A Sunday set at Josť and Willy's will be the last local gig for acoustic duo Key Dreamers — but Bob Spadafora intends to keep making music
Dreams and dreaming loom large in the lexicon of popular music. Tom Petty was running down a dream. All the Everlys had to do was dream. Patsy Cline and the Eurythmics sang of very different sweet dreams. Music is full of dream lovers and California dreamers, dream weavers and daydream believers. In dreams, Roy Orbison lamented, in beautiful dreams.
Bob Spadafora of Canandaigua had a dream, of someday playing live with his two-piece band on stage in Key West, Florida — hence that acoustic duo's name, Key Dreamers. That particular rock-and-roll dream didn't come through for Spadafora and bassist/backup vocalist Chris Englert — though Spadafora did get to sit in for a couple tunes with Larry Bader in a Key West venue once — but he's had a lot of good times and worthwhile experiences along the way.
Having experienced some health issues recently, Spadafora decided it was time to cut back from his musical schedule of three working bands: He's also in a four-piece band called ROC Street, the heir apparent to the old group Street-Wise, and plays with his son Ryan in the duo Seein' Double. "Singing three hours is pretty taxing. ... One of them had to go. I picked the one that was most stressful on me, and that was Key Dreamers," he said. (Ryan handles most of the vocal chores for Seein' Double, and Dom Calisto sings lead with ROC Street, which also includes Ray Holman and John Fisher.)
While a couple out-of-area gigs in Ontario and Auburn are planned down the road, Key Dreamers will play its last local date this Sunday, Dec. 9, from 4 to 7 p.m. at José & Willy's, 20 Lakeshore St., Canandaigua.
The gig closes a 12-year journey for Spadafora, who says it began when he started sitting in with local acoustic duo Meyer & McGuire from time to time and they would encourage him to play acoustic. (Street-Wise, his main band at the time, was an electric outfit.) Former Street-Wise member Paul Killion, who performs solo as The Acoustic Warrior, was another influence. And he was also encouraged by Rhonda Byrne's self-help book "The Secret" about visualizing one's dreams and goals. "I read it and I followed the tenets, and each day I took a step closer to my goal of being able to play an acoustic guitar and play in front of a crowd," he said. And eventually that day came — a solo acoustic gig at a since-departed Victor coffeehouse, Cole & Parks. "I played in front of a bunch of friends and family — nervous as all get-out," he recalled.
Spadafora wasn't a solo act for long — he found out one day that son Ryan could sing, when he sang at his sister's wedding, and Bob asked him to join him as a duo. Bob and Ryan were the Key Dreamers, both singing and playing guitar, until Ryan moved to Denver — there's video on YouTube of the father and son performing "Into the Mystic" and "Wagon Wheel" at a Denver club — and Englert took his spot, adding a bass line to the texture of the Dreamers' sound. (Ryan, of course, has since returned and joined his dad in Seein' Double.)
Key Dreamers' repertoire has been diverse, ranging from Jimmy Buffett (there's that Keys connection) to Oasis, Tom Petty to Kenny Chesney, Philip Phillips to Foo Fighters, plus a smattering of originals — and they've generally tried not to do the chestnuts that every band does. Though Spadafora did, when sitting in with Bader in Key West, play "Margaritaville" — pleasing the crowd is the nature of the beast. "My philosophy has always been, as much as I hate the song for playing it for 20 years, if you want to hear 'Proud Mary,' I'll play 'Proud Mary.'"
They've played breweries, coffee houses, taverns, restaurants, golf clubs, wine bars and wineries — plus some charity work with Dixon Schwabl. They've attained some local recognition — among others, this year they were among the four nominees for top local band in Messenger Post Media's "Best of the Finger Lakes" survey.
Spadafora credits Ryan and the rest of his family (Sue, Robin and Kristin), as well as Englert, the venues that have booked them and the fans who've supported them for a dozen years of, as one well-known Floridian Tom Petty put it, "workin' on a mystery, goin' wherever it leads — runnin' down a dream."
It's First Friday in Rochester studios
Friday, Dec. 7, is the opening reception for the Rochester Contemporary Art Center's 28th annual Members Exhibition, in which artists from the Rochester area and beyond who have joined RoCo are invited to enter one artwork into the show. The exhibit continues through Jan. 13 at RoCo, 141 East Ave., Rochester, with the opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. Two "The Days the Artists Spoke" events — back-to-back talks by participating artists — are planned for noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 15 and 6-9 p.m. Jan. 4.
Friday's reception at RoCo is just one of the "First Friday" receptions, openings and other public events at Rochester-area galleries and artist studios, designed to bring the public and the artists together, often in their creative space. A full list of Dec. 7 events is at www.firstfridayrochester.org.
The Sounds of Christmas
The Sounds of Christmas concert, featuring four choirs from St. Peter's Community Arts Academy, will take place 7:30-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at St. Peter's Church, 149 Genesee St., Geneva. Tickets are $7 for adults, $6 for senior citizens and free for students and children under 12.
This event is a benefit for the Senior Choir’s performance tour of England, Wales and Scotland, which will take place in February 2019. In addition to the Senior (Teen) Choir, the Community Arts Academy also includes the St. Nicholas Choir for pre-kindergarten through second-graders, the Junior Choir for third- through sixth-graders and the Adult Choir, all of which are open to the community.
Garth Fagan's back in town
The internationally regarded Garth Fagan Dance is performing at home this weekend for a Dec. 5-9 home season in Rochester, featuring Fagan's Rochester premiere of "The North Star," a celebration of the life of abolitionist, author and orator Frederick Douglass on the bicentennial of his birth. Among the dancers are GFD rehearsal director and Bessie Award-winner Norwood Pennewell as the aged Douglass and "So You Think You Can Dance" star Vitolio Jeune as the young Douglass. The performances will also feature the Rochester premiere of "Distant Kin," an impressionistic work by Pennewell, and several other works from the GFD archives will be offered at different performances.
The remaining performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6; 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, in the Callahan Theatre of Nazareth College Arts Center, 4245 East Ave., Pittsford. A meet-and-greeet in the lobby with Fagan and the dancers follows each performance. Tickets are $40 (orchestra), $43 (orchestra aisle) or $55 (premium) and are available at the arts center box office in person, at 585-389-2170 or at https://www2.naz.edu/events/3051. (Student, senior and group discounts are available at the box office only.) The Dec. 6 show offers a buy-one, get-one-free ticket through box office only; the matinee performances Dec. 8 and 9 include a buy-one-adult, get one child/student ticket free offer.