Starting at around 8 tonight, the streets of Allentown will come alive as the seventh annual Buffalo Infringement Festival kicks off with a characteristically odd event meant to grab the attention of passers-by. While the exact nature of that event is meant to be something of a surprise, I figure it couldn't hurt to give folks a bit of pre-warning in case you'd like to get down to Allentown and see what all the hubbub is about.
In addition to that outdoor mystery event, planned to start at 8 p.m. down near the bend where Allen St. turns into Wadsworth, Nietzsche's will host the Infringement Festival's opening ceremonies, which will showcase at least 13 local musical acts, ranging in style from the homemade prog rock of Charles J. Quagliana and Ted Reinhardt to the pulsing Americana of Reverend Soapbox and the Rabble Rousers. That raucous affair gets started at 7 p.m. and runs into the wee hours.
Elsewhere in Allentown tonight, musical performances will take place at Buffalo Bar Fly (162 Elmwood Ave.) and Hallwalls (341 Delaware Ave.). Theater performances will kick off in the Manny Fried Playhouse (255 Great Arrow Ave.), the New Phoenix Theatre (95 Johnson Park) and in a roaming performance from the Subversive Theatre Collective starting in Days Park at 8 p. m.
After that, things really start heating up. In all, the festival, which wraps up on Aug. 7, will feature 1,200 total performances at 52 venues. Look for tomorrow's Gusto cover story on the event, and check out the full schedule of Infringement activities is online at infringebuffalo.org.
Also, set your browsers to this spot and come back often for daily Infringement picks, mini-interviews, reviews, features and videos. And don't forget to follow me on Twitter at @colindabkowski for updates throughout the 11-day fest, using the hashtag #infringebuffalo.
Here are two cellists with pluck: Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser. They go by the name of "2Cellos." There they are at left, pictured with their instruments.
They are Croatian but based in England, and they stand out from the pack, that is for sure. Their debut CD, "2Cellos," is also designed to stop you in your tracks. These guys put their own spin on pop songs: "Where the Streets Have No Name," Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" and "Smooth Criminal," and "Hurt," by Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor. Who, believe it or not, I remember seeing at the old Memorial Auditorium. I was sent there, by The News. Now I see why!
Not to go on too long about this, so as for my thoughts on this album, I got a big kick out of it, and the review will be in Gusto. For now, my point is that here at The News, we recognize quality when we hear it: 2Cellos has just been signed to join Elton John on his upcoming tour. They have already played a few concerts with him in Europe, and will be coming to America with him in the fall.
Hmmm. The tour includes Bethel, N.Y. on Sept. 3, and Saratoga Springs on Sept. 4. But that seems to be as close is they're coming to Buffalo.
And to think I suggested in Gusto that maybe they could play Nietzsche's.
Alternative-rock band Mutemath will perform at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 in Mohawk Place (47 E. Mohawk St.)
Tickets are $20 advance, $25 day of show and go on sale at 10 a.m. Aug. 5 online at www.ticketweb.com or charge by phone at (866) 468-7619. Tickets are also available at the After Dark office at 630 Elmwood Ave.
Here, just for fun, are two lovely shots by News photographer Harry Scull Jr. of a preformance by the African American Cultural Center's Dance and Drum troupe (led by artistic director Adama Seydi, center) Tuesday in Hamlin House:
For the past week, a team of young staffers from the National Trust for Historic Preservation has been in town to collect interviews for "Buffalo Unscripted," a promotional project that will screen during the National Trust's conference here in October. The trio -- Leigh Ivey, Jason Clement and Julia Rocchi -- was nice enough to take a short break from interviewing folks at a West Side block party on Sunday afternoon and answer some of the same quesitons they've been posing to Buffalonians since they arrived here. Judging by what they had to say (not to mention the impressions they've left, nicely compiled here by the National Trust), it's clear their sojourn in Buffalo has been a fruitful one.
Here's a little coda to their trip. Note: The finally tally of people who participated in the "Buffalo Unscripted" filming was 516, far more than the number I cited in the video. (And please forgive the shaky video and low audio -- after I ask my first question, you'll want to crank up the volume):
As the music world reflects on the death of British singer Amy Winehouse, many are recalling the promise shown in her breakout album, "Back to Black." When he reviewed "Back to Black" in March 2007, News Pop Music Critic Jeff Miers gave the album four stars, calling it "outstanding." Here's that review:
She's trouble, no doubt about it.
Amy Winehouse is an accident waiting to happen. Luckily, she's documenting her downward spiral with some of the finest soul music to come down the pike since Dusty Springfield went to Memphis, and yes, I'm including Macy Gray in that grand, sweeping statement. Winehouse is wowing them in Britain, and should do the same here with her bad-girl beauty and impeccable classic soul run through a modern filter.
"Rehab" -- as in "Don't even think I'm going there," according to Winehouse -- is Ronnie Spector and the Shangri-Las, all girl-group sugar and realist's spite. "I told you I was trouble/You know that I'm no good," Winehouse laments during "You Know I'm No Good," old-school soul with a hip-hop beat. Even a ballad like "Just Friends" avoids overblown sentimentality, particularly when it moves effortlessly from molasses soul to skanky ska without batting a false eyelash.
Winehouse knows her history, and producer Mark Ransom has certainly served his time pondering Phil Spector's impenetrable wall of sound. But never on "Back to Black" do any involved stoop to rehashing cliches or going for the easy -- and obvious -- pop glory. Winehouse has crafted a remarkably fresh soul record in a world largely bereft of such. Outstanding.
In my review of the Shaw Festival's imaginative production of J.M. Barrie's "The Admirable Crichton," which ran in Gusto today, I took issue with the program notes of director Morris Panych. In those notes, he wrote (it turns out, apparently, entirely in jest) that the sort of inequality Barrie writes about in his play was a thing of the past. Of course, in reading his notes, it struck me that Panych was either making an infelicitious joke or simply trying to get a conversation started. Even so, the humor escaped me and it seemed that note deserved some kind of reaction.