Teagan and the Tweeds Blow Up Rochester’s Jazz Festival


Teagan and the Tweeds are a  local Rochester band that took the Jazz Festival there by surprise. They played June 25th in the RG&E tent that was packed tight, more crowded than any other night at the festival. And this was a Monday night. I wasn’t the only person impressed by their powerful sound and their incredible turn out. Rochester buzzed about the Tweeds after their performance.

The main paper in town, The Democrat and Chronicle, wrote about the show. Reporter, Leah Stacy did not hold back her gracious opinions. The title blurts it out right away :Young blood, old classics (Or, why booking Teagan and the Tweeds at XRIJF was a stellar choice).

(Skaky, drum blasted recording of the Tweeds playing “Train Song” at the Rochester Jazz Festival)

While talking with the band in between sets, they said they were struggling with the sound. The drummer couldn’t hear himself or anyone else, causing him to play louder and the rest to meet him at that level. The technical frustrations didn’t influence the crowd to leave, in fact the second set of the night brought in even more people.

The Tweeds even got a glowing report in Rochester’s alt weekly, City Newspaper. Frank DeBlase described the band as  “big, bluesy, ballsy, and bad-ass.” I couldn’t have put it better.

As much hype as this band got from the playing at the Jazz Festival, they seemed humble and excited about the reaction in an interview they did with me two nights later.

Not only does this band have a big, powerful, growling sound, but they have energy. Tons of it.

While Teagan is shaking her booty all around the stage, whipping her thick, curly locks around, her band is all smiles and groove. Definitely a feel-good band that any music-lover would dig.


The Cereal Killer Strikes at the Rochester Jazz Festival


This past Saturday’s Rochester Jazz Festival’s after party jam session played out like a murder mystery. While music moaned on throughout the evening, the Cereal Killer lurked above.

As two jam session attendees snuck upstairs to the hotel’s kitchen to say hello to an old friend and see if there was anything to munch on they encountered a strange fellow in the stairwell outside the kitchen. He had a bag overflowing with individual sized cereal boxes. He took out one at a time and dumped them out over himself, grabbing handfuls of frosted flakes and fruit loops and crushing them in his hand.



As the guy and girl passed by, the guy struck up conversation, telling the cereal obsessed man that he could probably snag him some milk from the kitchen if he’d like. The girl said he only looked at them, as though he were looking at Tony the Tiger and Toucan Sam standing there talking to him. They continued on to the kitchen, writing off their encounter as a guy who had a little too much fun that night.

When they entered the kitchen they realized the man had damaged much more than a few boxes of cereal. The entire room had been torn apart. Table and chairs were turned over. Cabinet doors were ripped off their hinges. The place was a mess.

They returned downstairs to report the vandalism to the security guard on duty in the lobby. The two returned to the jam session, but several minutes later saw police cars tearing into the parking lot and darting up the steps. Moments after the police returned with the man they had seen upstairs in handcuffs. Feeling as though the treatment was a little extreme for property and cereal damage, they inquired about the arrest. They found out that when the security guard had approached the man with the cereal, he had pulled out a knife and attempted to stab the guard. Thankfully the only thing that was killed that night was the cereal. And thus ends the account of the Rochester Jazz Festival Cereal Killer.

Opening Night for Rochester’s International Jazz Festival


The Rochester International Jazz Festival didn’t start off with as much of a bang as I expected. I did hear rave reviews from everyone who had the privilege of seeing the beautiful Diana Krall. Of course those were people who aren’t a struggling journalism graduate student, doomed to be poor for years. As a budgeting penny-pincher, like so many in this tanking economy, I love the Rochester Jazz Festival for all the amazing free shows it offers. However opening night was a bit disappointing as far as free shows go. There were only two stages set up, and limited to acts to choose from.

I started off my night listening to Uptown Groove, a Rochester-based wedding/party band. Although the musicians were talented and the lead vocalist, Amanda Montone had a pretty voice, I didn’t quite hear the groove they have advertised in their name. I am a sucker for some sexy saxophone playing though, and this band nailed that with Casey MacFarlane wailing through the set.

Of course I realize not being impressed the first time you see a band play shouldn’t stop you from seeing that band again. Many things could have gone awry with sound, equipment, health. Who knows, maybe they’re just not impressive, but I’d give them another chance before I make my final call. Here’s a video I shot from the audience of a Joe Cocker cover, you can be the judge:

The after jam at the Crown Plaza is where my night picked up. The Bob Sneider Trio invited musical guests from the festival and musicians in the crowd to come up and add their flare. Rosie Flores, who had played earlier at Abilene’s (which unfortunately had an entry fee) brought her rockabilly jazz fusion to the stage.

My favorite part of the night was watching Mike Cottone, and Eastman School of Music and Juilliard graduate, make his trumpet wail for his hometown. Paired with Swedish saxophone player, Jonas Kullhammar, the two were the highlight on the night. And I wasn’t the only one to feel this way. I overheard a gentleman behind me say, “This is the best thing I’ve heard all night.” Watch this and you’ll understand why:

Rejuvenated and Ready To Rock and Roll


Time to kick it up.

I’ve been a ghost in the blogosphere over the past couple months, recuperating from a stress overload, but I’m ready to get back to it. What better time to jump in as I gear up to motor from Boston to my hometown in Rochester, NY for the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.

Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival packs the streets as usual in this photo from 2010.

For a modest sized city, Rochester knows how to appeal to the music lovers, and Jazz Fest is the best example. Over the past 11 years of attending, I’ve seen some outstanding performances at this annual festival, including the raw and gritty talents of Ms. Susan Tedeschi, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Trombone Shorty, Girls with Guitars, and countless others.

Trombone Shorty wails as usual. He’ll be bringing his New Orleans style to the 2012 Xerox Rochester International Jaz Festival

So needless to say, I am amped up for this year’s festival to kick off this Friday, June 22. Throughout the week I’m challenging myself to share the experience through my blog by posting videos, pictures, interviews, and event coverage. My hope is not only to capture and expose you to well-known artists, but introduce you to acts you may never see or know otherwise.

Get pumped and start checking for posts this weekend.

Erin Harpe and the Delta Swingers Get Down to Business


Over the past four months I have had the privledge of reporting on the Boston Based band, Erin Harpe and the Delta Swingers. By following them I was able to see the realities of what it’s like to be a DIY band in time when the music industry is reinventing itself. What I’ve found is paired with the thrill of being onstage and the glamour it seems to hold is the nitty gritty work that leads up to that show. In the short documentary-style video below, Jim Countryman, bassist in the Delta Swingers, tells his story of balancing the business side of music with the creative side.

Maryland, My Maryland


Erin Harpe rode down to where she grew up in Maryland this week. She had a gig at Maryland Hall there, but I found something sentimental about this show (sorry to get corny on you). Erin was accompanied by her husband, Jim, and her father, Neil Harpe. Here is a wonderful video with some top-notch talent. You can see where Erin gets her musical charm.

Sisters of the Delta Blues


Females in the Delta Blues

Memphis Minnie: Kissing in the Dark

Geeshie Wiley: Last Kind Words

Bertha Lee with Charley Patton: Yellow Bee

Bonnie Raitt, Susan Tedeschi, and Erin Harpe were all heavily influenced by the queens of the delta blues you heard above.

Bonnie Raitt – Love in Vain

Susan Tedeschi – Soul of a Man

Erin Harpe and the Delta Swingers – Charles River Delta BLues