A Season of Sound and Literature at the Rochester Music Hall of Fame

(Originally written by Scott Gudell)

After eight years of honoring various music professionals at the annual April induction ceremony, the Rochester Music Hall of Fame has set its sights on 2019 as the year the RMHF grows and does even more to systematically honor and support the area’s rich music scene. The first two series launched in 2019 were Grove Place Jazz and Books Backstage. Let’s take a look at the recently concluded Books Backstage 2019 (generously sponsored by Finger Lakes Community College) and what might happen in 2020.

We came out of the gate as strong as possible in February by hosting RMHF inductee Lou Gramm (with Scott Pitoniak) as Gramm discussed his book Juke Box Hero. Since he had announced his retirement a few days prior, there was incredible press coverage and wall-to-wall attendance at the new 25 Gibbs Street venue, directly across the street from the Eastman School of Music. The March guest was yet another RMHF inductee, percussionist John Beck, with help from Bill Cahn. Beck talked about his Percussion Matters book, brought along one of THE first percussion instruments ever played by members of the Rochester Philharmonic nearly a century ago and then he and Cahn performed an impromptu duo percussion piece from the stage. Later that month, Peter Connors (with musical guest Charley Orlando) visited the RMHF and talked about several of his books about the Grateful Dead and about various jam bands. The RMHF hosted Syracuse University professor Dave Yaffe in which Leah Zicari stood out as musical guest at the April event and performed several Joni Mitchell songs. Rick Falkowski (the founder of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame) visited in May as he and rockabilly artist Ed Bentley closed out the series by focusing on the history of the Buffalo music scene and how, at times, it related to the Rochester music scene.

As we look to 2020, we’re hoping to continue to invite out-of-town authors to balance those based in Rochester. Also, whether a book is about jazz, classical, rock etc., we hope to continue to balance all styles and possibly include music industry producers, promoters, photographers and others. Wrote a good book lately? Contact us!

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