It’s a matter of priorities, I guess, but I’d be hard-pressed to choose between bar-b-que and rock ‘n’ roll. Bar-b-que is the rock ‘n’ roll of all meat dishes. And I’ve always felt that rock ‘n’ roll is what bar-b-que sounds like; and both are equally messy. My wife deserves canonization after an episode with me sitting across from her, mowing down some ribs. It’s all in the percentages. If I get 80 percent of what’s on my plate in my mouth, and not in my hair or on my clothes, I’m doing good and can leave “sassified.”
Well then, it was clearly a 75 percent night on Thursday at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que as I took on a plate of brisket sliders head-on, awaiting the Rochester band Soul Passenger’s set of mid-tempo joy to the world. They were waiting, too, for the nice couple that simply couldn’t finish their meal and vacate the stage area so the band could set up and play, dontchya know. When the band finally got onstage — again, through no fault of their own — they leaned into it the only way they knew how: upbeat and rockin’. The crowd was modest to say the least, and Soul Passenger kept it pumpin’ for a good two-hour set, consummate performers and fellow sloppy bar-b-que eaters as well. A surefire sign of a good show is one where you need napkins in between numbers.
Friday night I went dashing through the snow to Iron Smoke Distillery to witness a pile of Rochester’s finest pay tribute to Tom Waits — the hyperbolic, wayward beat poet and walking adjective on a pair of broken legs. You can’t really cover this man’s material, but you can try. Best to put a spin on it, lest you get run over by the galloping enigma. Admittedly, I’ve tried it, too, in the past. But if you cop to Waits’ hellhound gravel voice, you’ll wind up tasting blood. With that in mind, everyone who sang put enough personal spin on their selections. And I can’t say enough about the backing band of Brian Williams, Greg Andrews, Phillip Marshall, and Alan Murphy, which made this show the parade of controlled calamity we all needed...especially with leftover bar-b-que in our beards.
Frank De Blase is CITY’s music writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.