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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.

For this moment, a dramatic response was called for. It was time to come up big. Matt Ramerman had what he calls a local "power roster" of musicians lined up and ready to go this weekend. He had sponsors. He had a venue, the biggest club in town, Anthology. The technology needed to stream the show live on the internet was ready. The message: We're down, but not out …

Coronavirus' vast, leathery bat wings are slowly encircling the planet, casting a shadow across the globe, choking out light, our culture. Go home, draw the curtains closed, turn on the television, do not answer calls from friends inviting you to dinner or a movie.

The moment calls for a new cautionary label. It was duck and cover, for those who survived the Cold War. Shelter in place, for those who heard shots from a lone gunman in the next classroom. Now, social distancing.

Most years, by this point in the story, John Nugent, the producer and artistic director of the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival, generally exudes an attitude that the event is on automatic pilot. All acts are booked, the food trucks are gassed up, the weather vanes are blowing in the right direction.

Add the Rochester Music Hall of Fame's April induction ceremony to events lost to the coronavirus outbreak.

The University of Rochester, which runs Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, is one of many schools and organizations throughout the country that are either canceling or postponing events.

"They came out on Monday and said any athletic event, any music event, any event happening on a UR facility that would draw a large crowd through April 15 either needs to be canceled or postponed," said Hall of Fame President Jack Whittier.

Brandi Carlile and Ratt are the latest shows to be added to the Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center summer schedule.

Carlile, whose most recent album, By the Way, I Forgive You, was nominated for a Grammy Award, has an 8 p.m. June 27 show at the venue outside of Canandaigua.

Ratt is joined by a lineup of '80s-era metal of varying degrees of volume and hair in Tom Keifer's Cinderella, Skid Row and Slaughter. That show is at 7 p.m. June 13.

Caroline Vreeland is on the phone, fresh out of the shower. Usually it's the other way around; people want a shower after they talk to me.

She is the great-granddaughter of Diana Vreeland, formerly the lofty columnist and editor of the fashion magazines Harper's Bazaar and Vogue. It's a connection that has led Caroline Vreeland to walk the runways herself, and even design a lingerie collection for Kiki de Montparnasse. Thongs with a wine-glass motif, that sort of thing.

"People want me in their jeans, you know?" she says.

The summer concert season forecast includes a Norah Jones Confluence for western New York. The Rochester area will have two opportunities to see the jazzy pop singer this summer, in different configurations. 

And as they’re potentially competing for the same audience, the promoters of both events aren’t giving the other a jump start on tickets; both shows go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.

There was never any doubt that the Rochester Music Hall of Fame class of 2020, with five new names to be celebrated at the April induction concert, would belong to The Dady Brothers.

Few musicians here have been so highly regarded, and for as long, as the traditional folk duo. They played coffeehouses and taverns and shared stages with Pete Seeger, Tommy Makem, The Clancy Brothers and Ani DiFranco. Going back to 1979, John and Joe Dady released 11 albums as a duo, and one solo album a piece.

Traci Westcott/Sarah Eide

No square on the calendar seems to have escaped. "Extraterrestrial Abduction Day" is March 20. Entire months have been claimed. November is NaNoWriMo. Translation: National Novel Writing Month. And now we're in the midst of FAWM: February Album Writing Month.

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.

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