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Big Ditch

"Big Ditch"

Ditch Digger Records

The children, they ask me every now and then: "Frank, is there a Rochester sound?" To which I respond, after I realize they were speaking to me: "There was." Nowadays, it's all over the map with a multitudinous melting pot of genres, sub genres, and a sort of Frankensteined mélange. But there was a time — mid-80's to the mid-90's — when there was a pervading garage undertone to Rochester's music scene. Though it is still there in fragments, it takes bands like Big Ditch to remind us just how great this music was ... and is.

Big Ditch ain't pure garage, but then again garage rock was never about purity. There is a loping groove and swing intertwined with the rock drive. Yet this band doesn't strike me as one that needs to play loud to be heard. Big Ditch's sound is big and cohesive within its variety. Yes, it taps into those sub-genres we talked about, but it is a well put-together collection.

On top and in front of the whole soiree and cracking the whip is singer Stan "The Man" Merrell with his dynamic epiglottal drama on cuts like "Broke Back Boogie," reminiscent of Lux Interior, or Iggy swinging in the funhouse on "Stump Grinder" and "Two Headed Cajun." Besides Merrell, this extra-fine rock 'n' roll record is full of hipsters, scenesters, and vets who have prowled nightlife dives here for years like Dan Frank, Jack Schaefer, Mark Cuminale, Ken Frank, and Pat Lowery. Dig this record deep ... it's the sound of today, the sound of Rochester.