His name was already associated with the brightest of musical luminaries -- from George Harrison to Bob Dylan to the Grateful Dead -- but that didn’t stop guitarist supreme David Bromberg from screaming "Let me up, I’ve had enough," some three decades back. At the peak of his demand as a session player and his success as a solo artist and bandleader, Bromberg walked away, ditching California and the music business in favor of attending school in Chicago to learn how to make violins.
The fact that Bromberg just up and bailed on the music biz at the peak of his career? One has to admit -- that displays some serious fortitude.
That he’s back and making music that offers such a virtuosic tour through the back alleys and estuaries of Americana music shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with the Bromberg ouevre. The usual go-to descriptive when it comes to folks who can handle such a wide array of musical styles with such ease and grace is eclectic. But Bromberg certainly doesn’t seem to be trying to be weird. He plays whatever he happens to be playing -- be it jazz or bluegrass, rock ’n’ roll or country and western -- with a blend of respect, playfulness and serious chops.
Country music continues to exist in its own world, one where countless musical trends come and go virtually unnoticed, and the ills of the ailing music industry simply don’t seem to apply. Buffalo, or at least a healthy dose of the area’s population, is not immune its allure. Country station WYRK-FM continues to pull strong listenership numbers, and its summer and winter versions of the "Taste of Country" concerts command large audiences.
At 8 tonight (Dec. 16) in Shea’s Performing Arts Center (646 Main St.), the winter "Taste of Country" welcomes the return of two Buffalo favorites -- Rodney Atkins and Kellie Pickler. Atkins is riding on the strength of his fourth album, "Take A Back Road," and its title tune, his sixth country No. 1 hit; Pickler is an "American Idol" Season 5 alumna whose latest charting single, "Tough," precedes a January full-length release. They’ll be joined by relative newcomer James Wesley whose single, "Didn’t I," is in rotation on WYRK.
Tickets are $30, $40, $60 and $100 (box office, Ticketmaster).
Mike Randall performs as Charles Dickens this holiday season.
In late 2007, local weatherman, actor and veteran Mark Twain impersonator Mike Randall took a break from his white wig, white mustache and white three-piece suit and replaced them with a bushy goatee, frazzled dark hair and 19th-century garb, finishing the ensemble with a bright red carnation.
Randall’s transformation from the crotchety Twain to the only slightly less world-weary Charles Dickens was complete and convincing, as was the debut of his reading of Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol" in MusicalFare Theatre that year.
Since then, Randall has been honing his Dickens impression (as well as the voices of 22 other characters, from Scrooge to Tiny Tim) in venues across Western New York. Randall will present his engaging reading of the story at 7:30 tonight (Dec. 16) and Saturday (Dec. 17) in Buffalo East (1410 Main St.), the home of the event’s presenter, the American Repertory Theatre of Western New York.
The pared-down presentation, meant to mimic Dickens’ reading tours (one of which took him to Buffalo in 1868), costs $15. Call 634-1105 or visit www.artofwny.com.
The real Beach Boys - meaning, the version of the band that has Brian Wilson in it, and performs Brian Wilson-penned songs, and does not include John Stamos, har har - announced this morning that they would reunite for a new album and a 50-date tour to commemorate the band's 50th anniversary.
Said Wilson in a press release issued by the band's label, EMI/Capitol, "This anniversary is special to me because I miss the boys and it will be a thrill for me to make a new record and be on stage with them again.”
No specific dates on the tour have been announced yet, but keep your fingers crossed for a Buffalo show!
Jam-Grass "supergroup" Floodwood - featuring Al Schnier and Vinnie Amico of Buffalo-born jam-band supreme Moe. - took over Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar in Allentown on Thursday evening. A packed house was treated to twin killer sets of jam-tinged bluegrass music. The jams themselves were exhilirating improvisational sections that built steadily to exuberant crescendoes, and urged the crowd to perform a charming blend of hippe-dance and hoe-down. Too cool. An opening set from the Ali Critelli Trio - soulful singer Critelli, percussionist Corey Kertzie, and guitarist Jamie Holka - got the crowd in the mood. The wonderful Slip Madigan was scheduled to close the evening well into the wee small hours, but I can;t report on that - I had to bail. Hey, even I have to sleep sometimes! A fantastic night of music. Here's a few pics.
- Jeff Miers
The Ali Critelli Trio. Left to right, Jamie Holka, Critelli, Corey Kertzie.
Floodwood. Left to right, Jason Barady, Nick Piccininni, Zachary Fleitz and Al Schnier.
"It's a Wonderful Life," starring Jimmy Stewart, shows at area movies houses this week.
If it’s the most wonderful time of the year, as the song goes, then that makes it time to catch some great holiday films again.
The folks at the Hamburg Palace Theatre (31 Buffalo St., Hamburg) who are "committed to bringing holiday cheer to you and your family," will screen Frank Capra’s perennial holiday favorite "It’s a Wonderful Life" at 1 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 18). Later in the week, the movie house will show "A Christmas Story" at 1 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 22) (www.hamburgpalace.com).
"It’s a Wonderful Life" gets a nice run in the Screening Room Cinema Cafe (3131 Sheridan Drive, Amherst) at 8 tonight (Dec. 16), Saturday (Dec. 17) and next Friday (Dec. 23), and 7:30 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 18), Tuesday (Dec. 20) and Thursday (Dec. 22). You can also catch "Scrooge" at 6 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 17) and next Friday (Dec. 23) and "Santa’s Cool Holiday Film Festival," starring a restored version of "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians," at 5 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 18)in the Screening Room (www.screeningroom.net).
Also, the Tim Allen comedy "The Santa Clause" will be shown at 2 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 18) in Shea’s Performing Arts Center (646 Main St.). It’s free, but tickets are required (Wegmans, box office). Holiday activities for the kids will be in the Shea’s lobby at 1 p.m. (www.sheas.org).
The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s "A Classical Christmas" spotlights the beautiful, reverent side of the season. In what has become an annual tradition, JoAnn Falletta conducts the orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus in music from some of the great classical composers. Included is usually music everyone knows, as well as things that are lesser-known.
The well-known music this year includes the lovely "Skaters’ Waltz" (a favorite of Andre Rieu) and dances from Tchaikovsky’s "The Nutcracker," as well as Gounod’s "Ave Maria" and Handel’s "Hallelujah Chorus."
In addition, soprano Sebnem Mekinulov is the soloist in two excerpts from Mozart’s beautiful Vespers, K. 339 -- the concluding "Magnificat" and the famous, transcendent "Laudate Dominum." The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus performs "Jachzet, frohlocket" ("Rejoice, Exult"), the triumphant chorus, shining with trumpets, that opens Bach’s "Christmas Oratorio."
Music from Korngold’s "The Snowman" adds another dimension. And BPO Principal Oboist Pierre Roy is the soloist in a lovely adagio by Baroque composer Alessandro Marcello.
The concert takes place at 10:30 a.m. today (Dec. 16) and 8 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 17). Admission is $30-$75. For info, call 885-5000.