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Review video chat with Simon, Miers

News Arts Editor Jeff Simon and News Pop Music Critic Jeff Miers hosted a live chat at noon before shifting in front of the camera at 12:30. Watch the chat in the viewer below.

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The Birds Attack

Check out "The Birds Attack," a satire of the famous Hitchcock film "The Birds" and the latest production from the Buffalo United Artists. Read a review of the show here. And if you need any more convincing, check out this hilarious trailer.

(Note: in the print review, Chris Standart's name is incorrectly spelled as Chris Stoddart. I sincerely apologize for this error.)

--Kristy Kibler


We knew them when...


For 14 years now, the Buffalo Chamber Music Society has been offering, in addition to its traditional lineup of concerts, occasional free Sunday afternoon concerts, known as the Gift to the Community series. They feature up-and-coming artists.

Clementina Fleshler, the leader of the BCMS, chooses these musicians cannily, with a keen ear for talent. Often they perform in Buffalo right before their New York debuts, as a kind of warm-up.

Thirty-eight musicians have played on the series so far. Many of them, in addition to their concerts, have visited local schools, giving concerts and master classes and speaking with kids. 

Recently, Clem took time out to look at what a few of these musicians have achieved as of late. The results are inspiring:

22-year-old cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan (2009) won First Prize and the Gold Medal at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow held in June 2011

Violinist Mayuko Kamio (2000)  performed on our series in 1999 at age 13.  She was awarded the Gold Medal at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 2007.

Soprano Sasha Cooke (2007) starred in the Metropolitan Opera’s 2008 production of John Adams' opera Doctor Atomic. (That is Sasha in the picture up above, in that opera.)

Pianist Adam Nieman (1996) graduated from Juilliard in 1999 winning the Artur Rubinstein Award. That same year he won the Gina Bachauer Competition and was awarded a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant.

The Claremont Piano Trio (1999) was awarded the first Kalichstein-Laredo- Robinson Award in 2007.

Violist Naoko Shimizu (1999) went from our stage to the Berlin Philharmonic as principal violist.

When you are through marveling at these artists -- and, with luck, savoring the memory of hearing them play -- mark your calendar for next season's Gift to the Community series. There are three concerts:

Sept. 25: Pianist Benjamin Moser ...


... winner of many honors including first prize in Berlin's Arthur Schnabel Piano Competition.

Nov. 13: Clarinetist Narek Arutyunian, a graduate of Moscow State Conservatory who will be making his recital debut in New York this season.

March 4, 2012: Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano, who played one of the three Rhine Maidens in Wagner's "Das Rheingold" at the Metropolitan Opera and is also featured at the Chicago Opera Theater.

The Gift to the Community series is supported by a grant from the Cameron and Jane Baird Foundation. Concerts take place at 3 p.m. in the Mary Seaton Room of Kleinhans Music Hall. Admission is free.

Thank you, Buffalo Chamber Music Society!

-- Mary Kunz Goldman


Fiddlin' the day away

Take time out of your busy schedule to watch a bunch of baby violinists grooving their way through "Buffalo Gals."  See if this does not brighten your day.

And these kids are not even from Buffalo!

This video comes to us courtesy of the superlative fiddler Mark O'Connor. The teacher, as I understand it, is affiliated with his Allegheny Mountain Strings Project. O'Connor, let's remember, is no stranger to Buffalo himself. I will always remember when he played a couple of years ago with the Orchard Park Symphony. It was a lot of fun to have this star in our midst and O'Connor played a terrific show featuring his own vivacious and charming Fiddle Concerto.

I like what a team player O'Connor is. He works so hard organizing efforts to teach kids to play the violin, as the video up above shows, and also he seems to spend a lot of time traveling the byways of America. The show with the Orchard Park Symphony appears to be typical. He seems to play a lot with smaller ensembles, community groups, kids' orchestras.

And it's funny, he is not especially eager to claim the starring role. Roaming the Internet just now I found this video of O'Connor playing the beautiful "Ashokan Farewell" with a group of other distinguished musicians. The "Ashokan Farewell" is the poignant waltz that accompanied the Ken Burns series on the Civil War. I love this performance for its collaborative spirit. No one is grandstanding. O'Connor is the handsome dude with the mustache, third from the left. You do not see him until the music gets under way.

It is easy to fiddle your whole day away! As if you have all the time in the world.

There is something about this music that shoots your work ethic!

-- Mary Kunz Goldman


The man with the old beat-up sax

Who else made it to the Pine Grill Reunion on Sunday? I had fun!

The crowd was smaller than usual because of the on-again, off-again rain. But I got to hear the last two performers -- Houston Person, followed by drummer Winard Harper and his combo.

When you go to a great concert -- and the Pine Grill Reunion, held annually in Martin Luther King Park, is always a great concert -- there is always something you take away with you. What I loved most was Houston Person playing "The Way We Were." This is not a song you usually hear jazz musicians play. But it's a good song, by Marvin Hamlisch, who put in a few years as principal pops conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Hamlisch can turn out good tunes.

On saxophone, this song sounds great, especially played in the laid-back, conversational, wistful style that is Houston Person's hallmark when he plays ballads. I found the video up above on YouTube. It is not of Sunday's performance -- though we had the same drummer. Hahaaa.. it also looks as if it was filmed in a club -- and not free, like the Pine Grill Reunion, nyaah, nyaah.

Frustratingly the video cuts off the first few notes, and gives you just a bit of the song.

Still it will give you an idea of what we heard Sunday.

It has been such a pleasure to hear Houston Person here over the years. I treasure the memories of when he was at the Calumet Arts Cafe with his muse and life partner, Etta Jones. I always remember how beat-up and tarnished his sax was. It was funny but poignant too. They played the Pine Grill Reunion back in 2001 (I would not have guessed it was so long ago!) Both of them were nice to the crowd and posed for pictures. A few months later she was dead. That was a loss. She was a wonderful singer.

I feel sorry that Houston has to go on without her. It must be tough on him.

But God love him, here he is, 77, still traveling around with that beat-up sax.

Still giving it his all!

-- Mary Kunz Goldman


Allman concert at Artpark canceled

The Gregg Allman concert, scheduled for Sept. 7 as part of the free "Coors Light Wednesday” concert series at Artpark, has been canceled due to illness.

The musician, who canceled four dates at the end of his European tour in June due to an upper respiratory condition, will need further treatment which will include hospitalization and four to six weeks of bed rest.

Those who purchased priority or VIP tickets can contact the Artpark box office at 754-4375 for a refund.


Infringement 2011 draws to a close

Late this afternoon, a little after 6 o'clock, I paused on a square of sidewalk outside of Antique Man to listen to part of a set from local saxophonist Steve Baczkowski (official Infringement category: "avantgarde other"). He sat cross-legged on the ground manipulating an array of three turntables on the ground in front of him, each of which was hooked up to a small amp. The skittering noise that issued forth from his equipment served as a backdrop for Baczkowski's guttural squeals and lightning-fast runs, which occasionally resolved themselves into fleeting little snippets of melody.

After a minute or two, seemingly out of nowhere to most of the dozen or so onlookers, a parade that seemed to come straight of the Haight-Ashbury made its way down Allen Street on its way toward a communal foot-painting dance near Days Park. The scene:

That, to me, this totally unorthodox little scene represents more than a bit (though not nearly all) of what makes the Infringement Festival unique -- not just among Buffalo festivals, but among arts festivals anywhere.


Some people have an unnatural fear of mimes. I do not. So earlier in the day, I caught a performance from Infringement veteran Elaine Barthel. Here she is with her three-minute piece "Pizza Surprise":


The fest-closing Iffy Awards were also given out this evening around 7, though the list is so long I can't possibly repeat it here. Suffice it to say some of them were vulgar, some were touching and all of them spoke to the dedication of the Infringement organizers and the truly head-spinning and often madly gifted artists, musicians and other performers the fest represents.

Throughout the week, I heard plenty of comparisons between Buffalo's uncommonly vibrant and diverse grassroots art, music and theater scene and larger cities like Berlin, Austin and New Orleans. To those who haven't taken a walk down Allen Street during the height of this festival, those comparisons will no doubt seem overblown. And to some extent, they are.

But here's where the similarities come in: Austin and Berlin and New Orleans are places where the arts have taken root at the community level and flourished on the streets on a grand scale -- in no-name bars and "unofficial" art spaces that are quite happily subterranean. This huge and vastly under-recognized grassroots culture does exist in Buffalo to an extent far too few of its own citizens recognize. It floats far outside what we normally think of as the Western New York "arts community" even despite its size, breadth and diversity, and it is indisputably one of the great virtues that sets our city apart from most others in America.

And over the past seven years, the Buffalo Infringement Festival has become indispensable, both to the artists it represents and the city it calls home, in preaching that truth and letting it sing.

See you next year in this space and out on Allen Street. Until then, Infringe on!

--Colin Dabkowski

Infringement picks: day 11

This is it. The final day of the Buffalo Infringement Festival, an epic collection of off-beat art, theater, music and poetry that has taken over the city for the past week and a half. As usual, it's going out with a bang. Here are five can't-miss picks for Infringement's last hurrah:

"Can You See Me," an interactive art piece by Katrina Boeming and Necole Zayatz, runs from 1 to 6 today. Here's how it works: Sign up for a time slot here, pick up a backpack equipped with a GPS and some sort of sound system at a table outside of Filigree's, and embark on a guided tour of the park surrounding the Richardson Complex.

Montreal-based Optative Theatrical Laboratories presents "Infringement Therapy," in which, according to the group's own description, "individual, couple and group 'clients' are given appointments for infringement therapy: after being diagnosed by a theatrical Doctor, they are prescribed an interactive, dramatic and therapeutic journey. The goal of infringement therapy is to purge the “clients” of their deepest, darkest oppressions, and empower them to transform their daily social reality!" That's running outside of Nietzsche's from 4 to 5 p.m.

Soundlab hosts its "Rabid Noise and Rock Party" starting at 5, which features sets from four bands.

The whole Infringement affair wraps up in Nietzsche's starting at 8:30 with the fest's official closing ceremonies. These feature eight or so musical acts (see what they are here) along with the much-anticipated annual Iffy Awards, which praise Infringement participants for all manner of unorthodox accomplishments.

Whle the closing ceremonies rage on inside Nietzsche's, Days Park will play host to the last and largest performance from local fire-dancing troupe Pyromancy. This particular performance has become an Infringement-ending tradition not to be missed.

--Colin Dabkowski

A Hutchinson Family Revival sample

And you thought Infringement was all about avant-garde noise pop and neo-Brechtian theater. Well, not quite.

Check out this clip of The Hutchinson Family Revival, a group of local singers who perform pieces from the repertiore of the original Hutchinson Family Singers along with some 20th century protest songs. It's from their set (just now wrapping up) in Rust Belt Books:

--Colin Dabkowski

Infringement picks: day 10

The final Saturday of any Infringement fest is always something to contend with, and today's is no different. So when you're planning out your second-to-last day of Infringing, take these picks into consideration:

Starting at noon, the Broadway Market turns into a de facto headquarters for Infringement craziness, with its "Rooftop Extravaganza" and plenty of other performances taking place inside the storied building. The rooftop party (let's hope the rain holds off) will feature sets from the Bloodthirsty Vegans, Ronald Raygun!, Sea Snake Vs., Bill Times a Billion and The Bird Day.

Inside, you can catch performances from mime Elaine Barthel at 1 p.m. and 3;15, the Habit Dance Dr. Seuss project at 1:30 p.m. and various other theater performances and art exhibitions in the space. (Check out the full schedule here.)

From 6 to 10 tonight, ZGM Gallery features a slate of musical performances and a reception with tons of art on view, the details of which are here.

At 8:15 p.m. in Days Park, Melissa Campbell performs her final hula hoop performance.

And from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., the not-to-be-missed "Brownman Electryc Trio Jazz-hip-hop summit" takes over Nietzsche's, with performances from Brownman's trio along with PROJEX, DJ Cult Hero, Dudley Ghost and DJ Medison.

--Colin Dabkowski

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