Jeff Spevak

Photo by Josh Saunders

When a band climbs onstage, a trio wearing all black, you will soon discover one truth.

There are many shades of black.

Daniel Kushner / CITY Newspaper

A kind of church

Rochester's sacred-steel gospel stars, the Campbell Brothers, parted ways with the House of God because the Pentecostal church wanted to keep the music within its walls. The Campbells wanted to take the sound to the world. It was a difficult decision for the Campbells, but jazz festivals throughout this country and Europe have been richly rewarded - the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival included.

Photo by Josh Saunders


It's a stunning moment when an artist allows us inside his or her head, to that lifetime-retrospective rattling around in the brain. But that's what happened during the second show from the Bill Frisell Trio on Saturday night at the Temple Building Theater.

This is the 18th Rochester International Music Festival. I’ve covered them all, and I would never pick an all-time best show. But this one would certainly be in the conversation.


Photo by Josh Saunders

After 18 years, the secret is out. The Rochester International Jazz Festival isn't really a jazz festival. It’s actually a culture museum of many rooms.

But on Friday night, opening night of the nine-day event, the fest did have its giant jazz moment: the Steve Gadd Band, at Eastman Theatre's Kodak Hall.

Gadd is a bona fide Rochester son: raised in Irondequoit; Eastridge High grad; Eastman School of Music; lived here for years. He's one of the world's most sought-after drummers; when James Taylor visited Gadd, people would see him strolling along the Erie Canal.

Carla R. Coots

Social media offered hopeful hints about Joe Dady’s condition over the last few days. Well-meaning friends, reporting that stem-cell donations from Joe’s brother John might be holding off the rare form of leukemia Joe had been diagnosed with in October.

Perhaps we all just wanted to believe it was so.


The story is almost too good to be true. A teenage preacher in the Mississippi of the Great Depression 1930s falls to women, booze and the blues. There is sharecropping. Murder. Juke joints. The classic battle of God vs. Satan. A confluence of guitar-picking rogues, including the iconic Delta bluesman who inexplicably disappears for decades. Alcoholism, another murder. And then rediscovery, a trio of blues enthusiasts finding the old man sitting on his front porch in Rochester’s Corn Hill. Recognition at last, and redemption.

Rochester Music Hall of Fame

Give the Rochester Music Hall of Fame props for an out-of-this-world opening at Sunday’s induction ceremony and concert. Austin Giorgio, a Webster native and competitor on “The Voice,” crooning “Fly Me to the Moon” behind a backdrop of images from Apollo 11.


Two shows – one a blockbuster musical, the other a provocative premiere – make the upcoming weeks here one of the most significant stretches ever in Rochester theater. Two shows set in times nearly two centuries apart. But sharing one commonality.

Famous actors – Jeff Goldblum and Dan Ackroyd – playing musicians.

Longtime favorites – Bill Frisell, Catherine Russell, Jake Shimabukuro and Trombone Shorty – meet unknowns such as Girls in Airports, which is actually five guys from Denmark.


Judy Collins has worn her activism on her songwriter’s sleeve since the 1960s, when she moved to New York City’s Greenwich Village, plunging into a scene of folk-music driven activism. She is a voice of peace and civil rights, but also travail, publicly sharing her own experiences with alcoholism, drug abuse, bulimia and the suicide of her son.

Collins, who plays Saturday, March 9, at Hochstein Performance Hall, is an unerring judge of other songwriters’ material: She has had hits with Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” and Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire.” She has inspired songs: Stephen Stills wrote “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” about Collins.