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David Wasik celebrates music in St. Thomas Aquinas Church

David "The Waz" Wasik performs Sundays in St. Thomas Aquinas Church.           News file photo

David "The Waz" Wasik, master of percussion and the ambient soundscape, and bright light on the pop music scene, has a unique Sunday job description to add to his other musical pursuits: He plays the drums at Mass in St. Thomas Aquinas Church in South Buffalo. Now, Wasik has committed his worship artistry to disc. He has collaborated with fellow church musicians -- distinguished pianist Ivan Docenko, and pianist and singer Laura Lynn Morgan -- for "Interpretations," a CD of modern Mass songs.

Most of these songs have worked their way into every Mass-goer’s consciousness. Wasik, Morgan and Docenko explore the limits of such latter-day standards as "I Have Loved You," the upbeat "City of God," "Eye Has Not Seen," "Canticle of the Sun" and "Loving and Forgiving." There is a "To You, O God, I Lift Up My Soul" and a "Gloria" that rocks. Schubert’s "Ave Maria," set off by percussion and pop sensibilities, and "Hail Mary, Gentle Woman" give us a jump on the month of May.

Celebrate the release of this sunny CD at 3 p.m. today (Feb. 26) in St. Thomas Aquinas Church (450 Abbott Road). "Interpretations" will be available for sale for $15, $3 of which will go directly to the City Mission.

For info, call the church, 822-1250.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

Lucky for Buffalo: Lucky and Tamara Peterson Band performs the blues

Lucky Peterson performs in Rhino's Union Pub with his band.     News file photo

Lucky Peterson is one of the wildest talents ever to emerge from Buffalo’s jazz and blues scene. He grew up on the East Side, where his dad owned the old Governor’s Inn on Sycamore Street. 

"It was a trip," he reminisced to The News a few years ago. "Music seven nights a week. Back then, it was home. But now, it’s like, ‘Man, I grew up over a bar.’ The bar belonged to us. We’d go down the back stairs. That’s how we got out of the house."

Lucky he was a child prodigy, with gifts that could never be easily molded or controlled. As a tot he learned to play the Hammond B3, and when he was 5, he cut his first album. Called "The Father, the Son, the Blues," it was produced by blues legend Willie Dixon, who was a friend of the family. 

Though he has not lived in Buffalo for years, Peterson is good about swinging through town now and then. Right now he is on the road with his wife, Tamara -- they bill themselves as the Lucky and Tamara Peterson Blues Band. Tonight (Feb. 25), they will be playing Rhino’s Union Pub (2339 Union Road, West Seneca). The show is at 8 p.m. sharp. Tickets are available at the bar and are $20. For info, call 608-0000.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

Fiddle Master: Mark O'Connor performs with the BPO

Mark O’Connor
Mark O'Connor performs this weekend with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

Mark O’Connor has mastered the distinctly American, strangely poignant art of the country fiddler -- and, at the same time, he has classical grace and virtuosity. He has a tremendous regard for the bittersweet rags, polkas and reels, Stephen Foster ballads and folk melodies that make up America’s rich history. He pays tribute to them on his newest CD, "American Classics." 

O’Connor’s own compositions mirror the music he loves. He dazzled our area three years agowhen he played his whirlwind Fiddle Concerto with the Orchard Park Symphony. This weekend, he is coming to Kleinhans Music Hall, to join the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of his Improvised Violin Concerto. Commissioned by the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, this new concerto was premiered in Boston just a week ago. If it is anything like the Fiddle Concerto he played here last time, it should be lively and colorful.

The concerto is the centerpiece of a program that also features Four Dance Episodes from Aaron Copland’s "Rodeo"; Roy Harris’ one-movement Symphony No. 3; and John Adams’ "Lollapalooza." Associate Conductor Matthew Kraemer conducts.

This festival of Americana takes place at 8 p.m. today (Feb. 25) and 2:30 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 26). For info visit

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

Basinski Bash: Just Buffalo's Big Night features Michael Basinski

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Michael Basinski is the featured performer at Big Night

The next Big Night is upon us. The popular monthly cross-cultural event, launched by Michael Kelleher and Aaron Lowinger in 2009 and presented by Just Buffalo Literary Center, Talking Leaves Books and the Western New York Book Arts Center, gets going at 8 p.m. today (Feb. 25) in the Book Arts Center (468 Washington St.).

The featured performer is Michael Basinski, curator of the University at Buffalo’s Poetry Collection and a prolific poet with many publications to his name, including "Trailers," "Poems Popeye Papyrus" and "Strange Things Begin to Happen When a Meteor Crashes in the Arizona Desert." The evening will also feature music by local composer, musician and Burchfield Penney Art Center curator Don Metz, who recently collaborated with Basinski on a music project called "Funginii."

The evening, as usual, will feature food from local chef and BlazeVOX books publisher Geoffrey Gatza. Admission is a cool $5, or $4 for members of Just Buffalo, WNYBAC and CEPA Gallery. More information
is at

-- Colin Dabkowski

Wings over Black Rock: Denny Laine performs in the Sportsmen's Tavern

As the only constant member of Paul and Linda McCartney’s Wings save the McCartneys, Denny Laine is a bit of an unsung legend. Unquestionably, his influence -- already honed, by the time he teamed up with the cute Beatle, through years with the Moody Blues and Ginger Baker’s Air Force -- is a contributing factor to the artistic and commercial success of Wings efforts like "At the Spped Of Sound," "Venus and Mars" and "Wings Over America."

And yet, following the demise of Wings in 1981, Laine has maintained a very low profile -- despite the fact that, in January 1990, he was living and working in Western New York, cutting tracks at Mark Studios in Clarence for an album planned to represent a comeback.

That comeback never materialized for Laine, but he has continued to worked, if less than prolifically, ever since. Laine will make a rare area appearance at 8 tonight (Feb. 24) in the Sportsmen’s Tavern (326 Amherst St.). He’ll be joined by former Hollies singer and guitarist Terry Sylvester. The Willie Schoellkopf Band will open the show, and then back both Laine and Sylvester for their sets. 

Tickets are $25 (

-- Jeff Miers

Hadbawnik and Brox to read tonight at Dog Ears Books

There are, broadly speaking, two models of artistic creation.  One focuses on the end result as a "well-made thing," the product of craft, tradition, and a working within a well-established genre.

The other focuses more intently on the process whereby art comes to be made, insisting that its work not transcend time, but rather that it be, in some sense, the result of some creative action: a performance in time.

These two models are not mutually exclusive, but most works of contemporary art and writing align themselves more closely with one model than the other.

The premise of a poet's notebook or "daybook," while surely a convention (think of Robert Creeley's 1972 "A Day Book"), by its very aestheticization in the fragmentary, quotidian details of undistilled experience, identifies itself most immediately with the process-oriented model of recording observations in time.

David Hadbawnik's "Field Work: Notes, Songs, Poems 1997-2010," published this past summer by Buffalo-based BlazeVox Books is a chronological arrangement of discrete entries in what presents itself initally as a poet's notebook or journal (as if "raw material" for a more refined text).  But in the course of its accretion, the book acquires its own conceptual integrity and mass, raising profound questions about textuality, the language of public versus private observation, and the fundamental nature of perceptual experience itself.

Hadbawnik, a poet-scholar, editor and publisher of Habenicht Press and the journal kadar koli is the founder and director of the Buffalo Poets Theater.  His previous publications include the books "Translations From Creeley" (Sardines, 2008),  "Ovid in Exile" (Interbirth, 2007), and "SF Spleen" (Skanky Possum, 2006).  He will read from "Field Work" and other newer poems tonight at Dog Ears Books, 688 Abbott Road in Buffalo.  Joining him will be poet and teaching artist Robin Brox, whose most recent book is "Sure Thing" (2011), also published by BlazeVox Books.

--R.D. Pohl


Renee Fleming, live at your desk

ReneeFlemingThis is not exactly work day morning music. You should probably wait until night when you can relax and think and brood and enjoy. But Medici.TV has this concert with Renee Fleming -- the diva in the dreamy picture at left -- singing Richard Strauss' "Four Last Songs" in addition to music from Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde."

This all looks (and sounds) great from where I sit, which is at my desk where of course I should be getting work done instead of listening to this.

We have kind of a proprietary interest in Renee Fleming because she comes from Rochester down the road, and she has paid several visits to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, including once when, at a Season-Opening Gala concert, she sang these ravishing, bittersweet Strauss songs.

Her dark and smoky soprano is perfect for them, say I. And even though in the video she walks out on stage smiling, she and Abbado and company surround the songs with just the right twilight atmosphere.

Here is the link. Click at your own risk! Keep in mind, half way through the first song the thing will stop and cough up a request that you enter your email address and a password. But then you are registered and it does not cost anything and they will alert you to future freebies.

Happy listening!

-- Mary Kunz Goldman


Legacy honors: Just Buffalo Literary Center honors locals with Literary Legacy Awards

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Corinne and Victor Rice and Sherry Robbins to be honored with Just Buffalo Literary Center's Literary Legacy Awards.

Just Buffalo Literary Center, the 37-year-old institution dedicated to the creation and promotion of Western New York’s literary culture, will award its latest Literary Legacy Awards to three prominent Western New Yorkers today (Feb. 23) in Babeville’s Asbury Hall (341 Delaware Ave.).

The biennial awards ceremony and fundraising dinner will honor local poet and teaching artist Sherry Robbins and philanthropists Corinne and Victor Rice. Robbins, the author of the poetry collections "Snapshots of Paradise" and "Or, the Whale," has led thousands of creative writing workshops since she began to work with Just Buffalo in 1982. She was named New York State Teaching Artist of the Year in 2005.

Corinne and Victor Rice are longtime supporters of Just Buffalo’s popular and growing Babel reading series as well as the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, Shaw Festival, Albright-Knox Art Gallery and many other local cultural and educational institutions. They’ve remained in Buffalo, a Just Buffalo release states, "because of a shared passion for the city and belief in its potential."

More information is available at or by calling 832-5400.

-- Colin Dabkowski

Music Hall: Wendy Hall presents solo performances in Buffalo United Artists Theatre

Wendy Hall, a fixture on the theater scene known for her powerful voice and commanding stage presence, has been giving stand-out performances on local stages for the past decade and a half. In a critique typical of those Hall receives, News reviewer Ted Hadley described her performance in the Alt Theatre’s all-female production of "Glengarry Glen Ross" last February as "perfect, nuanced, heartbreaking and a revelation."

At 8 tonight (Feb. 24), Hall will put that reputation to work as she appears in the first of three solo performances in Buffalo United Artists Theatre (119 Chippewa St.) as part of the company’s ongoing cabaret series. During the performance, a release promises, Hall will channel the likes of Judy Garland, Keely Smith and Alice Ripley. The series has also hosted  cabaret performances from Marc Sacco, Brian Riggs, Kerrykate Abel and Loraine O’Donnell.

Tickets are $20 or $15 for students and seniors. The show repeats at 8 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 886-9239 or visit

-- Colin Dabkowski

The tavern turns over

MccarthyGene McCarthy's Tavern, the historic Irish pub on McCarthy Street in the Old First Ward, is changing hands just in time for the busy St. Patrick's Day season. That is the late Gene McCarthy himself pictured at left. McCarthy, who passed on last June, semi-retired in 2006, passing the tavern over to Gerhardt Yaskow in an elaborate and well-attended ceremony.

Now Yaskow is selling the tavern, to Bill Metzger, the publisher of the Brewing News. Bill is buying the pub with three partners.

The closing is Monday, Gerhardt reports, so on Sunday they are having a party. It starts at 4 p.m., with free roast beef sliders and other amenities. The address, just so you know, is 73 Hamburg St. As the pub appears in the phone book: "McCarthy Gene Tavrn 73 Hamburg."

Gerhardt's six years have been a great era for the picturesque tavern. He bought it not knowing exactly what he was getting into, and you could say that he -- and his sister Suzette -- have not only owned it, they husbanded it. They have done a wonderful job of looking out for the beer necessities (sorry, I could not help that). Once when I went there early on in his tenure, Gerhardt had just returned from a bingo supply shop in Clinton Street, buying balls for a game of chance. The originals had been tossed somehow, and regulars were frantic.

He has issued a statement: "Bill and his new partners will be there to introduce themselves to you this Sunday night, as we remain committed to support their future endeavors at our historic neighborhood pub, and finally, to wish them well in their important work going forward."

Surely Metzger's purchase will usher in another rich era. There is no doubt that the ale will keep flowing.

It is edifying to read about Gene McCarthy's and examine pictures on the Forgotten Buffalo website.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman


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