Classical 91.5

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.

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."

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 …

In one fell swoop, Geva Theatre Center on Monday announced it is postponing, canceling or re-platforming the remainder of this season’s events. 

And anticipating an end to the coronavirus pandemic that is shuttering the arts, it also announced on Monday its productions for the upcoming 2020-21 season, beginning with a Sept. 1 show about air guitars, and the people who love them.

Beating New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the punch by one news cycle, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra announced Thursday afternoon that it was postponing all concerts through May 9.

And by Friday morning, that decision proved to be academic anyway, as Cuomo announced that all workers in nonessential businesses in the state are required to stay home in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

RPO shows affected by its announcement are:

Citing the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic, the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival announced Wednesday that it is suspending ticket sales for Club Passes and the headliner shows at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.

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.

Four of Rochester’s biggest museums -- the Memorial Art Gallery, The Strong the Rochester Museum & Science Center and George Eastman Museum-- announced Friday afternoon that they will join the exploding number of closings driven by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Strong announced that it will be closed as of 8 p.m. Friday, with plans to re-open on April 13. RMSC closed its doors to the public at 5 p.m. Friday, with plans to stay closed through March 27.

Zoo closed, too

The Seneca Park Zoo also is closed as a

As the winter solstice rolls around, the pagans have decided that bows and arrows simply won't do, they'll need cannons to vanquish their foe. And so the cannons do their work, and the pagans parade the bodies of their victims through the town. And then, "The song goes into cannibalism," Cary Ratcliff explains, as the pagans hand out extra pieces of meat to the poor.

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.

Artistic and managing director Danny Hoskins calls the Blackfriars Theatre 2020-21 season “a journey.” If so, the men will be left standing on the wharf, watching the ship sail.

“We decided to do something that the Academy Awards didn’t do,” development manager Mary Tiballi Hoffman said Monday night at the Blackfriars announcement for the upcoming season at its East Main Street theater.

While the recent Oscars awards failed to recognize any female directors, Blackfriars has placed all six of the upcoming season’s productions in the hands of women.

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