* Editor’s Note: According to Rochester MusicFest organizers, “Due to inclement weather and localized flooding, Rochester MusicFest has been relocated from Genesee Valley Park to the Blue Cross Arena. The two-day event taking place this Friday and Saturday will still include all scheduled music acts.
Who doesn’t look forward to attending music festivals? It’s a chance to see well-known artists perform popular songs in a festival environment comprising local foods, vendors and, often times, fun activities that the entire family can enjoy.
Of course, all of this will be a part of the experience for the Rochester MusicFest 2017 but locally there is also a focus on homegrown talent. Music lovers would certainly miss out on lots of pure talent without the performances of homegrown artists that will take center-stage this weekend at Genesee Valley Park.
Open Mic Rochester had the exclusive opportunity to walk the streets of downtown Rochester with a few of the local acts that will perform at this year’s MusicFest. While you may be aware of their music and their abilities to captivate audiences beyond Rochester, here’s your chance to get know a few cool facts about the talented homegrown artists hitting the stage this weekend.
Tony “Tobias” Butler prefers Boss Sauce over Country Sweet. An alum of Rochester’s Urban-Suburban program, he started recording at 7-years-old because he wanted an outlet to address important social issues. This likely explains his love for ministry as a contributing member of Glory House International. He credits his family and “the homies” for pushing him to take music seriously. Inspired by the sounds of Slick Rick and some of the oldies from his pops’ music collection, Tobias will release his ninth musical project before the end of the summer. He was a member of Devante’s (JODECI) Basement Crew and has performed alongside Sean Combs, The Notorious B.I.G., Mary J Blige, Yolanda Adams, Mary Mary and Public Enemy.
R&B/soul vocalist and song writer, Tamra Cherubin began entertaining crowds in kindergarten and started vocalizing her opinions on her first job as a Teen Educator for Rochester’s In-Control Program. Raised on the northeast side of the city, Cherubin is certainly familiar with the hardships that arise living in poverty and she’s passionate about coordinating programs that impact the social and emotional development of Rochester’s youth. This is evident through her work at Rochester ChildFirst Network. She’s conscious about what impacts her culture and expresses her knowledge using singing and songwriting. One of her favorite songs from the 1990’s is “Right Here” by SWV and she said she always felt as if she was a part of the popular 90’s hip-hop group Arrested Development because of their cultural persona and soulful tunes so of course she’s pumped to see them perform at this year’s festival. Her favorite artist? The legendary James Brown
Two-time Grammy nominated, Jimmie Highsmith Jr. of H20 Highsmith Owens Project is something like a walking music history book. As a graduate of School of the Arts second graduating class (1986), he recalls the days of competing in musical competitions with his classmates who were given abused instruments but still managed to take home first place accolades. He said he remembered students singing, dancing and practicing those instrustments in the hall, comparing the scene to the movie Fame. In the 1980’s, education leaders threatened to close School of the Arts but Highsmith and his classmates marched the streets of Rochester to demonstrate that closing the hub for Rochester’s talented youth would be a mistake. They prevailed. He has traveled the world as a saxophonist and spent time in Russia where he says, “music defeated all racial barriers” and was the “bridge to happiness” for all groups of people. As a kid, Highsmith’s favorite afterschool snack was chocolate, vanilla or strawberry Zingers. He enjoys golf, chess and in the 1990’s, it was likely that he was jamming to the sounds of Rapper Chubb Rock.
“People are really excited about what’s happening at this year’s MusicFest and have been running to get their tickets,” said Liliana Ruiz, program coordinator for the festival.
The Rochester MusicFest 2017 will take place on Friday, July 14 and Saturday, July 15. More information about the MusicFest.