(Originally written by Scott Gudell)
A consistent, long time supporter of the Rochester Music Hall of Fame (RMHF) has been Danny Deustch and his club, the earthy, roots oriented Abilene Bar and Lounge. They’ll be celebrating their 10th anniversary in 2018 and, year in and year out, they host strong local, regional and national acts. Although the club originally focused on Americana music and it’s still at the core of what they present, they continue to evolve and offer a wide variety of other sounds and styles as well.
One of the artists recently presented by Abilene was Kim Simmonds, one of the founding members of the iconic British blues rock band Savoy Brown. The Friday, Jan 13, 2017 show was presented at the Penthouse at One East Avenue as part of Abilene’s “on the road” series. It was a casual, solo performance as Simmond’s relied on his harp and two acoustic Gibson guitars (note: Henry Juszkiewicz, the current CEO of Gibson, was raised in Rochester and was officially inducted into the RMHF in 2015). Simmonds presented the crowd of about 75 people a sort of ‘MTV Unplugged’ meets “home concert” evening of songs and stories. He performed a newer number called “I Can’t Stop the Blues” as well as classic Savoy Brown songs such as “Hellbound Train” while casually interspersing stories from the early British Invasion in-between the notes. His version of “Train to Nowhere” (originally sung by Chris Youlden) was presented with a blues drenched slide followed by a Mississippi Fred McDowell song, “Shake Em On Down,” insuring that the entire evening stayed focused on the blues.
Looking forward, Abilene is bringing a number of top notch artists to town. Thursday, February 23, will feature one of these artists who’s also been a long time supporter of the RMHF, John Mooney. Another passionate blues artist, Mooney’s style is fierce, focused and can fire up a crowd with his slide and steel guitar. He was a protégé of one of THE founders of American blues, Son House (who lived in Rochester for many years and was inducted into the RMHF in 2013.)
You’ll be able to catch a rollicking Commander Cody in March, the alluring and intriguing Eilen Jewell in April and Americana master Dave Alvin in May. Interestingly, Alvin wrote the song “Abilene” which was part of the inspiration for Danny’s club. Having seen each and every one of these artists in concert over the last few years, I highly recommend you pick one or two and check them out. You can confirm times, dates and venues by going to Abilenebarandlounge.com