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.

It was the early 1980s and Christine Lavin's longtime boyfriend, a lawyer, told her a special guest would be joining them for dinner at a Manhattan restaurant. "But he wouldn't tell me who, because he figured I wouldn’t show up," Lavin says.

There are times when Greg Townson seems to be spread so thin, you can read these words right through him. He’s a co-founder of The Hi-Risers, the glorious garage-rock trio, a steady part of the Rochester scene since 1989. Playing guitar on tours with soul singer John Ellison and pop singer Eleni Mandell. Or he’s jetting back and forth between here and London as a hired guitar, or to produce a record for a band like the Swiss rockabilly outfit Hillbilly Moon Explosion. The song, “My Love For Evermore,” Townson says, “is a standard in Europe, people have it tattooed on them.

This is the start. It’s like the opening moments of a “Star Trek” episode, where you know the new young guy in the blue shirt will be the one to die at the hands of an alien, before Captain Kirk works it out. Likewise, the editors at WXXI have shot down all of my suggestions, so you can help name this column. Until then, it’s called “Your Name Here.”

Check out events happening this weekend

It is immigration of the most-fearful order. A caravan arriving at East Main and Chestnut streets, proceeding to Parcel 5, the gravel lot off East Main Street, with loud sounds and bright lights alerting Rochester citizens – women, men, children and dogs – to turn their faces to the sky and witness weird creatures, their facial features bulging, bulky bodies darting this way and that in a threatening manner on the whim of the breeze, herded by men and women speaking a foreign language…

Mike Kaupa remembers the good old days of the Jimmy Carter administration, "when there was a lot more money for the arts," he says. "I got a CETA Grant to play jazz in Rochester. That's how I ended up here."

CETA, the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, brought Kaupa from Buffalo to Rochester. He remains a significant player on the local scene, and is a teacher at The Harley School, Finger Lakes Community College and the Eastman Community Music School.

In 2018, there were many developments in Rochester's always vibrant arts scene.

WXXI Arts and Culture contributor Jeff Spevak talked with news director Randy Gorbman about some of the major events over this past year, from the jazz festival and local indie rockers Joywave to outstanding art exhibits and the ongoing saga of the downtown performing arts center.

The Rochester Museum and Science Center’s “Science on the Edge Lecture Series” has presented talks on the migration of Monarch butterflies and plans for sending humans to Mars in 2020. Later this month, you can hear a lecture on the 3D printing of human organs. But first, this Thursday, the series teams up with the Rochester Music Hall of Fame to ask the question: “Why Rochester? Exploring the Music Business in Our Community.”

These KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival shows are like chasing lightning bugs across a hillside. For most of the shows, you get one, two, maybe three looks at them. And that’s it. They’re gone.

Two days into the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival, and already we have a bold statement on these times. Words, and music, coming back to us from 150 years ago.

Eight years ago, Jessica Marten – Curator in Charge/Curator of American Art at Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery – was poking around among the paintings in a museum storage space when a small piece caught her eye.

It was many things. The artist’s medium, egg tempera and gold leaf, suggested medieval paintings, and the illuminated manuscripts of monks. The extensive use of borders is what might be seen on a tapestry. And the central figure looked like an image from Frida Kahlo: A woman in pain, clutching her head. Her eyes are bleeding.

Pages