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.

Darick Campbell, one of the trio of brothers who made up the scintillating Rochester sacred-steel band The Campbell Brothers, has died.

The band announced the news Monday morning on Facebook that Campbell had passed away in Atlanta, where he lived. No cause of death was given.

Together with his older brothers Chuck and Phillip, and his nephew Carlton, The Campbell Brothers emerged from the closeted world of their church to take their sound across the United States, Europe, Africa and even China.

There's a new album out by The Heavy Love Trust's titled "Always Kinda Nothing". Check it out on your favorite streaming platform. 

To mark the release, we've got The Heavy Love Trust's Benton Sillick with us on HomeStage to play the only song he's written during quarantine.

Had it been a minute faster, or a minute slower, on a 2,825-mile journey, the Titanic might have been just another passenger ship that never met an iceberg.

That's the cruelty of timing. We're seeing it now in the arts, as musicians gauge whether they should release a new work in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, or wait until it's OK to throw a party.

Here's what the coronavirus pandemic is teaching us:

Slow down.

Monday morning, Facebook greeted me with this message:

You have seven events coming up this week.

Seven. That list used to run into the hundreds.

We don't know what to do with ourselves. Have we forgotten what the arts can do for us?

HomeStage: John Dady

Apr 21, 2020

Looks like we won't have live in-person concerts for a bit, so we'll bring some performances to you, with a series called HomeStage.

Jeff Spevak presents Rochester Music Hall of Famer John Dady. We'll have more performances for you by Rochester's talented musicians from the most intimate stage of all...their homes! 

As a percussionist, Marty York is all washed up. On Monday evening, he was banging on the washing machine at his home, pounding out a rhythm, whacking a cowbell.

This is music in the age of coronavirus. Musicians confined to their homes, stripped of creative connections, driven to abusing large appliances. York is the drummer with Watkins & the Rapiers, a Rochester band stripped of its Monday-night residency at The Little Café. 

Imagine you're driving in a car through the mountains, and up ahead is a tunnel. You enter the tunnel, and immediately the sunlight disappears. You don't know how long the tunnel is, how long the darkness will last, or what you'll see when you come out on the other side.

That's where we are now.

The producers of the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival announced Thursday afternoon that the event’s June dates are being canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but they left open the door for a rescheduling in the fall of this year.

"In the past two weeks since we announced our 2020 festival lineup, our world has been turned upside down,” co-producers John Nugent and Marc Iacona said in a press release. “The health crisis we are experiencing has resulted in significant loss of life and illness, growing fear, and unprecedented disruption in all aspects of our lives.”

Idle hands are the devil's tools. Unless we place a musical instrument in those hands.

The coronavirus pandemic has put virtually every musician in the country out of work. But many have responded by retreating to their basements. Recording a song. Then letting it run loose on the internet, where an innocent browser will uncover something beautiful. Such as the Rochester band Violet Mary, and its stunning version of Led Zeppelin's "The Rain Song."

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