Sounds of the City
Best concert bets for January
Henry Rollins performs at Town Ballroom on January 21
It’s a light month for music and related activities as the city takes a collective breather from the frenzy of holiday festivities, but a quick glance at the list below should tell you that there’s still plenty of fun to be had.
Friday, January 5
Donny Frauenhofer Trio @ the Albright-Knox: The Buffalo-based jazz pianist, composer, and member of the psychedelic rock/jazzfunk fusion band Intrepid Travelers plays a free set as part of the museum's First Friday festivities. Bill Bates performs across the hall in the Café earlier in the evening, and there's a tasting of wares from Lancaster's Lilly Belle Meads later on.
The Pride Slam @ Mohawk Place: This "mini drag" poetry slam benefit for the MOCHA Center and the Pride Center of Buffalo features performances by Michael Manning, Bianca Mcgraw & Brandon Williamson, Skyler Rutkowski, David Butler, Aaron L. Montgomery, Etcetera, Seth Tyler Black, and others, with music by DJ Sike.
Saturday, January 6
Cock Robin @ Sportsmen's Tavern: One of WNY's most beloved bands of the 1970s reunites for the first of five monthly shows at one of the city's current favorite venues.
Robin Thicke @ Seneca Niagara Events Center: While the always-controversial lyrics to his breakout smash "Blurred Lines" might not go over as well in the post-Weinstein era, there's no denying the hitmaker is an engaging live performer who knows how to throw a crowd-pleasing party.
Friday, January 12
Second Friday @ the Burchfield Penney Art Center: The music during this month's free event includes an "audio aquarium" for vintage synthesizers, effects, and voice designed and performed by the ever-eclectic, always-thrilling Joe Rozler; I've loved earlier "ambient/analog" experiments of his in other spaces, so this one sounds promising. The same evening, singer/songwriter/force of nature Drea D'nur, fresh from her triumphant tribute to Nina Simone at Kleinhans last year, presents the world premier of her latest project: co-organizing a Buffalo-based version of the "Resistance Revival Chorus," an all-female choral group/flash mob marking the first anniversary of the Women's March on Washington. They'll be strolling through the museum performing pop-up mini-concerts.
Saturday, January 13
Fleuron Rouge @ the 9th Ward: This long-running Buffalo-based belly dance ensemble—by now a staple at art parties around town and crowd-pleasing performances at Pride and other Canalside events—blends traditional Egyptian-derived choreography with some untraditional song selections (AC/DC, the Beastie Boys, Rocky Horror) and a taste for eye-popping pageantry. Their annual Winter Hafla (derived from the Arabic for "get-together") is a fun, informal way to see them in action, and maybe even find out how to get involved yourself.
Sunday, January 14
Caldwell Plays Basie @ the Buffalo History Museum: Pianist George Caldwell and the Buffalo Jazz Collective Repertory Orchestra tip their collective hats to the Count in this latest installment in the BJC's "Second Sundays at the History Museum" series.
Saturday, January 20
The Mark Filsinger Eleventet @ MusicalFare: Trumpeter Filsinger and his star-studded big band—featuring such marquee names as Bobby Militello, Dave Schiavone, and John Bacon—pay a return visit to the theater's popular Premier Cabaret series. (Heads up: A week later, Randy Kramer and Theresa Quinn sit at a single piano in the same space to perform pop, jazz, and classical favorites.)
Sunday, January 21
Henry Rollins @ Town Ballroom: One of the elder statesmen of California hardcore, Rollins has been doing incendiary spoken-word performances for years. This time he's bringing along a slide projector, or at least the modern equivalent of one, to show off decades of photos documenting his world travels. Because what's more punk rock in 2018 than a slide show?
Thursday, January 25 and Friday, January 26
Jim Gaffigan @ Fallsview: The affable comic, best-selling author, and actor brings his latest standup set to the Canadian side of the Falls for a pair of shows in a relatively intimate venue for a star of his caliber.
Saturday, January 27
Chaka Khan @ the Seneca Niagara Events Center: From her early and still-phenomenal funk hits with Rufus to her stellar career as a solo artist, Ch-ch-chaka Khan is a true R&B legend. She feels for you, she's every woman, she's the diva for folks who don't believe in divas.
Sunday, January 28
Monty Alexander @ the Albright-Knox: The Jamaican jazz and reggae guitarist, who has been recording since the early 1960s, appears in the always-packed Art of Jazz series playing both American standards and the music of the Caribbean.
Tuesday, January 30
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit @ UB's Center for the Arts: The former Drive-By Trucker has earned even more acclaim as a solo act (or, more precisely, band leader), and his new group's latest release The Nashville Sound has been popping up on one list after another of the Best Albums of 2017 thanks to both its hard-rocking alt-country melodies and its working-class politics. The current tour has been selling out fast, so grab those tickets if you haven't already.
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.