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Guns N' Roses to play Outer Harbor June 5

Guns N' Roses will play Buffalo's Outer Harbor on June 5.

The only original band member still with the group is singer Axl Rose.

The band also includes DJ Ashba (guitar), Dizzy Reed (keyboards), Tommy Stinson (bass), Richard Fortus (guitar), Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (guitar), Chris Pitman (keyboards) and Frank Ferrer (drums).

Tickets go on sale at noon Friday through Ticketmaster. Tickets are $45 in advance; day of show they rise to $50. A limited number of VIP tickets are available for $78.

Gates will open at 8 p.m.

Irish Classical deftly handles Mamet's gritty 'American Buffalo'

By Colin Dabkowski

David Mamet’s 1977 hit, about a trio of amateur robbers and their ill-conceived burglary scheme, struck Irish Classical Theatre co-founder Vincent O’Neill as an instant American classic.

“To me, David Mamet is America’s Harold Pinter,” O’Neill said. “He’s a master of language, he’s a master of rhythm and he’s a master of [what] Pinter used to call it the weasel under the coffee table: On the surface, everybody’s sitting down for afternoon tea, but there’s a weasel under the coffee table and we’re waiting for it to bite somebody on the ankle.”

In “American Buffalo,” directed by Chris Cavanagh, people get bit.

Read Ted Hadley's four star review of the show. Here's more from O'Neill about the play:

“American Buffalo,” through May 19 in the Irish Classical Theatre Company’s Andrews Theatre, 625 Main St. $34 to $42. 852-4282 or

BIG NIGHT concludes with 'Gorgeous Nothings'

One of the principal objectives of Just Buffalo Literary Center's BIG NIGHT series of readings, performances, music, and media art events over the past four years has been to generate conversations across the boundaries of form and genre, and to facilitate a kind of informal community setting where useful creative interactions between writers and other artists might occur.  If there's a kind of high-gloss sheen surrounding the phrase "interdisciplinary arts," BIG NIGHT has effectively dismantled the rhetoric and turned the "process"  into a party.

No program in the series better exemplifies this intent than tonight's season finale featuring leading conceptualist poet, textile and book artist Jen Bervin, media artist and Associate Professor of Media Production at Buffalo State College Meg Knowles, and music by the electro-dance duo UVB76.  The festivities begin at 8 p.m. at the Western New York Book Arts Center, 468 Washington St. (near Mohawk St.) and, as always, feature the food creations of  BlazeVox Books publisher and gourmet chef Geoffrey Gatza.  General admission is $5, $4 for students, Just Buffalo members, and members of Just Buffalo's affiliate organizations.

Bervin's capsule biography describes her work as bringing together "text and textile in a practice that encompasses poetry, archival research, artist books, and large-scale art works," but even this summary is incomplete in capturing the full conceptual range of her work, which might also be described as exploring the spatial extensions of received cultural texts and revealing, either through emphasis or material veiling, embedded variant readings contained in texts and other cultural artifacts.

In a "process note" to perhaps her best known book project to date, "Nets" (2004, now in its fifth printing from Ugly Duckling Presse), Bervin wrote "I stripped Shakespeare's sonnets bare to the "nets" to make the space of the poems open, porous, possible—a divergent elsewhere. When we write poems, the history of poetry is with us, pre-inscribed in the white of the page; when we read or write poems, we do it with or against this palimpsest."

And indeed, what the book contained was 60 of Shakespeare's sonnets raised on the page but not inked--a kind of ghostly undertext--from which Bervin chose only select words or groups of words (which she inked in boldface) to "compose" or "derive" or "liberate" (what terms one uses to describe the process reveals as much about the reader as it does about the work) a new overriding text that resolved itself spatially and syntactically into a recognizable poem, born, as it were, from Shakespeare's looming absence.

Other notable Bervin projects have included "The Desert" (2008) from Granary Books--a poem she  wrote by sewing row by row, line by line, across 130 pages of John Van Dyke's, "The Desert: Further Studies in Natural Appearances" (1901) using atmospheric fields of pale blue zigzag stitching to construct a poem “narrated by the air”--and "Mississippi," her visually breathtaking installation that is a ceiling-mounted 230 ft. panoramic scale model of the Mississippi River composed of hand-sewn silver sequins to the scale of one inch to one mile, showing the river mapped from the geocentric perspective, from inside the earth's interior looking up at the riverbed.

The work that brings Bervin to Buffalo, however, is her most recent book "The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope-Poems" (2012), co-edited with Buffalo-based Dickinson scholar Marta Werner, an associate professor of English at D’Youville College and published in a limited edition by Granary Books.

An outgrowth of Bervin's acclaimed artist book "The Dickinson Composites" (2010, Granary Books) based on her installation "The Dickinson Fascicles"--a series of large-scale quilts she made by embroidering Dickinson's unusual punctuation markings from her poems written from 1858 to 1864, which the poet grouped into small hand bound packets, later called fascicles, "The Gorgeous Nothings" is a limited edition artist book based on Dickinson's late compositions on envelopes.

The edition includes a portfolio of 48 high resolution double-sided color facsimiles with visual transcriptions, exactingly mapped and painstakingly reproduced by Bervin along with Marta Werner's lyric essay, "Itineraries of Escape: Emily Dickinson's Envelope-Poems," which places these previously under-examined poems in scholarly, historic, and poetic context. In her postscript, Bervin notes:

The title, 'The Gorgeous Nothings,' is an excerpt from Emily Dickinson's manuscript A 821, 'the gorgeous | nothings | which | compose | the | sunset | keep'. In choosing it, I was thinking of Dickinson's own definition for nothing: 'the force that renovates | the World –' and her definition for 'no': 'the wildest word we consign to language.'

Taken together with Werner's essay, both of Bervin's Dickinson books make a compelling case for the reconsideration of Dickinson, if not as a visual poet in the 20th or 21st century sense, then as a poet for whom the materiality of her work, and its spatial arrangement across the field of the page, was significant in both its primary and variant readings.  The normalization of Dickinson's poems to conform with the formalisms of subsequent generations of her [male] editors, as Susan Howe noted  in quoting one of Dickinson's letters ("The look of the words as they lay in print I shall never forget") in her enormously influential "My Emily Dickinson" (1985), confines the poet's work to a scale and range of possible readings that is at enormous variance with what appears in her manuscripts.

While much of the critical language that has been applied to Bervin's appropriation of literary texts as the genesis of her work speaks of "erasure" and "defacement"--terms with a certain cache amongst critical theorists--nothing one observes in her work can be read as transgressive in the violent sense, as if she means to transform texts into substrate.  Instead her work, especially in its sense of the physical presence of the trace, the ghostly silence of the source text, partly occluded, partly raised in defamiliarizing emphasis, is a poetics of displacement and regeneration: a way of beginning new sentences again even as the gravity of the old language fades.

--R.D. Pohl   

George Jones, the Sinatra of country music, dies at age 81

George Jones, one of the true greats in country music history, passed away on Friday, at the age of 81.

Jones was scheduled to perform at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda on June 1st. (Yours truly was scheduled to interview Jones in advance of this show, alas.) He'd last performed in the area at the same venue in 2011.

Anyone who purchased tickets for Jones' Riviera Theatre show will receieve a full refund. Beginning on Wednesday,  May 1st, tickets purchased via credit card will be refunded directly to the account in question. Customers who paid by cash or check will receive a refund check. The Riviera Theatre box office can be contacted via 692-2413. 

Here's to the Frank Sinatra of country music. - Jeff Miers


Live chat: Miers on Music with News Pop Music Critic Jeff Miers at noon

Larry Felser and an admiring colleague have a chat in 1976

By Jeff Simon

I must confess the following interview was neither my idea or Larry's. It came from an editor we both worked with regularly. Our mutual joke is that we couldn't figure out which one of us was being punished by having me interview him at the time.

I was, then, the sitting TV columnist for the Buffalo News. I'd have the gig for two more years until I was able convince News management that I might more properly and profitably occupy the lion's share of my time in other arts matters: movies, music, books etc. Larry was in his prime as a beloved sports columnist.

So at our editor's request, we sat down with my questions, his answers and a tape recorder between us. We had a grand time. I hope you do too now as you read it.

Jeff Simon interviews Larry Felser

Fassbinder's 'Blood on a Cat's Neck' opening at Torn Space

German screenwriter, actor and director Rainer Werner Fassbinder has been an important influence on Torn Space Theater co-founder Dan Shanahan. The production of Fassbinder’s 1971 play “Blood on a Cat’s Neck” opening tonight will mark the third time Shanahan has produced the work of his artistic inspiration, following “Garbage, the City and Death” and “The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant.” It stars the unclassifiable heroine Phoebe Zeitgeist, a visitor from the moon who is alternately perplexed and enraged by the strange behavior of the desperate Earthlings she discovers.

—Colin Dabkowski

“Blood on a Cat’s Neck,” today through May 19 in Torn Space Theater’s home in the Adam Mickiewicz Dramatic Circle and Library, 612 Fillmore Ave. $15 to $25. 812-5733 or 

Plan your weekend with GustoTV

News Arts Critic Colin Dabkowski offers a recap of what's happening this week in the local arts scene:

News Pop Music Critic Jeff Miers discusses his guide to the thriving music scene in Allentown with Colin Dabkowski:

Replay Critics' Corner with Jeff Miers, Jeff Simon

News critics Jeff Simon and Jeff Miers answered reader questions on music, movies, TV and more submitted via the chat console below:

Sylvia Browne reschedules appearance

The appearance by psychic Sylvia Browne originally scheduled for May 4 in the Seneca Niagara Events Center in Niagara Falls has been postponed because of illness. The show has been rescheduled for 8 p.m. July 13.

Previously purchased tickets will be honored for the new date. Refunds are available at point of purchase.

For more information, visit

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