Tommy Gravino will accompany singer-songwriter Joanne Shenandoah for her song "Missing You" at the awards Saturday in Niagara Falls
Canandaigua flutist Tommy Gravino first met Joanne Shenandoah several years back when she performed with her sister and daughter at the Native American Music and Dance Festival at Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor. He was taken with their musicianship, and the feeling apparently was mutual: "She asked me to sit in on the flute, and we got to talking," he said.
That connection led to assorted collaborations off and on over the past five years with Shenandoah — a member of the Oneida Wolf Clan who's been termed among "America's most celebrated and critically acclaimed Native American musicians of her time" by The Associated Press — including a bit of touring this past summer. And this weekend, Gravino and his alto flute will take the stage with Shenandoah during the Native American Music Awards, held at Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino in Niagara Falls, to accompany her on a live performance of her song "Missing You." The music video, for which Shendoah is nominated for the NAMAs, was released May 5, designated the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and the song is a powerful lament of a loved one.
"Oh, it's amazing — it breaks your heart on one hand, and it's so compassionate on the other," Gravino said. "But it's not just for Native Americans, it's all women missing — all people missing."
In addition to the music-video nomination for "Missing You," Shenandoah is also nominated in the "Best Indie Single" category for her song "We Will Rise Up."
Gravino looks forward to working with Shenandoah in the near future on some recording projects she has in the works. And he has plenty of projects of his own. A yoga music specialist who worked six summers with Stency Wegman, he recently recorded "Finger Lakes Chill" with local singer, songwriter, harpist and therapeutic musician Mary Monroe, a sollection of soothing, melodious songs described on the packaging as "conducive for the practice of Yoga & Meditation, transcending the listener beyond dimensions of time & space." "Finger Lakes Chill" is the soundtrack for Heather Roff's performance group Yoga Music & Unworldly Dance, featured in the Rochester Fringe Festival. (A DVD produced by Rochester's Animatus Studio was released this year.)
As well, he plays out from time and time, sitting in with musicians like Monroe and her frequent musical partner Nate Coffey, as well as such local musicians as Teressa Wilcox. And he can occasionally be found playing at the Flavors Indian restaurant in Canandaigua.
While the awards show at Seneca Niagara is sold out, it will be streamed live at www.NAMALIVE.com and on the NativeMusicAwards YouTube channel starting at 6 p.m.
Christine Lavin returns
Christine Lavin — an internationally known contemporary folk musician who lived for a number of years in Geneva while taking care of her ailing mother — returns to the region for this weekend's installment of the Café Veritas concert series, starting at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2 (doors 7 p.m.) at First Unitarian Church, 220 S. Winton Road, Rochester.
A 2019 inductee into the Rochester Music Hall of Fame, Lavin is known for an eclectic and often witty repertoire, which includes such songs as "Good Thing He Can't Read My Mind," "Sensitive New Age Guys," "Santa Monica Pier" and "Attractive Stupid People" (about President Franklin Pierce and others of his ilk). At Neil DeGrasse Tyson's invitation, she sang her song "Planet X" — about Pluto's demotion" — at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. She's edited a cookbooklet of recipes from the likes of Pete Seeger and Dave Van Rock. And she likes to invite anyone who knits or crochets to show up early for a knitting circle, and this Saturday's no exception.
Buffalo-based singer-songwriter Davey O., a 2013 New Folk Finalist at the Kerrville Folk Festival, will open the show.
Admission is $18 adults, $10 students, free for those under 12. More details: cafeveritas.org.
This show is habit-forming
OFC Creations is presenting the off-Broadway musical "Nunsense" this weekend at The Century Club of Rochester, 566 East Ave., Rochester. While the Friday evening and Saturday afternoon shows are sold out, there is still capacity for the performances at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3.
The story: The Little Sisters of Hoboken need to raise funds quickly for burials after their cook Sister Julia, Child of God, accidentally poisons 52 of the sisters. They decide to put on a variety show and take over the school auditorium, set up for the eighth-grade production of "Grease." The sisters include a former circus performer, a streetwise nun from Brooklyn, a novice who's a wannabe ballerina, and a nun who lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head (Sister Mary Amnesia).
Judith Ranaletta is artistic and vocal director for the show, with a cast including Allyn Van Dusen, Emily Putnam, Courtney Weather, Jessie Keim, and Jeannie Clinton. Tickets are $35 general admission ($50 VIP seating, including champagne) and available at 585-667-0954 or www.OFCCreations.com.