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Here comes Avery*Sunshine

AverycloseupnewGospel, soul and R&B singer Avery*Sunshine returns to the Tralf Music Hall at 8 p.m. Saturday for a concert in anticipation of the release of her sophomore album, "The Sun Room," due this spring. Sunshine, as her name suggests, arrives like a long overdue ray of light in the world of contemporary R&B. Her rich, virtuosic singing, deep understanding of R&B’s roots in gospel music, and her ability to infuse her often first-person narratives with a life-affirming optimism, combine to conjure a deeply spirited sound.

Fans of Erykah Badu, Rachelle Ferrell and Cassandra Wilson, you’ve been served notice – Sunshine’s marriage of organic soul, sultry R&B and the sophisticated phrasing of jazz make her one of the leading lights on the modern urban music scene. Drea D’Nur will open.

Tickets are $35 advance, $40 on the day of the show (box office, Ticketmaster).

A closer look: Accidental environmental art at 1 News Plaza

Artist: Unknown // 1 News Plaza

On my way into work this morning, I stumbled across this series of bootprints, most likely left in the melting snow by one of my fellow Buffalo News employees. Since we've been seeing a lot more environmental art lately -- such as artist Andy Goldsworthy's temperamental "Path" installation at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery -- I thought it made sense to highlight one of the many accidental artworks we make on a daily basis. It's likely that the person who created this eye-catching impression of a six-footed monster outside the News' lobby did so merely out of boredom and didn't think of it as art. But I like to think of art as anything at all that adds a moment of intrigue or beauty to the day, anything human-made thing that counfounds your ideas and expectations about what surrounds you. I think that's true whether the creator thinks of it as art or not. If you have your own examples of accidental art you've run across this winter, please post links in the comment section.

--Colin Dabkowski

History's greatest songwriter


By Mary Kunz Goldman

Today try to find the time -- responsibly, of course, and only if you are over 21 -- to drink a beer in honor of the blazing talent that was Franz Schubert. Schubert was born on Jan. 31, 1797.

I am going to go out on a limb here and declare that he was one of the three great melodists of history, the other two being Mozart and Mendelssohn. There have been a lot of great tunesmiths over the centuries but these three stand out for me because their melodies were so glorious, so effortless, so numerous and so natural that they could squander them. This is the kind of gift you are born with.

Oddly enough all three of these men died young. Mendelssohn was 39, Mozart was 35 and Schubert only 31. Their deaths were three of music's greatest tragedies. The deaths of Mozart and Mendelssohn stunned the musical world. Schubert, in contrast, was still relatively obscure when he died. It took a while for his greatness to come to light.

Often when you are listening to Schubert you are reminded you are listening to the work of a young man. He was music's equivalent of the short-lived English poet John Keats, combining a youthful romanticism with a strange sorrow. Schubert never outgrew that love we have when we are young for knights and ladies, for Greek and Roman gods and goddesses, for romantic poetry, for beer and going out with his friends. He loved the swashbuckling stories of Sir Walter Scott. America was a romantic place to him and he was reading James Fenimore Cooper's "The Last of the Mohicans" at around the time that he died.

Schubert wrote utterly sublime symphonies and quartets and Masses and other music but the young man's priorities he had show through especially in his songs. He used to dash off his songs in what you could almost call his spare time. I think they were a kind of guilty pleasure for him. He would work them out on guitar and his friends would sometimes show up in the morning and find him asleep with the guitar on the bed next to him.

He is buried in Vienna's Central Cemetery. One of his friends wrote the beautiful epitaph. "Music lies buried here, but still fairer hopes."


Live chat at noon: Miers on Music

Nancy Drew solves another mystery

It’s only natural for parents who love mysteries – from the exploits of Sherlock Holmes to the more grisly stories of "Law and Order: SVU" or "CSI: Miami" – to want to share that love with their kids. But it wouldn’t exactly be responsible to expose impressionable young minds to the unseemly content that increasingly airs on prime-time TV.

What to do? Nancy Drew. The Theatre of Youth’s "Nancy Drew & the Mystery at Lilac Inn," in the Allendale Theatre, features the teen detective engaged in one of her most nail-biting endeavors. True to the formula that has made the franchise so popular and enduring, the story has stolen jewels, suspicious characters, intrepid detective work and a final harrowing encounter.

The play features Kerisa Yvonne Bonville as the title character, along with Arin Lee Dandes, Maria Droz, Danica Riddick, Kerrykate Abel, Joyce Carolyn, Daryl Hart, Kurt Guba and Guy Balotine.

Tickets to the show, which runs through Feb. 16, are $24 to $26. Call 884-4400 or visit

– Colin Dabkowski

Darien Lake country concerts set: Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean, Keith Urban, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert and Rascal Flatts


Brad Paisley, shown here taking the Darien Lake stage in July 2013, is headed back this summer. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

Get your cowboy hats ready -- Darien Lake has seven huge country shows set for this summer.

With this morning's announcement of the 2014 season's Country Megaticket, a major piece of the summer concert lineup is confirmed and in place. 

Here's who's coming: 

July 6: Brad Paisley with Randy Houser, Leah Turner and Charlie Worsham

July 12: Jason Aldean with Florida Georgia Line

July 25: Keith Urban with Jerrod Niemann and Brett Eldredge

Aug. 2: Blake Shelton with The Band Perry, Neal McCoy and Dan + Shay

Aug. 16: Luke Bryan with Lee Brice and Cole Swindell

Aug. 29: Miranda Lambert with Justin Moore and Thomas Rhett

Sept. 4: Rascal Flatts with Sheryl Crow and Gloriana

Tickets for the entire Megaticket lineup go on sale at 10 a.m. Feb. 8. Package prices range from $275 for lawn seats to $675 for 100- and 200-level seats.

Tickets for individual shows will go on sale at a later date.

It's still January, but the Darien Lake summer concert schedule is already coming together. Other shows previously announced:

June 11: Dave Matthews Band

June 24: Journey and Tower of Power

July 2: Fall Out Boy and Paramore

July 8: Vans Warped Tour

Aug. 31: Motley Crue

Thursday Theater Roundup: Solid shows at Kavinoky, ICTC and Road Less Traveled


Greg Howze and Kristen Tripp Kelley star in "Very Fine Use of a Grenade" at Road Less Traveled Theatre.

The Thursday Theater Roundup features currently running productions that received three or more stars from our reviewers. Here are this week's picks:

"Proof," through Feb. 2 in the Kavinoky Theatre. ★★★

"A Woman of No Importance," through Feb. 9 in the Irish Classical Theatre Company's Andrews Theatre. ★★★½

"Very Fine Use of a Grenade," through Feb. 16 in Road Less Traveled Theatre. ★★★

Babeville to host forum on art, culture and 'placemaking' tonight

Jason Schupback, director of design for the National Endowment for the Arts, will lead a forum on the role of art and culture in the development of urban spaces tonight at 7 in Babeville's Asbury Hall

As projects such as Larkinville and Canalside spring up in American cities recovering from decades of economic stagnation, developers, architects and politicians are thinking much more about the role of culture in creating new urban landscapes and economies. The term for that trend is "placemaking," a highly lampoonable piece of jargon The Atlantic Cities included on its list of "Urbanist Buzzwords to Rethink in 2014."

Whatever you may think of the word itself, the trend is well worth exploring. Tonight's forum is sure to touch on many important issues central to the development of Buffalo in the next few years. Anyone interested in the rapid development of the city should check it out.

The forum is sponsored by Partners for a Livable Western New York, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and presented by Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center. As seating is limited, those interested in attending should RSVP by calling Hallwalls at 854-1694.

--Colin Dabkowski

Five Songs For a Freezing Day

By Mary Kunz Goldman

1. Sonny Boy Williamson, "Nine Below Zero." "The woman waits till it's nine below zero, and puts me down for another man." A timeless, ageless theme, and a wonderful video of the great Sonny Boy singing and playing his harp.

2. "Gute Nacht" ("Good night") the first song from the song cycle "Die Winterreise" ("The Winter Journey") by Franz Schubert. It is in German but this song translates roughly to "Nine below zero, she put me out for another man." Enjoy this bleak portrait of winter, and listen to the whole thing because the ending is magical. Your singer is baritone Thomas Quasthoff.

3. "Moonlight in Vermont." Let's see the cold in a more affectionate light. This is a romantic portrait of winter but still gets across the chilliness with its words about icy fingertips and snowlight. No one sings it as beautifully as Ella Fitzgerald with Louis Armstrong. 

 4.  Frank Bridge's song "Blow, Blow Thy Winter Wind" quotes from Shakespeare in laughing at the winter wind and reminding us that in the grand scheme of things a cold wind is not that bad. "Hey, ho, sing hey ho, unto the green holly..." Here is Canadian baritone Gerald Finley, a singer I love, with Roger Vignoles on piano.

5. Not a song per se, but we cannot have a list of music for a single-digit-degree day without the vivid "Winter" from Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons." There is that exquisite melody in the middle movement -- that part is supposed to be about warming up by the fire -- but the other movements really sum up what a day like today is like. I chose this video for its great images, but even without them, Vivaldi makes you feel the shivering and the chattering teeth.

Sportsmen's Tavern gives back with Americana foundation

Over the past five years or so, the Sportsmen’s Tavern (326 Amherst St.) has grown from a fun and funky hole in the wall, where you just might catch an intimate show from one of the finest roots musicians in the country, into a beautifully remodeled and expanded central hub forAmericana music.

Roots music helped to make the Sportsmen’s Tavern, and owner Dwane Hall – a fine musician in the idiom himself – knows it. Now, the Sportsmen’s has a plan to give back to the musicians who have helped make the club the first stop for local and national roots music. The Sportsmen’s Americana Music Foundation Inc. will launch soon, its goal to foster the talent of Western New York roots and Americana musicians by organizing high-profile gigs, seeking broadcast partnerships and generally working to raise the profile of the music and the musicians who make it.

At 7 p.m. Jan. 22, the Sportsmen’s will host an inaugural event for the SAMF, designed to raise "seed money" for the foundation’s launch. Scheduled to perform are Stone Country, the Informers, Mr. Conrad and the Excellos, and Fair Forgery with guest Willie Schoellkopf. Tickets are $20.

-- Jeff Miers

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