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Jeff Spevak

Jeff Spevak has been a Rochester arts reporter for nearly three decades, with seven first-place finishes in the Associated Press New York State Features Writing Awards while working for the Democrat and Chronicle. He has also been published in Musician and High Times magazines, contributed to WXXI, City newspaper and Post magazine, and occasionally performs spoken-word pieces around town. Some of his haikus written during the Rochester jazz festival were self-published in a book of sketches done by Scott Regan, the host of WRUR’s Open Tunings show. Spevak founded an award-winning barbecue team, The Smokin’ Dopes, and believes Bigfoot is real. His book on the life of a Lake Ontario sailor who survived the sinking of his ship during World War II will be published in April of 2019 by Lyons Press.

Two questions into this phone interview, where Joe Pug is at his home in Maryland, he's called away to an emergency.

"I have to go poopy."

A few minutes later, 3-year-old Rudy's all squared away and has settled in front of the television for some cartoons.

Poopy. "That's the stay-at-home dad life," Joe Pug says. "When I'm not on the road, I'm at home with my kids."

Find more arts coverage at WXXINews.org.

What Hubby Jenkins was hearing on a cable TV news show had reached an obscene level of sanctimonious nonsense. At a rally in Virginia, attended by 22,000 well-armed Americans, on the January day set aside to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a speaker was appropriating the memory of the slain civil rights leader on behalf of their pro-gun cause.

"The icon of nonviolent protest, assassinated by a gun in our country, would be pro-gun," Jenkins says, slowly, evenly, incredulously.

"It's important to know your roots, and to know your history, and to be empowered to boldly go forward."

It is helpful to think of the release of a new Joywave album as a biological function. "I just naturally produce one every several years," lead singer and songwriter Daniel Armbruster says. "I turn it in to the record company and then they decide if they want to release it. And they liked this one, so it's going to be released."

It's kind of like a snake shedding its skin?

"It really does feel like that."

At age 76, Eric Andersen considers himself to be in "The Danger Zone."

"Half the people I knew are not around anymore," he says. "Townes is gone, Lou Reed is gone, Rick Danko is gone, Janis is gone. Joni, almost.

"You can't argue with gravity and health."

January is Jeff Riales' month. He's in the midst of a monthlong residency, every Thursday night at Abilene Bar & Lounge. And Friday night at Hochstein Performance Hall, he returns to the event that he inadvertently created, "If All Rochester Wrote the Same Song."

About a decade ago, local singer/songwriter Scott Regan, the host of the weekday mornings "Open Tunings" show on WRUR-FM (88.5), was snooping around Riales' basement. Relax, Regan had been invited, it was a party. And he couldn't have picked a better basement. 

Jake Clemons is the son of a U.S. Marine band director, a kid who grew up in a strict Southern Baptist household. "We listened to a lot of marching-band music," he says. "I was very familiar with John Philip Sousa, a lot of classical music and gospel." But Jake also knew that his uncle, Clarence Clemons, was the saxophonist for one of the biggest rock 'n' roll bands in the world: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

I've learned from past experience that, if you want to catch Lewis Black when he is calm and displaying socially acceptable behavior, it must be in the morning.

But when I call him at his New York City apartment at 10:30 in the morning, I'm already too late. He's been watching the impeachment hearings.

"You elect somebody who doesn't, who never took a civics class," Black says, his voice rising with his anger, "and then you've got a portion of the country THAT DOESN'T UNDERSTAND HOW THE GOVERNMENT IS RUN?"

Nile Rodgers and Chic, Spyro Gyra, and a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Garth Fagan Dance in Rochester, with jazz pianist Monty Alexander, are the first three shows announced for Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre at the 19th CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival.

Rodgers, a three-time Grammy winner and member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, is joined by Chic for an 8 p.m. June 26 show.

What is it that Alan Murphy wants from his band, The Mighty High and Dry?

"I'm looking for a churchy Americana vibe," he says, "but we have some stuff that people can dance to, soul, soul and blues."

He wants different voices, so he's co-written songs such as "Little Red Dress" with Zahyia Rolle of the local R&B band Vanishing Sun. And a couple with Vanessa Mangione, one with a "Johnny Cash vibe," Murphy says, and another he describes as "a gospel party song."

Music is a time machine. Thirty-six years, "It's hard for me to get my head around that … " says Joe Locke.

It's been almost four decades since the birth of "In Front of the Silver Screen," if you're lucky enough to find a vinyl copy of it, the only form in which it officially exists. It's the hard-to-find debut album by who was to become one of the world's pre-eminent jazz vibraphonists. The liner notes insist the album was recorded on June 1 and 2, 1983, although Locke thinks it might have been two sets in one night. But he concedes his memory of the event might be a little off. He was only 22 at the time, and maybe a little caught up in the moment.

His first album!


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