HomeStage at The Little

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While so many musicians have been left to perform in isolation amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, WXXI has invited four dynamic bands to each record a live session, audience-free, on stage at The Little Theatre in Rochester's East End. Presenting diverse musical performances paired with intimate interviews and compelling stories, HomeStage at The Little, shares the magic that happens when musicians finally come together to play once again. The series airs Fridays, November 6-27 at 8:30 p.m. on WXXI-TV. Each episode repeats the following Saturday at 11:30 a.m. on WXXI-TV.

Danielle Ponder and her band, featuring Avis Reese, Derek Bennett, Levi Bennet, and Jonathan Schaeffer, kick off the series Friday, November 6 on WXXI-TV. Named Top Ten Bands to watch by CITY, and winner of the 2015 and 2016 Roc Awards, "Best Band," Ponder transcends musical genres with a deep, powerful soul. A Rochester native, she has spent the past years rendering goose bumps by perfecting her style and charismatic performance.

Herb Smith and the Freedom Trio, one of Rochester’s premier jazz combos, take to The Little stage on Friday, November 13 on WXXI-TV. Herb Smith, who plays with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, leads the Freedom Trio on trumpet. Peter Chwazik, a lecturer at Ithaca College, playing bass and Dana Wendel, an Eastman student, on drums completes the group. Incorporating jazz, rock, classical, blues, gospel, and Indian classical music, these different styles and genres play a crucial role in the creation of their original compositions.

Musicians Moses Rockwell, Brendon Caroselli, and Gary Crocker come together for an electrifying performance of hip hop on Friday, November 20 on WXXI-TV. Moses Rockwell is an emcee and beat maker who is known for humorous and self-deprecating lyricism with jazz inspired. Brendon Caroselli is a drummer, educator, bandleader, and composer, who dedicates the majority of his creative focus into his all-original seven-piece jazz fusion band, Lost Wax Collective. Gary Lamaar is a rapper, producer, drummer, and increasingly uninhibited songwriter. His lyrics and rhythms are rooted in his personal experience.

Alt-rock and psychedelia band Maybird take viewers on a magical, musical journey on Friday, November 27 on WXXI-TV. Singer/songwriter Josh Netsky, drummer Adam Netsky, and guitarist Sam Snyder make up the band. In 2013, they released an ambitious independent debut record, Down & Under, which caught the ear of producer Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley, Broken Bells), who signed them to his label 30th Century Records. With a self-released album and two label EPs under their belt, they released the full-length Things I Remember from Earth on 30th Century in May of 2019.

HomeStage at the Little grew out of the digital series HomeStage, a WXXI News production, which launched last April in response to the shutdown of music venues due to the pandemic. The concept: musicians perform from their homes so music fans can enjoy the shows from their own homes. John Dady kicked off the digital series, which now features 26 segments – including performances by Womba Africa, Juliana Athayde and Erik Behr, Taurus Savant, Hanna PK, The Fox Sisters, and Cinnamon Jones.

HomeStage at The Little is made possible with support from Dee Mosteller and Henry Simon, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

To learn more and watch the episodes online after they broadcast, visit