As vital as the Rochester music scene is, it's all too easy to stay in our respective lanes stylistically. We don't often venture beyond the niche communities of musicians and venues our preferred genres have carved out for us. But the local scene's a varied one. In every thriving local venue regularly hosting concerts, there's a rich world-in-microcosm featuring myriad musicians, waiting to be discovered.
Here are three venues that specialize in a particular sound, serving up performances by talented and hardworking players from Rochester and beyond.
The Daily Refresher: Located at 293 Alexander Street, The Daily Refresher is a cozy but elegant cocktail bar that distinguishes itself among East End bars and clubs by offering a free, weekly singer-songwriter showcase.
Each Thursday at 7 p.m., Dave Chisholm – a Rochester musician equally at home as a jazz trumpeter and as frontman of the pop-rock band Talking Under Water – hosts an intimate concert of originals and covers. On any given night, he is joined by a different singer-songwriter from the Western New York region. Chisholm has shared the bill with the likes of Jon Lewis, Dallas Greene, Aaron Lipp, Madeleine McQueen, Tyler Westcott, Charles Emanuel, and former Thursday night host Jackson Cavalier.
The Daily Refresher offers an ideal concert setting – whether in the comfortable, upstairs lounge during the colder months or out on the patio during the summer.
California Brew Haus: While this bar and grill might seem like an unlikely place to catch live music, if you like your concerts raw, rough, and ready, California Brew Haus may be right in your wheelhouse. Located at 402 West Ridge Road, this place is a frequent stop for rock, punk, and metal bands, whether they're based locally or passing through town on a tour.
Rochester acts including Diluted, Kaizer Solzie, The Dirty Pennies, Crazies, Kvrma, and many more have all played at the Brew Haus. The venue also hosts touring indie hip-hop artists such as Lil Tracy, Jarren Benton, Ces Cru, G-Mo Skee, and others. Despite the diverse styles represented onstage, if there's a common denominator among the musicians, it's that they're consistently loud and unapologetic.
A real blue-collar ethos permeates the shows at the California Brew Haus, and if you prefer authenticity over gloss, this is the venue for you. It's a good place to find hidden gems you didn't know you were looking for.
80W: A bar and lounge located in the East End at 7 Lawrence Street, 80W straddles the line between swanky and approachable, fusing neighborhood vibes with a downtown aesthetic. The new establishment has found the perfect musical complement with its weekly series of jazz performances. Every Wednesday at 7 p.m., esteemed local jazz musicians provide an ideal soundtrack to the debonair surroundings.
Notable players at 80W have included trios fronted by guitarist Bob Sneider, pianist Laura Dubin, and saxophonist Bill Tiberio; pianist Gap Mangione performs the last Wednesday of every month. For a city as in love with jazz as Rochester, it boasts few year-long performance venues for jazz. Now, there's one more place to go.