Steel Rail Music Festival Defines the True Meaning of Revival

By Rebecca Leclair

The 2022 Steel Rail Revival created a vibe that resonated through the entire village of Fairport on Sunday, July 17th and lived up to its name by reviving a summertime festival that originated pre-Covid. “People just love live music,” said co-organizer Steve Bartolotta. “By filling the Cannery festival area and just about every bar along the strip, we had packed houses again. And just like when the trains go through Fairport, you could feel the vibrations, everywhere you went.” This was the second time Bartolotta and his partner Lisa Enos produced the Steel Rail Revival to bring thousands of music-lovers to the village and provide a full-day of activity for members of the Fairport-Perinton Chamber of Commerce. “Fairport is where I live, where I have a business, and where I play my own music,” said the well-known producer of the Steve Bartolotta All-Star Jam. “I’m so proud of how we pulled off this herculean effort with our friends, fellow musicians, and lots and lots of volunteers.” Approximately, 6,000 music lovers enjoyed the festival which featured close to 120 acts on fifteen indoor and outdoor stages. For the nine-hour event, organizers added a shuttle operation for off-site parking and trolley transportation up and down the main drag of Fairport so patrons could experience multiple acts in multiple locations. The national headliner, Head East, and one other band from Buffalo were the only non-local talent featured. “This is really about homegrown talent. All the locals play for free and donate their time. It’s just terrific when everyone comes together to showcase the incredible musicians we have around here and we can show off Fairport as the music festival mecca it truly is,” said Bartolotta.

If the Bartolotta name rings a bell, it’s because there are strong family bonds within the village and town of Perinton. A huge portion of Steve’s family grew up in the village. In fact, his grandfather, Salvatore, settled in a house on John Street after emigrating from Sicily. He raised nine children with his wife, Rose. To her, the street name had a negative connotation for solicitation, so Salvatore helped get it re-named State Street. It is now currently known as Lift Bridge Lane. Salvatore also founded the San Sebastian Society to help local residents after the Great Depression, before Social Security was established in 1935.

San Sebastian Society
Steve Bartolotta’s Uncles

Steve’s aunt, Josephine, was a writer and editor of the Fairport Herald for 55 years. His father, Victor,
was the police justice from 1956-1960. “We are rooted deep in this area and helping neighbors is the
unwritten rule in our family,” said Bartolotta. “I figure the best way I can help others is by bringing a
music festival to life in my hometown.”

Josephine Bartolotta

Proceeds from the event will go to the Rochester Music Hall of Fame. Bartolotta is a RMHF board
member who helps produce the annual induction ceremony each year. He takes the RMHF mission to
heart in recognizing “those with ties to Rochester whose talents, efforts, perseverance and creativity
have contributed to the creation of musical excellence.” Donations are still coming in, but it is
anticipated that $35,000 will be collected by the end of the month. The Steel Rail Revival premiered in 2019 with 30 acts on four stages. The event featured former Foreigner lead singer, Lou Gramm headlining to raise money for the Neuroscience Department at Rochester Regional Health. Plans are already in the works for another event in summer 2023 with a new beneficiary.

2019 Steel Rail Revival with Lou Gramm
Cinnamon Jones & Eternal Soul at the 2022 SRR. Photo by Aaron Winters
The Misfit Toys at the 2022 SRR. Photo by Patti Battista
PrimeTime Funk at the 2022 SRR. Photo by Patti Battista
Our headliner HEAD EAST at the 2022 SRR. Photo by Patti Battista
Jenna Riddell at the 2022 SRR. Photo by Patti Battista