‘Rolling Hills Radio’ Hosts Successful Event At Shawbucks

Featured guests on the 68th episode of WRFA-LP 107.9 FM’s “Rolling Hills Radio” are pictured during episode’s live taping at Shawbucks on Monday night. From left are: Steve Piper, singer-songwriter from Rochester; Ken Hardley, program host; and the Moonshine Rhythm Club, a Nashville-based outfit specializing in old-school swing and jazz. P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti

Against a backdrop of a brightly lit downtown Jamestown, the stage area of Shawbucks briefly took on the guise of an early 20th-century nightclub Monday evening.

The illusory transformation occurred as a result of the live taping of performances by Nashville’s Moonshine Rhythm Club and Rochester’s Steve Piper for the 68th episode of WRFA-LP 107.9 FM’s “Rolling Hills Radio.”

Monday’s show was the second to be held at Shawbucks, which was announced two months ago as the new home of “Rolling Hills Radio.” Host Ken Hardley said he was initially reticent about making the move to Shawbucks based on the contrast in atmosphere from the program’s previous locations, but said he’s since received nothing but positive feedback from his regular supporters.

“There’s so much to be said for the Shawbucks setting; everybody thinks it’s a good change and is adapting to it beautifully,” Hardley said. “We had close to 100 people at the show and still had plenty of room to spare. People are enjoying the food spread that Kurt and Tammy (Johnson, Shawbucks’ owners) have been setting out, along with plenty of comfortable seating and parking spaces right outside the venue.”

The musicians being featured in the program suited the upscale atmosphere perfectly, with Piper serenading the audience to a sampling of some of his newly written originals while the Moonshine Rhythm Club treated guests to its renditions of old-time gypsy jazz and Western swing classics such as “Sunny Side of the Street,” “Unforgettable,” and “Minor Swing.”

The Moonshine Rhythm Club made its “Rolling Hills Radio” debut by recommendation of The Farmer and Adele, also of Nashville, who performed in Jamestown in March. Specializing in old-school swing and jazz, the group has brought its energetic acoustic presence from its hometown scene of Nashville to festivals and dances around the country. They tour heavily, trying to bring vintage music to audiences both initiated and unfamiliar with jazz.

Piper has performed on “Rolling Hills Radio” on several occasions, both solo and as a member of Watkins and the Rapiers. Hardley said Piper, in addition to being a prolific singer-songwriter, is also a professional photographer who has a master’s degree in the subject and also teaches at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

The next episode of “Rolling Hills Radio” will be held at Shawbucks on Monday, Dec. 18, at 6:30 p.m. Featured on the program will be the Americana duo Almond and Olive, along with blues artist David Michael Miller.