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Free jazz

How do you keep the music playing? That’s everyone’s question when the holidays fade.

The Allen Street Hardware Cafe (245 Allen St.) has the answer. Mondays at 7:30 p.m. the Back Room at the Hardware -- described by proprietor Mark Goldman as an intimate space with great acoustics -- plays host to a revolving cast of jazz musicians playing original music. They include saxophonist Kelly Bucheger, trumpeter Tim Clarke, pianist Michael McNeill, bassists John Werick and Greg Piontek, and drummers Russ Algera, Doug Dreishpoon and John Bacon Jr.

This Monday, Bucheger steps into the spotlight. The sax man, who has played with such well—known names as John Zorn and James Carter, is bringing his new group, House of Relics, to preview their upcoming CD. House of Relics features Clarke, McNeill, Algera and bassist Danny Ziemann.

"No one else in Buffalo is doing anything like this," Goldman says.

Monday nights at the Back Room are free, though the hat will be passed. Free parking is available in a large lot at Wadsworth and Arlington. For info, call 882—8843.

--Mary Kunz Goldman

Western New York Book Arts Center annual fundraiser

Since its founding in 2007, the Western New York Book Arts Center (468 Washington St.)  has become a nexus for the cultural cognoscenti of Buffalo. On no night is that more true than  New Year’s Eve, when the multidisciplinary arts center hosts its annual fundraiser and  celebration. This year will surely be no exception, as Buffalonians flood into the center for  an evening of music, art and champagne—fueled revelry.

The night, which costs $70 for nonmembers and $60 for members, gets you music by the seemingly omnipresent David Kane, hors d’oeuvres, complementary beer and wine (with tastings from Community Beer Works) and champagne at midnight. The main event is a silent auction of artwork, including pieces by sought—after Western New York artists like A.J. Fries, Amy Greenan, Ani Hoover, Felice Koenig, Adam Weekley and Katherine Sehr. The auction also includes work by the Western New York—born painter Charles Clough, printmaker Amos P. Kennedy Jr., widely collected artist Richard Tuttle and the British animators who like to be known as the Brothers Quay.

The center has the added bonus of proximity to Buffalo’s annual First Night celebration, and revelers will be able to glimpse the midnight ball drop and fireworks exploding over the Electric Tower through its foggy windows. For more info, visit or call 348—1430.

--Colin Dabkowski

Little River Band performs New Years Eve at Seneca Niagara Casino

New Year’s Eve is the night we tend to look back and reminisce. It seems to be a natural  then, that when the Little River Band performs on New Year’s Eve in the Bear’s Den, that we’ll  hear its hit song "Reminiscing."

For more than 30 years, the band from Down Under has amassed worldwide sales of more than 30 million albums and a lengthy catalog of pop hits including "Cool Change," "Lonesome Loser," "Night Owls," "Take It Easy on Me" and many more. The group recently released a  Christmas album showcasing classics such as "We Three Kings" and "Silent Night," as well as modern holiday tunes.

The Little River Band performs at 8 and 11 p.m. Saturday  in the Bear’s Den, Seneca Niagara Casino, Niagara Falls.  Tickets start at $55. Visit

--Toni Ruberto

Gamalon sold-out at Sportsmen Tavern tonight

If you’ve been out hitting the original music clubs of late and have noted the dizzying and dazzling display of instrumental prowess evidenced by a host of hot young bands, bear in mind that Buffalo has a long history of progressive fusion music, and has never had a shortage of absolutely killer instrumentalists. 

Prominent among these groups in the 1980s and ’90s was certainly Gamalon, the all—instrumental fusion powerhouse that took the baton from the likes of mid—’70s Jeff Beck and the Mahavishnu Orchestra and ran with it, in the process crafting some of the most ambitiously virtuosic instrumental music to ever have emerged from Western New York.

In the early fall, Gamalon hosted a reunion show of its classic lineup … George Puleo, Bruce Brucato and Ted and Tom Reinhardt … before a clearly psyched Club Infinity crowd. Now, they’ll get together once again, this time for something much more intimate. Gamalon performs at 9 tonight (Jan. 30) in the Sportsmen’s Tavern (326 Amherst St.). The show is sold out; call the club at 874—7734 for more info.
--Jeff Miers

A new classical LP!

DudelpWow, I just got a great late Christmas present!! It feels like that anyway.

Music author and blogger Norman Lebrecht has just announced on his blog, Slipped Disc, that the first classical vinyl record in 25 years is due for release in May. It is by the Vienna Philharmonic and conductor Gustavo Dudamel. Dudamel is the celebrated music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The label is Deutsche Grammophon. My head is still spinning, you know? I just cannot get over this. I remember when I was a teenager, these expensive (well, for me) Deutsche Grammophon records with their yellow labels. I cannot believe there is going to be a new one.

That is the record jacket pictured above. "Cool, or what?" Norman writes.

Very cool!

The last few years have seen some pop recordings released on vinyl but no classical. And here is more good news: The new record starring "the Dude" might not be the only classical LP in the offing. Someone comments on Norman's blog post that the finishing touches are being put on a Liszt LP.

In one of my year-end ramblings I remember mentioning how I wished the next year would continue the vinyl resurgence. That was in 2009, looking ahead to 2010 -- I just looked it up. And what was funny was that News Pop Music Critic Jeff Miers had that same wish in his list. We had both come up with it, completely independently.

Two years later, vinyl's comeback continues.

Rejoice with me!

-- Mary Kunz Goldman


Shea's in the New York Times

SheasA story on Shea's Performing Arts Center and its Broadway series has added color to the New York Times.

"Broadway Hits Gold in Buffalo," the story is headlined. It ran with a big picture of Anthony Conte.

I could have done without the usual mention of "vacant storefronts" dotting our downtown -- no mention of the rather glamorous development we have been seeing in the past year. It makes it sound as if Shea's is all we have. And as usual we come off sounding kind of provincial.

But I am always interested in the business end of things. And I was interested in hearing about how these shows are chosen, the Broadway shows that come to Shea's. Conte votes for the Tony Awards and he talks about that. It is fascinating how things get down to apples-and-oranges choices -- say, "Mary Poppins" vs. "Spring Awakening."

About "Spring Awakening," Conte did not see it appealing to the Buffalo crowd. He is probably right. I was talking with one of my Zumba instructors last week and she was mentioning that show. She made the mistake, she said, of taking her daughter and her daughter's friend to it, and was aghast at what they had gotten into. So, score one for Conte. He knows his audience.

It is always fun to toast the success of Shea's.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman


Trans-Siberian Orchestra performs today in First Niagara Center

We saw three ships come sailing in, filled with equipment for the upcoming Buffalo concert by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Known for its cheery excess, the TSO has created new standards for celebrating a high-wattage Christmas. The band’s carols and Christmas rock operas ("The Lost Christmas Eve," "The Christmas Attic") fill arenas with sounds, laser lights and special effects, putting a new, formidable twist on such religious standards as "O Holy Night," "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen," "Joy To the World" and "Good King Wenceslas."

One of the mainstays of the TSO, keyboardist Robert Kinkel, is from Williamsville. Whether he will be at the Buffalo show is not clear -- such is the demand for the TSO come yuletide that the group forms two caravans, both crisscrossing the country. If previous shows here are any indication, though, folks who love the TSO’s trademark Christmas metal will be more than satisfied. The TSO’s philosophy, communicated to The Buffalo News on a previous visit here, is: "Blow it up, just keep every show interesting."

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra performs at 3 and 8 p.m. today (Dec. 27) in First Niagara Center. Admission is $37-$57 (box office, Ticketmaster). For info, call 855-4400.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

MnM Presents rocks Pearl Street tonight

MnM live shot 1
Party goers celebrate the holidays with MnM Presents.

Every year for the past several, Mike Marshall of MnM Presents throws a party on Christmas Day and invites fans of the shows he produces -- at venues like Soundlab, the Town Ballroom and Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar, among others -- to bail on their families for the evening of Dec. 25, and get down!

"The Christmas Party" finds Marshall offering a hearty thanks to his base with a dance-fueled, light show-soaked soiree, taking over three rooms in the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery (76 Pearl St.) and cramming them full of live music and daring DJs from 10 p.m. till the wee small hours.

This year has been the biggest yet for Marshall, and so it follows that the holiday shindig would have grown in equal proportion. It has. Scheduled to appear are Ryan Liddell & 3PO, Hoogs, Tweeknasty, Joe Jubei, Steve Kream, Jesse Aaron, Brandon Chase, Big Basha, Bvllets, Twist & Bacon!, DJ Universal, Brother Bear, Medison and Paul Kuenzi

The whole shebang will cost you $10 at the door, which includes all the music and an open bar from 10 to 11 p.m. Learn more through 

-- Jeff Miers

Jim Brickman performs tonight at UB

Even if you have not heard the new Christmas CD by New Age pianist Jim Brickman, you have to admit that the title is genius. "All Is Calm," the disc is dubbed.

Surely few musicians are calmer than the Cleveland-born Brickman, whose tasteful, low-key piano stylings lend elegance to the field of adult contemporary music. He has released seven holiday albums, full of his simple, economical piano and laid-back singing.

Brickman’s holiday tour, "A Christmas Celebration," promises to slow down anyone’s hectic holidays. Joining him are guest vocalists Anne Cochran and Benjamin Utecht. There is also an electric violinist, Tracy Silverman.

Catch "A Christmas Celebration" at 7:30 tonight (Dec. 23) in the University at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts, North Campus, Amherst. Admission is $30-$50. For info, call 645-ARTS.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman


Trimain Center celebrates December's Fourth Friday

"Coal Creek," an encaustic painting and collage by Mark Lavatelli, is part of the Trimain Center’s "Fourth Fridays" event

For culture vultures intent on picking through the slim holiday offerings and down-to-the-wire shoppers alike, the artists of the Trimain Center have just the thing. The monthly "Fourth Fridays" open studio and gallery event, which has been growing in popularity since its launch earlier this year, gets under way tonight (Dec. 23) at 5 and runs through 8 p.m.

The Impact Artists Gallery’s exhibition "Art for the Holidays" will be on full display, featuring an eclectic trove of work ranging from painting and photography to jewelry and ceramics. Studio 547 will host an interactive mural-making workshop led by artist Dot Keller, and plenty of artists’ studios will be open for perusal (and for business) throughout the evening.

The event is concentrated on the fifth floor of the building, a former Trico windshield wiper factory converted to office space and occupied by several arts organizations.

For more info on the event, call 835-6817 or visit

-- Colin Dabkowski

"Lilith," an oil painting by William Y. Cooper, part of the Trimain Center's "Fourth Fridays" event


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