Sounds of the City

Best concert bets for August

Seth Bernard performs at the 9th Ward on August 22

Photo courtesy of the artist



Wednesday, August 22

Seth Bernard and Johnny Irion @ the 9th Ward

The press release for this joint tour focuses on the various virtuous grassroots nonprofits each artist is affiliated with, but don’t let that give you the notion that they are the musical equivalent of a kale-and-quinoa smoothie, more good for you than truly delicious. This is gonna be one tasty affair. Irion, a grand-nephew of John Steinbeck, is best known for his excellent duet albums with his wife, Sarah Lee Guthrie (they’ve played many times in our area), but he’s got a solo record out now, and it’s a pretty swell collection of rustic country rock tunes that would not sound out of place on a Flying Burrito Brothers or early Eagles album. Bernard has released a jaw-dropping dozen albums (not counting collaborations with his own frequent partner, Daisy May Erlewhine) in his relatively short career, and they all seem to be stuffed with instantly lovable songs.



Sunday afternoons in August

Null Point Sound Garden events @ Artpark:

The folks behind Buffalo’s “experimental sound initiative” Null Point have cooked up a summer’s worth of potentially fascinating free site-specific, often participatory collaborations with other artists and audience members that may remind some visitors of the park’s glory days in the 1970s and ’80s. This month’s offerings involve hands-on workshops and collaborative performances using electronic instruments (August 12) and guitars (August 19) combined with the found sounds of the woods, plus an audience-inclusive performance of one portion of composer David Dunn’s outdoor epic Place (August 26).


Thursday, August 2

Amy Schumer @ Fallsview (Niagara Falls, Ontario):

The reigning comic of her generation plays a slightly more intimate venue than the hockey arenas where she can usually be seen.


Sunday, August 5

Don Menza @ the Albright-Knox (Delaware Stairs):

The museum’s always-popular outdoor Summer Jazz series wraps up its 2018 season with a homecoming concert by this tenor sax player, who was born in Buffalo in 1936 and whose lengthy and distinguished career has included stints with the likes of Maynard Ferguson, Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, and Doc Severinsen’s edition of the Tonight Show Band.


David Byrne @ the CMAC (Canandaigua):

If you’ve been kicking yourself for missing Byrne’s American Utopia tour on its UB stop earlier in the year, here’s another chance to catch the spectacle, which is already the stuff of legend. To recap: The entire ensemble plays without the usual instrument cables, enabling them to roam all over the darned place and do stuff no one has ever done on a stage before, all while performing some of the best art-rock songs of the last forty years.


Tuesday, August 7

Jeff Beck with Ann Wilson of Heart:

The British guitar god of the late ’60s and early ’70s joins forces with the Seattle-bred belter of the late ’70s and mid-’80s before what is bound to be a packed house.


Wednesday, August 8

Godspeed You! Black Emperor @ Asbury Hall:

The dream of the nineties—complete with extremely loud guitars, twenty-minute drones, and preposterously ornate song titles—lives on in the albums and multi-media stage shows of these Montreal post-rockers.


Punch Brothers @ UB’s Center for the Arts:

Looks like mandolin maestro Chris Thile’s summer vacation from Live from Here (the new incarnation of A Prairie Home Companion) is being spent in the company of his longtime bandmates, playing the good-humored rootsy acoustic music for which they are justly known.


Wednesday, August 8, and Friday, August 10

The Silkroad Ensemble @ Chautauqua Institution:

The multinational musical ensemble spends an action-packed week in residence, conducting multiple master classes, screening a documentary film, talking about their work, and performing two different evening concerts. Wednesday it’s just them, and Friday they are joined by their founder and most frequent collaborator, cellist Yo-Yo Ma—who will himself be the subject of a Q&A earlier in the day.


Saturday, August 11

I Love the 90s @ Canalside:

All aboard the nostalgia train with Salt-N-Pepa, Naughty By Nature, Color Me Badd, C+C Music Factory, and a bunch of other folks now dependent on shows like these to pay their mortgages.


Wednesday August 15

Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi @ Chautauqua Institution:

It’s a safe bet that many of the audience members who packed Asbury Hall for Giddens’s dazzling concert there in June will be heading down south for this return engagement, which promises an entirely different set. This time the MacArthur “Genius” fellowship winner, singer, songwriter, and banjo and fiddle player will leave her touring band behind and instead be joined by Italian pianist, percussionist, and accordion player Turrisi to perform music from a ballet score they have recently completed.


Thursday, August 16

Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town @ Darien Lake:

She’s a little bit country, and they’re ... a little bit country, too.


Joshua Bell with The Red Violin @ Chautauqua Institution:

The superstar violinist performs live with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra throughout a screening of the acclaimed 1998 film tracing the globetrotting three-century history of the titular instrument.


Monday, August 20

Marcia Ball @ Sportsmen’s Tavern:

If it’s Deep South blues you’re after, look no further than this living legend of the piano. She’s got both Texas and Louisiana in her blood, and—somehow—fifty years of experience under her belt at this point. It’s been a while since she’s played WNY, and there’s no better venue in town to show off her undeniable charms.


Thursday, August 23

Ranky Tanky @ Chautauqua Institution:

Immerse yourself in the high-spirited music of the West African-derived Gullah culture of the Sea Islands off South Carolina. If you caught the group’s recent interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air, you already know you’re in for something utterly unique.


Sunday, August 26

City of Tonawanda Porchfest @ multiple locations:

Already well established in Buffalo, the Ithaca-born nationwide phenomenon partnering local homeowners with regional musicians now hits the burbs, and the sense of grassroots community is positively inspiring. Check the “Tonawanda City Porchfest” page on Facebook for up-to-date info about bands and pop-up venues, then spend an afternoon enjoying free concerts as you get to know the neighborhood.


Monday, August 27

The Chick Corea Akoustic Band @ UB’s Center for the Arts:

The jazz pianist’s trio sets out on its first tour in more than two decades, spellcheck be damned.


Tuesday, August 28

The B-52s, Culture Club, and Tom Bailey of Thompson Twins @ Artpark:

In which various individuals associated with three of the defining acts of the New Wave era gather for a party out of bounds, or at least under the stars.


Ron Ehmke is a writer, performer, and media artist you can learn more about at


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