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A-OK Boomers: Four Blasts from Days Past



 

Whether you were around (or even alive) during their heyday or not, this month provides an excellent opportunity to revisit some class acts from the 1960s and ’70s, all of whom are making stops in WNY. Three were AM radio staples, while the fourth was primarily heard on then-new free-form FM stations. Taken as a group, they constitute a pretty solid retrospective look at several of the era’s most vibrant musical genres—which is how we’ll break them down below.

 

SOPHISTICATED POP

Dionne Warwick

(Friday, January 31 at Seneca Niagara Event Center)

Her lengthy streak of hits created in collaboration with songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David remain the stuff of legend. You can hear a whopping 200 of her songs, including “Don’t Make Me Over,” “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “Walk On By,” and oodles of deep cuts, many of which are delightful covers of other hits of the day, in a new collection of Warwick’s complete recordings for the Scepter and Warner Brothers labels. Judging from a past performance at the Riviera, she remains a powerful live act, with a taste for feisty behind-the-scenes patter.

 

FUNK

The Ohio Players

(Friday, January 17 at Bear's Den at Seneca Niagara)

Songs like “Fire” and “Love Rollercoaster” have been house-party staples for decades, and no one who has laid eyes on their scandalous album covers is likely to forget them anytime soon. True, this is one of those cases where no less than six of the band’s core members have died over the years—but a 2018 live album suggests that their replacements are quite capable of packing the dancefloor.

 

SOUL/R&B

Chaka Khan

(Saturday, January 25 at Seneca Allegany Event Center)

It’s damn near impossible to come up with a single category to contain the talents of the vocalist, songwriter, and onetime Black Panther-born Yvette Marie Stevens: Her first hits (including “Tell Me Something Good”) came with the funk band Rufus, she went disco with “I’m Every Woman,” covered Prince on her hip hop and electro-infused solo smash “I Feel for You,” popped up on a Joni Mitchell album, and in subsequent years she’s mastered jazz, rock, and even reggae. Friends who are hardcore fans say her live performances can vary wildly, but that’s part of the excitement of watching a true diva in action.

 

SINGER/SONGWRITER

Eric Andersen

(Wednesday, January 15 at Sportsmen’s Tavern)

Born in Pittsburgh but raised in Buffalo before heading to Greenwich Village at the height of the folkie boom, Andersen returns from time to time to share his never-ending body of new songs. Early on he was considered one of the “new Dylans,” which is a bit ironic given that Bobby D. actually covered one of Andersen’s best-known tunes, “Thirsty Boots.” The connection goes much deeper: On the current tour he’s joined by violinist Scarlet Rivera, whose breakthrough came when she was prominently featured on Dylan’s album Desire, and both Andersen and Rivera were part of the fabled Rolling Thunder Revue.

 

 

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