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Infringement picks: day nine

Erin Sydney Welsh performs tonight at 7 outside El Buen Amigo. Photo by Sharon Cantillon / The Buffalo News

It's just three days 'till the Infringement Festival wraps up. Here are five (of many dozens) of worthwhile activities happening in Allentown and across the city today:

If it's busking you seek, it's busking you shall have. From 5 to 7 p.m., as revelers enter or exit one Infringement venue or another, buskers will be doing their thing outside of Lucky Dog's and the Antique Man on Allen Street, as well as up at North and Elmwood.

Erin Sydney Welsh, a gifted 15-year-old singer and songwriter, profiled in this Gusto Q&A a few months back, performs a set outside El Buen Amigo (114 Elmwood Ave.) tonight at 7.

Aaron 'Water' Piepszny performs his show "ThisIS.: Dance/Being" at 8:15 in the Alt Theatre.

From 10:30 to 3 a.m., Nietzsche's hosts the Infringement "Zombie Party," with performances from Tyrohill, Garda, The Screaming Jeans and Bad Kids. Admission is $7 for non-zombies and $5 with a killer costume.

Over at 464 Gallery, an opening reception for two exhibitions (Jessica Pitingolo and Through the Looking Glass) gets going at 7, with music by the Waz Solo Electro.

--Colin Dabkowski



We apologize for the four minutes of no audio in the video chat that Mary Kunz Goldman and I did at noon today. People asked, in general, if we were taking the buyouts they've heard about. Neither of us are. One question was also about Carmina Burana which Mary pointed out was written in the Nazi era, which makes its perennial popularity fascinating to put it mildy (and awfully hard to get one's head around.) All I contributed to that was my favorite quote about Carmina Burna from former New Yorker Music Critic Winthrop Sargent. He called it "the symphonic version of banjo music."
That's all you'll miss in the four minutes of silent audio.
Against, sorry about that.
--Jeff Simon 

Review live chat with Simon, Kunz Goldman

News Arts Editor Jeff Simon and Classical Music Critic/Buzz Columnist Mary Kunz Goldman hosted a live chat before shifting in front of the camera. Please excuse the first four minutes of silence when the audio wasn't working due to technical difficulties.

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A day-eight Infringement roundup

I'm just back from a breathless and unusually fruitful trip through the Infringement Festival gauntlet. More to come on some of these experiences in my Sunday column, but suffice it to say for now that this fest never runs out of surprises. Just when you think you've seen the most elegant, or unwatchable, or heart-rending thing you're likely to see at the festival, you stumble upon something even more bizarre, more godawful or more utterly moving than you'd ever have expected.

The beauty of the hunt is the beauty of the fest.

First, the heart-rending: Janna Willoughby, a hard-working Infringement organizer and poet who also goes by MC Vendetta as circumstances demand, brought tears to my eyes with her wide-ranging, deeply personal narrative, "Weird Tales and Tall Coincidences (Part II)." Willoughby believes in the sort of stuff most of us dismiss as supernatural hokum. But her stories, which chronicle several lifetimes of incredible occurrences that seem far beyond the work of serendipity, are enough to plant little seeds of doubht even in the most hard-hearted cynics. Even if those seeds of doubt don't grow into some kind of agreement with Willoughby's metaphysical leanings, it's impossible to deny her gifts as a storyteller, or of the harrowing but ultimately beautiful tale she shared with the crowd at SP@CE 2224. "Believe in the magic," she said, "Because there's really no reason not to." Who knows what the professional cynics over at the Center for Inqiury would think of that (though wouldn't it be fun to ask them?). But here's hoping Willoughby brings this performance back, or records it for a wider audience.

Continue reading "A day-eight Infringement roundup" »

Buffalo to participate in 100 Thousand Poets for Change

Buffalo is one of more than 350 cities in 70 nations to be organizing local events in conjunction with 100 Thousand Poets for Change, a global poetry initiative to be held on Saturday, September 24th worldwide.

Poet-scholar David Landrey, a professor emeritus of English at Buffalo State College and author, most recently, of "Consciousness Suite" (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2008), heads the committee that is organizing an inclusive, Buffalo community-based event which will take place on the Buffalo State College campus. In a recent telephone conversation with The News, Landrey said that the theme the steering committee organizing the Buffalo event had chosen was "healing" and the event would likely begin at 11:30 a.m. 

When I asked him if he meant "healing" in the narrow, clinical sense, Landry said that he hoped that participants would interpret the theme broadly, and that it was inspired by a recent Buffalo visit by Canadian First Nations poet and playwright Daniel David Moses, who spoke of the healing modalities of poetry and art in both traditional and modern cultures.  "Right now, we envision an outdoor event (weather permitting), with a circle of poets arranged in a Kiva-like fashion, stressing the democratic quality of the process and the essential equality of all participants, " Landrey said.  He and the committee are looking into the rental of sound equipment, and exploring the possible use of several "commons" sites on the Buffalo State campus, including an indoor alternative site in case of inclement weather.

Those interested in participating in or simply knowing more about Buffalo's participation in 100 Thousand Poets for Change may visit the event's Facebook page at 100 THOUSAND POETS FOR CHANGE - BUFFALO & WNY.

100 Thousand Poets for Change is the brainchild of San Francisco Bay Area based poet, editor, and environmental activist Michael Rothenberg, founder of Big Bridge, the online literary magazine he started in 1997 with Terri Carrion to expand upon the mission of Big Bridge Press, a significant publisher of fine print poetry and art books Rothenberg founded in 1990.  

Press materials describe 100 Thousand Poets for Change as "the largest poetry reading in history with over 400 individual events scheduled to take place simultaneously on September 24th to promote environmental, social, and political change...Poets, writers, artists, and humanitarians will create, perform, educate and demonstrate, in their individual communities, and decide their own specific area of focus for change within the overall framework of peace and sustainability, a major concern worldwide and the guiding principle for this global event.”

The self-selected, community-based events already planned range from "a poetry and peace gathering in strife-torn Jalalabad, Afghanistan, to poets in Nogales, Mexico and Nogales, Arizona reading poems to each other across the border fence."  According to Rothenberg, "there are 13 events in Mexico City alone, 24 events planned in India and 7 in Nigeria. Poetry demonstrations are also being organized in political hotspots such as Cairo, Egypt and Madison, Wisconsin. Along the Platte River in Omaha, Nebraska poets will be demonstrating against TransCanada’s planned Keystone XL tar sands pipeline."

"Change" is a word that had a great deal of currency in the American political debate as recently as 2008, but global developments in economics, politics and the arts since then might leave some to question the over-reliance on it as a catch-all progressive mantra.  Rothenberg seems to anticipate this criticism when he writes: 

What kind of CHANGE are we talking about?...The first order of change is for poets, writers, artists, anybody, to actually get together to create and perform, educate and demonstrate, simultaneously, with other communities around the world. This will change how we see our local community and the global community. We have all become incredibly alienated in recent years. We hardly know our neighbors down the street let alone our creative allies who live and share our concerns in other countries. We need to feel this kind of global solidarity. I think it will be empowering.

And of course there is the political/social change that many of us are talking about these days. There is trouble in the world. Wars, ecocide, the lack of affordable medical care, racism, the list goes on.

It appears that transformation towards a more sustainable world is a major concern and could be a global guiding principle for this event. Peace also seems to be a common cause. War is not sustainable. There is an increasing sense that we need to move forward and stop moving backwards. But I am trying not to be dogmatic. I am hoping that together we can develop our ideas of the “change/transformation” we are looking for as a group, and that each community group will decide their own specific area of focus for change for their particular event.

To view more about the events worldwide that are being scheduled in conjunction with 100 Thousand Poets for Change, visit the project website at

--R.D. Pohl

Infringement picks: day eight

It boggles my mind that we're already heading into the final weekend of the Buffalo Infringement Festival. But rather than wasting our energy lamenting that fact, better to spend it on making the most of the fest's final days. To that end, here are today's five Infringement picks:

Always a highlight of Infringement, Squeaky Wheel's Outdoor Animation Festival gets going in Days Park tonight at 8:30 and runs through 11. It features a series of stop-motion films by Hallwalls artist-in-residence Brent Green.

Ella Joseph's installation at last year's Infringement Festival piqued my interest (and that of Ron Ehmke, who offered this review of Joseph's 2007 installation: "while I'm not entirely sure what it means in the strictest sense, I can definitely identify the feelings it evokes in me..."), so I'd recommend checking out what she has to offer this year as well. Her piece, "Within Boundary or A Ride in the Air," runs tonight only from 5:30 to 10 p.m. in ScenoArt at 239 Linwood Ave.

"Gun Crazy," a performance by a local artist by the name of Fictional Mixtape, is described as "multi-part spoken word piece with electronic accompaniment, thematically addressing America's love affair with guns." It gets going in Sugar City at 6:30 p.m.

"Oh, Mr. W," is "a fantasy-account of one woman's experience working in the cubicle world of Corporate America -- a discussion/exploration of the bizarreness of everyday office culture, the social elite, suggestions on how to extend your breaktime, tips on how to get fired gracefully, and sado-masochism." That's at Rust Belt Books tonight at 8:30 and Saturday at 7.

Use this opportunity to check out a new venue called Slyboots (350 Ellicott St.), where performances from Rust Belt jam band Tyrohill, Alasanne Sarr and On the Sly, described as "world jazz rock fusion." That starts at 7 and runs through midnight.

--Colin Dabkowski



5 things to see tonight at Infringement

It's nigh-on to 6 p.m. and it occurrs to me that I haven't posted my picks for today's Infringement events yet, so here goes:

At 7 p.m. outside of Lucky Dogs (formerly Lagniappe's) in Allentown, a piece of street theater called "El Pato" gets under way. The enticing, enigmatic description: "Brazilian football player or the national sport of Argentina?" Only one way to find out.

From 7:15 to 8 p.m., SP@CE 224 hosts a reading by members of the local Living Poets Society, an 85-member group of Western New York wordsmiths.

Hit up Allen Street Hardware from 8 to 10 to hear the band Driftwood, which describes itself thusly: "Using acoustic instruments, a scrap wood kick box, clapping hands and stomping feet, Driftwood breaks down barriers between old and young, rockers and folkies alike."

Hallwalls, starting at 8, hosts a variety of local musical acts, including Beneath the Willow Tree, Steve Baczkowski, Pam Swarts, Scranton and All of Them Witches.

You'd be a fool not to cap off your evening in Nietzsche's, where the party goes through 1 a.m. with that venue's "Wham! Bam! Thank you... Slam: BIF Burlesque & Poetry Showcase." The night features Infringement vet MC Vendetta and other poets, along with performances from local burlesque troupes the Stripteasers, The Zombettes and the Boom Boom Betties.

--Colin Dabkowski


'Guillotine: Heads Will Roll': a mini-review

History is repeating itself in Allentown tonight (and every night through Sunday) in "Guillotine: Heads Will Roll," a jarring new piece of agitprop theater that draws some utterly chilling historical parallels. It was conceived and directed by Joe Siracusa and presented by the rabble-rousing Infringement staple the Subversive Theatre Collective.

See if any of this sounds familiar: A leader ascends to power during a time of great economic crisis, prior to which his country has racked up massive debts to fight two foreign wars. The divide between the working class and the aristocracy is growing ever wider, even as said leader is thwarted in his half-hearted attempts to solve the country's economic woes by demanding the rich pay their fair share of taxes.

Siracusa's timing couln't be better, because the line between Louis XIV and Barack Obama (at least up until the point at which things turned really ugly during the French Revolution) has never looked more direct.

The play is set largely in 17th century France, with frequent dirgessions to listen in on bits fo wisdom from historical figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Desmond Tutu and Thomas Jefferson. It's a sort of century-spanning mash-up of lessons gleaned from those who have fought and often paid dearly for their freedom -- or whose voices are connected more closely to such people than most contemporary playwrights could ever hope to be.

What this free show may lack in polished performances, it more than gains back in spirit, and in the resounding words of its many eloquent protagonists, smartly lifted from the pages of history by Siracusa. Anyone who's been reading today's headlines and is in need of some historical perspective (which, I think, applies to all of us) would do well to check out this show. 

--Colin Dabkowski

Hot right now -- the BPO App

Bpoapp The New York Times ran a story recently about all the different classical music apps there are out there. And the story mentioned the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra App.

Apparently the app left them with an appetite for more.

Quoth the Times: "Apps for some orchestras, like the Houston Symphony and Buffalo Philharmonic, offer only shorter audio excerpts, while the London Philharmonic offers full works at times and brief excerpts at other times."

The BPO App is powered through Instant Encore, the big classical music site based in San Diego, Calif. Instant Encore's Director of Music and Media is a Western New Yorker, Steven Carlson, who is from Angola and once upon a time was a classical music announcer for WHLD-FM in Niagara Falls. Steven is busy these days helping in developing these apps, working with arts groups across the country.

You can get on iTunes to read everything the BPO App offers. It lets you browse upcoming events and past events, keep up with the BPO's latest news and blogs, updates, offers, and, they stress, no spam. As the picture suggests, You can also listen to select recordings and watch videos. The app also invites you to view artwork, program notes and repertoire info.

You can use your app from your seat to pre-order drinks from the Kleinhans bar. OK, I am making that up. But surely that is in the future.

Has anyone tried out this app? I am going to try it for myself and see how it goes.

I will report!

-- Mary Kunz Goldman


Infringement picks: day six

It's just past the halfway point of the Infringement Fest. Hard to believe, I know, but all the more reason to get out on the town tonight to check out what the fest has to offer. Here's a quick rundown of five must-see Infringement events happening later this afternoon:

At 3 p.m. in the Crane Library, Franklin LaVoie performs his engrossing story "Incident at Deer Lick" in the style and guise of Mark Twain. Don't miss this if you can help it.

Last night was Sugar City's documentary showcase, and tonight, starting at 6, is its local Comedy Film Showcase, which features work by John Fink, Gary F. MooneyRich Viola & Mike Sajecki and Jason Klinger.

From 10:30 to 11 tonight in Merge, local funnymen Don Gervasi and Todd Benzin of Eclectic Improv transpose their improvisational comedy style to an hourlong play "Babushka," which is concocted on the spot with suggestions from the audience. That's followed by a half-hour of standup comedy.

At 7 p.m. Casa De Arte (formerly known as the Gateway Gallery) hosts Kilissa Cissoko's Infringement-born-and-bred project "Airport Musical."

Sometimes, you have to attend an Infringement event purely on faith, or at least based on its sometimes-misleading promotional description. I tried that approach last night for the theater piece "creator" and was horribly let down. But there's no reason not to try again.

Tonight, in SP@CE 224, an event titled "Losing the Plot; Developing Character" gets going at 5. Here's the eyebrow-raising description in its strange entirety: "In 2008, feeling depressed after losing my job, I was put on a cocktail of psychiatric medications that could have killed a horse, and almost killed me. This performance is a tale of how I escaped the system, got off all drugs and managed to stay saner than the system the entire time despite a rendezvous with homelessness, a psychiatric ward, and a near death experience. Information on how to safely withdraw psychiatric medications will be available."

--Colin Dabkowski


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