WRUR 88.5 Different Radio

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.

As next month’s KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival recalibrates for the new reality -- the event will be presented virtually -- the performers are having to rethink what Darren Stevenson calls “the canvas on which we create.”

The film is black and white, as was the issue. The camera work is a little jittery, as were the times. A Black man -- he looks to be in his mid-20s -- is talking about the relationship between the police and Black youths.

“They got feelings, we got feelings, they should consider that. I mean, if you get clubbed upside the head, man, it hurts. They should know that, if they get clubbed upside the head, that’s gonna hurt. You know what I mean?”

The problem with our new reality is, we can’t see it from where we are now.

The new reality, of course, is COVID-19. The numbers -- more than 600,000 dead worldwide, more than 140,000 dead in the United states -- tell us the virus is not a conspiracy theory. Science tells us it’s not going to simply disappear.

David Shakes knows what change looks like, and sounds like, and feels like. He finds it in writers such as James Baldwin, whose words have shadowed us as the country navigates the summer of Black Lives Matter.

Shakes is finding change in the words of Frederick Douglass, and in the narratives of slaves. And in "Emancipation Denied," a play written by a Rochester woman and brought to the stage four years ago by Shakes' North Star Players.

HomeStage: Anonymous Willpower

Jul 10, 2020

Anonymous Willpower can be described as New Orleans punk or alternative blues. No matter how they're described, we think you'll enjoy their HomeStage performance!


HomeStage: Taurus Savant

Jul 10, 2020

Taurus Savant is a singer-songwriter and producer who has a way with words and melody. He's also an advocate for the arts in Rochester. And all this, is just a small sample of his talents.

On this HomeStage, Taurus sings a song he wrote and produced titled "Hit the Ground."


Abby Feldman's life has come full circle. After a comedy career that has taken her from Manhattan to Brazil to just within reach of the dark bat wings of the Kremlin, she's now waiting out the coronavirus pandemic in her childhood bedroom in Pittsford. Where her mother, she says, "keeps my supply of avocados replenished."

"It took a pandemic to appreciate this small town that I come from."

How did we get to the point that singing is considered to be a dangerous act?

That's where we are, in this era of COVID-19. Last week, the nation was reopening bars, restaurants, churches, music venues. Now, more than half the states in the country are pulling back from their premature announcements that the coronavirus pandemic is over, and life may now return to normal.

HomeStage: Hanna PK

Jul 1, 2020

The fact that Hanna PK is in Rochester shows the breadth of musical talent here. While known for blues, she's a singer-songwriter in a variety of genres. With a lot of us yearning for a return to a new 'normal', Hanna PK performs “Soyo Arirang," inspired by the old Korean folk tradition called Arirang.


"Miss Juneteenth" is one of the current virtual offerings at The Little Theatre, part of the Black Cinema Series. It's about a single mom, Turquoise Jones, a former Miss Juneteenth winner, preparing her rebellious teenage daughter to follow in her footsteps and compete in the pageant.

"One message is pride, one message is teaching history," Richard McCollough says.

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