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Meet Neffy, The Winner Of The 2021 Tiny Desk Contest

Judges for this year's Tiny Desk Contest waded and watched and debated through thousands of entries, but today we finally have a winner: Her family knows her as Mecca Russell – we'll come to know her as Neffy. Today "has been absolutely wild," she tells All Thing Considered 's Mary Louise Kelly in a conversation this afternoon, following the announcement of the news early this morning. "My mom is bursting at the seams," she says, adding that her parents are "really happy, and that makes me...

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It’s not that Rachel McKibbens has an issue with a cappella. 

But “unlike other venues,” she says, “it would have been a risk for us to book the YellowJackets.”

As the 12-day KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival unfolds, the University of Rochester vocal group is the last thing that the usual unusual clientele of The Spirit Room would expect to find there. Not in the midst of all those skulls and voodoo tchotchkes and drag queens.

This is how the sausage of journalism is made: Reporters from WXXI and CITY Magazine met last week to decide who is covering which drag queen at the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival. We’re all in search of the year’s theme before we’ve seen whether Matt Morgan drops his pants to show off his tighty whities.

Rochester Fringe founder and producer Erica Fee says: Just be patient.

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Think of your favorite pop song. Will it still be a crowd-pleaser 300 years from now?

This year, the XPoNential Music Festival, presented by Subaru, returns in person on the Camden Waterfront in Camden, N.J. With a lineup of established and up-and-coming artists, the festival has offered an unparalleled experience for music discovery, delighting audiences of all ages for more than a decade.

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From Sept. 15 through Oct.

These next couple of weeks, NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts are getting a makeover for Hispanic Heritage Month. NPR Music has teamed up with NPR podcast Alt. Latino to present "El Tiny," a concert series that will feature all Latinx artists. Up first is Colombian reggaeton sensation J Balvin.

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Just because you're stuck in the house doesn't mean there's nothing to do. Check out all the virtual events on the CITY event calendar you can be a part of!

World Cafe on WRUR

The premier public radio showcase for contemporary music serving up an eclectic blend that includes blues, rock, world, folk, and alternative country.

It’s not that Rachel McKibbens has an issue with a cappella. 

But “unlike other venues,” she says, “it would have been a risk for us to book the YellowJackets.”

As the 12-day KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival unfolds, the University of Rochester vocal group is the last thing that the usual unusual clientele of The Spirit Room would expect to find there. Not in the midst of all those skulls and voodoo tchotchkes and drag queens.

This is how the sausage of journalism is made: Reporters from WXXI and CITY Magazine met last week to decide who is covering which drag queen at the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival. We’re all in search of the year’s theme before we’ve seen whether Matt Morgan drops his pants to show off his tighty whities.

Rochester Fringe founder and producer Erica Fee says: Just be patient.

The poet composes a daily haiku:

Miles fly like eighth notes

Legato arpeggios

A big state, Texas

The photographer selects his favorite photo:

Peter Gabriel invents crowd surfing.

The musician considers what happens after he’s been on the road for more than six weeks:

“Home life becomes a theoretical thing.”

The poet. The photographer. The musician. They are all one man: Tony Levin. 

Maureen Callahan is making her pandemic-delayed journey to the city that the New York Post columnist has decreed “grim and depressing.”

And, since we are such good sports, Rochester is welcoming Callahan. Our hometown baseball team, the Rochester Red Wings, has declared Saturday “Grim and Depressing Night,” with Callahan as the guest of honor.

With a thin metallic click, Charles Jaffe flips open a lighter and ignites a cigarette.

How long have you been smoking?

“Since I was 11. Kicked out of Boy Scouts for smoking. At a jamboree.”

A rebel from an early age. What do you think about the book?

“Looks great. I can die now. Y’know? The book is a beautiful thing. A beautiful thing.”

The Bug Jar is a slim sliver of Rochester real estate. Four small rooms, if you count the two bathrooms, at the corner of Monroe Avenue and South Union Street.

Yet, it is such a big deal in Rochester’s music scene. I’ve written it before, I’ll write it again: Red Creek and The Penny Arcade are in the Rochester Music Hall of Fame. The Bug Jar, which reopens Friday, should be there as well.

After 20 years of writing its own history, you’d think people could talk or write about Blackberry Smoke without referencing The Allman Brothers Band. Or Lynyrd Skynyrd. Or The Marshall Tucker Band.

Charlie Starr pays no mind to our need to place his band in such a box.

“Not really,” says Blackberry Smoke’s lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter. “Because I love those bands, so dearly.”

One man’s heaven is another man’s hell.

“It’s like, ‘Well, it could be worse, you know,’” Starr concedes. “They could say, ‘You guys remind me of the Bay City Rollers.’”

In some respects, it’s as though the coronavirus pandemic never happened. Over the last couple of weeks, blueswoman Carolyn Wonderland was at Abilene Bar & Lounge. Oliver Wood, lead singer and songwriter of the Wood Brothers, was at Anthology. Irascible and invaluable social critic Steve Earle was at Point of the Bluff Vineyards.

This was how it always was, back in the day.

A music festival dominates our perception of what American culture was a half-century ago. It is Woodstock, of course. Properly filmed and recorded, it’s a touchstone that social historians, documentary makers and dads who once dropped acid -- but not the brown acid!! -- return to repeatedly.

And now, after that same half-century, we have found another one.

The scene was something that might have been directed by John W. Borek himself. Three people, including two women in angel wings, opening the show -- show would likely have been Borek’s own word for this memorial -- by sashaying through the crowd, displaying photos of Borek and his wife, Jackie Levine, flinging rose petals into the bright afternoon sun, and throwing in a ribbon dance for unexpected good measure. 

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