Every year, with the announcement of the latest inductees into the Rochester Music Hall of Fame comes a groan of disappointment from some local musicians and their fans. We're not simply talking sour grapes or envy here.
It's just that there's a lot of scuttlebutt surrounding who gets picked, and the fact that sometimes their links to this town are tenuous at best. And the musicians who make beautiful noise here get overlooked in lieu of artists with greater celebrity. The Rochester Music Hall of Fame is bringing in talent from outside to celebrate Rochester. They're looking without Rochester, instead of within. And this is, well, it ain't cool.
The RMHOF lineup over its past eight years has consistently catered to a 50-years-and-older audience and frankly, it's beginning to get stale. There are so many genres, subgenres and periods of music rooted in Rochester to choose from, spanning from William Warfield and Cab Calloway to Wendy O. Williams and The Fugitives. Let's add in the styles that'll attract different generations.
There are plenty musicians who haven't left for greener pastures, opting to stay right here and make the scene night in, night out. And they should be counted in. There are bands of note like The Chesterfield Kings and The Colorblind James Experience, who have been looked over in the past, and artists like The Hi-Risers, Mastodon, Joywave, and Mikaela Davis, who are out there currently making it happen internationally. And they still call Rochester home.
Everyone on this year's list is on there deservedly. I mean, Dave Kane? institution. But I get the feeling that the board of directors doesn't have that much faith in the people of Rochester to get their asses in seats to sell out Eastman Theatre's Kodak Hall. They seem to feel the need to pad the lineup with artists like Gary Wright performing his hits "Dream Weaver" and "Love Is Alive." And though I'm a big Beach Boys fan - sing it with me: I wish they all could be West Irondequoit girls - Al Jardine spent about five minutes in Rochester as a child when his dad worked at Kodak and RIT. Using this logic, they should include David Bowie because he spent the night in Rochester...in jail.
All I'm saying to the board of directors is goose it a little, fellas. Dig into some of the obscure artists and music, the stuff that make this a great music town. And stop trying to make these ties to Rochester that are anything but.