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Sounds of the City

Hot tunes for a cold snap

The Piano Guys perform Dec. 3 @ Shea's

Photos courtesy of the artists


Concert bookings tend to slow down this time of year, but if you feel the need to take a break from wassailing, nutcrackering, and grinchery, there are still quite a few options out there this month. Here's a highly selective list.


Thursday, Dec. 1—Sunday, Dec. 4

Krzysztof Penderecki and the Buffalo Chamber Players @ the Albright-Knox: It's a Pendereckifest! On Thursday, the AKAG's resident ensemble salutes the pioneering Polish composer with a program he handpicked. The esteemed visitor then conducts the BPO at a pair of performances at Kleinhans on the weekend.


Friday, Dec. 2

James Currie @ Hallwalls: The latest in the UB Humanities Institute's ongoing "Scholars@Hallwalls" series of free afternoon lectures is "One Night in Beirut: When Said Met Genet," a talk by the UB-based musicologist and artist about the 1972 encounter between literary critic and political activist Edward Said and novelist/playwright Jean Genet in Beirut and its impact decades later on Said's collaboration with conductor Daniel Barenboim and the Arab/Israeli youth orchestra, the West-Eastern Divan. 


The Kerfuffle Before Christmas @ Key Bank Center: Alternative Buffalo (107.7 FM) hosts the latest of its well-received concert packages, bringing indie acts into an arena setting. This year's lineup: Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Atlas Genius, Capital Cities, Dirty Heads, GROUPLOVE, and Judah & the Lion.   


Saturday, Dec. 3

The Piano Guys @ Shea's: One piano + one cello + a couple of offstage co-conspirators all creating video clips of light classical covers of pop songs = millions + millions of You Tube views.


Sunday, Dec. 4

Ritual Trio featuring David Murray @ the 9th Ward: In the latest of its many gifts to WNY jazz lovers, Hallwalls brings one of the founding members of the World Saxophone Quartet into a tiny venue with collaborators Kahil El'Zabar and Harrison Bankhead.


Tuesday, Dec. 6

The Secret Sisters @ 189 Public House: Not-really-that-clandestine siblings Lydia and Laura Rogers have fashioned two well-received albums of folky/rocky/countryish original tunes and covers, both produced by mega-fan T. Bone Burnett (who started an indie label just to be able to release their first CD). Their collaborators include Brandi Carlisle, Jack White, and a young feller by the name of Bob Dylan (who gave them permission to flesh out the lyrics to an unfinished song of his, which sounds like quite the vote of confidence). 


Wednesday, Dec. 7

Deconstructing the White Album @ Hallwalls: Composer/producer/musicologist Scott Freiman brings you behind the scenes of the Beatles' landmark self-titled album in a filmed version of a lecture he's been touring around the country.


Thursday, Dec. 8

wellRed Comedy Tour @ Helium: Trae Crowder, Drew Morgan, and Corey Ryan Forrester, the trio of Southern writer/comics behind the wildly popular “Liberal Redneck" YouTube channel, "Our Sundy [sic] Best" blog, and brand-new book hit the road as part of their expressed mission of "Draggin' Dixie Out of the Dark."


Friday, Dec. 9

John Cleese @ UB's Center for the Arts Mainstage Theatre: One of the core members of Monty Python and the star of Fawlty Towers and A Fish Called Wanda does two back-to-back talks as part of UB's Distinguished Speakers Series, likely touching on some of the material in his 2014 memoir, So Anyway, which ends just as Python is beginning.


Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration @ the Burchfield Penney: Join a thoroughly eclectic group of WNY-based musicians, dancers, installation and performance artists, and all sorts of other surprises tucked away in the many nooks, crannies, freight elevators, stairwells, and windows of the Center as it marks its first half century with a free day-and-night-long party. (Full disclosure: I am not only employed part time by the museum, but I played a small role in programming the evening.)


Friday-Saturday, Dec. 9-10

Willie Nile @ Ironworks: Stick around the music biz long enough and you eventually transcend the labels you were saddled with early in your career. For this Buffalo-born, NYC-based singer-songwriter, that means critics have finally moved past the "new wave" and "New Dylan" tags that never really fit him in the first place, and can focus on his consistently solid body of work. While Nile's self-titled 1980 debut may be the best known of his albums, he has continued making worthy records ever since. WNY fave Alison Pipitone—whose own gifts as a writer and performer make her an ideal fit for the evening—opens.


Hal Sparks @ Helium: The wisecracking former host of Talk Soup and star of the American version of Queer as Folk brings his standup act to the Cobblestone District for four shows in two nights.


Sunday, Dec. 11

Bobby Militello @ the Buffalo History Museum: The Buffalo Jazz Collective's monthly Second Sunday matinee series invites the longtime Dave Brubeck saxophonist and his own quartet to play the songs of his former boss. 


Saturday, Dec. 17

Tony Bennett @ UB's Center for the Arts: The man needs no introduction. Which is good, because this show is already sold out. 


Dysfunctional Holiday Party @ Squeaky Wheel: The long-running media arts center celebrates the disasters of the season with music, new video works by WNY media artists, a grownup coloring contest, and a terrifying-sounding "dysfunctional karaoke" of your drunk uncle's favorite carols.


Friday, Dec. 23

Nelson Starr and the Franciscans @ Pausa: In which a great WNY singer and a brilliantly named bevy of local players pay tribute to the one and only Frances Albert Sinatra. 



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 his site: everythingrondoes.com

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