10 March 2011

And To Think That I Saw It On Gregory Street

Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

The South Wedge neighborhood of Rochester had a full plate of unrelated music events happening last Saturday night.

My evening started off at the German House. There was a benefit for Scotty Shojan, the guy behind ScottyPaluza. The benefit started early and ended late, but I got there just in time to see the one band I was there to see, the John Payton Project. Payton is an ex-drummer for soon-to-be-no-more local worldbeat group Buddhahood. His new band is smaller in personnel but heavier in sound. A 5-piece consisting of guitar, bass, sax/flute, percussion and drums they played original song-based rock with a heavy reggae influence. The music had a solid foundation in it's high quality bass and drums core and everything over the top was just gravy.

From there I took a treacherous grueling eighth of a mile hike through the cold wind and rain over to Tango Cafe where Steve Piper, guitarist from Watkins and the Rapiers, was just getting ready to start his set. From the big stage and hippie crowd to the comfy cafe and elderly crowd. Piper proved to be a world class guitar player, singer/songwriter, storyteller, banterer, and joke teller. Just a delightful and perfect coffee house set. I was tipped off to this show mere hours before so it was an unexpected but welcome surprise.

Then back down the street to close out the evening downstairs from the German House at the Keg.
Hinkley started soon after I arrived with Rochester music everyman Dennis Mariano on keys and guitar. Now is as good time as any to throw in a bit also about Thunder Body, the new reggae band formed from ex-Geurrilla Panda Dub Squad members along with Dennis. They finished up a residency at Dubland Underground last month of which I caught a little of their last show before they went on a small tour. Really enjoyed what I heard and looking forward to checking them out again. Back to Hinkley though, also loved what I heard from them. Very much reminded of Death Cab with some Wilco thrown in listening to their set. Slow to materialize subtle melodies rooted in the poppier side of Americana. Not particularly catchy, more absorbing.

Next up was Boston/Brooklyn band Tallahassee, another in a ever longer line of rough indie country rockers. But can there ever really be enough? And is there any other band that has two guitarists varying more in height than these guys? And is there any other band covering Paula Abdul's "Straight Up"? They did their best to stand apart from other bands of their ilk, and when it really comes down to it, it's all about the songs. They had good ones and played them well, enjoyable set.

Finally, it was another opportunity to enjoy Auld Lang Syne before they head out on a tour of the South and Midwest. Unfortunately they were piano-less, but fortunately they played an entire (or nearly so) set of new tunes and they all sounded fantastic. More of the same dark, brooding and lengthy laments. Wouldn't have minded a couple of their staples or perfect covers thrown in to enrich the set, but it was great to hear something different and get to see new songs as they develop.

Rochester continues to prove itself a treasure trove of great local music. What's even better, it doesn't go unappreciated, these bands get great support at their shows.

And that is a story that no one can beat,
When I say that I saw it on Gregory Street.

(Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss!)

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