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What would Roger do?

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If a musician falls in the woods, and there's nobody there to hear him, does he still make a sound? The late, great Unkle Roger, helped make that question irrelevant. Through his lifelong dedication to local music of all styles, Rog helped to fill that forest with lots of critters to hear the rock 'n' roll. We all made a noise and it was all the louder thanks to our fallen friend.

          At Unkle Roger's SRO White Haven memorial service, musicians, radio personalities, and family friends got up to reflect and share. It was dignified and sad and I was proud to be among those there. And, as if Roger had a hand in the proceedings, everyone that spoke seemed blessed with a sense of peace and even, at times, humorous eloquence.

          Roger's life will be celebrated with a big bang as virtually every band in Rochester shoehorns into Water Street Music Hall on Saturday, December 27. Proceeds from the show will go towards a fund in Roger's name to help future rising stars with a guitar and a dream.

          So the next time you don't think you've got what it takes, or that nobody will listen, think: WWRD --- what would Roger do? The next time you find yourself wallowing in front of the TV as opposed to digging some live talent, think: WWRD? The next time you have an unkind thought about anyone, think: WWRD? Long live Rog.

          I've been spending a lot of time in the shower lately. The acoustics in there are pretty awesome for a boy and his harmonica. My riffs are getting tighter but my fingers and toes look like raisins. That, and the cordless phone acts up when it gets wet. So just leave a message.

          I flew down to Kansas City last week. They got some crazy little women there and I'm gonna get me one. Took some harp lessons from Sin City Disciple-Tenderloin-Parlay madman Ernie Locke. His tips will no doubt reduce my water bill. Robbed a bank and ate about 14 pounds of BBQ at Authur Bryant's; Jimmy Carter ate there once.

          Dined Southern style with Punk Rods president Todd Karnahan and his lovely wife, who runs American Greaser Supply. Karnahan brews the goo in a still in his basement.

          Friday, December 12's KISS 107 Jingle Ball at the Aud was a clear example why the rest of the world currently hates us. I know we owe a lot to the Marines, but the soldier that got up and wailed the national anthem in at least four, sorry-ass, tin-eared keys should be tried for treason. Who told this poor guy he could sing? Worse yet was the blond, dread-locked, running-suited cat who howled Christmas carols like a dying Doberman. What's with all this flat, tuneless singing everyone's lauding as great? It sucks. Sucks. We're being lied to, kids.

          On a brighter note, The Irish Tenors, who can sing, brought an opera-light touch and their Christmas-Celtic repertoire to the Auditorium Theatre the following night to the delight of roughly 2,000 fans. Their rendition of "Danny Boy" got me all misty.

          And on yet a third night at the Auditorium, Cyndi Lauper wowed 'em with her utterly amazing voice. Lauper's initial neon '80s image, I think, undermines her amazing talent as a singer and as a songwriter. I mean she even did a salsa-tinged version of The Four Seasons' "Stay." She strutted around the stage and aisles all sexy and sophisticated in heels but frequently and unself-consciously broke into dance moves that were as awkward as they were endearing. She moves like you would imagine a 10-year-old girl would, while listening to Cyndi Lauper records alone in her room.

          Lauper's show opener, Nellie McKay, was described to me as a "pissed-off Doris Day." I had to see this. This NYC 19-year-old isn't so much pissed off as she is gloriously ironic. She pounded the keys, dedicating songs to "the man I love who couldn't be here, because he doesn't like me." She was a beautifully bouffanted smart aleck. Just wait till she comes back. I think Rog would've dug her, too.

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