Sounds of the City
Best bets for December
DoMi featuring Domi Degalle, Isaiah Weatherspoon, Declan Miers and Yessah Furaha-Ali perform the 23rd at IronWorks.
The last month of the year is typically pretty sparse when it comes to rock, roll, and other forms of live performance, since it is assumed your social calendar is already filled with office parties and the like. You will, of course, find some seasonally festive fare in this selective list of upcoming events, but fear not: There's enough mistletoe-free activity around town to keep all Scrooges, Grinches, and secular humanists happy, too.
Thursday, November 30—Saturday, December 2
Dave Attell @ Helium: The raunchy Comedy Central favorite presents five sets of not-safe-for-basic-cable standup.
Friday, December 1
First Friday @ the Albright-Knox: This month's offerings include a hip-hop dance performance and lesson by Verve Dance Studio's Differential Flava Crew, tarot readings, and a tasting of selections from BlackBird Cider Works. The first two events are free; the tasting has a nominal fee.
Saturday, December 2
Gary Numan @ Town Ballroom: The pioneering synth-rocker has inspired generations of industrial and electronic performers; here's a rare chance to see him in the … flesh.
Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan @ the Albright-Knox: The latest installment in the museum's long-running Art of Jazz series features guitarist Frisell—a giant in his own genre who is well known in the world of rock thanks to his work for the likes of Elvis Costello and Paul Simon—joining forces with younger bassist Morgan. For a taste of their collaboration, check out their ECM album, Small Town, recorded live at the Village Vanguard. Hope you've got your tickets already, because it's sold out
Peter Michael Marino
Thursday, December 7
PICK OF THE MONTH
Peter Michael Marino @ Nietzsche's: I first learned about this internationally touring New York-based comic writer/performer with Buffalo roots in an L.A. Times article a few years ago about the cream of the recent bumper crop of autobiographical one-man-shows. Ironically, the project he's currently touring, Show Up!, has nothing to do with his own life—at least not on the surface. Drawn almost entirely from the lives of audience members, it's simultaneously a spoof of both the enough-about-you narcissism of the average solo performer and the randomness of the gimme-a-crazy-situation format of improv comedy, and ultimately (spoiler alert) a surprisingly poignant and honest examination of how we all present ourselves in public. Folks in the crowd are also encouraged to volunteer—in a friendly, no-pressure way—as the tech crew and whatever else may be required. The version I saw during Infringement a couple of summers ago made me laugh a lot, but its deeper themes have stayed with me ever since. Marino is a high-energy, often hilarious performer whose out-of-thin-air inventions have lasting impact. Even if you're as terrified of audience participation as I usually am, just show up and take the ride. You'll be safe, and you won't be sorry. (As added incentive, the event is technically free, but the hat will be passed and you will surely be inspired to give generously.)
Horton's Holiday Hayride @ the Tralf: Rev. Horton Heat, Junior Brown, the Blasters, and Big Sandy share the stage. Any one of these four alt-country-before-country-was-alt legends ought to be enough to set your heart aflutter; the chance to catch all four acts on one night, with the promise or threat of Christmas carols for good measure, is too good to be true.
Friday, December 8
Stay Gold @ the Burchfield Penney Art Center: The museum's fiftieth anniversary bash last year was such a door-busting hit that it has given birth to a new annual event during which WNY-based installation, media, and performing artists create cool stuff in unlikely spaces throughout the building, including elevators, stairwells, and even the lockers in the coat room. It's free, there's dancing, and people will be talking about it for months to follow. Wear something sparkly!
Saturday, December 9
Kissmas Bash 2017 @ Key Bank Center: The headliner at this annual celebration of teencentric pop is the artistically maturing Kesha, currently enjoying glowing reviews for her comeback album.
Big Band Holiday @ MusicalFare Cabaret: Phil Sims and his Cabaret Big Band with vocalist Kay Miner bring a little class and brass to the season. There's a matinee and an evening show, and both are likely to sell out. Hot tip: If you can't get enough of that holiday stuff, come back a week later for A Musical Theater Christmas on the 16th, with Randy Kramer, John Fredo, Theresa Quinn, Amy Jakiel, and Jim Celeste singing Santa-endorsed show tunes from the Broadway canon.
The Ed Croft Trio presents A Charlie Brown Christmas @ Pausa: Talk about a no-brainer. Bassist Croft, pianist Jake Malone-Brancato, and drummer Candace Simone Thomas join forces to perform Vince Guaraldi's classic score.
Chevelle @ the Rapids: If you've had your fill of holiday music by this point, how about a night of loud, aggressive alt-metal in Niagara Falls?
Ed Croft Trio presents A Charlie Brown Christmas @ Pausa
Sunday, December 10
Buffalo Jazz Collective Sextet @ the Buffalo History Museum: Enjoy a bit of jingle bell jazz in this holiday show by John Hasselback, Mark Filsinger, George Caldwell, John Bacon, Jim Colemon, and Bobby Militello—the last of whom might even sing a carol or two.
Monday, December 11
The National @ Town Ballroom: The good news is that one of the most cherished bands in America today is returning to the venue they played early in their storied career to play a benefit for Buffalo String Works. The bad news—for everyone but BSW—is that the show sold out right away, surprising no one.
Wednesday, December 13
My Next Heart Book Launch and Reading @ Mohawk Place: Join poets Janet McNally, Joe Hall, Eve Williams Wilson, Rachelle Toarmino, Paige Melin, Julio Montalvo Valentin, Tom Dreitlein, and Nathanael William Stolte plus musician Shane Meyer as BlazeVOX Books unveils its latest anthology of young Buffalo writers from all over the stylistic map, edited by Noah Falck and Justin Karcher.
Friday, December 15
Sonny Baker EP Release Party @ Mohawk Place: Any new recording by the eclectic singer/songwriter/guitarist Baker is cause for celebration; thanks to his remarkable diversity and tendency to zigzag from intimate solo acoustic work to sheer noise to high-energy participation in a wide range of bands, I've come to think of him as Buffalo's answer to Neil Young. He's joined here by Radarada, Passed Out, and Hund
Saturday, December 16
Scott Tixier with the Walter Kemp 3oh! @ Hallwalls: In an inspired pairing, French-born, NYC-based violinist Tixier joins forces with Buffalo's own keyboard sensation. The concert itself is a collaboration—between Hallwalls and JazzBuffalo, two champions of jazz in the Queen City.
Xmas Party @ Mohawk Place: Join the Irving Klaws, Baci e Ceci, and Bass Pro and the Waterfront Revivalists—a stellar line-up if ever there was one—for what is practically guaranteed to be one of the highlights of your holidays.
Petula Clark @ the Bear's Den: The shimmering voice behind "Downtown," "I Know a Place," "Don't Sleep in the Subway," and other mid-60s pop smashes—indeed, the most commercially successful female singer in British chart history—plays a matinee and an evening show in the cozy club at the Seneca Niagara Casino.
Dysfunctional Holiday Party @ Squeaky Wheel: Alas, this cherished classic art party will not be happening this year after all.
Friday, December 22
Sixteenth Annual Tribute to Joe Strummer @ Town Ballroom: Good lord, can it really be sixteen years since the co-founder of the Clash ("the only band that matters," which may still be true for some of us) left this mortal coil? This year's lineup includes movies and DJs in addition to the usual top-notch roster of local performers.
Saturday, December 23
Miers Family Holiday Jambake @ Buffalo IronWorks: Forget the Brady Bunch—the Miers Menagerie is the crew you'll want to deck the halls with this Christmas Eve Eve. Papa Jeff does double duty as the Buffalo News's music critic and a veteran of the local club scene; son Declan is an in-demand bass player; and mom Kim is one of the folks responsible for making this very website look so damn good. They'll be joined by Domi Degalle, Vitamin D, Critt's Juke Joint, Nelson Starr and a few special guests. The cover charge even includes all the Rusty Chain you can imbibe, until the tap runs dry.
Tuesday, December 26
'Home for the Holidays @ Helium: In what sounds like a great concept, the downtown comedy club opens its doors to Buffalo-bred comics who have relocated and are back in town for a bit. Shaun Murphy emcees, and the evening includes short sets by Dan Fisher, Brian Herberger, Nora Hurley, Josh Potter, Jon Schuta, Kevin Michael Smith, Julia Solomon, Luke Touma, and Matt Wayne.
Saturday, December 30
Sam Roberts Band @ Town Ballroom: The perennial Canadian favorites return to town. And the Town. Convenient, isn't it?
Sunday, December 31
Aqueous @ Town Ballroom: Spend NYE with Buffalo's reigning jam band.
Ron Ehmke is a writer, performer, and media artist you can learn more about at everythingrondoes.com. An updated version of this curated list of musical and spoken-word events appears at buffalospree.com at the beginning of (almost) every month.