Sounds of the City

Of turtles, monkees, harmonicats, dinosaurs, and other musical beasts

Sharon Van Etten. Photo by Dusdin Condren.

We’ve got a veritable zoo of musical acts visiting our fair city this month, utilizing all sorts of instruments in place of barks, meows, or roars. Here are a few you probably know, and perhaps a couple who may be new to you—all well worth a listen.

Trampled by Turtles
Thursday, November 29
at Town Ballroom

It was a theft (of their electric instruments) that turned these former rockers into bluegrass players, and talent that turned them into marquee names on the acoustic circuit. Their sound has been called “post-punk folk music” and “bluegrass thrash,” labels that hint at the band’s energy and intensity onstage far more directly than their sluggish-sounding name. Bonus Town Tip: The much-loved, sultry-voiced Sharon Van Etten takes the stage on November 9, sharing the bill with fellow singer-songwriter Damian Jurado in a show that is bound to delight.

The Monkees
Sunday, November 18
at UB’s Center for the Arts

Davy Jones may no longer be with us or with his former band, but on the bright side, Mike Nesmith is Monkee-ing around again for the first time in ages. You know the hits, you’ll get the hits—and given how well they’ve stood up over the ages, isn’t it high time we all gave up that whole “Pre-Fab Four” nonsense and accepted the fact they were a terrific group? No matter which generation of fans you belong to—and there are several by now—you’re guaranteed a good time.

Grégoire Maret. Photo by Ingrid Hertfelder.


Grégoire Maret
Saturday, November 3
at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery

The latest season of the Albright-Knox’s ever-reliable Art of Jazz series kicks off this month with an appearance by the man that bassist Marcus Miller says “possesses the most original voice on harmonica since Toots Thielemans and Stevie Wonder.” Maret has backed up the likes of Prince, Cassandra Wilson, Herbie Hancock, and Pete Seeger in the past, but lately he’s been going the solo route. Show up an hour early (at 7 p.m.) for a preconcert talk by series producer and regular Spree contributor Bruce Eaton cleverly titled “The ‘Miscellaneous Instrument’ in Jazz History.” (I’ll be rooting for Alice Coltrane’s harp, myself.)

Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience
Monday, November 12
at the Rapids Theatre

Q: How is Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience not like my Led Zeppelin Experience, or (I presume) yours? A: Check out that last name. Also, you and I have never filled in during a short-lived reunion of the band. So I imagine this second-generation player is entitled to experience whatever he wants.

If Bonzo Jr. revives your desire to rock and roll all night and party every day (wrong band, I know, but bear with me), merely return to the Rapids at the end of the week (November 17, to be exact) and behold Megadeth performing their album Countdown to Extinction on the occasion of its twentieth anniversary. Try not to do any math along the lines of “If that album is twenty years old, that makes me …”

Elsewhere in the City
George Winston finally appears at Babeville on Friday, November 2, after cancelling a concert this time last year. Over at the Sportsmen’s, amongst a typically long, intriguing list of blues, country, folk, and otherwise rootsy acts, two stand out this month: alt-country rockabilly cat Rosie Flores on Wednesday, November 7, and returning cats Igor and the Red Elvises the next night.



Ron Ehmke writes about this and that, here and there.

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