Virtual tours, living room gigs and more can help you stay a little less stir crazy during this era of isolation

Think back some 30 years ago, when the internet as we know it was in its infancy. Then imagine if the novel coronavirus had hit us back then. Fair to say things would have been quite a bit different.

These days, public-health information — as well as misinformation — is disseminated with ease. Education, work, even religious worship move online in many cases — not without drawbacks and wrinkles, but when possible they keep going. You can order your meal online and avoid visiting a too-crowded market. And the human connections that social distancing restricts but that are so vital to our well-being can be maintained — to a degree — through a plethora of social-media options, from standbys like Facebook to more interactive options like Skype and Zoom.

In the realm of arts and entertainment, the net has been and will be essential. Galleries, museums, concert halls, theaters and clubs are closed; musicians are stuck at home and have no venues to play at, anyway. And there’s only so much TV (or Netflix, Hulu and counterparts) anyone can watch. (You can read, of course — and should.)

Plenty of arts and cultural entities locally and around the world are shining a digital candle in the darkness by increasing their online offerings — from Writers & Books in Rochester holding interactive writing workshops on Zoom to musicians near and far streaming concert sets from their home studio or living room (and hoping you’ll be moved to buy their discs on Bandcamp or donate to their Patreon funds). Sir Patrick Stewart, Jean-Luc Picard himself, is reading a Shakespearean sonnet a day online in his familiar dulcet tones on his Facebook page. Make it so, forsooth.

For the next few weeks — and the forseeble future — Front-Row Seat will point you to some of the online options that local groups and entities are offering. And when this is all over — like always, we encourage you to get out and patronize, support and enjoy these area offerings.


It’s Science!

For the kids — and the young and curious at heart — the Rochester Museum & Science Center has posted instructions for more than a dozen experiments you can do at home, from the old, reliable Baking Soda Volcano to seeing what happens to copper pennies when you soak them in vinegar to making your own kaleidoscope with objects around the home like plastic wrap, wax paper and — if you can find one — a paper towel or toilet paper tube.

RMSC has also posted links to some “Live Science” demo videos it’s placed on YouTube. You can see a Giant Bubble Monster made when minus-320-degree liquid nitrogen is adding to hot soapy water (and hear why it happens). Or watch that liquid nitrogen cause an explosion when placed in a closed bucket due to the pressure from the expanding nitrogen molecules — a Liquid Nitrogen Depth Charge of sorts. (They add a helpful disclaimer: Don’t try that one at home.)

These features can be accessed at


Around the Village

The Genesee Country Village & Museum is offering a virtual tour, showing the grounds of the living history museum from the ground and aerial view, with 360-degree circuits of the village’s many buildings in the different eras it chronicles: a pioneer settlement, an antebellum village, and the turn of the 20th century. Among them, there’s a peek inside George Eastman’s boyhood home; a view inside a blacksmith shop constructed tightly of wood and stone, with all the tools of the trade in view; the turn-of-the-century Davis Hall opera house with its straight-back wooden chairs and ornate design motif — to name just a few examples. The tour’s at


Animals aplenty

The Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester may be closed, but you can see all the animals — from an African bullfrog (in a serious closeup) to a white rhino — in a photo gallery at, each with a link to more photos and information about each animal — the ones in the zoo (including names and a little about them) and the species in general, its habitat and status. (Among our favorite images: the spotted dikkop, a South African bird who looks as if he’s seen it all; the aptly named rose tarantula; an olive baboon couple in a side hug; and a strikingly colored poison dart frog.)


The play of the week

The curtain may be lowered on Blackfriars Theatre in Rochester for the time being, but a couple of Blackfriars’ artists, Mark Brummitt and Eric Evans, have started up the Blackfriars Book Club, a free program taking place Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. Every week, participants will hold an open virtual discussion of the play of the week, announced the previous Friday; you’ll need an email address and a computer (or tablet, iPad or smartphone) with a camera and microphone or headphones.

Only 20 spots are available each week, so it’s worth it to register in advance; you can register at


Live from the living room ...

Musicians facing an empty gig schedule have been taking to their home studios, living rooms, garages and the like to keep getting their music out there in a real-time, setting through live streaming. It feeds fans’ live-music craving — while also giving them ways to support the artists through PayPal tipping, supporting Patreon funds or buying their records online.

Here are a few upcoming live streams featuring area musicians. Got a living room gig coming up? Send your livestream info to

• Rock/R&B band Teagan and The Tweeds’ Teagan L. Ward, Thursday (May 26) at 7 p.m.; and Katy Wright, at 8:30 p.m., on the band’s Facebook page ( (They can be supported at their Patreon page:

• AD DeRuyter — whose past projects have included the bands Jerkwater, Beachbob, Pompous Pilate, Devall Music and Landmark — Friday (May 27), at 7 p.m., at the "Aaron DeRuyter Music" Facebook page. (His music can be purchased at

• Rock band Violet Mary, Friday (May 27), at 8-9:30 p.m. on the band’s Facebook page ( (Their music can be purchased at

• Livonia-based blues/acoustic singer/guitarist Steve West, Sunday, April 5 at his "Steve West Music" Facebook Page. (He can be tipped at

• Country singer Alyssa Trahan (East Rochester native now based in Nashville), April 4-8, all at 6 p.m., each on a different platform. (Details are at her "AlyssaTrahanOfficial" Facebook page.)