Hot tickets, new shows
11:27 AM, Oct 29, 2013
Regan has been a morning DJ on WRUR-FM (88.5) with his show Open Tunings for nine years now, so perhaps it’s easy to forget that he has also been a musician on the local scene for decades. Here’s the reminder: a CD release party for Regan’s first solo album, Autumn Moon, at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Tango Café, 389 Gregory St.
Regan the musician appears in many forms. On his own. With various combinations of fellow singer-songwriters, including the group of John Dady, Steve Piper and Maria Gilliard, who inexplicably call themselves The Crandalls. And as one-sixth of the ensemble Watkins & the Rapiers, who have released three albums filled with heartfelt and frequently odd songs. New Regan emerges at all of these incarnations. He has clearly reached a creative peak in his life.
(Full disclosure: Regan is a member of my barbecue team, The Smokin’ Dopes. But so are more than 20 other people, and I haven’t written about most of their CDs.)
Regan’s voice is whimsical and plaintive, like a prairie dog scratching in the dust for a grub. But as is the case with Kris Kristofferson or Tom Waits, unconventional voices can enhance meaning. And in the lyrics of Autumn Moon, Regan has turned up some really fine, fat grubs. Behind his self-effacing personal manner is a really fine songwriter.
Sometimes the ideas are big. “There’s humanists and heathens, worshippers of shoes, so many religions, it’s kind of hard to choose,” he sings in “Different Kinds of Sects,” suggesting that the world is too big to be defined by narrow ideologies. The same idea’s behind the album-opening “This Flag,” a reminder that the same flag can be used in war and peace, tragedy and celebration.
There is a great deal of reflection here, particularly in “South Pacific (Song For My Father),” where Regan recalls his aging dad talking of going back to the islands where he served in the Navy during World War II, so that he could “rest my head on the sand where they bled.” Romance is a frequent topic: “my love for you is lightning and thunder, kept in a jar in that room.”
Regan is also a delightfully abstract thinker, as in “Marriage of Time & Money.” Set to the ambling railroad-track rhythm of a Johnny Cash tune, time and money become characters, where “Money always thought that Time was on her side.”
Regan landed a fine band to help him out here, with guitarist Phil Marshall, bassist Ken Frank and drummer Jim McAvaney. Kind of a minor Colorblind James Experience resurrection. Regan and that band’s founder, the late Chuck Cuminale, played together in a jug band before CBJE. The quartet does great justice to Autumn Moon’s waltzes and romantic, slow-dance tracks. And even the album-closing holiday song, “Must Be Christmas Time,” an inevitable inclusion: Watkins & the Rapiers have written somewhere in the neighborhood of four dozen Christmas songs.
That neighborhood, a musical quest, is also behind “Don’t Go Drinkin’ On An Empty Heart,” a sad ballad that uses the always-handy metaphor of a car for lost love. Regan spotted the line in a notebook of lyrics kept by Jeff Riales, thus launching a challenge among local singer-songwriters to write their own tune called “Don’t Go Drinkin’ On An Empty Heart.” There must be eight or 10 versions of it out there now, almost enough for the next CD.
Admission to the Sunday-night series “Fandango at the Tango” is always free.
Singer-songwriter Bat McGrath, inducted into the Rochester Music Hall of Fame last spring, makes the drive from Nashville once again to play two shows here, at 8 p.m. Nov. 20 and 7 p.m. Nov. 21 at Abilene Bar & Lounge, 153 Liberty Pole Way. The performances will be in Abilene’s intimate upstairs room, with seating. Tickets ($25) are available at the club.
Club passes for the 2014 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival went on sale Friday. After yet another record-breaking year for attendance (195,000 this summer), the 13th season of the festival will see it expand to at least 13 venues for the club passes with the addition of an R&B themed, 500-capacity tent at The Inn on Broadway.
The nine-day event, held largely in the East End District, runs from June 20 through 28. The cost of the passes and the early bird purchase window remains the same as last year. Initially $174 plus the service charge, that price expires at midnight, Dec. 31, when it increases to $194 plus service charge. The service charge per pass for online purchases is $6; $8 if mailed. Passes are available at rochesterjazz.com and (585) 454-2060.
Trumpeter Clay Jenkins, guitarist Gene Bertoncini and bassist Ike Sturm of the Eastman School of music are releasing a new CD on Nov. 30, Joy, a blend of old standards and originals. They’ll celebrate the release with an 8 p.m. Nov. 5 faculty concert at Hatch Recital Hall in the new East Wing of the school. Tickets ($10; free to UR ID holders) will be at the door one hour before concert. Jenkins and Bertoncini will be joined by bassist Jeff Campbell two days earlier, at 7:30 p.m. Sunday for at show at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, 2000 Highland Ave. Tickets for that one are $15; proceeds benefit the church’s Outreach Ministries, which include Habitat for Humanity, A Meal & More, and VOA services to homeless women and children.
Rochester’s The Dan Eaton Band is hosting the tentatively titled Rochester Original Music Series, which opens at 8 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Zeppa Auditorium at the German House. The aim is for Eaton’s band to be joined by two other locals each show; the first one features Watkins & the Rapiers and The Mighty High and Dry. Tickets ($6 advance; $7 at the door) are available at brownpapertickets.com.
Remember Cherie Curry, the blonde lead singer alongside Joan Jett and Lita Ford in the ’80s all-woman group The Runaways? She’s still hanging in there, with a 7 p.m. Nov. 10 gig at Lovin’ Cup Bistro & Brews, 300 Park Point Drive, Henrietta, near the Rochester Institute of Technology campus. She’ll be doing new material, as well as the music of The Runaways. As of press time, ticket prices hadn’t been announced, but check lovincup.com.
With the crash and burn of The Civil Wars, an opening has appeared in the male-female acoustic duo scene. That could be filled by The Saint Johns, who play at 8 p.m. Nov. 17 at Water Street Music Hall, 204 N. Water St. You could be getting in on the ground floor of some promising-sounding harmonies and guitar picking. The group, and Caroline Brooks, open for Stephen Kellogg, who’s been around here quite a bit with his band The Sixers, but for this show is going it alone. Tickets are $16 advance; $18 the day of the show.
Electric one-man band Ghostwriter returns for a 9 p.m. Nov. 13 show at Skylark Lounge, 40 N. Union St. (585) 270-8106.