A timely performance for a troubled world
A new video by Prime Time Funk is among the area's latest online offerings
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For the past few weeks, this space has been checking in with local arts and entertainment groups and venues to explore how they're weathering this time of isolation and what their plans and options are for eventual reopenings. And we'll keep doing that over the next several weeks, as the Finger Lakes region continues moving through the process of the state's phased reopening plan.
This week, though, it's time to open up the mailbag — or its digital equivalent, the inbox, to see what online offerings are in the works. They are countless — just about everybody on the arts, entertainment and cultural front has had to be creative in their use of the internet as a tool to stay active and vibrant — so here's just a handful. They range from a local band's timely new video to an upcoming webinar chat about what's up these days with the now-shuttered Broadway, plus a number of upcoming livestreamed concerts.
So here goes:
Whatcha Gonna Do?
Longtime area 10-piece funk/jazz/R&B powerhouse Prime Time Funk has released a new, socially distanced video for a song first written in the wake of Hurricane Katrina — but which also has a lot to say about the events of the past week and a half.
The video for the song “Whatcha Gonna Do (When the World’s on Fire},” written by PTF trumpet player Derrick Lipp and singer/saxophonist James Riichmond, is available at shorturl.at/jsBTZ. The song resonates powerfully in the wake of the killing of George Floyd at a police officer’s hands in Minneapolis, the reaction to the slaying throughout the country, and the violence that also erupted amid the protests.
Check out lines like:
“The state of the world in which we live is enough to drive you mad.
Vigilantes pose as leaders and try to rule the whole land.”
“Faceless enemies that use us as their pawns;
Their shadows are hard to recognize.
It’s tough but we can make it
-- help to save each others’ lives …”
Hard to believe that wasn’t written just yesterday, but rather back in 2005, after the hurricane that devastated New Orleans and the surrounding area. (It appears on the band’s 2012 release “Hear and Now.”)
“‘Whatcha Gonna Do’ is kind of timeless because, unfortunately, there’s always something devastating going on that can bring out the worst or the best in people,” Richmond, the band’s leader and co-founder (with the late Ralph Ortiz), said in a release. “We had originally chosen the song because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the murder of George Floyd and the resulting protests make it even more appropriate.”
These days of coronavirus caution make it impossible for a 10-piece band to get together, but each band member played separately, recording their own part (the audio and visual) for Andy Calabrese — recording engineer as well as the band’s keyboardist — to weave it together into a seamless whole.
It’s a first for PTF, but not the last: Richmond said they’re already working on another video. For more about the band, check out www.primetimefunk.com.
Pirates, mermaids and more
Kids will get to sing along with Happy Pirates, read a story with Mermaid Troy, make some buccaneer snacks — and maybe learn a bit of swordplay, all without leaving home, on Monday, June 8.
The Strong National Museum of Play will host “Pirates and Mermaids,” its second family-friendly virtual event, designed for ages 3-12. Taking place on The Strong’s Facebook event page from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., it includes sing-alongs, story readings, DIY activities (making a fizzy treasure chest, creating pirate/mermaid costumes, make a mermaid spa) and active play. Members of the Rochester Fencing Club will teach kids how to protect their pirate booty.
The Strong’s Facebook event page is https://www.facebook.com/events/2913092745473830. Recent posts there will help kids get ready for the event by showing how to make their own eyepatch and listing the supplies they’ll need for the crafts.
Behind the scenes
This Sunday would have been the 2020 Tony Awards, the biggest day in the theatrical calendar, but the coronavirus has nixed such large-scale events and lowered the curtains on Broadway.
But while the stages of the Great White Way may not be active, there’s plenty going on behind the scenes — and an online chat with some former Rochesterians will shed some light on what’s happening with Broadway. In a webinar called “Rochester on Broadway,” set for 8 p.m. Monday, June 8, Ralph Meranto, artistic director of the JCC CenterStage, will chat with actor Bruce Sabath (who’s appeared in “Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish” and “Company”), actor/playwright Steve Rosen (“The Other Josh Cohen,” “Spamalot”) and Tony-winning producer Rachel Weinstein (“Jagged Little Pill,” “Dear Evan Hansen”)
To register for the webinar, and for a link to the Facebook event, go to jccrochester.org/ve-arts-culture.
These small artworks are a big deal
This Saturday, May 6, will be the virtual opening for the Rochester Contemporary Art Center's "6x6x2020" exhibit, with a virtual opening party and artwork sale happening from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday. The annual 6x6 exhibit always brings in thousands of artwork submissions from creators locally and around the globe — this year's artists are from everywhere from Canandaigua to Romania, from Rochester to Singapore — and ranging from professional artists to children. The small works — 6 inches by 6 inches — are displayed anonymously and available for purchase for $20 each to benefit RoCo; the artist's names are reveled to the buyer upon purchase.
Some of the pieces are already accounted for; RoCo recently held an auction for early buyer positions to select their pieces June 4-5. The exhibit opens online Saturday, with online purchasing starting at 10 a.m. Turesday, June 9. (RoCo members can purchase Sunday, June 7.) You can pick up the art you purchase outside the 122 East Ave. venue from noon to 6 p.m. July 12-15.
Admission for the virtual opening party is $12 ($8 RoCo members) and can be purchased at rochestercontemporary.org/product-category/tickets. For more information about 6x6, go to rochestercontemporary.org.
Speaking of RoCo, if you're out and about in downtown Rochester, the gallery has its "Dissolving the Frontier: New Colorado Video + Performance Art" exhibition installed in its storefront window on East Avenue to be viewed Wednesdays through Saturdays from 4 to 6 p.m. The exhibit features recent works by four artists from the Front Range of Colorado and challenges ideas about the West.
While they can't play live for audiences in clubs, coffeehouses and concert halls these days, a number of musicians have taken to livestreaming from time to time to get their music out — and to get some revenue either for themselves or for venues they support. Particularly active has been The Little Theatre in Rochester, which has moved its regular series of concerts in the Little Café online to its "Virtual Little Café."
Following is a sampling of upcoming live streams. If you're a musician with one coming up, give us a heads-up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 4: Big Blue House, at 7 p.m. at the Virtual Little Cafe, at 7 p.m. (also June 11, 18 and 25). Find a link at thelittle.org.
June 5: Jane d’Hoh (members of The Jane Mutiny) with guest Sarah Eide, at 7 p.m. at the Virtual Little Cafe. Link at thelittle.org.
June 6: The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra's Nikki LaBonte (horn), at 6 p.m. for the orchestra's Living Room Series at the RPO's Facebook page.
June 6: Kubick’s Rubes (stringband playing a mix of western swing and bluegrass), at 8 p.m. at the Virtual Little Cafe. Link at thelittle.org.
June 7: Classical Guitar Night: Live Online, hosted by Rochester Classical Guitar and The Little Theatre, from 7-9 p.m. on Rochester Classical Guitar’s Facebook page. It features Tom Torrisi & Shannon Reilly, Alex Lassa and featured performer Ricardo Saeb.
June 8: Hanna PK, singer, songwriter and pianist, at 7 p.m. at the Virtual Little Cafe. Link at thelittle.org.
June 9: Erik Gibelyou and Taylor Solano (guitar and piano), at 6 p.m. at Music in Rochester’s Facebook page, at 6 p.m.
June 9: Ted Perry of The Ibeji Quartet, at 7 p.m. at the Virtual Little Cafe. Link at thelittle.org.
June 13: La Voz de Tres, at 7 p.m. on the Geneva Music Festival's YouTube channel and Facebook page. The trio presents music from Latin America and from the Great American Songbook, plus some original compositions.