The seventh annual Homegrown was a hopping affair. The annual day-long celebration of local food, drink, and music took place at Lovin’ Cup Bistro & Brews in Rochester on Saturday, January 20. The event, organized by the folks at Lovin’ Cup and Three Heads Brewing, was coined Homegrown Sete (‘sete’ meaning seven in Portugese).
The sun shone down on the event-goers lined up outside the tents before noon. They chatted excitedly about their plans for the day and one of the guys up front took selfies with his crew. There was also talk of grabbing Uber rides home after sampling beverages from the assorted makers of adult beverages. The smell of hot food came wafting out of the tents, whetting the appetite. Like drinks, local food and live music were included in the price of admission.
Once doors opened, I headed inside the restaurant to scope out the performance area. I said hello to a few friends and checked on the set times for the day. Seven local bands were slated, starting at noon and ending at midnight: Periodic Table of Elephants, The Moho Collective, Friday in America, The English Project, Lost Wax Collective, The Saplings, and The Majestics.
Periodic Table of Elephants started the day strong with a selection of tried-and-true originals. The crowd was into the hard rock vibe. They slid in a few new songs. With the recent return of their bassist, they are able to incorporate some fantastic secondary vocal parts into the new material. As an added treat, they shredded a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son.” Singer/guitarist Jason Pariseau announced that they will be heading into the studio to record their next EP after a couple gigs in early February.
Master of ceremonies and curator of today’s musical lineup was Geoff Dale of Three Heads Brewing. He thanked everyone for coming out and encouraged us to all “get normal.” He chatted up the dozens of local organizations and businesses offering their wares out in the tents. He then introduced the next band, who has played all seven Homegrown shows.
The Moho Collective is a trio that plays funky jams. Their music is all instrumental, no vocals. The only time we heard the guitarist’s voice was when he occasionally talked between songs. Mid-set, they launched into a breathtaking rendition of “Across the Universe,” a Beatles cover of which the only parallel I can compare is the NPR Tiny Desk performance of John Lennon songs by Bill Frisell. Starting slowly and meticulously, they built up to a glorious swell before a shoegazy fade-out. The cover became the talk of the fest, as people asked each other if they heard it. They hadn’t prepared for an encore, but obliged the audience, playing a new tune they’ve been working on.
Lovin’ Cup was filling up. People came in from the tents, greeting each other with “Happy Homegrown.” I ran into a bunch of people I know from the local music scene – people who work behind the scenes at Rochester Groovecast, The Record Archive, and Rochester Indie Musician Spotlight, as well as photographers, musicians, and other music fans I’ve run into at shows.
Next up on the lineup was Friday In America, a band which in addition to playing all seven Homegrowns recently played at Three Heads Brewing as part of singer/songwriter Fran Broderick’s month-long residency there. The menagerie of musical influences had a danceable beat. Folks were kicking up their heels in front of the stage. They called Dale up to sing with them on “Lonesome Train.” He got everyone to join in on the last chorus of the song. The band capped off their set with a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in The Dark.”
People were milling around with samples of beer and food. I ventured out to the tents to get in on the action. They were packed. Several tents were connected in an “L” shape around the patio. With dozens of booths, there was a lot to see and do. There were wineries, breweries, and distilleries at every turn, and the taps were flowing freely. Not having planned on an Uber ride home, I took it easy on the sampling. Although not a beer connoisseur myself, I do want to give a shout out to Rail Head Brewing Company from Hornell for their smooth cream ale. I tucked away a brochure for the beer trail that they’re on, an adventure for another day.
Along the way back into the venue, I paused to watch the fascinating cigar rolling demonstration by Rochester’s Santiago Cigar Factory. I also grabbed a bite to eat: pasta with vodka sauce from The Hideaway on Park Ave and a sausage-stuffed pepper from Mama Lor’s Cafe in Webster. The food was delish. I wished I had time to explore some more offerings, but the next band was about to start.
The English Project began to play a selection of songs from their recently released self-titled album. They threw in a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” This jazz-funk-soul fusion band is led by drummer/vocalist Chris “Hollywood” English. The ensemble included all the usual suspects, bassist, guitarist, keyboardists, but also a second drummer doing hand percussion and a flutist/saxophonist.
The flute/sax player hung around the stage to join the next band, Lost Wax Collective, along with a trumpeter and an alto sax player. The music was groovy and featured both the soulful vocal stylings of Alivia Ruiz and poly-rhythmic spoken word contributions from rapper Gary Crocker.
It had been a long, full day, and it wasn’t over yet. Headlining acts The Saplings and The Majestics hadn’t performed yet. But I was completely out of steam. Next year, I’ll do a better job of pacing myself. And I’ll plan to take an Uber so I can feel free to sample the array of adult beverages.
If you go to a Homegrown event: invite your friends, buy your tickets early, and plan for a designated driver. Friends don’t let friends miss Homegrown. Take note, the tents are hard to navigate for people who have difficulty with mobility, but the venue and indoor facilities are handicap accessible.