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Jeff Spevak

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. 

The arts & life scene was full of news in 2019. As we look back at the news of the year, we bring the spotlight to the arts. Producer Veronica Volk talks with WXXI Arts & Life editor and reporter Jeff Spevak.

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.

Here is more proof that the world of movies can be a surreal experience: when we catch up with Karolyn Grimes, who memorably played the 6-year-old Zuzu Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” she’s passing through Texas as a passenger in a car driven by Paris Themmen; he played Mike Teavee, the television-obsessed kid in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.”

Even the slightest brush with cinema history can be everlasting fame.

Clay McBride

I've learned from past experience that, if you want to catch Lewis Black when he is calm and displaying socially acceptable behavior, it must be in the morning.

But when I call him at his New York City apartment at 10:30 in the morning, I'm already too late. He's been watching the impeachment hearings.

"You elect somebody who doesn't, who never took a civics class," Black says, his voice rising with his anger, "and then you've got a portion of the country THAT DOESN'T UNDERSTAND HOW THE GOVERNMENT IS RUN?"

Aaron Winters

It's a reasonable question to ask: What the hell were Bat McGrath and Tricia Cast doing in Nashville?


Jeff Spevak/WXXI News

Eugenia Zukerman is brilliant. A world-renowned flutist. A novelist and essayist. A television journalist, as the classical music correspondent with "CBS Sunday Morning" for many years. Yet she failed the simplest of tests:

Name every animal she can think of that starts with the letter "h."

"It made me realize that I wasn't on top of my form," she says.

"It is not an easy test, I came away from it feeling that, yes, I do have a problem."

The problem? Alzheimer's disease.

www.wardstare.com

American Rapture, a recording featuring the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Music Director Ward Stare with soloist Yolanda Kondonassis, was nominated for two Grammy awards on Wednesday.  This album includes the world premiere recording of Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Higdon’s Harp Concerto, written for and dedicated to Yolanda Kondonassis.

The recording received the following nominations:

Best Classical Instrumental Solo - HIGDON: HARP CONCERTO--Yolanda Kondonassis; Ward Stare, conductor (The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra)

Joseph Boggess

Music is a time machine. Thirty-six years, "It's hard for me to get my head around that … " says Joe Locke.

It's been almost four decades since the birth of "In Front of the Silver Screen," if you're lucky enough to find a vinyl copy of it, the only form in which it officially exists. It's the hard-to-find debut album by who was to become one of the world's pre-eminent jazz vibraphonists. The liner notes insist the album was recorded on June 1 and 2, 1983, although Locke thinks it might have been two sets in one night. But he concedes his memory of the event might be a little off. He was only 22 at the time, and maybe a little caught up in the moment.

His first album!


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