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Mucho gusto

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For all its allure and promise, the music business tells a lot of lies through sharp teeth. It is duplicitous, fickle, and cruel. It's worse than cheerleader tryouts. So any young artist that truly takes a stab at it has my support, and my sympathy. Rochester-by-way-of Ft. Myers, Florida, tween-pop newbie Ryleigh made her debut in a showcase at Hochstein School of Music and Dance on Wednesday, May 30. It was also the debut of her video for the song "Txt Me" — a high-end production with choreography, lighting, the works. But what I find particularly interesting is who is behind this new act: Zazu Pitts. Pitts is the charismatic front man and the brains behind Bitter Flesh Thing, a rather heavy and dark zombie-cyborg industrial metal outfit a la Nine Inch Nails. Makes for an interesting dichotomy, to say the least.

Ryleigh sang "Txt Me," along with a couple of other covers I could have done without, showcasing her strong voice and a charming presence. Tween pop is a narrow market and I wish her luck. She's got a catchy tune and the goods (and a producer) to give it a solid go.

Thursday night The John Payton Project got down and extra funky at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. The band transcends its jam roots by, well, jamming. I guess it's the saxophone's jazzy honk or the guitar's dogfight-over-Britain attack. And man, you should have heard Payton's drum solo that night; it was pure harnessed thunder pounded out with mucho gusto by arms the size of legs.

Headed out Saturday night for more tween pop at The Firehouse, a relatively new live music joint. I stuck around for a couple of the bands on this multi-billed affair. I hadn't seen The Grinders in forever and wallowed in the comfort of each song's familiarity and precarious stance. It was reckless and fun and extremely loud. At his point The Grinders — a band that still puts out 45s — are an institution. Or maybe they should just be institutionalized. This was barroom rock 'n' roll at its primal best.

Pink Elephant followed with its tight, seething indie-rock. The band's twin-guitar attack created a jagged sonic wall within the accelerated and sometimes syncopated time signatures. Nobody in Rochester is doing this right now. Not this well, anyway.

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