The change in the air and shift in the hues of nature’s palette are markers that signal the top of the new arts season. The Rochester region has much to sample — and there’s something for every taste, from serious-minded exhibits of artwork to transporting comedies on stage and throwback hip-hop shows.
This preview of notable shows and events coming down the pike is just a sampling of what's in store. Look for more info about scheduled shows on venue websites, and keep an eye on CITY in print and online at roccitynews.com.
VISUAL ARTS YOU’VE GOT TO SEE
“Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence”
Through Oct. 23, Memorial Art Gallery, mag.rochester.edu.
Paintings made of pigment and oil or acrylic media are an everyday sight at galleries and museums, but have you ever seen a picture made entirely of seed-sized beads? Out of a textile tradition emerges a new art form in “Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence,” a showcase of the work of six artists based in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, that’s currently on view at the Memorial Art Gallery. They’re part of a community of Xhosa and Zulu women who have developed a new form of bead art “paintings” called ndwango, which refers to the black fabric they stretch like a canvas and adorn with tens of thousands of colored Czech glass beads to form abstract or figurative pictures. Each work can take more than 10 months to complete.
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- "Pink Sidewalk" by Anastasia Samoylova.
“Anastasia Samoylova: FloodZone”
Through Dec. 18, George Eastman Museum, eastman.org.
Human civilization is an unending battle to stave off nature’s tendency toward entropy — it’s a constant fight to resist the grip of chaos in our carefully manicured existences. But stronger forces are speeding up these unwelcome changes, and that’s the focus of photographer Anastasia Samoylova’s work in “FloodZone.” On view this fall at the Eastman Museum, this set of more than 60 images explores the southern United States and its sought-after tropical climate, where real estate development continues on land ravaged by climate change-driven flooding and hurricanes. The work is filled with subtle and overt indications of erosion and encroachment of decay creeping into lush utopias, like visual klaxons amid the desperate artifice of denial.
“State of the City 2022”
Oct. 7 through Nov. 12, Rochester Contemporary Art Center, rochestercontemporary.org.
RoCo’s annual creative exploration of Rochester’s people, systems, and spaces returns after a two-year COVID hiatus. This year’s iteration of the show brings together the work of several artists who each explore different power dynamics, identities, shared spaces, and creative practices. The lineup includes Susan Begy, Emiliano Diaz, Quajay Donnell, Reb Ayşe Geduk, Gary Lamaar, Ray Ray Mitrano, Meredith Davenport, Michael Goldman/Consolidated Studios, David Hammond, and Richmond Futch, Jr. During the run of this main show, check out RoCo’s group experimental video exhibition, “Numinous Pools,” which explores the Great Lakes’ histories and ecologies from diverse cultural perspectives, as well as “Come What May, It Takes a Silver Bullet,” a series of works by Abiose Spriggs inspired by the 1933 film “Emperor Jones.” An opening reception for all three shows takes place Oct. 7, 6 to 9 p.m.
THEATER WE’RE EXCITED ABOUT
Sept. 6 through Oct. 2, Geva Theatre Center, gevatheatre.org.
Geva kicks off its 50th season with Elizabeth Williamson’s adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s English Gothic story of poverty, longing, ruinous secrets, and resilience. Not long after the titular heroine, penniless and orphaned, takes work as a governess, she falls for her mysterious and temperamental employer, Mr. Rochester. But his not-so-settled past disrupts their would-be happiness. I’m looking forward to how Williamson tackles Brontë’s dated treatment of madness and power dynamics. The season continues with “Somewhere” (Oct. 18 through Nov. 13), Matthew López’s depiction of a Manhattan-based Puerto Rican family balancing dreams of starring in “West Side Story” with the real struggles of urban poverty in 1959.
“On the Market”
Oct. 15 through 23, JCC CenterStage, jccrochester.org.
JCC CenterStage darling Jason Odell Williams is back with another world premiere production, this time a romantic comedy about a widowed real estate agent struggling to break back into the world of dating. But the middle-aged protagonist finds that the terrain has shifted over the years, and grapples with modern meetups, the whole effort even further complicated by supernatural signals. Will she move on, or cling tighter to the past? Donald Brenner directs.
“Marx in Soho: A Play on History”
Oct. 18 through 23, Multi-use Community Cultural Center, muccc.org.
Under the direction of Crescenzo Scipione, Jack Simel stars in Howard Zinn’s one-man play about 19th-century philosopher Karl Marx. The play centers not on the writer’s pivotal and notorious ideas about class and economic systems, but on Marx as a man struggling to support his family — not that the two personas aren’t irrefutably linked. Zinn transports his subject from London’s Soho neighborhood, where he spent a chunk of his life, to the newer New York district of the same name, to uphold communism in its ideal form and defend humanity against capitalism.
Oct. 27 through Nov. 6, Blackfriars Theatre, blackfriars.org.
Turn to our Daily to Do section on page 30 to read about Blackfriars’ season kickoff production of “Spamalot.” Next up at Blackfriars is “Barbecue,” a new play by Obie and Helen Hayes Award-winner Robert O’Hara. Family gatherings are ripe for providing a vignette of tricky dynamics, personality clashes, and deeper issues, often erupting into conflict even during our best intentions for quality time together. The scene is set for just that when the O’Mallery family meets up for a summer meal, and drug-addicted sister Zippity Boom arrives under the influence. A spur-of-the-moment intervention sparks utter chaos and some comedic scrutiny of the not-so picture-perfect American family.
Joan Osborne [POP, ROCK]
Sept. 7, JCC Canalside, jccrochester.org.
Back in 1995, Osborne asked, “What if God Was One of Us?” That question remains unanswered. But with her latest album, “Trouble and Strife,” she asks even more of us: What about racism, and our corrupt political leaders? All sung beautifully, and soulfully. She spans many genres, with her 2013 album, “Bring it on Home,” nominated for a Grammy as Best Blues Album. Roz Menachof opens. Tickets to this 7 p.m. show range from $34.50 to $57.50.
THICK [GARAGE ROCK]
Sept. 9, Bug Jar, bugjar.com.
There’s no better venue in Rochester to find up-and-coming indie rock acts with plenty of momentum and mojo than the Bug Jar. New York City trio THICK, fresh off the release of its sophomore album “Happy Now” on Epitaph Records, fits the bill. Bassist Kate Black, guitarist NIkki Sisti, and drummer Shari Page make supremely listenable garage rock with endearing melodies and punk bravado. Doors at 7 p.m. $15.
Daniel J. Kushner
The Killers [ARENA ROCK]
Sept. 26, Turning Stone Event Center, turningstone.com/entertainment.
The Killers are arguably the best arena rock band in the game. Led by frontman Brandon Flowers, the group has churned out numerous hits over the last 20 years, including “Mr. Brightside,” “Somebody Told Me,” “When You Were Young,” “Human,” “The Man,” and “Caution.” Flowers and company wear influences such as Bruce Springsteen and U2 on their sleeves, with plenty of synths added to drive the anthems home. 8 p.m. $39-$125.
The Be Kind Festival [VARIOUS]
Oct. 1, Three Heads Brewing, threeheadsbrewing.com.
Three Heads Brewing has long been a fierce advocate of local music, presenting countless shows by original artists at its brewery. The lineup this time around features some of Three Heads Minister of Mayhem Geoff Dale’s go-to acts, including Americana band A Girl Named Genny, soul-R&B singer Zahyia, Eli Flynn of Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and Upward Groove, and more. With BBQ from Big Boy Catering, this shindig also serves as a fundraiser for The Local Sound Collaborative, an organization that works toward financial stability for Rochester-area musicians. Doors open at 1 p.m. $10, $25.
Agent Orange [PUNK]
Oct. 8, The Montage Music Hall, rocentevents.com.
Agent Orange were pioneers of So-Cal hardcore punk and skatepunk — if you’re into those scenes, there’s a good chance Agent Orange is probably your favorite band’s favorite band. The group is known as the first punk band to incorporate surf music into its sound. Its high-octane cover of Dick Dale’s “Miserlou” and it’s original “Pipeline” came out at roughly the same time as other surf-influenced gems from their peers, including Dead Kennedys’ “California Über Alles” and several Descendents tracks including “Myage,” “Parents,” and “Ride the Wild.” But the band was also raw and powerful; the track “Bloodstains” is a buzzsaw of an opening track on the band’s 1981 debut LP, though many people have likely heard it while playing the Tony Hawk Pro Skater games. Tickets are $16 advance and $18 day-of. Only people over 16 admitted and doors open at 6:30 p.m.
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- Stephane Wrembel.
Stephane Wrembel [JAZZ]
Oct. 13 through 16, Lovin' Cup, lovincup.com.
Jazz guitarist Stephane Wrembel is beloved in Rochester, as evidenced by his nearly annual performances at Lovin’ Cup. Those not already in the know may have first heard his music in 2011 when his composition “Bistro Fada” was prominently featured in the Woody Allen film “Midnight in Paris.” A musical descendant of legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt, Wrembel’s music is irrepressibly charming, and his guitar licks seem to roll off his fingers effortlessly. The guitarist and his band will treat local audiences to not one, but four nights of consecutive performances featuring songs from different albums in his discography. All performances are $25 to $30.
Lilly Winwood [FOLK, ROCK]
Oct. 20, Abilene Bar & Lounge, abilenebarandlounge.com.
Although she is the daughter of Steve Winwood, Lilly Winwood is following a different musical road than dad’s old bands, Traffic and Blind Faith (although she has been known to play one of his solo hits, “Higher Love”). Shuttling back and forth between the U.S. and England while growing up, she now lives in Nashville, and that folky sensibility prevails in her music. Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. concert are $13 advance, $17 the day of the show.
Cypress Hill [HIP-HOP]
Oct. 21, The Vine at Del Lago Resort, dellagoresort.com/entertainment.
The story of 1990s hip-hop would be incomplete without the unapologetically aggressive, pro-cannabis West Coast group Cypress Hill. With impossibly catchy beats and B-Real’s signature nasal delivery, the trio’s songs are loaded with swagger and heavy with pot smoke. The 1994 hit “Insane in the Brain” is still an iconic touchstone in the cultural consciousness, but with over 30 years in the rap game, Cypress Hill isn’t resting easy. The multi-platinum-selling artists are currently touring in support of their 2022 album “Back in Black.” 8 p.m. $59.50-$179.50.
Amigo the Devil [FOLK]
Oct. 30, Water Street Music Hall, thewaterstreetmusichall.com.
I can’t think of a better way to gear up for Halloween than to hear Amigo the Devil live. Singer-songwriter Danny Kiranos is a master of the macabre. Don’t let the acoustic guitar and banjo instrumentation fool you — the lyrics rival anything you’ll hear from a horror death metal band. For Amigo the Devil, debauchery and death are essential to storytelling. I defy you to listen to “Perfect Wife” without getting the willies. Amigo the Devil ratchets up murder ballads to a whole different level. Don’t sleep on this guy. Willi Carlisle opens. 8 p.m. $20.
- PHOTO PROVIDED
- Bill Strings.
Billy Strings [BLUEGRASS, ROCK]
Nov. 9, Blue Cross Arena, bluecrossarena.com.
Strings presents guitar, banjo and mandolin as a high-octane mix of bluegrass, jazz and psychedelic rock (the first band he played in was heavy metal). Strings’ upbeat sound belies the often-dark content of his songwriting, including a portrait of a drug user in the song “Dust in a Baggie.” A bit of a musical child prodigy, the 29-year-old Strings, who won a 2021 Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album, cites influences as diverse as Ralph Stanley and Jimi Hendrix. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show range from $39.50 to $69.50.
Amy Helm [FOLK]
Nov. 19, JCC Hart Theater, jccrochester.org.
Helm released her third album, “What the Flood Leaves Behind,” last year. It’s a graceful collection of songs that reflects the influence of her father, The Band’s Levon Helm. Her mother, Libby Titus, was also a songwriter. Amy Helm lives now in the rustic Woodstock home that was the scene of Levon’s famous Midnight Rambles, and that vibe remains. The show was originally scheduled for last spring, before being postponed. Tickets to the 8 p.m. concert range from $44 to $74.
COMEDY THAT’LL HAVING YOU ROLLING
Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, Comedy at the Carlson, carlsoncomedy.com.
Best known as a Saturday Night Live cast member from 2010 to 2016, Jay Pharoah is a master impressionist known for his portrayals of former President Barack Obama, Eddie Murphy, Dave Chappelle, and Jay-Z, among many others. Pharoah’s upbeat, energetic style and pinpoint takes on celebrities make for a highly entertaining performance. 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. $25, $35.
Oct. 8, State Theatre of Ithaca, stateofithaca.org.
It’ll be a homecoming of sorts when comedian Joe Pera performs at the State Theatre this fall. The Buffalo native and long-suffering Bills fan (just one more in a long list of reasons to like the guy) attended Ithaca College, where he initially honed his craft. Pera has since become a comedic darling on Adult Swim for his show “Joe Pera Talks With You,” which ran from 2018 through 2021. Pera’s act is as much performance art as it is stand-up, in which he plays a soft-spoken, wholesome version of himself as 30-something going on 70. Far from a conventional performer, Pera’s sweetness makes for disarming and oddly uplifting humor. 7 p.m. $35.
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- John Mulaney.
Nov. 9, Kodak Center, kodakcenter.com/events.
One of the top stand-up comedians working today, John Mulaney boasts an impressive resume. He has performed sold-out shows at Radio City Music Hall, been a writer on Saturday Night Live, starred as George St. Geegland alongside fellow comedian Nick Kroll in “Oh Hello on Broadway,” and worked as an executive director, writer, and actor in the IFC mockumentary series “Documentary Now!” with Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Seth Meyers. Mulaney’s style is predicated on his quick wit, penchant for self-deprecating humor, and working knowledge of pop culture that transcends his 40 years. Mulaney brings his articulate, not-quite-clean comedy to the 585 for the first time since headlining the Rochester Fringe Festival in 2017. 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. $55-$262.