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Ringo Reminds Us Of When a Beatle Visited Cheektowaga

Hearing about Ringo Starr's upcoming visit to Artpark, Buzz was swept up in nostalgia for 2001, which is when we went to see the one, the only, the great Pete Best. Best, in the above 1982 David Letterman clip, was said to have given up music. Wrong, wrong, wrong! In 2001 he was playing T-Birds in Cheektowaga.

All we could think -- we wrote about it at the time -- was that he knew the answer to one of music's big mysteries. He told The News' Jim Heaney he didn't know why the fledgling Beatles had fired him. He knew, all right.

So we remember that. A visual image also sticks with us. In the hall, when you walked in, T-Birds displayed a huge mural of the Beatles' faces - and over Ringo's, someone had taped a 9-by-12 Xeroxed photo of the young Pete Best. 

Another rosy memory: On stage, Best introduced "Love Me Do" by saying: "This song made me a few bob as well, so that's why we've got to play it." That was pretty funny, you know, especially in that charming Liverpudlian accent.

Wow. That was a unique occasion, you know?

That's why Ringo isn't playing Cheektowaga. Because out there, he would always be ... Second Best.

A Stirring Sight By the Peace Bridge


By Mary Kunz Goldman

Your heart starts beating faster when you are on the 190 right around the Peace Bridge, and you see this dramatic flag. An American flag, on a flagpole, blowing in the wind, so magnificently tattered that it looks triumphant.

You couldn't take a picture this morning, what with the traffic and the poor visibility -- so just take Buzz's word for it, it looks just like the picture above.

All we could think of was Renee Fleming's dramatic singing of the lines from "The Star-Spangled Banner" about giving proof through the night that our flag was still there.

It starts the workday off on a high note! 

BPO Pianist's Rachmaninoff Above Par At Golf Resort

Bianconi2By Mary Kunz Goldman

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is returning from its Florida tour with lots of dramatic stories to tell. The stories are extra epic considering that the orchestra and JoAnn Falletta have been touring with French virtuoso Philippe Bianconi, who has been playing the tumultuous Rachmaninoff Third. 

Bianconi rocked Kleinhans Music Hall with the Rachmaninoff almost a fortnight ago and Florida audiences, too, have been thrilled by him.

Perhaps most thrilling of all was his solo piano performance at a PGA golf resort 20 minutes outside St. Augustine. We would assume that to be the World Golf Village.

As Buzz understands it, the resort was the only place that could accommodate the orchestra for its Daytona and St. Augustine concerts. Plus, they had a piano where Bianconi could keep his chops up. As board member Cindy Letro reports, the hotel's rooms tower over a central atrium with a piano bar in the center. The focal point of the cocktail bar is a baby grand piano with a flat lucite cover and a tip jar in the corner. The sound of the piano wafts up to rooms high above it.

It was at this piano that Bianconi seated himself to run through his Rachmaninoff.

"Imagine this elegant, self-effacing world-renowned pianist pounding out the Rach 3 for hours on end with the chords resonating to the floors above," Letro marvels. "One couple seated at the bar stayed for the entire session."

Later, the couple commented to a BPO musicians that they had thought Philippe was the hotel's scheduled entertainment. Ha, ha!

Letro recognized the glory of the occasion.

"A great moment!" she marveled.

Buffalo Musician Had Unique View of the Ed Sullivan Show Magic


Everyone is talking today about the magic that happened on the Ed Sullivan Show 50 years ago last night. And with good reason.

There is simply no topping the greatness of magician Fred Kaps, who demonstrated his craft on that unforgettable night. Kaps, who shared the bill with actor (and friend of Buffalo) Frank Gorshin and -- who else? oh, right, British rockers the Beatles -- is a particular figure of fascination to Buffalo musician Bob Davis, pictured above, who does magic on the side. He told Buzz how, when he was able to nail a video of the episode, he didn't bother with the Beatles. "I haven't gotten around to watching them," he confessed. "I've only seen Fred Kaps. He was great."

On Facebook yesterday, Bob Davis joined in the wave of awe regarding the show 50 years ago.

"Fred Kaps," he wrote, simply.

Further words are unnecessary.


Renee Fleming Thanks WNY For Preparing Her For Super Bowl Gig


Buzz gets this from the New Jersey Star-Ledger: At a press conference, opera diva Renee Fleming, pictured above, thanked Western New York for readying her for her Super Bowl gig, where she might face dicey weather.

“I want to thank Rochester for preparing me for singing in the cold,” she said. Fleming is from Rochester, where her mother still teaches at the Eastman School of Music.

She added: “As we’re fond of saying, we Upstaters … ‘Oh, this is nothing.’”

Gift Shop Makes Kleinhans Audience Groan

Spring 007

Two in one shot! Too Hot to Handel and the Chopin Bag.

These people are the Mozarts of bad puns! Wonder what they'll have next time we stop in.

We'll be Bach!

Bob Seger Is Still Alive, Detroit Man Announces


By Mary Kunz Goldman

Buzz sympathizes with the Detroit writer who felt it necessary to publish this clarification. Pete Seeger is the musician who died. Bob Seger is still among us.

It is like the time Buzz met Margot Kidder and everyone kept thinking we meant Nicole Kidman. 

Buzz saw Pete Seeger once at, we believe it was the Unitarian Universalist Church here in Buffalo. It was some church. We remember he sang a lot of kids' songs including one that went "Mousie, mousie, in the housie." Alas, we have no record of that performance. How could we not? We thought we had a written chronicle of everything we have done in life.

We do have a chronicle of Bob Seger at Buffalo's old Memorial Auditorium.

Captain and Tennille's Family Reached Out to The Buffalo News


By Mary Kunz Goldman

In the flurry of publicity surrounding the imminent divorce of the Captain and Tennille, journalists are widely overlooking the fact that the Captain, Daryl Dragon, is the son of Carmen Dragon, the great Hollywood Bowl and Capitol Records music man. 

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra likes to play Carmen Dragon's sparkling arrangements. On more than one occasion The Buffalo News has praised these performances, admiring the Carmen Dragon's creativity.

And the Dragon family got in touch with The News, thanking us for appreciating and remembering Carmen Dragon. Buzz is searching for the correspondence. We seem to remember that the family representative was one of Dragon's daughters -- which would make her the Captain's sister -- and that she was a Catholic church musician in California. In any event the Dragon family impressed us a wonderful family and we cannot imagine, based on this inside knowledge, why Tennille would want to leave it.

We are going to be looking for the email. More to come if we find the thing.

Meanwhile here is a picture of the great Carmen Dragon. He was better looking than his celebrity son.


And here is an elegant Carmen Dragon arrangement of Beethoven, featuring the best-selling pianist (and Buffalo native) Leonard Pennario.


BPO Apprentice Gets Bravos For Playing Badly


By Mary Kunz Goldman

Matthew Tosca, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's new Mannes College apprentice conductor, recently got good news and bad news. That is he pictured above.

The good news: He is making a high-profile appearance at Kleinhans Music Hall this weekend. 

The bad news: He has to play atrociously!

The BPO is presenting "Mozart and Salieri," a 45-minute mini-opera by the Russian Romantic composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Long story short, they need someone who can walk on stage with a violin and pretty much murder a Mozart aria.

As BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta explained: "Matthew is a very fine violinist but will have to deliberately play 'badly' as an untrained street musician."

Which is what the junior maestro did, on Friday morning for the Coffee Concert. He walked out with a fiddle and played "Batti, Batti," from Mozart's "Don Giovanni," horribly and screechingly. Bravo!

Saturday night, he gets to reprise his performance.

With luck, it will be even worse!

Buffalo's Secret Weapon


By Mary Kunz Goldman

The real winner of Saturday's Metropolitan Opera auditions is not even a singer.

It is Buffalo!

Organizer Dianne Rubin forwarded to Buzz an email from a Toronto couple, Ellen Richardson and Bruce Little, who were there to cheer on some of the many Canadian singers in the auditions.

The Torontonians wrote: "We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves -- a lovely day of singing, bracketed by two nights at a splendid B&B (the Parkside) and excellent meal at Hutch's and Ristorante Lombardo.  Buffalo is on our list of long weekend getaways now."

With which Buzz found ourself gawking at the Parkside House, pictured above, which has a friendly dog and a claw-foot bathtub and a music room complete with a baby grand piano. We want to go there! We want to stay in the Jewett Room.

Anyway, let's make a note of this Toronto twosome's comments, and make it a high note, while we're at it. We are always looking for that silver bullet here in Buffalo.

Opera could be it!

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