Thursday, February 28, 2019

The F Word: Rockin' with the remnants

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2019 at 10:59 AM

It was a busy week here at F Word HQ, starting off on Wednesday, February 20. I went to Record Archive's Backroom Lounge, where folks jammed in to hear Escape Terrain jam out on the smooth side of instrumental jazz. Apart from some Stevie Wonder wonderment, for the most part the band traversed original terrain with some deep dives into funk and some creamy soul.

I was once again in the Backroom Lounge on Friday, February 22. People who were there for the Fickle 93.3 happy hour stuck around for the dissonance and ragged grace of Buffalo Sex Change, who confounded a few with its drive and VU-type cool, and played with an indirect nod to Nod and Scrappy Joe alt-tuning. 'Twas raw and right on.

Following Buffalo Sex Change was Albany's Shana Falana, who brought psychedelia mixed with a kind of lost innocence, like Mazzy Star playing at being a genie in a bottle. Once Falana rubbed the lamp, the music floated unfettered and free, captivating the curious.

Same night, different set of circumstances entirely. Classic bands like Journey, Cheap Trick, The Stones, and The Who are missing original members due to death, retirement or irreconcilable differences, but I can still rock with the remnants.

Pat Benatar's lead guitarist and lead husband Neil "Spider James" Giraldo blew through town, landing at Montage Music Hall with Derek St. Holmes, who was Ted Nugent's guitar player and singer on the early stuff. As a fan of classic rock, time marches on when it comes to seeing my favorite bands alive and intact. I've seen Nugent do "Stranglehold" live, but never with its original singer, St. Holmes. I got to hear it on this particular night, but without Nugent. And though the silver-coiffed Giraldo didn't sing any Benatar tunes, that in-your-face flash guitar still hit the nostalgia bone. And man, what a gentleman.


Goddammit, those Lake brothers are something else. Every little thing they get there greasy mitts on turns to rock 'n' roll gold. I went to check them out at Abilene on Saturday, February 23, in their newest inception. Reminiscent of The Jam, The Shine blazed through a set as it opened for The Surfrajettes, Toronto's all-female, instrumental surf sensations. The quartet hung ten--or rather, 40--for what seemed like 700 fans. It was sardine city, so packed in fact that I couldn't tell my pockets from anyone else's around me. By the way, Lenny Polizzi, I have your wallet.

My last stop of the night was to go experience Sole Rehab at an undisclosed location on the city's north side. The place was packed with a sea of bobbing heads as DJ Nickl burned down the house.

Everyone was dancing, everyone was moving. Everyone but me, which gave me a kind of slow-motion vertigo. But the music's throb won me over, and by the time I left I was groovin' in my car. I simply couldn't help it.

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Thursday, February 21, 2019

The F Word: Too much practice is bad for you

Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2019 at 9:00 AM

It's good to know your instrument and your limitations therewith. You've got to noodle around, jam with the radio. pick up a couple of flash tricks, and get to a spot that's beyond the scope of your talent. If you've got something that few can do, do it.

But too much rehearsal is no bueno. In order to live and breathe, music has to be interpreted somewhat loosely and in the moment. And if all of the rust is polished off, so goes the soul. Too much practice is guaranteeing a screw-up. It creates a conditioned response.

If you see a band flub a note, a line, or a lyric, chances are it's a band that rehearsed too much, ridding itself of flexibility and spontaneity. On the other hand, if you see a band on stage smiling all of a sudden, then you probably just witnessed a mistake that was handled quickly, with the intuition left intact and unsoiled by too much rehearsal.

So this past Saturday at Abilene Bar and Lounge, I watched Texas troubadour Rosie Flores rehearse with her Rochester pick-up band - drummer Greg Andrews, bassist Brian Williams, and saxophonist Mark Bradley. She was schooling the trio in material from her brand new release "Simple Case of the Blues." This album is rootsy, bluesy, swing-tastic, and for the most part, in a language these three cats spoke fluently.

The session went on for about four hours, with the band emerging confident and ready. There were a few loose ends and trouble spots - as is to be expected with limited rehearsal time - but other than that the band was ready.

All the hard work paid off, and Flores and the boys positively rocked the house that night. But had they rehearsed too much, they wouldn't have packed such a punch. It wouldn't have provided a situation where each musician on stage needed one another. It would have been like the music was playing them.

So I leave you with this: Don't practice. Otherwise, you won't know what to do when someone hits a sour note, plows through a break, or forgets a line. Rosie Flores and her band played an awesome show because they didn't over-rehearse or try too hard. Remember, too much practice is bad for you.

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