Fringe Festival

Fred SanFilipo / Fred SanFilipo

It was the biggest gig in the short history of Massaoke, but the band’s expectations were low. Sure, it was the Glastonbury Festival. But the band was playing at 5 in the afternoon.

To its surprise, the show was packed. Except, “People were crying,” says drummer Mat Morrisroe. “They had been showing the Amy Winehouse documentary right before we played.”

Nevertheless, the band played on. And the crowd stayed. “We thought: This actually worked in front of a crowd of people,” keyboardist Mark Nilsson says.

Jeff Spevak / for WXXI News

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.


If you go to some of the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival events this weekend and next at Parcel 5 and the Spiegelgarden, you may be heckled.   In a good way.

Debi Mansour, who performs under the name Crackerjack, is a complimentary heckler.

Dressed in flamboyant outfits, she grabs a megaphone and hurls flattering words at passersby. Many of them laugh and smile. Some of them blush and hide their faces.

All of the interactions make Crackerjack feel like she’s doing something good, and needed now more than ever.

Jeff Spevak

The dancer has a broken toe, and the law shook down the karaoke band at the Detroit airport.

Otherwise, it was business as unusual: Ethiopian child juggling! – on opening night of the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival.

Erich Camping

Fringe Festival: Day One

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the grammatically casual philosophy as the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival opens Wednesday.

An upcoming Rochester Fringe Festival show has caused a huge discussion on social media about the correct way to honor African American spirituals and remember the horrors of slavery. Local musician Lee Wright is slated to perform a concert called Holding on Through Song, which spotlights spirituals, or music created by people in bondage.

It’s our annual Fringe Festival preview. The 11-day festival includes more than 500 performances. We sit down with the festival’s producer and artists from a range of acts to talk about what’s on stage at this year’s event.

In studio:


The full line-up of the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival was announced on Tuesday.

WXXI's arts & cultural contributor Jeff Spevak has a look at what to expect:

Wedding vows, drunken Shakespeare, the dirt on Little House on the Prairie and two nights of Massaoke – mass karaoke involving a live band and thousands of singers, more or more-often less, on key. Tuesday’s Big Reveal for this year’s KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival is a cabinet of curiosities.

The Rochester Fringe Festival is coming. This fast-paced hour will offer a preview with performers and writers. In studio:

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Fred SanFilipo

(photos by WXXI photographer Fred SanFilipo)

The First Niagara Festival wraps up Saturday and founding producer Erica Fee is hoping for record setting attendance for the 10-day event.

She says last year, they had more than 63,000,  and she expects to top that this year.

Fee says one trend they’ve been seeing is the festival, which features an eclectic mix of performances, is attracting people from outside the region.