courses that explore the techniques of aging, fermentation, curing, and caramelization of different foods. Just 25 tickets are available at $195 each, and participants will be seated at a communal table for a 3.5 to 4 hour meal. restaurantgoodluck.com roccitynews.com roccitynews.org CITY 51
30 MUSIC, ARTS AND LIFE EVENTS TO CHECK OUT THIS MONTH
DAILY Full calendar of events online at roccitynews.com
The Fast & the Furriest
Happy Hour with Old Souls and Froth Brewing
Nitrate Picture Show Dryden Theatre, eastman.org/nitrate-picture-show Rochester’s most incendiary film festival is back and it runs through June 5. During the course of the Nitrate Picture Show, the Dryden will show a collection of films printed on nitrate cellulose stocks, which Kodak quit making in the 1950s because they were just so dang combustible without meticulous handling. The festival lineup will be announced today, but the museum previously revealed that the 1948 fantasy classic “Portrait of Jennie” is in the lineup — and the audience will be viewing producer David O. Selznik’s personal print. Passes are available for purchase online. You’ve got to be vaccinated to attend and face masks will be required. JEREMY MOULE
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SUNDAY, JUNE 5
THURSDAY, JUNE 2
has plenty of quirks that are ripe for roasting; let’s just hope we can all take a joke. If the name Maureen Callahan rings a bell to you, we might be in trouble. This show has a two chill pill minimum for staunch Rochester defenders. JACOB WALSH SATURDAY, JUNE 4
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1
Record Archive, recordarchive.com The Old Souls are exactly that in name, spirit, and influence only. This quartet of musicians cites influences from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, despite each of its members being under the age of 18. Their blend of funk, blues, jazz, and rock with a serious sound resonates across generations. Froth Brewing from Buffalo will be in attendance offering up a tasting of their heavily fruited smoothie sours. RYAN WILLIAMSON
For up-to-date information on protocols, vaccination and mask requirements, and performance cancellations, consult the websites of individual venues.
Rochester Greek Festival Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, rochestergreekfestival.com I love a good spanakopita or moussaka, and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, the annual Rochester Greek Festival will school you well. Food is a centerpiece of the event and the various dishes — yes, you can get a gyro — create an enticing aroma that draws throngs to the place. You’ll stand in line for the grub but it’ll be worth it; make the best of it by grabbing a bottle or two of Mythos and taking in some music and dance while you wait. As a bonus, the event is very family friendly. Runs through June 5. JM FRIDAY, JUNE 3 COMEDY
Roast Of Rochester II Comedy @ the Carlson, carlsoncomedy.com The art of “roasting” is a subtle one, and a solid roast can take all sorts of different forms. Maybe it’s taking playful jabs at an old friend. Maybe it’s a handful of celebrities getting on cable television and ripping on Alec Baldwin for an hour. The Roast of Rochester is kind of a combo of both. Our little city on the Genesee
Rochester Animal Services, vsas.org A dog-inclusive 5K and 10K makes perfect sense as a fundraiser for Rochester Animal Services and its Verona Street Shelter. But you’re more likely to catch Gold and me at the one-mile fundraising walk ($25 participation fee, starts at 11 a.m.) that’s part of this day-long pet festival. My buddy is a greyhound, a breed known for being fast as hell in short bursts — distance runners they are not. But he loves a leisurely stroll, and one mile is the perfect distance for people and pooches alike. Let’s face it, you are going to take your dog for a walk at some point today, might as well make it count for something. JM MUSIC
Craven Idol, Berator, Anthropic & Alien Autopsy Photo City Music Hall, photocitymusichall.com Prepare for a total onslaught of heavy metal at Photo City Music Hall. Craven Idol from the United Kingdom is bringing their brand of “the wrath of Aetna” — a reference to Mount Etna, which in Greek mythology imprisons Typhon, a monster that tried to overthrow Zeus — across the pond to Rochester as a part of its “Venomous Onslaught” tour. Sharing the bill is Chicago’s Berator, Buffalo’s Anthropic, and Rochester’s Alien Autopsy. Fear not: There’s plenty of room at this venue to avoid the pit if that isn’t your thing. JW
Drag Me to Brunch Bar Bantam, barbantam.com Dinner and a show is old news. These days the cool kids are having their entertaining munch much earlier in the day with popular brunch and drag show events. But you don’t have to be the earliest riser to catch a midday meal with friends at Bar Bantam while being dazzled by the sky-high wigs and wit of Rochester drag royalty Mrs. Kasha Davis, Aggy Dune, Ambrosia Salad, and Darien Lake. Doors open at 11 a.m., and the show begins at noon. Plenty of time to sleep in and get gussied. But seating is first come, first serve, so don’t dally. Tickets are $60 and include admission to the show and a brunch buffet. Drinks are sold separately. REBECCA RAFFERTY MONDAY, JUNE 6 MUSIC
Bella’s Bartok Water Street Music Hall, thewaterstreetmusichall.com Looking to dance it all out? The folkpunk street party and spectacle of a band that is Bella’s Bartok is rolling into town with their blend of Eastern European, Americana, punk, and pop music. The songs are raucous and joyful, while showcasing carefully crafted vocal harmonies, along with brass, accordion, banjo, and more. They’re promising a sweaty, cathartic, joyous evening. Local pop-soul act The Sideways opens. Doors at 7 p.m., music at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12.50 and it’s an all ages show, though anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. MONA SEGHATOLESLAMI CONTINUED ON PAGE 54
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30 MUSIC, ARTS AND LIFE EVENTS TO CHECK OUT THIS MONTH
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8
Rochester Cocktail Revival Various locations, rochestercocktailrevival.com The ninth iteration of the Rochester Cocktail Revival starts today and continues through June 12 at more than two dozen Rochester bars. The annual week-long celebration of the craft of cocktails presents scores of social events that stretch beyond your typical happy hour to include film screenings, themed dinners, lectures on specific spirits, trivia, a silent disco, a sip-while-you-remain-silent reading party, and of course, the RCR gala. Many events are free to attend, while ticketed events range from $5 to $100. RR TUESDAY, JUNE 7 THEATER
“The Band’s Visit” RBTL Auditorium Theatre, rbtl.org If you’re looking for a hard-charging musical punctuated by rowdy cheers and foot-stomping sing-alongs, look elsewhere. But if you want an honest-to-God musical for grownups that is seductive and soulful, “The Band’s Visit” is for you. The winner of 10 Tony Awards, including “Best Musical,” the show is based on the 2007 film of the same name and depicts a touring Egyptian band stranded in a tiny Israeli desert village for a single night. The story is hopelessly romantic and confirms one of its more memorable lyrics that lands like a shot to the heart: “Nothing is as beautiful as something you don’t expect.” The show runs June 7 through 12. Tickets range from $38 to $88. DAVID ANDREATTA
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FRIDAY, JUNE 10
SATURDAY, JUNE 11
Parcel 5, rochesterdowntown.com No matter how much you love your job, it’s good to take breaks. That seems to be the idea behind this shindig that runs from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. A bunch of food trucks will roll up on Parcel 5 for lunch, which patrons are encouraged to eat on the lawn. Vault fitness studio will be on hand to lead stretching exercises — you know, the thing we are all supposed to do throughout the workday but don’t — and there will be games and music. There’s no free lunch so bring your wallet. The event is scheduled to happen once a month through September. JM
Genesee Country Village & Museum, gcv.org/events/celtic-faire This might be the antithesis of those green beer and shamrocks celebrations. The museum’s description promises bagpipes, Irish dancing, traditional foods, and all that good stuff. It’ll also have Highland games, a Scottish tradition best known for its competitive feats of strength such as the caber toss, where people hurl a long, tapered pole end over end. If you’ve ever watched a caber toss live or on television then you know how easy it is to get engrossed in the action. Without realizing it, you’ll be cheering on the tossers with all you’ve got. The event continues through June 12. JM
Dances at MuCCC muccc.org This long-running festival of contemporary dance returns to live shows this year with eight nights of performances (June 8-11, 1518). The Festival includes eclectic programs featuring new work from Hanlon Dance & Company and “Tectonic Dances” by Ruben T. Ornelas (June 8) and Bricolage, a program that pairs BIODANCE with media artist W. Michelle Harris and violist Caelan Tchoroleev (June 9). Other nights over the two weeks provide opportunities to see new work from dozens of choreographers and dance groups. MS THURSDAY, JUNE 9 ART
Art & Treasures Sale Memorial Art Gallery, mag.rochester.edu We all love a good second-hand sale, and this annual event is specifically geared toward those with an appreciation for art and other objects of beauty. You can class up your place by bringing home gently used antiques, fine art, original artwork, jewelry, china, pottery, porcelain, silver, crystal, housewares, coffee table art books, and small pieces of furniture, all donated in support of the Memorial Art Gallery. The sale kicks off with a preview night from 5 to 7 p.m. June 9 (tickets are $15, and must be purchased in advance), followed by free-to-attend sale days from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 10 and 11, and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 12. RR
Emo Night featuring Cut Me Up Genny! Photo City Music Hall, photocitymusichall.com Nostalgia is a weird thing. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself spiraling out of the life you’ve built and straight into the nearest Hot Topic. I’m guilty of being nostalgic every now and then. If the sun is shining just right and I hear an old Fleet Foxes song that I loved in high school, you might catch a tear coming out of my eye. But Emo Night is something entirely different. I hope you didn’t throw out all of your checker print clothing, neon eyeliner, and those Tripp pants with the chains (even though Gen Z has brought all of that stuff back into fashion). Come on, you deserve it: Gather all your buds and get ready to feel like you’re about to “chime in with a ‘Haven’t you people ever heard of closing the goddamn door?’” JW HOBBIES
Camera Social Flower City Arts Center, flowercityarts.org Digital cameras won the photography arms race many years ago and all of your Nikons and Canons no longer make film cameras. For those of us who have a soft spot for analog photography, we’re walking around firing off the shutters on pieces of history — my tool of choice is a Nikon F3 from 1986. Flower City Arts center is holding this camera social for people who own older cameras, film or digital, to get together and discuss their machines (and whatever else). Camera people love talking cameras so bring down your taped up Holga, pristine Rolleiflex, or anything in between, and share. Cost is $5 for members, $10 for non-members. JM
Rochester Real Beer Expo South Wedge, rochesterrealbeer.com After a two year hiatus because of that damned virus, the Rochester Real Beer Expo is back for 2022. The event doesn’t need much of an explanation. You pay the $50 ticket price — $10 for designated drivers, $70 for VIP early admission — and get access to a penned-in stretch of Gregory Street lined with some of the top craft brewers in New York and beyond. There’s also music and food trucks. JM
SUNDAY, JUNE 12
TUESDAY, JUNE 14 MUSIC
Garage Sale Days at the Public Market Rochester Public Market, 280 North Union St. There are bargains to be had in everyone’s basement, and they surface every Sunday this time of year in the great purge that is the Public Market’s Garage Sale Days. From collectibles to clothing, furniture to trinkets, and artwork to jewelry, the offerings are eclectic, inexpensive, and might even inspire you to do some spring cleaning. You can sell your old treasures by signing up to participate anytime through October. DA
Bop Shop Records, bopshop.com Peter Holsapple has been in the music industry for over 50 years — notably, in the 1980s he played keyboard and guitar with the power-pop group The dBs. Today, Holsapple performs as an auxiliary musician with Hootie and the Blowfish. His set at The Bop Shop will be a solo performance, featuring old classics and intimate storytelling from a lifetime in rock and roll. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $20. GF WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15
MUSIC MONDAY, JUNE 13 FOOD
Pasta making workshop Eat Me Ice Cream, 1115 E. Main St. Suite 148, rochesterbrainery.com If you’ve only ever boiled dried pasta from a box, mama mia, you’ve gotta try the fresh stuff. Even better: learn to make your own. It’s easier than you think, and from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. you can take a Rochester Brainery class over at Eat Me Ice Cream with Christin Ortiz, who has loads of experience working in local kitchens, with a special focus on Italian and Hispanic cuisine. Ortiz will teach the basics in a fun and accessible way, and demonstrate different techniques. Participants can eat during class or take their creations home (just bring a to-go container). You’ll also get some marinara sauce and recipes to take away. Appropriate for ages 18 and up. The cost is $34. RR
Livingston Taylor Dawn Lipson Canalside Stage, jccrochester.org/canalside You’ve seen fire, you’ve seen rain, but chances are you haven’t seen Livingston Taylor. The brother of singer-songwriter James Taylor has had a remarkable career writing and performing music for more than a half century, cutting 21 albums along the way. Described as “equal parts Mark Twain, college professor, and musical icon,” Taylor is a motorcycle-riding, airplane-flying, singing storyteller who is as comfortable with folk and pop as he is with jazz and gospel. He’s in town one night only. Curtain rises at 7 p.m. Tickets run $25 to $50. DA CONTINUED ON PAGE 56
roccitynews.com CITY 55
30 MUSIC, ARTS AND LIFE EVENTS TO CHECK OUT THIS MONTH
THURSDAY, JUNE 16
FRIDAY, JUNE 17
Nimesh Patel Comedy @ The Carlson, carlsoncomedy.com Hailed as “Saturday Night Live’s most intriguing new hire” by Vanity Fair in 2017, Nimesh Patel, the show’s first Indian-American writer, has written jokes for Chris Rock, Awkwafina, and the Congressional and White House Correspondents’ Dinners, and currently writes for “A Little Late with Lilly Singh” on NBC. A regular at New York City’s famed Comedy Cellar, this comic has probably already made you laugh and you never knew it. If you catch him, you won’t forget him. Patel does five sets over three days from June 16 to 18. Tickets run $15 to $20. DA
DAY AT THE BEACH
Zoo Brew Seneca Park Zoo, senecaparkzoo.org The Zoo Brew makes its triumphant (insert elephant trumpeting here) return to the Seneca Park Zoo. Suds, food, and outdoor live music are the backdrop for this after-hours animal house, exclusively for the 21-and-up crowd. Music from Adrianna Noone, Amanda Ashley, and The Local Hang-Ups, and a portion of proceeds from every ticket going to elephant conservation could make for a wild night. RW
Ontario Beach Park, cityofrochester.gov Some people say that summer begins on the solstice (June 21 this year). Some say it’s when Abbott’s is open for the season. I think the first time it’s warm enough to spend the day at the beach is as good a marker of summer as any. Whatever your metric, you won’t want to miss Rochester Harborfest, which takes place June 17 through June 19, and this year marks the 200th anniversary of Monroe County and the Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse. The celebration features entertainment, professional sand sculpting demonstrations, a huge car show, a boat parade of lights, a volleyball tournament, children’s area, food vendors, tours of the historic lighthouse, free rides on the 116-year-old Dentzel Carousel, and more. RR SATURDAY, JUNE 18
ROC Freedom Riders Juneteenth Bike Ride MLK Park, rocfreedomriders.com The ROC Freedom Riders began organizing bike rides to support, celebrate, and advocate for Black people in 2020. This year’s 10mile ride is free and open to all, but organizers ask riders to make a donation. Vendors, activities, and music will kick off the celebration at 10 a.m. DAVID STREEVER
SUNDAY, JUNE 19
23rd Annual Outdoor Expo presented by the Genesee Valley Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club & Monroe County Parks
Saturday, June 11 . 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m Mendon Ponds Park
ROC City Cannabis Carnival: Spring Edition
Want to be outdoorsy, but don’t know where to start? The Outdoor Expo is the place! Find demonstrations and workshops for hiking, canoeing, kayaking, backpacking, camping, bicycling and other related outdoor activities, all presented by a variety of local clubs and organizations. Music will be provided by Golden Link Folk Singing Society. Food by Chef’s Catering, ice cream by Nestin’s, petting zoo and other kids activities Admission is free. adk-gvc.org/play/outdoor-expo-before/
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Location TBD, cannabiscarnivalroc.com While I haven’t been to one of these functions, I’ve seen pictures, and let me tell you, the name fits. This isn’t a conference, or a meetup, or even a festival — it’s a carnival, filled with weed, weed-adjacent items, and other totally unrelated things like folks in full costume, gymnasts, and general tomfoolery. The phrase “Whoop whoop” comes to mind. You might have to go check it out for yourself. Smoke ’em if you got ’em. JW
Free Community Day at George Eastman Museum George Eastman Museum, eastman.org For Juneteenth and the last day of the “Joshua Rashaad McFadden: I Believe I’ll Run On” exhibit, the George Eastman Museum is offering free admission from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ithaca-born activist Ira McKinley’s documentary, “The Throwaways,” screens at 1 p.m., followed by “Amazing Grace,” starring Sydney Pollack and Alan Elliott, at 3:30 p.m. DS
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22 MUSIC
MONDAY, JUNE 20 MUSIC
“Allegories” Bop Shop Records, bopshop.com The pedal steel guitar has its roots in Hawaii, though it’s probably most familiar from its use in Nashville — part of the big classic country sound. It is transformed into an entirely different and mysterious instrument in the hands of experimental musician Susan Alcorn, who uses the pedal steel to create dreamy, improvised soundscapes. In “Allegories,” Alcorn will be joined by a few other musical explorers: percussionist Shelly Purdy, trumpeter Dave Ballou, and pianist Michael McNeill. What promises to be a heady musical journey starts at 8 p.m. It will cost you $20 to take this trip. MS TUESDAY, JUNE 21
Go Skateboarding Day roccitypark.org The Summer Solstice doubles as a beloved holiday for skateboarders. There’s no better time to break out the board and head down to the Roc City Skatepark, where celebrations will likely run from sunrise to sunset. GF
Abilene Bar & Lounge, abilenebarandlounge.com Experimental jazz pianist Marco Benevento will take to Abilene during a week ripe with Jazz Fest fervor. Benevento is a player that aims to stretch the bounds of conventional jazz, employing toy keyboards and strange circuit board fiddling to explore new sonic concepts. Tickets are $25 in advance, or $30 at the door. GF
THURSDAY, JUNE 23
Ryan Flynn Bug Jar, bugjar.com Almost six years ago to the day, Ryan Cullinane debuted his burgeoning indie pop persona Ryan Flynn with a seven-piece band against the backdrop of the Bug Jar’s psychedelic-swirl walls. The one-time Rochesterian has since polished his vision for dreamy synth-pop into club-ready anthems-in-waiting with danceable singles such as “Automatic Love” and “Pressure.” Flynn’s sound is slick and futuristic, but the vibe is inescapably quirky. This time around, Flynn shares the stage with Chicago electro-pop artist NÆ and local bands Catatac and Elsewise. Doors open at 8 p.m. DANIEL J. KUSHNER
CONTINUED ON PAGE 58
roccitynews.com CITY 57
30 MUSIC, ARTS AND LIFE EVENTS TO CHECK OUT THIS MONTH
FRIDAY, JUNE 24
SUNDAY, JUNE 26
20 Foo Pilots
Nashville, nashvillesny.com Do you like the Foo Fighters? Matchbox 20? Stone Temple Pilots? If the answer is “ yes” to some or all of those groups, then this cover band should be a dream come true. Personally, I’d love to hear a mashup of “The Pretender” and “Unwell,” mostly out of curiosity and a misguided sense of humor. Anyway, I’m having flashbacks to the St. John Fisher dorms in the late 1990s — if you’re of a certain age and you lived in a college dorm, you know what I’m talking about. JM SATURDAY, JUNE 25
Ferris Hills, prrgallery.com It’s not often you’ll meet someone who has worked on more than a dozen of Disney’s feature films. It’s even less common to have the opportunity to take artistic instruction from them. But Canandaigua’s Pat Rini Rohrer Gallery is hosting 14-year Disney veteran artist Yong Hong Zhong for two watercolor workshops, including one for beginners on June 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A workshop for those with intermediate or advanced skills will be held the following day, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Yong was born in China and raised in New York City. He studied at Pratt Institute and has been collaborating on feature films with Disney since 1995. Classes are $125 each, $225 for both. RR MONDAY, JUNE 27 GARDENING
Create a Succulent Bowl MUSIC
Orchestra in the Pines Cumming Nature Center, rmsc.org/cumming-nature-center On my endless journey to be surrounded by beauty as much as possible, I find myself seeking experiences where I can put music and nature together, harmoniously. A performance of pops and light classical by the Finger Lakes Symphony Orchestra in the middle of the forest is how I’ll achieve my goal of “music and nature in harmony” this summer. JW 58 CITY JUNE 2022
Rochester Brainery, rochesterbrainery.com If you want to bring a little summer indoors, but your not-so-green thumb makes plants meet their end, get thee to the Rochester Brainery. Instructor Shelby Rae will show you how to make and maintain your own succulent garden in an elegant tabletop container that could serve as a stylish centerpiece for a breakfast nook or dinner party. Participants will choose from a variety of provided plants and take home their creations, as well as a handy care guide. The class takes place from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $63, materials are included. RR
TUESDAY, JUNE 28
THURSDAY, JUNE 30
“Sister Act” Geva Theatre Center, gevatheatre.org Light, crowd-pleasing entertainment is the hallmark of summer theater, and that’s what Geva is going for in staging “Sister Act.” The show is the musical version of the 1992 film that starred Whoopi Goldberg as a club singer who hides in the rigid confines of a convent after witnessing a mob hit. When she brings her sequined soul to the convent choir, the word “sister” takes on a whole new meaning as the public, the press, and the mob take notice. Hardly high art, but agreeable entertainment that features a sing-along score. Tickets range from $25 to $59. DA WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29 MUSIC
Mia Borders Abilene Bar and Lounge, abilenebarandlounge.com Critics have hailed this singersongwriter from New Orleans as
“studiously cool,” “lusciously sly and sultry,” and “a chanteuse of the highest order” with “miles of style and charisma.” Mia Borders mostly performs clubs and festivals close to home, but she has shared bills with B.B. King, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Lee Fields, among others, and is taking her blues-soul-funk repertoire on a brief swing through upstate New York with one night in Rochester. Tickets are $15 at the door. Music starts at 7:30 p.m. DA
The Shootouts Abilene Bar and Lounge, abilenebarandlounge.com Yee-haw! This band from Akron, Ohio, has been said to mix supple Western swing with brash barroom country. Its 2019 debut album, appropriately named “Quick Draw,” charted Top 50 on Americana radio and the band was nominated for an Ameripolitan Music Award for “Best Honky-Tonk Group.” Music starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the door. DA
LOOKING FOR MORE TO DO? VISIT OUR ONLINE EVENTS CALENDAR AT ROCCITYNEWS.COM/ EVENTS TO FIND MORE DAILY MUSIC, ARTS, AND LIFE (SEE YA OUT THERE)
roccitynews.com CITY 59
WHAT ALES ME
BLACK BUTTON TOASTS 10 YEARS Raise a glass to honor a milestone for Rochester’s first modern distillery. BY GINO FANELLI
lack Button Distilling began with a bold decision by its founder, Jason Barrett. In 2012 at the age of 24, Barrett stepped away from a promising career as a business consultant in Washington, D.C., and returned to Rochester, where his family has for a century operated a button factory, these days known as Victor-based Shantz Associates. He had attended numerous distilling schools across the country and was ready to pursue his dream of launching the first major distillery in Rochester since the 60 CITY JUNE 2022
end of Prohibition. It wasn’t an easy decision. At the time, New York’s nascent craft spirits industry tallied 48 distilleries statewide, compared to the 204 that were in operation as of this past January. “I think the local support is everything,” Barrett said, in a backroom of the distillery adorned with dozens of test bottles and accolades from around the nation. “Without the consumers asking for our products at stores and coming to our tasting room, I’d be a very lonely guy.”
Black Button will celebrate its 10th anniversary in June with the release of its longest-aged bourbon to date, a six-yearold offering that marks the distillery’s first release in 53-gallon barrels, the traditional size used in producing bourbon. Jimmy Russell, the revered master distiller for Wild Turkey, has famously said he thinks the sweet spot for aging bourbon is 6 to 12 years. That six-year-old whiskey, the first round of which will be released in 100 commemorative decanters on June 2, marks a milestone for Black Button as
the distillery shifts its focus to older and more distinct bourbons. Already, Black Button is done distilling bourbon that will be released in the 2020s. Every new batch that runs through the still pipes and is pumped into barrels will be bottled some time in the 2030s. “Just this week actually, we finally cleared our pre-tanks of any whiskey that had two years in it, and so now every drop of Black Button bourbon has a minimum of three years, but the average is closer to four and a half,”
Jason Barrett, pictured here in 2015, founded Black Button in 2012 at the age of 24. In June, the distillery turns 10, marking a milestone amid the burgeoning craft spirits industry. FILE PHOTO
Barrett said. “There’s a lot that happens in those additional couple summers to the complexity, and the sugars, and the sweetness…for all of the quality ingredients and care we put in, it’s hard to match a 10-year Kentucky bourbon with a one-year New York bourbon.” In the time that bourbon has been quietly stewing in oak, much has changed in regards to New York’s standing as a center of distilling. New York now leads the nation in sheer number of distilleries, and they’re starting to gain prestige. For example, in 2021, Black Button’s single-barrel straight bourbon tied with Kentucky’s Casey Jones Distilling for Best in Class bourbon whiskey at the Heartland Whiskey Competition. “That really ruffled some feathers down in Kentucky, that a New York distillery could walk home with the gold,” Barrett said. For those involved in the local distilling world, Black Button’s success is just one indication that the New York spirits industry is poised for greatness. Brian Facquet chairs the New York State Distillers Guild and is the founder of Do Good Spirits in Roscoe, a small town east of Binghamton. As he sees it, the number of distilleries in the state coupled with the increasing skill of the state’s distillers is helping New York stand as a leader in the world of liquor. Before Prohibition, New York had a thriving distilling industry and was a prolific producer of rye whiskey. “It’s just like anything else, with age comes skill and spirits maturing, it’s quite
beautiful,” Facquet said. “And as the industry is maturing, you have people coming from other states bringing their skills. Nowadays, we have folks with Kentucky pedigrees that have decided to come to New York and make whiskey.” Facquet says the only thing holding back New York’s distilling industry is bureaucratic red tape. He’s a proponent of a bipartisan bill currently in the New York State legislature which would grant distilleries “parity” with the state’s wine, beer, and cider industries. In layman’s terms, the law would allow all distilleries to do tasting and sell directly to consumers from the distillery. “Once we get some of that legislation out of the way, I think the floodgates will really open,” Facquet said. At Black Button, Barrett is preparing for growth. After a particularly bad couple of years at the distillery’s farm near Bristol, thanks in part to blight brought on by gypsy moths, Black Button’s team is again planting everything from Juniper trees for gin botanicals to white oak trees for barrels. Its hope is to create spirits using raw materials entirely from New York, save for the bottles, in years to come. Meanwhile, the distillery is working on a new production facility. While Barrett was secretive about where exactly it will be, he said it will be around four times the size of the current space, and will be in the city of Rochester. “We are committed to staying in the city and offering a great experience for people to see locally-made spirits,” Barrett said. roccitynews.com CITY 61
Answers to this puzzle can be found on page 44
PUZZLE BY S.J. AUSTIN & J. REYNOLDS
1. Fairy tale husband who would eat no fat
6. Sniff and whine 12. Manage 16. Studious suffix?
19. ** [Bart, Lisa, and Maggie]
21. Type of person evoked by an emoji face with glasses
22. Wilson of “Fantastic Mr. Fox”
30. Trips to the plate
38. Card storage device at a blackjack table 40. Take advantage of 41. One half of the hybrid genre for Juice WRLD
33. ** [Princess Leia] 37. With 53-Across, the first three words of a show tune from “The Sound of Music”
23. Flat-topped hills
28. Stood the test of time
26. Like a non-responsive crowd
17. Public tribute
24. Threatening looks
42. Certain first responders: Abbr. 44. “Fear of Flying” author Jong 47. Start of v choice-making rhyme 49. ** Derisive taunt to a defeated opponent… or the question that is answered by the characters in the starred clues 53. See 37-Across 55. Egg containers 56. Facebook, for one 59. Be litigious 62 CITY JUNE 2022
60. Contented sigh
79. Feels ill
63. ___ buco
65. Puppy’s bite
84. ** [Boo Radley’s friend in “To Kill A Mockingbird”]
1. Gentrified Manhattan neighborhood, for short
87. Red Muppet
2. Implement for clearing fields, or driveways
66. ** [Aquatic Disney princess based on a Hans Christian Andersen book] 70. Conundrum 72. 66-across, for one 73. Very: Fr. 74. Kudos 77. Hospital document
88. Rules as a monarch 89. Late: Sp. 90. Kind of pressure
3. HBO show set in the first century BCE
91. Fragrant pouch
4. List that theoretically should keep a meeting on track
92. The Rolling Stones’ “___ Rainbow”
5. Norse god of war 6. Turned (away)
7. Grub, in Internet slang
58. Emissions monitoring org.
8. Chevrolet model with an antelope logo
61. Old debts
9. Poughkeepsie “Seven Sisters” college that has been co-ed since 1969 10. Self-centeredness 11. Values often multiplied by widths 12. Country that boundaries three oceans but only one other country 13. Finished 14. Look (over) 15. They justify the means, it is said 20. Obliterates, as a record
62. Masculine pronoun 64. U2 hit with the lyric “Did you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head?” 67. Key for Dr. Dre’s “Let Me Ride” 68. Strategic technique 69. Where a ruling might come down from 71. What Izzy might be short for 73. Have faith 74. Afternoon task in the restaurant biz
25. Like some riverbanks
75. “One ring to _____ them all”
27. ALF and other beings
76. Pal in Paris
29. Man’s name that sounds like a meal
78. Dermatological woe
30. Summer bevvie 31. Male cat 32. “_____ Two Ferns” 33. Sanders who played in both the World Series and the Super Bowl 34. Refusing to admit
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80. Memo heading 81. Some TVs 82. Queens baseball stadium until 2008
Home Delivery Available
85. Midafternoon nosh 86. NBA stats boosted at the charity stripe
35. Classic British record label 36. Caviar 39. Suffix with direct 43. Feminine pronoun 45. Billiards stick 46. Fiery felony 48. Asner and others 50. Speechifies 51. Some NFL linemen: Abbr. 52. Claims 53. Inquire 54. Hwy. offense
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57. “Tiny” Dickens boy roccitynews.com CITY 63
64 CITY JUNE 2022