“If All Rochester Wrote the Same Song” is nothing short of brilliant. This year, participants were instructed to write a song including the phrase “No one will ever know” in the title or in the song itself. Rochester songwriting nobility and lyrical glitterati set to the task like rabid dogs.
In large part, credit has to go to Sarah Long Hendershot, who ran with this concept and fleshed it out a few years back with “Don’t Go Drinkin’ on an Empty Heart,” performed by a few musicians who piled into Bernunzio Uptown Music. Friday night’s show at Hochstein Performance Hall was a near-sellout. MC Rick Staropoli kept things rolling at a decent clip, offering up baby-boomer trivia between performers — with references to Jimmy Hoffa, D.B. Cooper, and Linda Lovelace, whose name I shouted out, knowing full well Staropoli was looking for Mark Felt as an answer...I was robbed.
Now, I could go on and on about the various performers, 21 in all. But there are far too many highlights to shine a single light on. Ross Bracco did a treatment of the song with stringed accompaniment that was heartbreakingly gorgeous. We’re talking goosebump territory here. The Lipker Sisters were dyn-o-mite, with the Lipker Mom filling in for an absentee sister. Jeff Riales’s voice boomed deep, and is suitable for weddings, funerals, dancing with your sweetie, or even ordering Chinese takeout. My WXXI homeboy Jeff Spevak waxed weary, Beat, and blue. A personal highlight was Dick Storms, with the phrase “We storm the dance floor waxing Argentine,” among other notable quips. Storms appeared on stage with two dancers, cutting a tango rug that came off sublime and subtly salacious.
All were supported by a crackerjack house band that brought the music home. But this wasn’t just about the music. It was about the community as a whole. No one will ever know — unless we keep this up. Whaddya say, Sarah?
Frank De Blase is CITY’s music writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.