Leaf Peeping at Its Best

A Brief Guide to Western and Central New York Foliage

You can also view the article & more travel bits at AAA

Fall is here, and so is a beautiful skyline of amber and yellow trees. Part of the beauty of living in Upstate New York is that we are surrounded by countless places where leaf peepers (people who travel to enjoy the sight of leaves changing colors) can enjoy the picturesque fall foliage

From the Erie Canal to the Finger Lakes region, there is no shortage of beautiful destinations New Yorkers can visit for short day trips or overnight stays. Enjoy this brief guide to just a few picturesque destinations in the Upstate New York region where leaf peepers can take in the breathtaking views of nature at its finest.


Parks: Letchworth State Park, Mendon Ponds, Ellison Park, Durand Eastman 

Special visual treat: Finger Lakes region (Canandaigua, Keuka and Honeoye, to name a few areas) 

The Rochester region includes many beautiful local parks that allow nature lovers to explore their backyard. Also, take a short drive to Ontario County and you’ll find Bristol Mountain Ski Resort, which offers fall sky rides from Sept. 12 to Oct. 12. The 15- to 20-minute ride through the Bristol summit provides visitors the opportunity to experience the colorful foliage transition before snow and skiers hit the slopes. 

After a picturesque ride up to the summit, you disembark and have the option to take a moment and enjoy the incredible view from up top, then hike down via trails, or ride back down in the chairlift and witness the breathtaking views of Bristol. 

For another special treat, visit the Finger Lakes region for grand views surrounding the lakes.


Parks: Allegany State Park, Knox Farm State Park, Devil’s Hole, Chestnut Ridge Park 

Special visual treat: Niagara Falls State Park 

Buffalo’s proximity to Niagara Falls – and its branching Niagara River, creeks and lakes – make it a prime spot for many state parks with scenic waterways and trails. A visit to Niagara Falls State Park’s Goat Island is worth it! On the U.S. side of the Falls, Goat Island offers views of the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian border and the American and Bridal Veil Falls. There are walking paths on the island where you can view the changing trees on the island. For even more landscapes, travel north of the Falls and you’ll find Devil’s Hole State Park. Though the name may be frightening, its views are peaceful. You can view the Devil’s Hole Rapids or take a walk on one of the park’s many trails along with the water and scenic outlooks.


Parks: Highland Forest, Great Lakes State Park, Chittenango Falls State Park, Clark Reservation State Park 

Special visual treat: Boat tour along Skaneateles – learn more at Midlakesnavigation.com.

Like Rochester, Syracuse is close to the Finger Lakes and has several local and state parks where peepers can take in the changing colors up close. All of the state parks offer beautiful hiking trails. Green Lakes State Park offers nearly 2,000 acres for leaf peepers to enjoy while Highland Forest, an Onondaga County park, offers countless trails, mountain biking and horseback rides. 

However, for a special treat, visit Skaneateles Lake, where you can take a cruise on the calm waters. Boat tours like Mid-Lakes Navigation offer guided sightseeing tours of the lake.


Of course, we’d be remiss to not mention the Adirondacks! To the north of Syracuse, the Adirondack region stretches an impressive 6 million acres. From Saranac Lake to Lake Placid to the Canadian border, there are boundless destinations in the region. 

You can enjoy leaf peeping on scenic drives or while cycling, kayaking or hiking through the breathtaking region. Want a more adventurous way to enjoy fall? Hot air balloon rides are available in the Lake George region. Feel safer with your feet on the ground? You can take the Adirondack Railroad! Visit the station in Utica or Thendara to start your journey through the region’s beautiful forest and waterways. 

When Should You Go Leaf Peeping?

The peak time for fall foliage in Upstate New York, when the leaves will be their most vibrant, is typically the last two weeks of September into the first week of October.

AAA Honors African American History in Rochester Area

Rochester has a rich African American history

You can also view the article & more travel bits at AAA

Rochester has a rich African American history. A stop on the Underground Railroad, Rochester was home to freedom seekers, abolitionists, politicians, community leaders and others who contributed to the flight to freedom.  

Important figures like Frederick Douglass, Rev. Thomas James, Myron Holley, Harriet Tubman, and Harriet Jacobs all have ties to helping slaves escape to freedom and spreading the abolitionist message from Rochester. 

Though many of the original buildings and structures may no longer stand, markers point to the significance of the many culturally significant sites in the city of Rochester and surrounding areas. 

Here are a few locations you can still see in person:

Mount Hope Cemetery – 791 Mt Hope Ave., Rochester, NY 14620
The sprawling 196-acre Mount Hope Cemetery was established in 1838 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2018.

Many important figures of the abolitionist movement are interred at Mt. Hope. To name a few: Rev. Thomas James (former slave, James became the reverend of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, a stop on the Underground Railroad), Frederick Douglass (one of the leading voices on the abolition of slavery, Douglass has several sites that Rochester tourists can visit), Myron Holley (known as one of the influential politicians who funded the Erie Canal, Myron was a vocal abolitionist who published his newspaper Rochester Freeman in 1839) and his daughter Susan “Sallie” Holley (who dedicated her life to educating African Americans). 

African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church – 42 Favor Street, Rochester, NY 14608 
Rebuilt over the years, the church still stands. Douglass printed his newspaper, The North Star (1847-1859), in the basement. Also, the church was a stop on the Underground Railroad; the pulpit included a trap door that led to the Genesee River. 

Central Church – 50 N Plymouth Ave, Rochester, NY 14614
Frederick Douglass passed on February 10, 1895, in Washington, D.C. (where he lived the last years of his life). Douglass’ Rochester memorial service was held at Central Church on February 26, 1895. From Central Church, his coffin, and mourners, were escorted to Mount Hope Cemetery. The building was expanded and is now The Hochstein School. 

The Talman Building – 25 East Main Street, Rochester, NY 14614 
This location, where Douglass moved his printing of The North Star, still stands. The important building also served as the Anti-Slavery Office and Reading Room. Many notable people graced the halls of The Talman including Harriet Jacobs (who went on to write Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl) and her brother John S. Jacobs. 

Kelsey’s Landing Maplewood Park – 89 Maplewood Dr, Rochester, NY 14615 
After runaway slaves made their way from point-to-point, house-to-house on their road to freedom, they embarked on a ship to Canada from Kelsey’s Landing. On the Genesee River, the northbound waterway can be visited today in Maplewood Park. Kelsey’s Landing was the last stop of the Underground Railroad in Rochester. 

Metric in Action!

Touring in support of their fifth release, Synthetica, Metric played the album almost in entirety (only three songs did not appear on their setlist); they added just a few older, fan favorites. The first stop of their fall tour, the Canadian quartet thrilled an enthusiastic audience despite a few technical difficulties.

The band was greeted by delighted cheers and applause when they graced the stage. Emily Haines (vocals, synthesizer), James Shaw (guitar, keyboard), Joshua Winstead (bass, keyboard), and Joules Scott-Key (drums) waved to the Rochester crowd, approached their instruments and played the first track of Synthetica. They played the first 3 tracks from the album in succession and the audience cheered at the start of each song and gleefully sang along with Emily. “Youth Without Youth,” the first single of the album, is a great live track as Emily commands “on the count of three jump with me…” and the excited members of the audience happily obliged.

All was going well for the band as they methodically transitioned to the next song on their list. The upbeat and extremely catchy drum riff of “Lost Kitten” filled the air; the crowd roared and again sang along. About a quarter ways through the song the effects went haywire and decided to keep its own beat, Emily turned to Joules and motioned for him to stop. While the gents attempted to mend the machine, Emily apologized and for the first time had a chat with the audience, “How are you,” she began. In a stream on consciousness Emily blissfully noted that the show was the first of their fall tour, thanked the audience for the warm reception, mentioned how she and the guys just left their studios in Canada and asked if there were any Canadians in the room. A few hands shot in the air as the fans from her native land jumped and shouted in response. “Sprinkles in the mist,” Emily joked. She then turned to James, “ok, we’ll just move on,” she noted. They left the song in the dust and commenced everyone’s favorite track from their third LP, Live It Out, “Empty.”

“Dead Disco” had to make an appearance this night and luckily it did. Upon the first few notes the crowd erupted in cheers as Emily jokingly approached the mic and coifed her hair in preparation. They closed the set with loud number “Stadium Love” but quickly returned for their encore. After two songs, Josh and Joules left the stage as James and Emily remained. James reached for his acoustic and played background as Emily again thanked the
crowd and again went on a stream of consciousness tangent of how-in the moment with James on the acoustic with all becoming calm-felt like Willie Nelson. And confessed her love for Willie. (I mean, who doesn’t!)

Soon enough Emily began a slow, acoustic version of “Gimme Sympathy,” to which the audience sang with her. “Sounds good,” she added as the room almost overtook her on the mic. When the song was almost finished Josh and Joules jumped back on the stage, clapped and sang along as well. They ended the song with a bow, again
waved goodbye to everyone, jumped off the front of the stage and shook the hands of the fans in the front row. One fan was disappointed that she could not share in this moment, dipped below the barrier and bounded over to shake Emily’s hand. The singer obliged and extended her hand before leaving for the night-can’t take mothers anywhere sometimes.

Though disappointed that the band decided to not play more tracks from previous albums, several fans shouted for “Hustle Rose”-a song I desired to hear as well-Metric sounds great live.

Artificial Nocturne
Youth Without Youth
Speed the Collapse
Dreams So Real
Lost Kitten
Help I’m Alive
Breathing Underwater
Dead Disco
Stadium Love

Monster Hospital
Gold Guns Girls
Gimme Sympathy


Read Live Review @ Blurt!

Upon the release of their sophomore album, Reptilians, the Portland eclectro-pop-dance-rock band STRFKR hit the road with Seattle rap trio Champagne Champagne. The range in musical genres may seem wide to some, but both bands melded together well on the stage as each knew how to put on a highly energetic show. However, not all dance music lovers are rap lovers so some STRFKR fans bore stoic faces until the dance party started.

So, fans of great dance music, familiarize yourself with STRFKR and rap enthusiasts, be sure to check out Champagne Champagne!

All images © all rights reserved.

Back in Black: Interpol

Read Live Review @ Blurt!

Interpol is finally back with the latest, self-titled LP and their first show took place in Rochester, NY of all places. Lucky for me, I was there! This was my first time seeing the NYC quartet in action so I was slightly saddened that original bassist, Carlos D, would not be there. Nevertheless, and naturally, Interpol sounded great. New songs were played this night and the fans loved it. But of course, “classic Interpol” reigned as the crowd pleasers.

All shots were taken on B&W film, 100 ISO; 28mm wide angle prime with the Minolta XG-1…

Cold War Kids Live…Need I Say More

Read Live Review @ Blurt!

They were amazing, as I expected! However, the night began as a comedy of errors; not for the Kids…but for me. Several minutes were wasted by aimlessly driving through the twisting one way streets of downtown to reach the Music Hall. Then I searched for a close, but free, space to park. Twenty five minutes later we approach the closed, locked doors as security watched us stand in the cold (they were letting people in a few at the time). There were only four of us out there…

After a short wait we were allowed to enjoy the warm air of the club. First a bag check, then ID dude, then tickets. Three checkpoints. Excessive. Yet, after a brush with ID dude—his poor communication skills coupled with a certain writer forgetting her ID equated to the security guy puffing out his chest in my face in an attempt to intimidate said writer—then I was in the club. Sheesh! But after it was all said and done, Cold War Kids made my night!

Photo note: As they are used to the Californian sun, CWK must like to take a break from glaring lights when they perform live. The stage was REALLY dark while in the pit…didn’t walk away with many images. All shots were taken on B&W film, 28mm wide angles lens with the Minolta XG-1…

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Matt & Kim's on FIIRRREE!

Article & Images Published w/ Blurt Magazine

Matt and Kim 8-6-08
Bug Jar • Rochester, NY
By April S. Engram

The patrons of Rochester, NY’s Bug Jar do not often break out into riotous form full of moshing, shoving, hoisting friends on shoulders, jumping on stage and the lead signer leaping into the crowd to dance with fans… but then again it’s not everyday that Matt and Kim takes command of its stage. 

With album number two soon to be released, Matt and Kim still find themselves touring continuously behind their 2006 self titled debut. The duo took a detour from their larger tour with CSS and The Go Team to humble the faithful in Rochester, NY. Opening act Ice Cream Social, a fellow electro-synth based band, filled ears with lyrics such as “We all wear glasses,” and sights such as hot red, tight jeans, a fanny pack and convulsive dancing. Then it was time for Matt and Kim to take control. 
The couple/duo keeps everything simple. The band name, short and sweet – we know who they are. The sounds, alt-punk, dance and rock, are shelled out in short, fast-sometimes lyric-less-tracks. And of course the instruments: just drums and keyboard/synthesizer. The fact that out of such a straightforward equation Matt Johnson (keyboard/vocals) and Kim Schifino (drums) manage to make such a volume of melodious noise is compelling…not to mention the fact that they seem to bear permanent smiles. 

Matt and Kim always makes sure to set up as close as they can to the edge of the stage. And from the audience standpoint, once you are pushed to the brim by ravenous fans, you can easily reach out and give Matt a high five, which one person did. Matt made sure to start the evening off on a dramatic note as he asked for the lights to be turned down, stood atop his stool, asked the crazed crowd to “turn it down a level…just one more” and introduced his band. As if we didn’t know. 
But their humbleness is of course part of the charm. After a quick run through three songs, Matt again chatted us up. After a second request to “turn it down a level… just one more” Matt shared a tale of the band’s trials crossing the border and Kim’s innate uneasiness, and inexplicable nervous laugh when being asked questions (which he of course imitated). 

With everyone in the room already hot and sweaty, Matt decided to slow things down, switch to his keyboard and take a breather. (His keyboard had been malfunctioning.) Yet he did not want to keep the crowd waiting so Matt resorted to using a synth and played the fastest song of the night and that is when the crowd got even nuttier. About six people shoved their way to the front and even I got caught in the riot and found myself collided into and sweated upon mercilessly. By the time that track was over a backup keyboard was making its way to the stage so Kim stood on her stool and took a moment to bid hello to the audience. Her first words: “I don’t really sound like that when I laugh.” 

While she made us laugh with her own tale defending her actions against Matt’s words, the latter set up his keyboard and was raring to go again. The duo plowed through fan favorites, “Yea Yeah,” “5k,” “Silver Tiles,” and “Grand.” About halfway through their set, the sound man requested that Matt open the rear door – and make sure that no one jumped on the stage from outside – since it was so damn hot. Unsuspecting smokers standing just before the door got a nice surprise: a free dance party as they too started dancing. 

However, a Matt and Kim show would not be complete with out audience members leaping on the stage. So when Matt announced that they were going to play the last song of the night, the crowd decided to make it the most memorable song of the evening. Someone from outside jumped on the stage and immediately people inside the club followed suit. As a dozen people shoved and elbowed their way onto the small stage, Matt and Kim ended their last song with a bang and the audience roared. But Matt wasn’t done yet. e immediately asked the DJ to turn up the dance music and jumped beside one delighted fan and began dancing while Kim was chatting away in the back of the room. 
Like a sonic boom, Matt and Kim hit us quickly and fiercely with their tunes. Though the set was short, approximately 35 minutes, it was the “bestest, shortest set” I’ve seen in some time.

Modest Mouse ROCKS Live!

Article & Images Published w/ Blurt Magazine

Modest Mouse did an amazing job live. My first time seeing them live and in action, I want to see them again already! Check out their photoblog run by Photographer Pat Graham. The lucky devil is photo-documenting their tour…jealous! And click above for the full review of their outstanding performance!!