The Mighty High and Dry searches for a groove, The Televisionaries find one in 1963

Nov 27, 2019

The Mighty High and Dry will perform on Nov. 30 at Iron Smoke Distillery in Fairport.
Credit The Mighty High and Dry

What is it that Alan Murphy wants from his band, The Mighty High and Dry?

"I'm looking for a churchy Americana vibe," he says, "but we have some stuff that people can dance to, soul, soul and blues."

He wants different voices, so he's co-written songs such as "Little Red Dress" with Zahyia Rolle of the local R&B band Vanishing Sun. And a couple with Vanessa Mangione, one with a "Johnny Cash vibe," Murphy says, and another he describes as "a gospel party song."

Gospel party! Is that even a genre? He's bringing in horns. Maybe a cover of Bob Dylan's "Meet Me in the Morning." It's not just The Mighty High and Dry, it's The Mighty High and Dry Assembly. With a new look in the last year or so. Now it's Alex Cote on drums; he also plays with Dangerbyrd and Mikaela Davis. Eric Katerle is on guitar; he used to play with the John Cole Blues Band, and co-hosts the Wednesday night open mic at Murph's. They join Murphy on piano and guitar, and Kyle Vock on bass. Those two have been the core of Mighty High and Dry since 2011.

It all kind of comes together with a live video and audio recording of the Rochester band at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, at Iron Smoke Distillery in Fairport.

And still, Murphy wants more.

"We're doing some stuff with Alex that he's written that has some T-Rex boogie vibes and Lou Reed approaches," says Murphy, who loves the word "tunes."

"There's a little bit more of a garage element to the stuff. Some of the tunes, the tunes I've added, for the most part is trying to add simpler song forms. Some ballad forms. One tune basically started out like a Dylan tune, 'You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,' but I wanted it to be more Mighty High and Dry, so we did sort of an Alabama Shakes groove to it. It still sounds like the same band, but maybe it's been revived along the way."

It's almost too much. Is The Mighty High and Dry overwhelmed with ideas?

"We all have a lot of songs, but we've been pretty slow in adding them, out of necessity," Murphy says. "This show's a culmination of a lot of the work we've been doing the past few years, tunes we've been playing since Alex and Eric joined the group, not released in any way, but they always go over well in shows."

Pressed for an anecdote to humanize the band, after thinking about it overnight, Murphy came up with this: A year ago, they were driving to Naples for a gig when a doe crossed the road and Murphy hit it with his car. To their surprise, the doe jumped up and ran off, but Murphy's car was unresponsive. As he shared in an email, "I sat in a police car a couple hours waiting for the tow truck. The tow truck driver told me about his sexual experiences while serving in the military. This info was unsolicited by me but he was very happy to share."

So the band remains venison-less, but oddly stimulated. Alongside two previous full-length studio albums and a six-song EP, now The Mighty High and Dry will have some live tracks to play with. "You're gonna hear the audience, and you're gonna hear a different energy," Murphy says.

The plan, such as it is, is The Mighty High and Dry will take the audio and video from the Iron Smoke Distillery show, fold it in with video and audio shot in February at Three Heads Brewing, then unleash the stuff to the internet. Piece by piece.

Except, something deep inside Murphy tells him he wants these live recordings to live beyond the internet. He wants the look and feel and smell that comes with…

"I've noticed that people are more inclined to buy a vinyl product than they are to buy a CD. I want to sell them, but…"

He wants tunes with a groove.

"I grew up with vinyl, I want to see our band in that size of format," Murphy says. "It's hard to find meaning in the number of 'Likes' you get, or the number of folks that watch something on Facebook. It's cool, yeah. But it doesn't really mean anything."

The Televisionaries celebrate the release of Ram-A Lam-A with a Nov. 30 show at The Bug Jar.
Credit The Televisionaries

More vinyl dreams from The Televisionaries

Everything about The Televisionaries' "Ram-A Lam-A" reeks of 1963. It's a vinyl 7-inch, 45 rpm record, two songs to each side, which is how the bands sometimes did it back then. The cover photo looks faded, three guys hanging out with some kind of Land Rover vehicle, squinting in the sun.

But it's Rochester's The Televisionaries, and they're 2019. The band celebrates the release of "Ram-A Lam-A" with a 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, show at The Bug Jar. It's a band of brothers, Austin Lake on drums, Brendan Lake on bass and Trevor Lake on guitar. They all do vocals as well, what there is of them. Not much. It's just fun, fiery guitar from the opening "Bad News" -- the title is about the extent of the lyrics -- to a more relaxed instrumental, "Tokyo Swing." Major vocal influences might be limited to "Surfin' Bird." 

So you find a slot somewhere between The Trashmen and Rochester's revered garage-rock revivalists The Hi-Risers, and that's The Televisionaries. In fact, Trevor Lake sets aside the guitar and plays drums whenever The Hi-Risers call.

The Televisionaries (a Band Name Hall-of-Fame nominee) are joined at the Bug Jar on Saturday by Alex Patrick and his Noise Boys and Albany's Abyssmals.

New in Town

Abilene Bar & Lounge has just announced a great-looking show: Eric Andersen and Scarlet Rivera, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16. Andersen is an accomplished veteran of the Greenwich Village scene; he wrote the classic "Dirty Boots," covered by many musicians, including Bob Dylan. Speaking of which, Rivera is the violinist who played with Dylan on the "Desire" album and the Rolling Thunder Revue tour. Our local stellar songwriter, Jeff Riales, opens the show. Tickets ($22 advance, $25 the day of the show, are available at abilenebarandlounge.com …

Raging Skillet -- an upcoming production at the JCC CenterStage Theatre -- is based on a book written by Chef Rossi, above.
Credit JCC

The JCC CenterStage Theatre's upcoming production of "Raging Skillet" comes with the enticing promotional material that the protagonist, Chef Rossi, abandoned her Hungarian-Jewish mother's microwave ways to become New York City's No. 1 lesbian punk-rock caterer. The show opens 8 p.m. Dec. 7 and runs through Dec. 22 at the Louis S. Wolk Rochester Jewish Community Center. The comedy is based on "The Raging Skillet: The True-Life Adventures of Chef Rossi, A Memoir with Recipes," and Chef Rossi (also a food writer and food explainer on radio, The Food Network and NPR) will be available to sign copies of her book on opening night, at the post-show talkback on Dec. 8, and on the closing weekend. The show, which has previously been staged in Hartford, Connecticut, and St. Louis, features Stephanie Roosa as Chef Rossi (like South American soccer stars, she uses only one name), Davida Bloom as Rossi's mom and Laron Spratt as DJ Skillet. Tickets (ranging from $20 to $33) are available at (585) 461-2000 and jcccenterstage.org …

Ronan Tynan will headline An Evening of Irish Song and Dance at Hochstein Performance Hall in March.
Credit Catholic Charities Community Services

Irish Tenor Ronan Tynan headlines "An Evening of Irish Song & Dance Featuring Ronan Tynan" at 7 p.m. March 12 at Hochstein Performance Hall, followed by the "Breakfast with Friends with Guest Speaker Ronan Tynan" at 8 a.m. March 13 at Rochester Riverside Convention Center. The concert includes two local youth groups, Rochester Academy of Irish Dance and Roisin Dubh. Both events are fundraisers for Catholic Charities Community Services, a group that works to strengthening the independence, inclusion, and individuality of persons with disabilities and those who are living with significant health challenges. Tynan is a double lower-leg amputee who set a number of Paralympics world records before going on to a singing career with a number of high-profile appearances; Yankees fans may recognize him for singing "God Bless America" at some games. General admission tickets for each pre-St. Patrick's Day event are $50, with a limited number of $75 VIP concert tickets that include premium seating and a pre-concert reception with Tynan. They're available at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 29, at cccsrochester.org/news-events/breakfast-with-friends. Concert tickets will also be available at Northfield Music, Bop Shop Records and Record Archive ...

Over 30 hours of music ranging from compositions going back to the 1600s to current student compositions will be featured at the Eastman Community Music School's "Winterfest" on Dec. 14 on five stages in concert halls and classrooms at the Eastman School of Music. The free performances include vocal and instrumental groups composed of ages kindergarten to retirees, playing music from European courts to Harlem swing clubs to holiday favorites. For a list of performers, checkesm.rochester.edu/community/winterfest/.

Jeff Spevak is WXXI's Arts & Life editor and reporter. He can be reached at jspevak@wxxi.org.