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Best Bets at Rochester Fringe: Willie Clark's picks

Patton Oswalt, The Great Chernesky, and Oliver Brown have got our music editor jazzed


Big name comedian Patton Oswalt headlines the comedy portion of the Fringe Festival. Possibly best known for his roles in "The King of Queens" and the voice of Remy in "Ratatouille," Oswalt has also appeared everywhere from "The Fairly Odd Parents" to "Community" to "Grand Theft Auto." An accomplished stand-up comedian and writer (he most recently penned "Zombie Spaceship Wasteland") and with five comedy albums under his belt -- and just as many stand-up specials -- Oswalt will bring the geek-friendly laughs. (Saturday 9/22 8 p.m. at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theater. Tickets cost $15-$55.)

Braving the long, long hike from Auburn is The Great Chernesky, a musical maelstrom blending folky strumming with humor, wit, and humorous wit. Chernesky's most recent album, "Spilled Brews & Busted Stools," just hit earlier this month, so you can expect just as much when he comes to Java's as part of Fringe. His Davy Crockett raccoon hat will probably be there, too. (Friday 9/21 8 p.m. at Java's. Free admission.)

Sure, ukuleles have become sort of a thing now: a smaller and higher-pitched answer to those loud and lavishing guitars that used to be all the rage. Oliver Brown and His Extraordinary Ukulelesblends this mystical sea-shanty instrument with humorous song topics ranging from Shakespeare to the wonders of the peanut-butter sandwich. He's also had a song appear on "Sesame Street," so take that credential for what you will. (Friday 9/21 7-8 p.m. at Bernunzio's Uptown Music. Tickets cost $5.)

Dear Dexter (and yes, the group takes the name from the serial-killer show you're probably thinking about) will bring some acoustic-laden rock 'n' roll to the Fringe Fest. The group, fronted by Jason Morgan, is shifting and growing. But Morgan's central vocals and songwriting cement the group strongly in alternative-rock territory, while retaining the intimacy acoustic instruments allow. (Thursday 9/20 9:30 p.m., Saturday 9/22 5 p.m. at Java's. Free admission.)

And sometimes you just need to have fun. Comedic hip-hop duo Garden Fresh, made up of Professor Fizizizt and Tha Dome, takes the style and ground that hip-hop makes as soil and creates something else: a polite, fiscally responsible rap group that is as profound as it is hysterical. You won't find alcohol-promoting jams here (instead the group praises water with songs like... "Water") or rap-battling egos (see; "Sitting Politely").(Friday 9/21 and Saturday 9/22 9:30 p.m. at Bernunzio's Uptown Music. Tickets cost $5.)

Writing a good song and writing a good story aren't really that different. Weaving these two art forms together at the seams, Howie Lesteris equal parts musician and storyteller, bringing in influences from just about every road-faring and wandering people you could imagine. Blues, gypsy, klezmer, Cajun, and other roots traditions all rolled into one ball made of storytelling yarn in his performance, "The Arkansas Traveler Meets Mulla Nasrudin."(Saturday 9/22 10 p.m. at the Little Café. Free admission.)

Hungry? Try some Yum! Yum! is a collection of poems, stories, and songs all about that wonderful thing we can't live without and spend a lot of our time eating, food. Dulcimers, guitars, whipped cream, and jam are all promised to be present, so make sure to save some room for the fun. (Wednesday 9/19 4 p.m. at Writers & Books. Tickets cost $10.)

In This Guide...

  • Show time for Rochester Fringe

    As the Rochester Fringe Festival readies for curtain up, find out what it is, and what not to miss.
    It took dancers jumping off buildings for people to finally "get" the magnitude of the inaugural First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival. "Another festival?" is a common refrain in Rochester.

  • Best Bets at Rochester Fringe: Michael Lasser's picks

    "The Bicycle Men," "Gilgamesh," "Love at First Waltz," and other picks from City's theater critic
    One review of "The Bicycle Men" called it "a genial spoof." So is this going to be one of those things that's much funnier when you're having a fourth beer with friends and making up a musical at 3 in the morning?

  • Best Bets at Rochester Fringe: Rebecca Rafferty's picks

    "Bee Eye," Wearable Technology Show, "Dragon's Lair" piqued City's visual critic's attention
    There are some unknowns in human existence that might never be answered. But that doesn't mean we won't eternally ask questions about our purpose (or lack thereof), the nature of death, and the slippery slope of human cognition.

  • Best Bets at Rochester Fringe: Casey Carlsen's picks

    City's dance critic looks forward to "Astro Dance," PUSH Physical Theatre, Day of Dance, and more
    BIODANCE, a well-established, local contemporary group led by Missy Pfohl Smith, has two distinctly different shows in the festival. "Breakdown: Dance/Sound" is an experimental new work performed to the orchestral music of Sound ExChange.

  • Best Bets at Rochester Fringe: Paloma Capanna's picks

    City's classical writer looks forward to the Harlem Gospel Choir, "Hide the Moon," and "Spirits Within"
    The Eastman School of Music students creating "Hide the Moon," an original adaptation of Oscar Wilde's "Salome," are billing the event by the emotions infatuation, loathing, fear, and lust. Who doesn't want an hour of high drama?

  • Best Bets at Rochester Fringe: Eric Rezsnyak's picks

    City's features editor looks forward to Bandaloop, "The Event," and "There's Always Time for a Cocktail"
    The headliner act that made everyone go "Ooooooooo!" at the press conference, Bandaloop will undoubtedly be the most eye-popping experience at the inaugural Fringe Festival. This world-renowned aerial dance troupe performs vertical routines while suspended from climbing ropes.

  • Rochester Fringe Festival Guide

    The Official Festival Guide