Music From Rochester, NY

R E F R I G E R A T O R   P L A Y L I S T

Respect Sextet Respect Sextet

The Respect Sextet, made up of Eastman students, played weekly at Java's on Gibbs Street. Who knew? They released a live at Java's mini cd with a 19 minute version of Sun Ra's "A Call For All Demons". They had a gig at the Bob Shop Atrium at the end of 2005 and we heard rave reviews so we bought both cds. Their songs have titles like "Jazz Is Dead, But Sometimes I Like To Dance With The Skeletons" which kind of nails their approach. I think they are amazing and I am not the only one.

"One of this year's outstanding new discs, providing more food for thought and pure enjoyment than just about anything I've heard lately." — Nate Dorward, Cadence Magazine

"Throwing this disc into your CD player feels like walking into a really great party, a room full of beautiful, laughing people. And like a good party, by the end of the record, you are left pleasantly dizzy and exhausted."

Download Respect Sextet's version of Sun Ra's "A Call For All Demons" at their site.

Paul Smoker Notet
Paul Smoker Notet

Downbeat says, "He carries a history of the music in his horn. Imagine an amalgam of Armstrong's bravura, Dizzy's go-for-broke gumption, Cootie's plunger-talk, Cherry's/Bowie's raggedy-ass attack, and the exhibitionism of a high-note specialist. He seems to come from everyplace at the same time."

JAZZIZ says, "Smoker is a player who works the outside edges of music — a place where young lions fear to tread."

Paul has played with Anthony Braxton, Art Pepper, David Liebman, Peter Brötzman, Lee Konitz, David Sanborn, Gerry Hemingway and Evan Parker. He lives here and plays around town from time to time in other people's bands. Go out of your way to see him but don't miss the next performance of his Notet. If you are a shut-in, pick up a copy of his sensational, "Live At The Bop Shop". Steve Salerno plays exotic electric guitar and Phil Haynes is a monster on the drums. This is not out. This is music.

See photos of The Paul Smoker Notet at the 2005 Rochester International Jazz Fest.

Trio East

Rich Thompson on drums, Jeff Campbell on bass and Clay Jenkins on trumpet — all Eastman faculty members — can be heard regularly at the Little Theatre Cafe. They are there on Thursday nights. They are so good that they don't even all have to show up. Often one or two of them are out of town and sometimes all three are missing but the subs are top shelf players. Of course it's a treat to have all three of these guys in the same room. They do three Coltrane tunes, a Mal Waldron number and Ornette Coleman's "Happy House" on this cd along with a couple Clay Jenkins' originals. We heard them holding their own at the Rochester International Jazz Fest and even backed Marion McPartland when she played at the Eastman.

Check the Little Theatre Cafe schedule for live Trio East Dates.

Margaret Explosion

Margaret Explosion' s newest cd is an organic exploration of wide open sonic landscapes. Recorded live to four tracks at Studio 55, the sax, guitar, drums and bass lineup seeks to recapture that period that zoomed by when rock met jazz.

The Margaret Explosion line-up now includes three former members of Personal Effects and a former member of Colorblind James. This cd features an instrumental of “Don’t Wake Me” from Personal Effects’ 1983 debut album.

1969 is available for $10 (postage included)

Read Reviews of Margaret Explosion

Download free mp3 tracks

Margaret Explosion
Happy Hour

Margaret Explosion played a Friday Happy Hour gig for a year and a half at the Bug Jar in Rochester. City Newspaper said: "Margaret Explosion is an otherworldly lounge band that played an esoteric weekly Friday night happy hour at the Bug Jar. The ethereal soundtrack they provided cast an often eerie, slow-motion effect on the just-out-of-work crowd's revelries. The group's improvised minor-key melodies bathed the room in a melancholy glow, suggesting old eight-millimeter home movies, and blurring the line between experience and reminiscence."

They have released studio versions of songs from this period entitled"Happy Hour".

Happy Hour is available for $10 (postage included)

Read Reviews of Margaret Explosion

Download free mp3 tracks

Pete LaBonne

With sensational wordplay, Pete LaBonne's songs are spring-loaded constructions that might start from bits of overheard or imagined conversations, disjointed catch phrases or maybe a troublesome hedge hog in his garden. And the next thing you know, you're walking around with the chorus from "Slag Heap" or “The F Word” stuck in your head. And the key words in the “F Word” all begin with the letters “ph” because this is a Pete song. Imagine that you are in Tops to pick up a few groceries and you find yourself alone in one of the isles chuckling aloud at some absurd thought. Pete's songs are chock full of these small revelations. Read more about Pete.

Glob is available for $10 (postage included)

Read Pete LaBonne Reviews
from Atlantic Monthly, NY Press and Tape Op Magazines.

Download Pete LaBonne mp3

Invisible Idiot
Outta Sight, Outta Mind

Invisible Idiot played an esoteric, weekly Friday night happy hour gig at the Bug Jar in the late nineties. City Newspaper said “the otherworldly lounge band provided an ethereal soundtrack and cast an often eerie, slow-motion effect on the just-out-of-work crowd's revelries. The group's improvised minor-key melodies bathed the room in a melancholy glow, suggesting old eight-millimeter home movies, and blurring the line between experience and reminiscence.”

Invisible Idiot's one and only cd “Outta Sight, Outta Mind” is timeless, instrumental music. It fits no genre. Jack Schaefer plays guitar, bass clarinet, cello, tenor sax, flute, piano, glockenspiel and field tapes. Paul Dodd plays percussion and Peggi Fournier (from Personal Effects) plays soprano sax. Pete LaBonne plays bass, farfisa, piano and harmonium; and Shelley Valachovic plays shakers.

Outta Sight, Outta Mind is available for $10 (postage included)

Read Invisible Idiot Reviews

Download Invisible Idiot mp3

Nod Good Night SleepNod
Good Night Sleep

So Nod has been around for over ten years. They continue to develop and their latest cd is their best yet. How many groups can you say that about? Joe Sorriero's guitar/vocal is as unique as hell - angular and melodic in equal measure. I tell people “I love Nod but they are an acquired taste.” So start acquiring.

Where Joe used his voice as an instrument in the past, “Good Night Sleep” has intelligible lyrics and they're beautiful. That said, my favorite track on the new cd is the instrumental, “Space Whale.” When we first saw Nod in the "White Room" (of all places) in the old Carpe Diem club, it seemed that we were the only ones there to see the band. They strolled into the room and started noodling on their instruments. I assumed they were warming up. It turned into a magical set. This song captures Nod's casual approach to the unknown, a hallmark of their sound.

Photo of Nod Live

Produced by Arpad and Nod, "Good Night Sleep" is available from Smells Like Records.

Colorblind James Experience

I was so excited when Chuck decided to move back to Rochester from San Francisco. But I was also a little apprehensive about the band developing a following here that could outdo San Francisco. I should have had more faith in Rochester. The band recorded their first and, in my opinion, their signature release for Earring Records in 1987 with a top notch lineup of players and songs. Phil Marshall, Chuck's brother in law, is one of the best guitar players in the world and Bernie Heveron, who had played in Personal Effects, contributed classic Colorblind songs like “First Day of Spring” with the rollicking “She's a Witch” chorus.

Of course, The Colorblind James Experience was Chuck all the way and no star shown brighter. His brilliant lyrics were torn from some lost literary classic and his vision of a circus-rock band developed worldwide cult status while in Rochester - witness the Colorblind James John Peele sessions. Now that Chuck has passed on this first lp remains a loving testament with songs you will remember for the rest of your life.

Read tributes to Colorblind James

Dreamland Faces
Dreamland Faces

"It's Not A Child. It's An Animal" was recorded in mono at Arpad's Studio on Clinton Avenue. It's the B side of this record but I cannot get enough of it. I cranked it at our New Year's party. They sound like they are from another time like maybe 60 years ago. This is one of Andy's songs and listening to it is like going to a carnival and being swept away. Dreamland Faces is Karen Majewicz on accordian, klaviola, and voice, and Andrew McCormick on accordian, saw, and voice. They live and play in Milwaukee now but return to Rochester often to play and visit family. Their seven inch 45 is available at Record Archive. Dick Storms helped put it out. When you are there, buy a couple. They make great gifts for any music lover.

Watch a beautiful Dreamland Faces video here.

Rochester's City Magazine did a cover story on Dreamland Faces and this link may still work.

Chesterfield Kings

Not only are these guys legends, they are also still coming on. They were featured on ESPN's live New Year's Eve Show. The Mind Bending Sounds of the Chesterfield Kings, their newest release is their best release yet. And these guys have been together for over twenty years. But who's counting? This one is not a garage rock relic, not a Stones or surf tribute or parody. This one rocks with all original tunes. Little Steven Van Zandt produced and co-wrote and played on the lead track “"I Don't Understand".

You've got to visit their site to view the photos of these guys with everyone from Captain Beefheart to The Boss.



Mimi & Boyd Angular IslandMimi & Boyd Angular Island

“Gravitational Arch of 10” from Mark Gage's “Themes From Vapourspace” was named as one of URB Magazine's 20 most important techno tracks of the 90's. It can be heard on MTV'S “Road Rules” and “The Real World” and it was sampled by Fatboy Slim on his "Better Living Through Chemistry” release and again on David Byrne's recent hit “Lazy”. Mark Gage has 3 releases under the name of Vapourspace and has recently remixed a collection of tracks from current prog rock artists like Tony Levin and Terry Bozzio for Magna Carta Records.

“MIMI+BOYD”, pictured at the left, is a collaboration between Mark Gage (Vapourspace) and Michelle 'DJ Punisher' Herrmann of Detroit's Seismic Records. The full length CD is segued, traditional Mark Gage-style, and is a triptych of clanging metals, 4/4 kicks and a manifesto of techno pop and the machinery of machines.

Visit Vapourspace

Joe+n Exposure and ExperienceJoe+n
Exposure and Experience

Dark, dank, smoky clubs filled with mating age bodies and lonesome souls — who needs it? Joe Tunis announced a cd release event for “Exposure And Experience” that included a series of shows that took place at different locations around town, some outdoors in broad daylight and each about one hour after the last in the same day.

We caught up with Joe, playing out of his jeep, near the tracks behind Towners on University Avenue. The amp was powered through his cigarette lighter and he made noise on his guitar while accompanying a cassette tape that he had just made at the previous location. The show was very spacey and dramatic at the same time, especially when a train went by. Guitar improvisation, incorporating ambient noise, found sound, tape manipulation and feedback sources make “Exposure and Experience” a sound experience. The “n” must stand for noise, beautiful noise in a beautiful package.

Last year's Day Tour was released as a three cd box set and in a very limited edition Real Box and may still be available from Carbon.

See Joe+n at the tracks

Carbon Records

The Squires Of The Subterrain - Admiral Albert's Apparition

Christopher Earl is the the Squires Of The Subterrain and the undisputed king of homemade psychedelic pop. We have had this cassette for years and were thrilled to find it in the Bop Shop re-released in a shiny jewel case. We saw Chris perform many of these songs at the Rose and Crown as we sat in a booth with his Mom and Dad. He did a solo voice and piano version of “Caroline No” that knocked our socks off. Chris' music is crafted like the best pop but there is a lo-fi, rough and tumble quality to it and that's where the charm comes in. It is astounding that The Squires Of The Subterrain can sound like classic Smile-era Beach Boys and yet these melodies are not borrowed. Chris can write and arrange like the best of them. We highly recommend this stuff.

Warning: Includes “Paisley Crayons” and side effects may include hallucinations.

CD available from the Bop Shop or directly from Squires of the Subterrain

The Campbell Brothers
Pass Me Not

Chuck, Phil, and Darick Campbell are part a musical tradition called “sacred steel” and they have been playing in their father's church in Rush (just south of Rochester) for the last twenty years. They have only recently taken their well seasoned act on the road. Their sound is rooted in the African-American Holiness-Pentecostal church, commonly known as the House of God (see Funky Church) but with their combination of steel and slide guitars, they come across like Al Green fronting the Allman Brothers. Katie Jackson's gutsy, infectious vocals on “Pass Me Not: Sacred Steel Guitars, Vol. 2”, pictured at the left, will have you testifying to “What A Friend We Have In Jesus". Phil's son, Carlton plays drums on this disc but the band has recorded a few songs with Rochesterian, Steve Gadd on drums at the East End studio. One of the tunes they tracked was fellow Rochesterian, Lou Gramm's "I Want To Know What Love Is”.

They have played around the world from the Playboy Jazz Fest at the Hollywood Bowl, the Kennedy Center, Morocco, London, Paris, Berlin and they have an upcoming date in Rome (Rome, New York). Their music appeared on the Sopranos last year and was included on the Grammy nominated soundtrack that accompanies the show. They re best seen live and tore up the Clarissa Street festival this summer. Check their site for local shows.

Medeski produced their latest cd. They are ready for the jam band circuit. Check out

Armand Schaubroeck

“A Lot Of People Would Like To See Armand Schaubroeck DEAD”, a three disc gatefold album released in 1972, is a musical waiting to happen. Its an over the top concept album ready to go as a theatrical production. The first cut opens with Armand in a confessional booth telling a priest he stole from the church. We hear Armand and brothers in the church at night as he comes face to face with a statue of Mary. They get caught and Armand is heard talking to his girlfriend about fleeing to Florida before his sentencing the next day. (Anyone who has ever set eyes on Armand in his store, the House Of Guitars, will have a hard time picturing him in Florida) They make love for the last time and Armand gets three years in Elmira. Armand's paintings on the inside of the jacket depict the cell, the rape, the suicide of a fellow inmate and a wacky prison psychiatrist. All of the episodes are reenacted on the album and there are songs that accompany each of them. This is a timeless package if you can find it. I don't think it is available on cd. Look for the theatrical production to roll into town someday.

Check out the full gatefold album cover.

National Press for Armand

Watkins & The Rapiers Watkins & The Rapiers

Watkins & The Rapiers are a most unusual band. They have chops but not all of the usual ones. They have a classic American sound with sing along songs. We saw them live at the Flipside on Main Street and they are a joy live. You'd be surprised to know that they are a dance band live. Lead singer, Scott Regan has a weekday morning radio show on WRUR-FM (88.5) called "Open Tunings". He plays lots of Colorblind James and has one of the best shows on the air. Their beautifully designed cd package features found slides like the Unknown Woman photos.

Don't take our word for it. Read a real writer's take.

Atomic Swindlers

The debut release from Rochester's Atomic Swindlers sounds like a cross between Gwen Stefani and David Bowie. The package looks like a major label package complete with a sci-fi concept and lesbian overtones. The cd sounds like a million bucks and has a track produced by Grammy nominated Julian Marsh who worked with Boy George. This local outfit should be on a major label. That hasn't happened to a local pop group since Back Seat Sally. I'm not counting singer songwriter Teddy Geiger.


They have a really cool video for one of their songs.