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Poet Clark Coolidge opens new Just Buffalo Studio Reading Series

Clark Coolidge, the prolific experimental poet and sometime jazz percussionist whose work is closely associated with both the second generation of  the New York School of poets and the subsequent Language movement of poets and writers that followed them, will read from his work tonight at 8 p.m. in the first event of Just Buffalo's new Studio Reading Series.  The event will take place at the organization's recently-redesigned Just Buffalo Writing Center on the second floor of 468  Washington Street (at Mohawk Street), just above the Western New York Book Arts Center.  It is free and open to the public.

Coolidge, an influential figure in American poetry and poetics since the early 1960's, is the author of over 40 books, most recently "This Time We Are Both" (Ugly Duckling Press, 2010), "Book Beginning What and Ending Away" (Fence Books, 2013) and "88 Sonnets" (Fence Books, 2013). 

While his early work began in variations on visual and  concrete poetry, Coolidge has become best known for his linguistic disjunctions and assemblage of experimental soundscapes, both on the syntactic and the syllabic level.  Much of his work in the 1970's and early 1980's (including "Book Beginning What and Ending Away," which was written between 1973 and 1981), involves phrase and syllable clipping done almost in the way a jazz musician might, experimenting with rhythm and the other elements of prosody to explore both the both the sonic possibilities of language, and the vestigial remnants of meaning that persist in poetic form.

“Words have a universe of qualities other than those of descriptive relation: Hardness, Density, Sound-Shape, Vector-Force, & Degrees of Transparency/Opacity,” Coolidge wrote in an early statement of his poetics written in 1968, and over the last six decades, in books like "Sound as Thought: Poems 1982-1984" (Sun & Moon Press, 1990), "The ROVA Improvisations" (Sun & Moon, 1994), and "Alien Tatters" (Atelos, 2000), he has been at the forefront of poets and artists exploring that universe. 

--R.D. Pohl

Live chat at noon: Miers on Music

Trove of images from Kleinhans department store goes up for auction today

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An album of 250 photos featuring window displays from the former Kleinhans Co. department store on Lafayette Square is being put up for auction today in New York City. The album, which chronicles the work of a Buffalo window dresser between 1919 and 1926, includes photos of "a patriotic 'tableau vivant' honoring WWI injured vets, another pitching Buffalo as a vibrant business destination, others promoting consumer banking, and a Christmas tableaux," according to a release from Swann Auction Galleries.

The entire album, which focuses on one of Buffalo's most popular shopping destinations during the most economically vibrant period in its history, is estimated to sell for between $5000 and $7,500. More photos from the album are after the jump.

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--Colin Dabkowski

Neil Wechsler's ambitious 'Against the Grain' theater fest postponed

When Buffalo playwright Neil Wechsler announced plans last year to produce his own outdoor adaptation of "Faust" at Silo City this summer using actors from across the Northeast as part of a new annual theater festival, it sounded almost too good to be true.

Turns out it was, at least for this year.

"Factors beyond our control have forced us to delay the production until the summer of 2015," Wechsler said in an email. "While we are disappointed that we will not be able to present Faust this summer, the extra time will allow us to present it more effectively next year."

Wechsler's Against the Grain Festival is meant to bring international attention to Buffalo's grain silos as potential sites for theatrical experimentation. It's also part of a trend to tie the city's artistic identity to the structures and to employ them as as symbols of a uniquely Buffalonian culture.

--Colin Dabkowski

Thursday Theater Roundup: Last week for Ujima and BPT's 'The Trojan Women'

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Lorna Hill, center, finds inner strength as Hecuba in “The Trojan Women,” opening tonight in TheatreLoft.

"The Trojan Women," through April 19 in a co-proudction of Ujima Theatre and Buffalo Public Theatre in TheatreLoft. ★★★

"A View from the Bridge," through May 3 in a Subversive Theatre production in the Manny Fried Playhouse. ★★★½

"Blanche DuBois Survives Katrina in a FEMA Trailer Named Desire," through April 27 in a Buffalo United Artists produciton in the Main Street Cabaret. ★★★

Stars lining up for Andy Anselmo birthday cabaret

By Mary Kunz Goldman

Buffalo jazz crooner Michael Civisca is making a rare appearance in the limelight on April 24, for a special occasion. The occasion is Life is a Cabaret, which celebrates the 90th anniversary of Buffalo's Community Music School as well as the 90th birthday of the great singing guru Andy Anselmo.

Andy Anselmo, a graduate of the Community Music School, coached such stars as Liza Minnelli, Mandy Patinkin, Joanne Woodward and Regis Philbin.

Civisca is just one part of a star-studded lineup for the party, which takes place in the Mary Seaton Room of Kleinhans Music Hall. Other entertainers include a jazz trio led by drummer Carmen Intorre; and the cabaret duo Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano, who have performed at such venues as Birdland, the Algonquin and the Metropolitan Room. You can watch Comstock and Fasano in the video up above.

Also taking the stage will be Caroline Jones, Anselmo's New York protegee. Miss Jones is a singer, songwriter, recording artist and radio host. Remember, the last time she sang here, sports legend Ed Kilgore told her she had more range than Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Life is a Cabaret takes place at 7:30 p.m. April 24. Tickets are $40 and all proceeds benefit the Community Music School. VIP tickets are $100 and include preferred show seating and a post-event reception with the performers. Tickets are available online or through the school, 415 Elmwood Ave., by calling 884-4887.

JoAnn Falletta ending contract with Ulster Orchestra

 By Mary Kunz Goldman

JoAnn Falletta will be leaving the Ulster Orchestra in September, news reports have announced. Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, has been chief conductor of the orchestra in Northern Ireland since 2011, when she signed a three-year contract

Her successor, the orchestra's website states, will be Rafael Payare, 33, of Venezuela.

Payare is a former member of Venezuela's famous Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, whose music director is Gustavo Dudamel, also the popular music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Dudamel has done a lot to raise the international profile of "El Sistema," Venezuela's social musical education program. The Ulster Orchestra reports that Payare's agenda includes plans to introduce "El Sistema" to Northern Ireland's children in the coming season.

The Ulster Orchestra has been suffering from financial difficulties and is currently underoing a restructuring. Falletta's tenure with the group, though, has had memorable highlights. She made her debut at London's prestigious Proms with the orchestra in 2011 and also has made four recordings with the orchestra for Naxos, the label that also records her with the BPO. Her Naxos discs with the Ulster Orchestra have included discs of the music of Gustav Holst, the Irish composer Ernest John Moeran and American composer John Knowles Paine. 

The above video shows her leading the orchestra in Paine's "The Tempest."

Primus & Fishbone, The Fray first shows announced for 2014 Niagara River Rocks concert series

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(Primus, with guests Fishbone, will kick off this year's Niagara River Rocks concert series in June.) 

The Niagara River Rocks Concert Series, held at Gratwick Park, River Rd., in North Tonawanda, has announced the first two of what organizers hope will be as many as 6 shows scheduled throughout the summer of 2014.

Primus, with guests Fishbone, will kicks off the series at Gratwick Park on Sunday, June 22nd.

The Fray, with guests Barcelona and Oh Honey, will arrive at the same venue on Sunday, July 27th. Both shows are all ages, and start at 4 p.m. (Gates will open at 2 p.m. on the day of the show.) 

The Niagara River Rocks Series, booked by promoter David Taylor, had its maiden voyage last summer, with three shows - including a well-attended appearance by Primus - spread throughout the summer. As the Canal Concert Series in Lockport - which was also booked by Taylor - has been discontinued due to "city funding drying up," according to Taylor, a full commitment to the Gratwick Park site and the Niagara River Rocks Series has been made.

Last year's concerts were free, but this year, admission comes with a price tag. 

"We are going after bigger ticket bookings, and so we are charging a minimal ticket price, in order to both offset some of the costs and to keep the crowd numbers under control a bit," says Taylor. "We're capping attendance in the area of 12,000 people, so that it's confortable for everyone."

Admission for the Primus/Fishbone bill will be $7 advance, $25 week-of-show. Admission for the Fray will be $10 advance, $25 week-of-show. Tickets for both concerts go on sale Friday, April 18th, at 10:00 a.m. for on-line only sales, and saturday, April 19th at 10:30 a.m. through TicketFly.com, the Niagara River Rocks box office, (4444 River Road, North Tonawanda) Allentown Music, Terrapin Station, and Record Theatre locations. Additional informnation on the concert series is available here

- Jeff Miers 

Kelly Clarkson performance rescheduled for October

Kelly Clarkson canceled her performance scheduled for Nov. 16, 2013 at the grand opening of the Walden Galleria Microsoft Store due to illness.

Now, both the Microsoft Store and Clarkson confirm that the show has been rescheduled for Oct. 25. The time of the performance, and the venue where it will be held, remain to be determined. 

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Clarkson, the original American Idol winner, made the announcement on her her Facebook page.

This will not be her first appearance in Western New York. In 2006, she brought her show to the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, a concert News Contributing Reviewer Ben Siegel said looked like "a young starlet blossoming into superstardom right before our eyes."

- Jeff Miers

A closer look: 'Fall on me (Route 5)' by Max Collins

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Title: "Fall on me (Route 5)" // Artist: Max Collins // Ró, 732 Elmwood Ave. through June 10

Buffalo photographer Max Collins, known for his community-focused wheatpastes throughout the region, is taking on one of Buffalo's most controversial structures: the Skyway. His new series, which shows the elevated highway snaking through downtown Buffalo against weathered wooden panels, was inspired by a recent list of problem highways in American cities compiled by the Congress for New Urbanism called "Freeways Without Futures."

That list, which went viral on Facebook earlier this year and was the talk of local urbanists for some weeks, includes Syracuse's I-81, the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto and Rochester's Inner Loop. Collins' pieces are photographs of the structure wheatpasted to wood panels that have been smeared and scarred with dirt, rocks and cement from construction sites around Buffalo.

The "Freeways Without Futures" list, Collins said, "made me think I should begin to document them simply for historical value, but being also aware that these structures hold a much deeper sociocultural significance." The series, he added, was also partly inspired by the work of Daniel Arsham, a sculptor whose work gives modern objects an ancient patina.

"In a similar vein of how Arsham uses materials to speak to the work, I found it appropriate to utilize more ephemeral materials like wood and paper to create pieces that highlight such permanent structures," Collins said of his new series. Collins' new work also bears a striking resemblance to Catherine Opie's groundbreaking "Freeway" series of the early 1990s, which depicted the concrete structures criss-crossing the landscape from below, bringing out a beauty hidden to drivers.

Unlike the list that inspired them, Collins' pieces take no definitive position. It's possible to see in them all the divergent things people see when they look at the Skyway itself: an unoffensive relic of the mid-20th century, an architectural underdog whose beauty is underrecognized or an assualt on the senses and an impediment to the city's unrealized potential.

--Colin Dabkowski

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