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.

Aaron Winters

Perhaps the vehicle to lead us out of the coronavirus pandemic will be our cars.

The car. In which we are hermetically sealed. Unless we roll down the windows, which is bound to happen as summer arrives. One thing COVID-19 cannot stop.

Courtesy of Alan Zweibel

Alan Zweibel hears voices in his head.

"All the time, when I'm writing -- and this goes on for many, many years -- the TV is on when I'm writing at home," he says. "The volume is down, and it's usually a show that I've seen before. 'Law and Order,' you know, 'SVU.' Something that's not going to take my mind off my work, but it's like a white noise in the background, there's an ambience to it. And if something does catch my eye, between sentences or paragraphs, I'll turn the volume up a little. But it is a constant companion."

Provided

If there is something positive to come out of this coronavirus pandemic, Greg Townson says, it may be in something once uttered by one of the minds behind Monty Python.

"Believe it or not," Townson says, "I think it was John Cleese who said, 'In order to be creative, you have to have at least three hours of uninterrupted time that you're devoting to your project.' "

Provided by Judith Schaechter

Had it been a minute faster, or a minute slower, on a 2,825-mile journey, the Titanic might have been just another passenger ship that never met an iceberg.

That's the cruelty of timing. We're seeing it now in the arts, as musicians gauge whether they should release a new work in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, or wait until it's OK to throw a party.

There's a new album out by The Heavy Love Trust's titled "Always Kinda Nothing". Check it out on your favorite streaming platform. 

To mark the release, we've got The Heavy Love Trust's Benton Sillick with us on HomeStage to play the only song he's written during quarantine.

Screenshot from Facebook.com

Here's what the coronavirus pandemic is teaching us:

Slow down.

A screenshot from Angels in the Rafters video on YouTube

Monday morning, Facebook greeted me with this message:

You have seven events coming up this week.

Seven. That list used to run into the hundreds.

We don't know what to do with ourselves. Have we forgotten what the arts can do for us?

As a percussionist, Marty York is all washed up. On Monday evening, he was banging on the washing machine at his home, pounding out a rhythm, whacking a cowbell.

This is music in the age of coronavirus. Musicians confined to their homes, stripped of creative connections, driven to abusing large appliances. York is the drummer with Watkins & the Rapiers, a Rochester band stripped of its Monday-night residency at The Little Café. 

Imagine you're driving in a car through the mountains, and up ahead is a tunnel. You enter the tunnel, and immediately the sunlight disappears. You don't know how long the tunnel is, how long the darkness will last, or what you'll see when you come out on the other side.

That's where we are now.

Courtesy Rounder Records/Jacalyn Meyvis

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."

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