Written by Eddie Ferranti
ImageNobody on the planet enjoys vacations more than me and my sweet Rose.  On our most recent one we went back to the Buffalo/Rochester area for the fourth time.  Being from Kansas and Ohio originally we dig what we call the “Heartland hominess” of that area.   Unless you go or have lived up there it is hard to explain, but it still embodies the core of American life that is slowly slipping away.  Beautiful big trees and a lot of peace and quiet.  It is rare that we cover a gig while on a trip, but we had to go to a cool place called The Abilene in Rochester if for anything but to meet the owner Dan Deutsch.

The name of club got my attention when searching for things to do in the area and we came to find out DD loves Texas music!   He named the club after his favorite song and we saw the likes of Hayes Carll, Carolyn Wonderland and Dale Watson had just performed there in June.  Talk about getting our attention.When we hit the club we were diggin’ it pronto when greeted by Dan himself.  He gave me the “nickel” tour which included an upstairs room which holds 35 for intimate gigs, out back where he set up Hayes Carll for bigger shows, or like tonight where it was just jam ’em in and let it rip type deal with The Blind Owl Band.  

This wild band of hippie dudes from Saranac Lake, NY did not short change the packed house one bit with their “psycho bluesgrass” sound!   The band had a stand up bass player Christian Cardiello, banjo guru James Ford, guitar rocker Arthur Buezo and the stud hub of this assault rifle foursome on maddening mandolin Eric Munley. 

ImageTBOB was starting a four gig summer residency and I mean to tell ya the crowd was into what they were selling.  In just under two years this band has released their debut album, “Rabble Rousing”, a 15 track piece featuring all original music, plus the follow-up, “This Train Ride is Made of Wood and Steel”,  a twelve song blitz of more original music that shows the continuing development of the band.  Founder Munley says his influences were among others The Clash, Led Zepplin, Radiohead, Modest Mouse, and Ryan Adams and The Cardinals.  Toss those vibes into maddening explosive bluegrass techniques and you get something that rattles the walls. The vocal harmonies are mainly of a darker side, but that really isn’t why you would come see these crazy critters in the first place.  Lyrics were the last thing this throng cared about, but rather to pump their fists in the air and let loose.  And what the hell is wrong with that? 

 Eclectic is I guess a category for this outfit, but rowdy foot stompin’ insanity rather fits well from my vantage point.  A good time was had by all.   Like I stated earlier though guys like Deutsch warm my heart and make what we do at Houston Music Review so damn proud.  He stated to me he was never in it to make money, but rather to bring good music to the city one band at a time.  Sometimes the joint is packed, like tonight at $7 a head on a Wednesday, and sometimes not. Hearing what killer bartender Glenn told me about how he quit a good gig as a computer programmer to chase his dream along with Dan to enjoy live music was all I needed to hear to solidify my love of this place.  Hell recently The Abilene pitched a tent for the Rochester Jazz Festival and hosted the Americana / Roots stage for eight days in June having 1500 folks pass thru enjoying music! 

ImageComing soon he has the likes of Albert Lee (8/24) for two shows and The Blasters 9/9) !  In summary, The Abilene makes one feel like you are in Austin, Texas which is high praise indeed with drinks that are not over priced either. HMR thrives on positve energy and so does this establishment.  A very intimate live music venue that Rochester is lucky to have and we’ll be back for sure you can bet on that………….God Bless people caring about bringing LIVE music to the masses!