We're proud of our musical talent; here are four reasons why.
Despite its name, our airport is hardly international. However, The Rochester International Jazz Fest is. Now in its third year, RIJF brings in legendary and cutting-edge jazz talent (and their fans) from around the planet to Rochester for a whole week in June. Cats like Mose Allison, Billy Bang, Quong Vu, James Blood Ulmer, Tony Bennett, and George Benson have all played in the past two years. The RIJF shows no signs of getting smaller as each year the word spreads more and more throughout the jazz community. This is an awesome event linking a group of downtown venues --- within walking distance of each other --- during some of our rare summer days.
It's probably not fair to refer to any one band as the best, but I'm not one of these non-committal wussies who thinks everyone's great, as if I were some intramural soccer coach who doesn't want any of the kids to cry. Rochester has a thriving music scene. Some bands are good, some bands are great, and some bands suck. And somebody's got be the best --- to be the king of this heap. It's The Priests.
I'm not sure if it's the primitive drums, the eerie organ, the maniacal guitar, or the desperate vocals that make this band beyond compelling. No, it's not doing anything odd or particularly out of bounds, but the band's energy is visceral, and its dark mood and menacing tone are palpable. They sound and look like they mean it. And they'll probably agree with those of you who think I'm full of bull for saying all this.
The Priests, whose third (and first national) release is on the world-renowned Get Hip Recordings, will be playing several showcases for the label at the 2005 SXSW in Austin, Texas, and have been pumped up by current garage rock savior Little Steven.
In this palace, no matter how natty your duds you still feel underdressed. Commissioned in 1922 by George Eastman, the Eastman Theatre (26 Gibbs Street) seems out-of-time and even otherworldly in its opulence and grandeur. And with recent state-of-the-art acoustical updates, even a reverberated sneeze sounds angelic --- so imagine how good the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra sounds. There is simply no finer classical experience to be found.
The music store
House of Guitars (645 Titus Avenue, 544-3500) isn't only focused on six-string beauty, but in fact on everything related to music. Fortuitously founded at the apex of Beatlemania by juvenile-delinquent-gone-straight Armand Schaubroeck and his two brothers, The HOG is one of the largest music stores on earth. But it's not the neatest --- and therein lies the thrill of the hunt. You can rummage through piles of LPs, weave in and out of classic guitars, or ascend mountainous walls of amps.