In the Jazz Fest afterglow, it might be easy to view the rest of the summer concert season as a letdown. Don't be fooled --- you'll really miss out if you don't dig in the nooks and crannies. Rochester practically bursts with music, especially during summer, when you can gorge yourself on a dizzying range of styles in a variety of venues (many of them quirky and intimate and brimming with local charm). Attendance can sometimesbe weak, but there's really no excuse.
The following list of highlights doesn't even begin to cover what's on offer this summer. Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open --- City listings are a great place to start, but some of the best show tips arrive at the last minute via word of mouth. (For example, obscure 23 year-old Swedish punk band Avscum recently made a local appearance at a house party, and new punk and dance venues spring up all the time.)
Mambo Kings | June 17, Hochstein (etc.) andDave Rivello Ensemble | June 27, Kilbourn Hall (etc.): Two of this town's greatest assets are the Eastman School's Kilbourn Hall and the Hochstein School of Music and Dance, where you can pretty much just walk in off the street and catch free classical (and other) concerts once or twice a week all year round. Though most classes are out of session, concerts/recitals by faculty, students, visiting guests, and community ensembles continue throughout the summer. Of the 70-plus events listed (at Hochstein, Kilbourn, Eastman Theatre, and some at area churches), the overwhelming majority is free.
As always, in addition to classical, the concert programming at both schools reflects an enthusiasm for jazz, modern composers, and international music. Hochstein faculty member Dick DeLaney directs the Mambo Kings on piano, while Eastman jazz professor Dave Rivello conducts his 12-person band through a set of his original compositions, which he describes as "my version of what big band would have evolved into today --- set up like a traditional big band but more modern, and hopefully spanning wide emotional contours."
Other highlights: at Hochstein, the Summer Solstice Folk Music Concert (classical and contemporary) on June 22. And at Eastman: New Music Concert (Clay Greenberg, director) on July 1; "Brazil, Guitar, and Friends" (Peter Kodzas, guitar) on July 2; Hindustani Music on July 9; Oliver Steiner (violin) and Bonnie Wagner (piano) on July 20; IMPROVfest series on August 2, 3, and 4. More: our classical listings on page XX, www.hochstein.org, or www.rochester.edu/Eastman/concerts/
Steve Rush-Tom Abbs-Geoff Mann Trio | June 22, Village Gate Atrium: The Bop Shop's Tom Kohn continues to give us the gift of prime under-the-radar modern jazz and progressive roots music. This summer, he brings several shows to Milestones (Peter Lang on June 30, Dr. Eugene Chadbourne and Michael Hurley Milestones on July 5, etc.), but Rush, Abbs, and Mann play the ONLY show scheduled for the criminally under-trafficked Village Gate Atrium. The trio compares its style of improv to "an extremely well-honed basketball team." (!) Chatty restaurant patrons aside, the atrium's lovely acoustics make this a must-see. More listings: www.bopshop.com.
Latin Vibes | July 15, Salsafest at the Public Market: Once summer hits, the Public Market blossoms into an ideal outdoor venue. Veteran vocalist Johnny Vega leads local ensemble Latin Vibes (9 to 12 pieces depending when you catch 'em) through a highly-charged repertoire of salsa and merengue standards and originals. Ithaca's humorously political jam-roots ensemble Donna The Buffalo plays on August 19.
For fans of Latin music, there are other opportunities to hear it live: Willie Colon headlines Frontier Field on July 23; Luisito Carrion, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, and Larry Harlow's Legends con Yomo Toro play the Puerto Rican Festival at the Civic Center Plaza August 12 through 14; Coco Montoya appears at the Montage Grille August 15. (To stay abreast of Latin, tune in 6 to 10 on Saturday mornings to 90.1 FM's Essencia Latina program.)
Picastro | July 15, A\V Space: Hats off to Kate Laux, Keith Sanders, Graham Saathoff, and the rest of the folks who run A\V --- and to audiences --- for making it a premier venue for underground music and art. The past year has seen a great variety of well-presented shows and exhibits with enthusiastic turnouts. Pitting Russian, Greek, and gypsy folk music against the Faces and Black Sabbath, Toronto quartet Picastro features a cello and prides itself on the dynamic range it achieves through playing quieter. Excellent local alt-country outfit Hinkley also appears. More listings: www.avspace.org.
String Cheese Incident, Keller Williams, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Umphrey's McGee | July 19, High Falls (etc.): String Cheese's heavily-stacked "Big Summer Classic" lineup stops in at High Falls for the first of several top-shelf outdoor shows taking place right in the city. Also: Buckwheat Zydeco (High Falls) on July 21; Duke Robillard (Garden Vibes Summer Concert Series, George Eastman House) on July 21; and Little Feat and the Campbell Brothers (High Falls) on July 28.
10th Annual Clarissa Street Reunion | August 20, Clarissa Street: Once home to a number of jazz clubs and referred to as "Rochester's Broadway," Clarissa Street (located in Corn Hill), is also the site of Rochester's first African American neighborhood. This boisterous, all-day outdoor event honors that rich heritage with three stages, one each dedicated to blues, jazz, and gospel. For a good taste of local talent in blues, jazz, gospel, soul, and r&b, it just doesn't get any better than this. Ohio organist Tony Monaco headlines the jazz stage. FYI, the Clarissa Room, an elegant lounge that used to be Shep's Paradise, is always a good bet for jazz and blues. Info: (Reunion Committee) 234-4177, (Clarissa Room) 325-5350.
Bug Jar Fest | August 27, Highland Bowl: Because the Bug Jar does unify many different groups from our clannish local music scene under one roof, it's easy to buy into the illusion that the Bug's regular crowd, diverse as it is, covers the whole spectrum of Rochester rock. Every summer, though, a more mixed audience converges on the rolling green fields of Highland Park for what has become a cherished local tradition: Local bands play early in the day and three to four national indie acts close out the night. Sometimes, you can feel the magic in the air. Baba Yaga, Hinkley, the Veins, and Bludwülf are the locals confirmed for this year. And, for the uninitiated, the thick heat of the Bug Jar's band room on crowded summer nights is an experience unto itself. Info: www.bugjar.com.
Other places to watch: Small local jazz ensembles at the Little Theatre Café; experimental music at Visual Studies Workshop; intimate quirk at Bullwinkle's; modern jazz, DJ'ing, and poetry in the alley outside of Java's; hip-hop at Chaser's; house music at Metro and Pearl; drum n' bass at Elixir; progressive DJ'ing at Soho/Tonic; mid-level national touring acts at Water Street Music Hall and the Club at Water Street; Latin at Club Liquid and Tapas; blues, rockabilly, and rock 'n' roll at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que; local and national underground rock at Monty's Krown and Monty's Korner; metal and punk shows at Ellison Park; touring and local metal/hardcore at the Penny Arcade; gospel, spiritual classical, and choir music at our numerous churches; ethnic folk in Rochester's ethnic neighborhoods and restaurants; obscure indigenous roots music at concerts and festivals in outlying rural towns, etc., etc.