Sounds of the City
Uneasy listening (and fun stuff, too)
of Montreal performs at Asbury Hall on April 26
Concerts and other events of note this month.
Now through Sunday, May 7
Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked the World @ the Buffalo Science Museum: Music lovers of all ages will want to spend some time with this hands-on exhibit celebrating multiple aspects of the science of sound.
Thursday, April 6
Decorum @ Dreamland: I am clearly not the first or only listener to hear the strong influence of Joy Division in these angsty Brooklynites (cheer up, guys; you live at the epicenter of the Hipster Universe!), but what makes them innovative in their own right is the way they achieve that sound: with just two bass players and a drummer. They're joined by three like-minded Buffalo bands—Orations, Slow Mutants, and the Patterns—making for a promising night of post-punk revivalism.
Thursday, April 6—Saturday, April 8
Steve Rannazzisi @ Helium: As a big fan of the side-splitting, recently-ended FX fantasy football comedy The League, I'm happy to see so many of its uniformly outstanding cast members moving on to higher-profile projects. Several of them double as stand-ups, and Rannazzisi, who played the dim-witted but likable Kevin, is the latest to visit the Cobblestone District, this time for a three-night, five-show stay.
Friday, April 7
Selector Dub Narcotic @ Sugar City: Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening and K Records fame hits our town with another of his many projects, joined by Buffalo's own Mallwalkers and Welks Mice.
Grüvology @ the Albright-Knox: The globe-trotting local favorites bring their signature blend of composed and improvised jazz, funk, and R&B to the museum's cafe for a free "First Friday" session.
Saturday, April 8
Alternative Factory @ the Alt Theatre: Celebrate the longstanding performance venue with a multi-part evening beginning with a free reception in the nearby studios of Spree contributor Bruce Adams and fellow visual artists David Butler, Candace Masters, and Richard Huntington. That's followed by onstage figure drawing of the evening's performers; a full bill of works choreographed by Ballet Ex Machina, Phil Wackerfuss, ConvergeDance, Erica Cope, and Alt co-founder Amy Taravella; and a dance party with DJ Natron. Each of the above requires a separate admission, or you can purchase a pass that gets you into everything.
Sunday, April 9
Sam Noto's Birthday Celebration @ the Buffalo History Museum: The revered bop trumpeter returns to his hometown (after years in Vegas and Toronto, as well as on the road and in the studio as an in-demand sideman and soloist) as he turns eighty-seven, and is joined onstage by the Buffalo Jazztet and special guests.
Monday, April 10
Peter Evans Septet @ Hallwalls: April's looking like a great month for lovers of challenging jazz at Hallwalls, beginning with a visit from this composer, improviser, and trumpet player and his ensemble. Reedist Anna Webber's Simple Trio plays the same stage on April 23, followed by Null Point 11 featuring the Gyre Ensemble, an outfit uniting the usually disparate sounds of accordion, sax, and percussion, on the 27th.
Wednesday, April 12
Mark Eitzel and Howe Gelb @ 7341 Nelson Drive, Hamburg, NY: The singer-songwriters responsible for indie rock's much-adored American Music Club and Giant Sand, respectively, join forces on a national tour, and this visit to the home of WNY music mavens Marty Boratin and Susan Tanner is the only house concert on their itinerary. Eitzel's previous show at the same venue was thrillingly intimate (imagine a voice and persona big enough for Shea's, playing for an audience of fifty), and Gelb has been a force of nature for more than three decades himself. You don't need to know the hosts to attend, but getting your tickets ASAP is highly recommended.
Wednesday and Thursday, April 12 and 13
Billy Crystal @ Fallsview Casino: The beloved comic actor brings his one-man show to the Canadian side of the Falls, with Bonnie Hunt opening. It's bound to be mahhhhvellous.
Thursday, April 13
Jason Kahn @ Dreamland: Think of this New York-born, Zurich-based artist's work as Uneasy Listening. As a writer in the UK experimental music bible The Wire puts it, Kahn's "performances explore the physical and spiritual limits of breath, stretching the voice to its breaking point. … Without the benefit of having an instrument shielding him, Kahn contends with the vulnerability of laying himself bare to the listener.” I'm a little intimidated at the prospect of hearing music this intense in a space as cozy as Dreamland, but that's part of the thrill of the avant-garde at its best. He's sharing the bill with one of the major figures of Buffalo's improvisational scene, Steve Baczkowski, who'll be offering a rare turntable performance, along with "song tessellations" from Much Band and electronics from NYC-based Ben Owen. If you harbor fond memories of the heyday of the Creative Associates or have enjoyed more recent June in Buffalo events—hell, if you're an adventurous listener of any generation—this night is almost certain to be special.
A&L @ Mohawk Place: Guitarist Anthony Casuccio's current day job is chair of the music department at Villa Nova, and after three Grammy nominations and two decades behind the scenes in the music biz, he decided to try his hand as a frontman on a lark. So he wrote a few songs, recruited vocalist Lana Marie (the two Buffalo natives had met through their mutual experience recording jingles), and the duo A&L was born. What neither of them expected was that their catchy, eighties-inspired power pop—imagine Pat Benatar joining forces with the Go-Gos—would earn radio play in more than seventy countries. Back home, they're sharing an evening with Matt Connolly, French Quarter Hounds, and Minor Racket.
Lisa Lisa @ the Pulse Arena, Seneca Niagara Casino: Revisit the 80s with a jolt of MTV-ready dance pop at this free "Throwback Thursday" concert.
Saturday, April 15
The Psychedelic Furs and Robyn Hitchcock: The headliners you know from their many massive hits and the soundtrack of every 80s movie ever made ("Pretty in Pink," anyone?). With co-founder Richard Butler now based in the Hudson River community of Red Hook, they show up on our side of the state now and then, and remain a reliable, satisfying live act. On the other hand, opener Hitchcock—while far less well known—is a much-loved figure from the same era and scene who, to the best of my knowledge, hasn't played our town much, if ever. The combo promises not just nostalgia but in-the-moment excitement—but if you don't have a ticket yet, you're outta luck, cuz it's sold out.
Tuesday, April 18
Monsieur Periné @ UB's Center for the Arts: For what may well turn out to be one of the most fun shows of a particularly exciting month, check out this youthful trio from Colombia. The audience will be seated onstage while the band—a kind of Latin American version of Pink Martini whose costumes and videos exhibit wild visual flair—plays effervescent pop songs from several time-honored genres (including tango, samba, and bolero) on traditional South American instruments. A second performance has been added.
Thursday, April 20
Robert Glasper Experiment @ Rockwell Hall: The jazz pianist who has spent the last decade covering Radiohead and Bill Withers, remixing Miles Davis, playing on Kendrick Lamar and Maxwell's groundbreaking albums, and winning Grammys for his own outstanding records brings his electric group (as opposed to his acoustic one) to this venerable Buff State venue in one of their most inspired and forward-looking bookings in years.
Dave Eggers @ Kleinhans: The author (and publisher of McSweeney's, and philanthropist, and all around good guy) discusses his work. Since this is the last Babel event of the year, you'll also learn who's coming as part of the series next season.
Mary Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives @ the Tralf: The country music powerhouse with a staggering knowledge of musical history and a great sense of humor (thus the band name) returns to Buffalo.
Paul Shaffer and the World's Most Dangerous Band @ Fallsview: You probably know him best from his decades as both the Ed McMahon and Doc Severinson to David Letterman's Johnny Carson, but he's had an even longer career as a comic, actor, and keyboard player before and beyond that iconic role. He's always had phenomenal taste in music and musicians to play it, so this evening should be a treat.
Friday, April 21
Buddy Guy @ UB's Center for the Arts: The blues legend returns. Buffalo native Tom Hambridge opens.
Sebadoh @ the Tralf: Those of you who grew up with college radio in the 90s, this is your month—first Calvin Johnson hits town (see April 7 above), now lo-fi king Lou Barlow arrives with new songs, old bandmates, and that most punk-rock of instruments, a ukulele.
Saturday, April 22
What Would Mingus Do? @ Pausa: The cozy Allentown music venue is devoting much of its April programming to Jazz Appreciation Month by pairing respected Buffalo-based artists with some of the all-time greats, including the much-lauded WWMD paying tribute to (of course) their namesake. Check Pausa's website for lots more.
My Darling Clementine @ 189 Public House: Got a soft spot in your heart for the glory days of George and Tammy, Dolly and Porter, and other vintage country duet partners? You'll get a kick out of real-life couple Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish, who pay homage to the genre with their own compositions and a few well-chosen covers, peppering their onstage banter with sharp-tongued British wit. This show's free, too, so you really can't go wrong.
Wednesday, April 26
Kinky Friedman @ Sportsmen's Tavern: Over the course of his long, twisty, and twisted career, the original "Texas Jewboy" has recorded scads of country songs (many with unprintable names), written mind-bending mystery novels about a detective conveniently named Kinky Friedman, and even run for governor of his home state twice—first as a Republican, then as a Democrat. Suffice to say, a couple of hours in his presence are fairly certain to be a memorable experience.
of Montreal @ Asbury Hall: Kevin Barnes and company bring their latest pansexual Technicolor sonic freakout to Babeville in conjunction with album #14 (!). Every one of the Athens, Georgia-based outfit's previous visits to Buffalo has elicited raves from their fans, so expect nothing less this time around.
Shasti O'Leary Soudant @ Hallwalls: The artist behind some of the most memorable installations, public art projects, and performances Buffalo has seen over the last decade or so discusses her work in a free talk.
Thursday, April 27
The Katy Miner Quintet celebrates Ella @ Pausa: It's the First Lady of Song's centennial year, so break out the birthday cake and share the love.
Walrus @ Curly's (no link available): The Halifax psych-rockers, who have clearly spent their formative years immersing themselves in long-forgotten garage-band singles of the late 1960s, return to this reopened Buffalo venue. Take a peek at the blotter-paper-on-tongue/tongue-in-cheek video for their new single, "Regular Face," for a sample of their quintessentially Canadian blend of self-deprecating humor and surreal menace. Substitute Labatt Blue for Orange Sunshine and you've got the basic aesthetic.
Thursday, April 27—Saturday, April 29
Michael Ian Black @ Helium: From his days as a founding member of the sketch comedy troupe the State to his recent revival of the cult film Wet Hot American Summer as a series, Black has been one of the smartest funny guys around.
Friday, April 28
Cloud Nothings @ the Tralf: Cleveland native Dylan Baldi and company hit downtown Buffalo with a bit of the old bash-and-pop.
Saturday, April 29
Steve Winwood @ Seneca Allegany Events Center: The voice you recognize from Traffic, the Spencer Davis Group, and a string of soulful solo hits in the 80s plays the mainstage at the casino.
No Illusions Reunion Concert @ Sportsmen's Tavern: Lordy, can it really be almost a quarter of a century since the No Illusions CD first appeared, celebrating the always-thriving community of female singer/songwriters based in and around Buffalo? (Fun fact: The compilation and accompanying scene were the subject of one of the very first articles I ever wrote for this publication.) This matinee concert reassembles many of the artists from the 1994 album, including Alison Pipitone, Katie Miller, Liz Spiro-Carmen, and the reunited Jazzabels among others, plus special guests, for a survey of what they've all been up to over the last couple of decades.
Shooter Jennings @ the Waiting Room: The only son of Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter is a bit of an "outlaw" himself; he's just been updating that 70s subgenre of longhaired country rock for a new century. I mean, what could be more outlaw these days than an entire album of countrified tributes to electronic music pioneer Giorgio Moroder featuring fiddle, keyboards, and guest vocals by Marilyn Manson?
Sunday, April 30
International Jazz Day @ Flying Bison: Join the Buffalo Jazz Collective in celebrating one of America's most cherished creations with an afternoon of performances by the All City Jazz Ensemble, BJC Repertory Sextet, Sabu Adeyola and Friends, and the Mark Filsinger Eleventet. Your first beer is free with the purchase of a ticket (and take note: the Larkinville area brewery features live jazz and other music by some first-tier Buffalo-based acts on a regular basis). Keep an eye out for other IJD events, too, including the free/by-donation matinee concert at Pausa.
Ron Ehmke is a writer, performer, and media artist who is followable on Facebook; he also tweets, tumbls, instagrams, and google-plusses (@RonEhmke), and does other enjoyable things you can find out about at everythingrondoes.com