Rochester’s Roses Stir The Hearts of Rockwood Faithful

bv3BE8kHvvw_FpmMFNDIaKxJ6vJjesizLCkKeaBVhGi4iNXFoDB8eq0gGnTBjDMUQ0vuMeCw8d9tGVU_cQHhvW8WhzhbU461p_gM6Zxg3fnWV_c7aXjD6ClUZHWGs0-d-e1-ft

So it’s another day and time for another music report filed from the depths of the gritty urban jungle that is New York City.

Last time around of course featured the brilliant country folk-rock of Brooklyn’s Barefoot & Bankside, as they tore up Manhattan’s Rockwood Music Hall and left a smoldering ruin of blistering musicality in their wake.

Sticking with that underground scene (and Rockwood once again), I dropped by Stage 1 recently to see the delicately gorgeous folk-pop of Roses & Revolutions. The duo of Alyssa Coco and Matt Merritt hold a place close to my heart as they happen to reside north of where I’m from in Rochester NY, and I feel like I’ve gotten to really become familiar with them simply by the many times our paths have happened to cross.

Whether it was opening for bands right in Rochester, Ithaca or Geneva, the twosome has only evolved musically and gotten better each and every single time I’ve seen them. So when I realized I’d be bumping into them AGAIN (this time a bit further away from home), I eagerly jumped at the chance to see what they could do in a “solo” style set.

IMG_5268

And while it was over in about a blink of an eye (spanning 45 minutes in total), the pair made the most out of every note they were given. In a room that was little more than a bar and a few places to sit in front of the stage, R&R filled that space to it’s rafters in sound. Their love of music and passion for what they create made every square inch of capacity feel jam-packed. For that brief span of time, they made Rockwood as personal as their home.

In fact, it wouldn’t have mattered if Stage 1 were a hall closet or an arena swarming with adoring fans. Either way I felt immersed in the intimacy of the performances; held captive by Merritt’s swirling guitar leads in one moment and chilled to my very bones by Coco’s expansive, longing croon in the next. I can honestly say I don’t know when the last time was I’ve felt such vulnerably genuine energy from two people hit with such gut-punching connection.

IMG_5265

The duo have such obvious chemistry and ability together on stage that it radiates like the sun. Whether tackling originals from their growing collection of EP’s (“When a Heart Gives Out”, “Dear My Love”) or covers from the likes of Coldplay and Sia (“The Scientist”, “Chandelier”), R&R handled each turn with grace, sweetness, levity and brilliance.

No matter what the song was, by the end of their Rockwood set they all felt like originals. And that’s just the beginning of the magic that Roses & Revolutions creates.

IMG_5256

So whether you’re near Rochester, Rockwood, at home or out and about, if you see this band…. just don’t be left out.

You’d only be missing out.

Admiring The Scenery….

31077_422918840140_11128345140_5681879_2012676_n

In all my years spent living in Western New York, I find myself traveling often (especially in my pursuit of the local music scene). Buffalo, Rochester, Geneva, Lewiston, even as far off as Cooperstown. But one place continuously manages to stick out above the rest, and that is Ithaca. It’s a place whose venues have not only managed to play host to some of the greatest concerts I’ve ever seen, but also contains some of the best storefronts that have music…. nearly ready to come springing out the door at you when you walk in.

Take Angry Mom Records for instance, which despite the presence of Rochester’s famous House of Guitars and underrated Record Archive remains one of the top record shops in all the area. Located within the basement of a used bookstore on Ithaca’s Commons and run by a couple of old punk rock enthusiasts, there’s a distinct sense of character and what may be a (slightly below sane) sense of humor oozing out from between the stacks of CD’s and LP’s. It creates a familiarity and a connection within the place, and as a lover of vinyl and record stores of all shapes and sizes that’s what I most often find myself gravitating towards. That environment where you can take time out of mind, and just exist within the simple joy of flipping through 33’s, 45’s, and everything in between.

It’s often all about those simplest of joys when it comes to our ties with music, and for me that inevitably always boils down to the experience of concerts. Seeing music played out live and in person surpasses the magic that even masterpiece-level albums can reach, and when it comes to Ithaca there are venues that embody everything from marquee-lit splendor to hole-in-the-wall hideaways. There’s the historical State Theatre, whose vaudevillian-era mainstage has had everyone from fresh faces like The National to grizzled veterans such as BB King, right down to The Haunt which has been an avenue for under the radar talents like folk duo Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion and punk rock icon Bob Mould. There’s even the very hushed little Hangar Theatre, which has been a backdrop for more gigs courtesy of varying acts like Richard Thompson, Cowboy Junkies, and Leon Russell.

Thanks to a very vibrant little college town (and the persistence of some very skilled individuals making it happen), my hope for the local music scene is always alive and well whenever I’m visiting Ithaca. It may not have the name recognition of nearby Buffalo, and it will never be the size of a hub in NYC, but it’s a place with a superb backdrop of culture that isn’t frequently found in Western New York. But like a good song or that record you never knew existed, sometimes it just takes a little discovery.

 

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑