There's plenty to do this weekend and coming weeks in the arts and entertainment world — both near (as in the weekend arts fest in Canandaigua; see story on this page) and a bit further out (like the Grass Roots festival in Trumansburg). So there's no reason — apart from the A/C — to stay home.
Let's get right to a sampling of what's coming up:
Tunes by the Tracks
For a decade, from 2007 to 2017, William Destler was president of Rochester Institute of Technology. But he had a not-so-secret identity as "Banjo Bill." Destler not only collects antique banjos, with a collection well over 100, but he's an accomplished musician himself (and not just on banjo), even releasing an album back in 1973 (re-released on CD several years back), and in retirement has gotten more deeply involved in the region's folk scene, in particular with the Rochester Folkus series.
Destler and Rebecca Johnson will bring their music to Ontario County next week for the next installment of the "Tunes by the Tracks" concert series at Clifton Springs Library, 4 Railroad Ave., Clifton Springs. The concert starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, and includes the usual "Mystery Pickers" open-mic session. As always, it's free, though a $5 donation is requested to defray costs.
Murder, mayhem, music and more
The two-person musical mystery comedy "Murder for Two" concludes its run this weekend at Bristol Valley Theatre, 151 S. Main St., Naples. Two actors play all the roles — Michael Radi as the detective and Joseph Donahue II as a revolving door of suspects — both while stealing turns at the piano.
“This show is EVERYTHING all rolled into one. It's a murder mystery! It's hilarious and it has a jaunty musical score, including a full on disco rock power ballad!” stated BVT executive artistic director Karin Bowersock. “And with one actor jumping in and out of the roles of every suspect — from street urchins to a femme fatale to a couple from Boca — it's non stop action!”
The play opened July 11; the remaining evening shows are at 8 p.m. July 18-20, with 2 p.m. matinees on July 18 and 21. Ticket prices are $35 for adults, $33 for seniors, and $27 for groups of 15 or more. For reservations and further information, call the box office at 585-374-6318 or visit www.bvtnaples.org.
Also on stage at area venues:
• Blackfriars Theatre, 795 E. Main St., Rochester: "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," 7:30 p.m. July 18, 8 p.m. July 19-20, 2 p.m. July 21. Box office: 585-454-1260.
• Gatesingers Company, Ltd., at Gates Hall, 4107 Lake Road, Pultneyville: Gilbert & Sullivan’s "Yeomen of the Guard," 8 p.m. July 19-21. Box office: 351-589-3326.
• JCC CenterStage, 1200 Edgewood Avenue, Brighton: Disney’s "Newsies," 8 p.m. July 20, 2 p.m. Jul 21 (open-caption, with post-show talk with cast and crew), also 7:30 p.m. July 23-25, 2 and 8 p.m. July 27, and 2 p.m. July 29. Box office: 585-461-2000.
Grass Roots Festival opens
Bonnaroo. Coachella. South by Southwest.
All very nice and all, but the Finger Lakes has its own weekend music festival that brings four days of diverse acts — from Cajun to Celtic, rock to reggae, gospel to global — to the region for a four-day extravaganza of music, arts, dance, food, activism and more.
The annual Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance gets underway Thursday, July 18, and continues through Sunday, July 19 at the Trumansburg Fairgrounds off Route 96 in Trumansburg. More than 60 acts are booked for the fest's four stages, including host band Donna the Buffalo, festival regular Jim Lauderdale, alt-country troubadour Todd Snider, sacred-steel gospel-soul band Campbell Brothers, reggae masters Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, and eclectic bluesman Taj Mahal, plus a bevy of acts from around the world and some from right here in western New York, like local favorite Aaron Lipp & The Slack Tones.
Single-day tickets vary each day — $58 at the gate Thursday ($49 advance); $62 Friday ($53 advance); $67 Saturday ($58 advance); and $47 Sunday ($38 advance). Four-day admission is $155 at the gate. (There are discounts for youth.)
For more about the fest, check out https://www.grassrootsfest.org