WXXI AM News

Music

Provided by Caroline Losneck and Christoph Gelfand

A handful of framed gold records lined the otherwise mundane hallway of the Rochester Presbyterian Home, and then on to the walls of the one-room apartment of Ethel Gabriel. She was 91 years old then, but she remembered. 

“How could I forget Elvis?” she said. “I made him famous.”

That was eight years ago, before dementia swept away so many memories of Elvis Presley and of the estimated 2,500 albums -- probably more -- that she produced over the course of a career that began in 1940, when the recording industry was a man's world. 

Hollywood Records

It is such a simple morning ritual. 

Daniel Armbruster gets out of bed. His own bed, after years of so many unfamiliar ones. He pours himself a bowl of granola, sets out the butter and bread for toast. 

There’s some sugar and vitamin C in the cupboard. What’s this, a bottle of C24H28ClN5O3? A chemical formula, better known as Dramamine. The date on the bottle says it’s expired, and it's no longer needed since the high-speed rock-and-roll life has slowed to a more manageable pace. Throw it out. 

And then, on to what “After Coffee" is really about.

Provided

Right now, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, with no end in sight, Alan Murphy imagines the plight of songwriters as a familiar philosophical question: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

“I imagine, especially now, everybody wonders, ‘What am I doing?’” Murphy says. “Not, ‘What’s the value of it?’”

The falling tree, and the songwriters, are making vibrations in the air. It’s your ear that converts those vibrations into sound. And if there’s no one on the receiving end, did the sound even exist…?

Carla Coots

Brian Lindsay has known for a long time how to write a song that goes straight to the heart.

There was “East Side of the River,” from his 2004 album “The Crossing.” A lament of unrequited love -- her family thinks he’s not good enough for her -- wrapped in Springsteen-like wailing harmonica, drama-drenched guitar and the two banks of the Genesee River as metaphor: “You and I worlds apart, with a river in between.”

And “King of the Mountain,” from his 2009 album “Esperanza,” a coming-of-age yowl with echoes of Steve Earle.

Aaron Winters

Teagan Ward doesn’t need The Weather Channel to understand the current climate in America.

“One of frustration, I suppose,” she says.

Ward works in the travel industry, developing tour packages to be sold by travel agents. She’s also a singer and songwriter on the Rochester scene, with her band Teagan and the Tweeds.

"Great music at a bad time." That's the title of a new playlist put together by CITY Magazine. As written by arts editor Daniel Kushner, the playlist is a "non-comprehensive but varied collection of some of Rochester’s best new audio creations. From the country rock of Benton Sillick’s project The Heavy Love Trust to the big-band feel of up-and-coming pop bands such as The Sideways and Nancy, from the gritty, impassioned hip-hop of artists including Capital Cee and Young, Black, and Gifted to fantastic vocal performances by Danielle Ponder and She Rise — local music stepped up to provide a feel-good respite, a momentary escape, and at times poignant reflection on the difficult times we live in."

This hour, our guests discuss the playlist and the 2020 Rochester music scene. Our guests:

  • Daniel Kushner, arts editor for CITY Magazine
  • Dan Gross, digital content reporter at WROC, and host and producer of Rochester Indie Musician Spotlight
  • Kholaa, host of The Cool Cut on WAYO 104.3 FM
  • Jann Nyffeler, music journalist, and director of Mojo Sustainability at Bop Shop Records

Aaron Winters

COVID-19 has put a stranglehold on live music. Several words and phrases have been added to our pandemic lexicon, such as “new normal” and “physically distanced.” All musicians who perform regularly have had to reconsider their approaches -- and many looking for gigs during quarantine have gotten lost in the shuffle.

But there are also those musicians who have been able to secure gigs despite scarce opportunities -- those who play what New York state considers “incidental music.”

Rochester violinist advocates for Black classical musicians

Aug 8, 2020
Sheridan Paige Photography

Violinist Epongue Ekille from Rochester is one of the people calling for a greater recognition of Black musicians’ contributions to classical music. She shares her experiences and some listening recommendations.


When will it be safe to sing together again? It’s a question the New York Times asked earlier this month when reporting on how choirs have been linked to several coronavirus outbreaks. Scientific research shows that COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets. When singers project in performance settings, they may unwittingly spread the virus, if infected. There have been conflicting messages across the globe about the risk of singing during the pandemic.

This hour, we discuss what the data shows and how local and national groups are adapting, both in the short and long term. Our guests:

  • Lee Wright, director of music ministry at Downtown United Presbyterian Church, and founder artistic director of First Inversion choral ensemble
  • Janet Galván, professor of performance studies, and director of choral activities and conducting at Ithaca College
  • Dr. Scott Stratton-Smith, family medicine specialist with Rochester Regional Health
  • Brenda Tremblay, host for WXXI's Classical 91.5, and member of a local choir

Fans around the world are pulling for songwriter John Prine, who is stricken with COVID-19. His wife has offered updates, saying that the legendary musician remains on a ventilator and has been in critical condition.

We've asked local songwriters to offer their favorite renditions of John Prine songs, and we've put together a very musical hour to honor Prine and all those suffering during the pandemic. You can hear the full songs here. Our guests:

  • John Dady, performing "Hello In There"
  • Ryan Sutherland, performing "Souvenirs"
  • Maria Gillard, performing "Chain of Sorrow"
  • Scott Austin, performing "Angel from Montgomery"
  • Roxy Elahi, performing "Summer's End"
  • Steve Piper, performing "Fish and Whistle"
  • Fran Broderick, performing "All the Best"
  • Sarah Eide, performing "Angel from Montgomery"

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