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Jeff Spevak takes a look at the 2019 Rochester Music Hall of Fame inductees

Feb 26, 2019

Credit Rochester Music Hall of Fame

Beach Boy Al Jardine, television-theme composer Jack Allocco, folk singer Christine Lavin, longtime area promoter Jeff Springut and his club Red Creek, and WCMF-FM (96.5). The eighth class of the Rochester Music Hall of Fame, introduced Tuesday morning, is the now-familiar mix of acclaimed performers and behind-the-scenes operators.

Jardine – whose first beach was Lake Ontario – Allocco and Lavin will perform at the April 28 induction ceremony and concert at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. The total music package has yet to be revealed: So far it’s venerable Rochester house band Prime Time Funk, The Voice competitor and Webster native Austin Giorgio and the usual ’70s relic found in show producer Bruce Pilato’s record collection, Gary Wright, whose hits included “Dream Weaver” and “Love is Alive.”

“I don’t think we’ve let you down in the past,” Pilato said, alluding to last year’s big score, Paul Simon. As both Pilato and Hall of Fame President Jack Whittier pointed out, that concert was sold out, at 2,300 seats, before Simon’s attendance was even a rumor.

Tuesday’s press conference was held in the new site of the Hall of Fame at 26 Gibbs St., “our first press conference in our home,” Whittier said. As of now, it’s little more than a shell of a room, with scattered posters of some of the previous inductees. But the Hall of Fame has tapped students from Rochester Institute of Technology’s museum studies and engineering programs to convert the room into a mix of museum and performance space. The renovations will include a “Murphy stage,” a retractable platform that folds up against a wall when not in use, much like a Murphy bed.

Whittier said he expects the new room, when completed later this year, will play host to 40 or 50 events each year, including weekly “Grove Place Jazz Project” concerts and its current “Books Backstage” series, featuring authors of music-oriented books. Friday’s talk in the Hall of Fame room is by Eastman School of Music percussion professor and Hall of Fame inductee John Beck.

The five new inductees join the 44 already enshrined in the Hall of Fame’s first seven years.

Allocco, born and raised in Rochester, has won 11 Emmys. He is the composer for the daytime soaps The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful, and has also worked in theater, as a musical director for Robert Goulet and Peter Allen, and performed in Carnegie Hall, Buckingham Palace, The Grand Ole Opry and the White House.

Allocco will be joined by Prime Time Funk, a string section of student musicians from Nazareth College and Wright, who will perform new arrangements by Allocco of “Dream Weaver” and Love is Alive.”

Jardine is a founding member of the Beach Boys. He spent much of his childhood in Rochester, where his father worked at Eastman Kodak and taught photography at RIT. Jardine and his son will be joined by Prime Time Funk on some of the Beach Boys’ hits.

Lavin is a College of Brockport graduate who for many years lived in Geneva. Lavin’s subject matter ranges from sensitive New Age guys to the planet Pluto, and Pilato warned that she also frequently targets political issues. Lavin’s web site includes a video, “79 Seconds of Lies,” which skewers Donald Trump’s campaign promise that Mexico will pay for his border wall. Lavin’s performance will include a selection of her songs.

Jeff Springut and Red Creek were key players on the local scene from 1970 until 1997. Springut brought acts such as Muddy Waters, Bonnie Raitt and The Red Hot Chili Peppers to his Henrietta club. But it was a show that didn’t happen at Rec Creek that he may be best remembered for: When an unknown Irish rock band’s manager complained about the presence of two regular customers eating lunch in the room during sound check, Springut threw the band out of the club. U2 recovered from the incident and has done just fine since then, although its will not likely be a part of the musical tribute yet to be announced.

WCMF-FM (96.5) celebrates its 50th birthday this year, and is a rarity in commercial radio for having not strayed from its original format. The classic-rock station’s personalities have included Brother Wease and previous Hall of Fame inductee Unkle Roger McCall, as well as Dave Kane. Kane is celebrating his 38th year with the station, and will be honored with a Special Merit Award. The musical tribute for WCMF is still in negotiations.

Tuesday’s press conference also revealed the winner of the annual poster contest to be used in advertising the induction concert. David Gardner, an architect with LaBella Associates, created a watercolor of a trumpet set against a backdrop of Rochester architectural landmarks.

Tickets for the 7 p.m. April 28 show at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre start at $31 and are available at rochestermusic.org, eastmanthreatre.org and (585) 274-3000.

Jeff Spevak, a cultural arts contributor to WXXI, is a Rochester-based writer. His web site is jeffspevak.com.