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Video: Critics' Corner chat with Simon, Kunz Goldman

News Arts Editor Jeff Simon and Classical Music Critic Mary Kunz Goldman answered your questions about books, movies, television, music and more.

Critics' Corner Live Chat To Welcome Mary Kunz Goldman

PhoneHa, ha! I love it when I get to write headlines!

Jeff Miers is busy with other things so today Jeff Simon has invited me to join him for the Critics' Corner Live Chat. It starts at 1 p.m.

Please consider stealing some time out of your busy day and joining us as we talk about weighty matters pertaining to music, movies and other sundry arts.

How about that Buffalo Philharmonic? And Jeff Simon will welcome your comments and questions on the newest movies.

So much to talk about, so little time!

The fun starts at 1 p.m., right here.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman


Allan Holdsworth takes over the Tralf

It is interesting that Van Halen was here this month for a spectacular show at First Niagara Center. No one has waxed more eloquently than Edward Van Halen on the profound qualities of Englishman Allan Holdsworth’s guitar playing. In fact, during the early 1980s, when Van Halen mania was first peaking, Eddie would take nearly every interview as an opportunity to sing Holdsworth’s praises, a la, "You think I’m good, you should hear this guy!"

For nearly 40 years, Holdsworth has been the guitar player’s guitar player, a man whose startling musical eloquence and command of the fretboard has inspired countless musicians and listeners alike. Whether he was working with jazz giant Tony Williams in Lifetime, joining Bill Bruford, John Wetton and Eddie Jobson in U.K., or working with his own quartets and trios, Holdsworth has played jazz guitar like no other. His legato technique is unrivaled, his compositions interesting chordal riddles, his improvisational ability suggesting the unbridled ecstasy of Charlie Parker at his fiery best. 

Holdsworth, with Ronald Bruner Jr. on drums and Jimmy Johnson on bass, comes to the Tralf Music Hall, today (March 28) at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 advance, $22 day-of-show. Find them through

-- Jeff Miers

Blake Shelton to perform at Erie County Fair

Blake Shelton returns to Western New York for a concert at the Erie County Fair.    News file photo

Country star Blake Shelton will perform at 8 p.m. Aug. 16 on the Grandstand at the Erie County Fair on the fairgrounds in Hamburg.

Tickets are $45 and $70 and go on sale at 10 a.m. April 5 through

For more information, visit

Drake coming to Darien Lake

Drake, joined by J. Cole, Waka Flocka Flame, Meek Mill, 2 Chainz and French Montana, arrive in Western New York at 7 p.m. June 8 on the Club Paradise Tour for a concert at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center.

Tickets are $55.75, $75.75 and $95.75 reserved and $35.75 lawn and go on sale at 10 a.m. March 31 through or charge by phone at (800) 745-3000.

Five things at the Whitney Biennial

I took a very quick trip though the current, much-praised Whitney Biennial today, and liked a lot of what I saw. Here are five of those things, in no particular order:

1. The sculpture above, by Vincent Fecteau.

"1957 No. 12 A," by Forrest Bess. Image from

2. An incredibly odd room dedicated to the reclusive artist Forrest Bess, with an enthralling essay by Robert Gober (the guy behind the excellent Burchfield show "Heat Waves in a Swamp") on the depth of the artist's madness printed in full on the gallery wall. Listen to Gober talk about Bess' bizarre artistic practice in this fascinating bit of audio.

"LAST SPRING: A Prequel," by Gisele Vienne, et al. Image from

3. An ominous and disturbing collaborative installation by Gisele Vienne, Dennis Cooper, Stephen O'Malley and Peter Regberg featuring an animatronic sculpture of a disturbed, hoodied young man and an accompanying narrative of his unsettling thoughts. It's very "We Need to Talk About Kevin." (Vienne, from the wall label: "We need to face horrible things, it's healthier.")

"Ankoku collage (in progress)," by Richard Hawkins. Image from

4. Richard Hawkins' strange collages, which highlight the darker side of art history, especially where it intersects with sex and violence, and pays tribute to Jean Genet.

5. A open rehearsal rehearsal for Michael Clark's exuberant dance piece, in which nonprofessional dancers of all ages and body types performed a beautifully choreographed piece in a huge spaces on the Whitney's fourth floor. The final piece, the Whitney says, is "an attempt to expand what our experience of movement can be."

Honorable mention: this refreshingly honest, ever-pertinent essay (actually part of the show itself) by Andrea Fraser.

--Colin Dabkowski

A Dickens birthday: Area artists celebrate Charles Dickens and his works

Features O'Neill and Hogan Cantillon 12
Vincent O’Neill takes part in the celebration of Charles Dickens and his works. Sharon Cantillon/News file photo

On the last international tour he took before his death, Charles Dickens stopped in Buffalo for two popular readings of his work. (His tour manager was terrified, according to his report of the trip, that a "rowdy element" of Western New Yorkers would overtake the affair, though it did not. Dickens himself was "much struck by the absence of female beauty from the readings.")

Since that visit -- researched and re-created by local actor, meteorologist and Dickens enthusiast Mike Randall for his annual performance of "A Christmas Carol" -- Western New York hasn’t let go of its appetite for the popular and prolific chronicler of Victorian society and its seedy underbelly.

This afternoon (March 25) at 2, prompted by the bicentenary of Dickens’ birth in February, a group of local actors will give a reading of Dickens’ works in the Burchfield Penney Art Center (1300 Elmwood Ave.). The roster includes Megan Callahan, Morgan Chard, Wendy Hall, Jimmy Janowski, John Kaczorowski, Patrick Moltane, Vincent O’Neill, Adam Rath, Eric Rawski, Doug Weyand and Katie White. They’ll read excerpts from "The Pickwick Papers," "Oliver Twist," "David Copperfield," "Bleak House" and "Great Expectations."

Admission is free.

-- Colin Dabkowski

Flights of spring: Neglia Ballet Artists present "Spring Suites"

Photo 2
Erica Cornejo, Principal Dancer with Boston Ballet, performs as part of Neglia Ballet’s "Spring Suites" on March 24.

Neglia Ballet Artists will welcome the accomplished Argentinian ballet dancer Erica Cornejo and her husband, Carlos Molina, for its spring concert in Buffalo State College’s Rockwell Hall (1300 Elmwood Ave.) at 8 p.m. today (March 24).

The duo, each of whom is associated with the Boston Ballet, will perform pas de deux from the late-19th century ballet "Le Corsaire" and "Spring Waters," a gasp-inducing piece with lots of lifts that is, according to a Neglia release, rarely performed in the United States.

The program of both classical and contemporary works will include an excerpt of George Balanchine’s "Agon" set to music by Stravinsky; "Dohnanyi Serenade," a neoclassical piece for six women choreographed by Neglia executive director Heidi Halt; and "Unnatural Selection," a contemporary piece performed by choreographer James Garber and Marybeth Hansohn.

Lithuanian-born dancers Vilia Putrius and Mindaugas Bauzys will dance a new piece by Victor Plotnikov, as well as a popular pas de deux from "Don Quixote."

Tickets to the concert are $18 to $25, with more information at 447-0401 or

-- Colin Dabkowski

Dance therapy: Doug Varone and Dancers premier a new dance piece at UB

Doug Varone and Dancers perform tonight (March 24) in the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts.

For the past two weeks, Doug Varone and Dancers has been in residency at the University at Buffalo working to create a new dance piece that will premiere at UB’s Center for the Arts on today (March 24). The company, founded in 1986 and known for its innovative choreography and educational work, created the new piece after spending a week with patients in Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Women and Children’s Hospital as part of the CFA’s ambitious Arts in Healthcare program.

The residency, funded in part by a large National Endowment for the Arts grant, marks the first time the program has had professional touring artists who have worked in local hospitals for an extended period. The dancers’ work with patients was filmed on flip-cams and later used to put together a 10-minute piece. For the new dance and much of its recent work, the company uses an unorthodox concept known as "blind eye choreography," a language- and image-driven approach created by Varone in 2006 in the wake of his hip surgery.

Tickets to today's event, which starts at 8 p.m., are $11.50 to $22.50. More information is available at
645-2787 or

-- Colin Dabkowski

For the kids: Salute to Variety Kids features great music and entertainment

   It’s good that not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Case in point: the Scintas ("Buffalo’s First Family of Music") and entertainer Clint Holmes are well-known for their Vegas shows, but once again they are coming home to help others.

But before they appear on the 50th annual Variety Kids Telethon, airing Sunday (March 25) on Channel 7, you can catch them live during the seventh annual "A Salute to the Kids" benefit concert at 7 p.m. today (March 24) in the Riviera Theatre (67 Webster St., North Tonawanda). Expect plenty of great music and entertainment from the Scintas (brothers Joe and Frank, sister Chrissi and that "Irish Scinta" Peter O’Donnell); Holmes, whose hit "Playground in My Mind" remains a crowd pleaser; Terry Buchwald performing the music of Elvis; and an appearance by Mr. Food.

Here’s an extra-special treat: the Channel 7 broadcasting team of Irv Weinstein, Rick Azar and Tom Jolls are reuniting for the event. Bring your autograph book.

Doors open at 6 p.m. today. Tickets are $20; call 854-7577 or visit to learn more.

-- Toni Ruberto

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