Rochester, NY (9/10/13)
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Afterward I settled on my king size bed to take a look at the local offerings for the evening. The city paper was conveniently located right next to the ice machine that I had stopped at before that cathartic shower. Options were typically sparse for Tuesday night. One club featured a punk band I knew of but didn't appreciate. The only other show this evening sounded a bit more intriguing, so I investigated the venue. Not only was it a great sounding, funky pub, it was only 10 minutes away – a real bonus given all the miles I already logged today. I called to ask if I could still get a ticket, dressed, and set my trusty GPS once again.
The Lovin' Cup Bistro was a very interesting place, oddly located within an upscale mini mall and adjacent townhouse and apartment development. It had an open layout with seemingly good acoustics. I was offered a drink, opted for my usual Makers Mark, and began to peruse the menu.
"DJ Tanner," a heavily inked young woman with a Meg White look, was old school all the way, from the vinyl on the turntables (Technics on the right, Genesis on the left) to the mostly obscure rockabilly, blues, R&B, and punk numbers she served up with a "Pulp Fiction" vibe. Later I told her that for all the music I thought I knew, she stumped me way more often than not. She guessed that she had somewhere between 1,400 to 1,500 records in her collection. I have her beat on the basis of pure numbers, but I also have many years of collecting on her.
The mix worked perfectly for the main act and the crowd. Segues did not seem to be a top priority, nor did they seem to be important. The jumping' jive of twists and turns added anticipation to the feel. You never knew what was coming next, but it was always dead on. In typical fashion, she ended her set with a song I never heard, "Why Can't I Touch It" by the Buzzcocks. Nice!
All the while I took my time with the menu, lingering over the bourbon that was lingering over ice. I finally settled on the "Me and the Bean" appetizer and, after a while longer, "Bell bottom blues " burger. I was hoping my table would also be my vantage point for the eight o'clock show. I enjoyed the ample garlic hummus and sweet red pepper coulis snack, and the wheat beer complemented the burger. On top of that, it turned out I got to keep my seat, so it was all good!
The headliner had a test pressing that he had autographed and was selling via raffle ticket sales before the show – like he took a page from the Band:Smart approach to real money made at concerts.
Barrence Whitfield and his band, the Savages, impressed me from the moment they did their sound check two hours before their show. Guitar, bass sax, drums, and a wailing Whitfield pounded their audience with a full-blown, no holds barred attack I was only vaguely prepared for. About three steps beyond dirty, they were at once tight and ragged--the embodiment of what rock 'n roll is supposed to be. My only worry was that my stereo wouldn't be able to support the energy level, or volume, displayed on this night.
As it happened the show was part of a series of benefits for Rochester's local music scene. The sponsoring organization, Bop Arts, is led by the owner of a great record store called Bop Shop Records. Tom Kohn served as the evening's MC. I admire his ilk. Like Cindy Barbers and her "Cleveland Rocks" organization, these are genuine people who pour heart and soul into helping local clubs and artists. I hope they are all successful, and I encourage all of you to check out the special events they produce.
Postscipt: Barrence and company appeared on a recent episode of "Later with Jools Holland." Look for it, as they rerun the program on both BBC America and Palladium.
Next Week: "Have a Cigar (part 1)