WXXI AM News

Across the Universe

Our musicians, our writers, our artists, the culture that comes to visit us, the Elvis impersonators, the stars. WXXI Arts & Life Editor and Reporter Jeff Spevak takes a look at the local scene each week in Across the Universe.

Traci Westcott/Sarah Eide

No square on the calendar seems to have escaped. "Extraterrestrial Abduction Day" is March 20. Entire months have been claimed. November is NaNoWriMo. Translation: National Novel Writing Month. And now we're in the midst of FAWM: February Album Writing Month.

Provided by Joe Pug

Two questions into this phone interview, where Joe Pug is at his home in Maryland, he's called away to an emergency.

"I have to go poopy."

A few minutes later, 3-year-old Rudy's all squared away and has settled in front of the television for some cartoons.

Poopy. "That's the stay-at-home dad life," Joe Pug says. "When I'm not on the road, I'm at home with my kids."

Find more arts coverage at WXXINews.org.

Photo courtesy Raja Hamid

What Hubby Jenkins was hearing on a cable TV news show had reached an obscene level of sanctimonious nonsense. At a rally in Virginia, attended by 22,000 well-armed Americans, on the January day set aside to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a speaker was appropriating the memory of the slain civil rights leader on behalf of their pro-gun cause.

"The icon of nonviolent protest, assassinated by a gun in our country, would be pro-gun," Jenkins says, slowly, evenly, incredulously.

"It's important to know your roots, and to know your history, and to be empowered to boldly go forward."

Provided

Fire, drought, rain, flooding, ash rain, giant hailstones. At least 28 people killed, 3,000 homes destroyed, an estimated billion animals dead. It's an Australian apocalypse. Containing this disaster has evolved into an international effort. 

Deb Jones has lived in Rochester for two decades, but is a native of Australia, where the landscape has been ravaged by fires since late July. After watching this unfold on television from a half a world away, she has assembled "Songs for South Australia Bushfire Relief." The show is at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, at Lovin' Cup Bistro and Brews.

Hollywood Records

It is helpful to think of the release of a new Joywave album as a biological function. "I just naturally produce one every several years," lead singer and songwriter Daniel Armbruster says. "I turn it in to the record company and then they decide if they want to release it. And they liked this one, so it's going to be released."

It's kind of like a snake shedding its skin?

"It really does feel like that."

Paolo Brillo

At age 76, Eric Andersen considers himself to be in "The Danger Zone."

"Half the people I knew are not around anymore," he says. "Townes is gone, Lou Reed is gone, Rick Danko is gone, Janis is gone. Joni, almost.

"You can't argue with gravity and health."

Max Schulte/WXXI News

January is Jeff Riales' month. He's in the midst of a monthlong residency, every Thursday night at Abilene Bar & Lounge. And Friday night at Hochstein Performance Hall, he returns to the event that he inadvertently created, "If All Rochester Wrote the Same Song."

About a decade ago, local singer/songwriter Scott Regan, the host of the weekday mornings "Open Tunings" show on WRUR-FM (88.5), was snooping around Riales' basement. Relax, Regan had been invited, it was a party. And he couldn't have picked a better basement. 

Provided

It was a little more than seven years ago that a handful of diesel fume-belching bulldozers, excavators and front-end loaders began gnawing away at a nondescript parking lot in downtown Rochester. Broken brick and chunks of asphalt were hauled away in dump trucks. Like a team of archaeologists revealing the signs of a forgotten civilization, work crews scraped away layers of debris to uncover the foundation of the old RKO Palace Theater.

Provided by Multibird

We're slogging through the final week of 2019, but already I just may have heard the best local album of 2020.

The official release date for the new, self-titled album by Seth Faergolzia's Multibird is Jan. 1, but you can get a few hours' head start at the official release show at 8 p.m. New Year's Eve at Skylark Lounge.

The prolific Faergolzia assembled Multibird from the cosmic silt of his previous bands, Dufus and 23 Psaegz, the latter born of his desire to create a soundtrack for his puppet opera and accompanying film, "Moon Shaped Head Girl." 

Potterhaus Music

How do you celebrate the holiday season without it coming off like a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie?

Don Potter can't tell you. He finds himself caught in that happy little chestnut-roasting vortex every year. His daughter was all grown up long ago, the grandkids are "spread out all over the country, so to find them around is slim to none," he says. In their place, Potter and his wife, Christine, celebrate in the community around them, among the hills of North Carolina.

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