Best concert bets for November
Sounds of the City
PICK OF THE MONTH
Saturday, November 10 and Sunday, November 11
@ the Kenan Center (Saturday) and @ the Buffalo History Museum (Sunday)
I'm sad to see this year's worldwide retrospective/reclamation of the Spirit of 68 draw to a close, because there is so much rich material from that supercharged year to revisit and recontextualize half a century later. On the local front—with funding support from the Sportsmen’s Americana Music Foundation—the "Jazz Impressions: 1968" project has been hard at work performing a series of concerts throughout the area uniting musicians and literary types. This weekend, the aptly named Star People ensemble (Bobby Militello, Andy Weinzler, Tim Clarke, George Caldwell, Joe Goehle, and series mastermind John Bacon) moves its popular Pausa-based series of Davis tributes to two WNY cultural institutions back to back. Considering that Miles released three albums in 1968 alone and was mere months away from the electronic/fusion breakthroughs of In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew, the set list for this show is bound to be a doozy.
Thursday, November 1
Clarence Center author Karen Wielinski recalls her family's harrowing story in One on the Ground: The Story of One Family Before, During, and After Continental Flight 3407 Crashed Into Their Home.
Friday, November 2
Catch a rare live performance of Ligeti's Fluxus-inspired "symphonic poem" for a hundred metronomes. The piece was composed in 1962 and first performed at the museum in 1965; three years later the composer would reach his greatest public attention with the very different work of his that Stanley Kubrick incorporated into 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Saturday, November 3
A huge part of the appeal of this duo-plus-hired-guns is the ease with which they seem to keep pumping out absurdly catchy melodies and catchily absurd lyrics over the course of three and a half decades and counting. They're currently up to twenty studio albums and almost that many best-ofs, rarities collections, and live albums. Call them a cult band if you must, but I can't think of another niche act that has made such creative use of such a broad swath of outlets for their music: from answering machines (ask your parents) to hosting an MTV series (way back when those did not involve pregnant teenagers) to providing the theme song for a beloved 90s sitcom to releasing a long string of Disney-endorsed kids' albums. As a result, their audiences are an unlikely melting pot of hipsters, frat boys, intellectuals, jocks, and pre-pubescent types; in that regard, perhaps they are the one thing still holding this country together.
Sorry, but this event is now sold out.
Sunday, November 4
As eclectic as he is prolific, the garage-punk/power-pop/folky/funky singer-songwriter-guitarist-drummer with a taste for freaky album art is leaving his backing band behind for a solo acoustic tour. By all means arrive early enough to catch opener William Tyler, an extraordinary acoustic guitarist in the vein of Leo Kottke and John Fahey.
Monday, November 5
Don't sleep in the subway, baby! For one thing, it doesn't go to NT; for another, you'd be much better off indoors, enjoying the pop classics of this first-generation British Invader, wide awake.
Jeff Miers and Anita West's monthly series saluting classic albums takes a look at Pink Floyd's Animals, followed by a performance of the entire album by Buffalo's own PF cover band, Relics. Fingers crossed we'll see an enormous inflatable pig or two floating over Black Rock that night.
Thursday, November 8
A lot of us first got to know this guy from his collaborations with Bob Odenkirk in the post-post-modern 90s sketch comedy Mr. Show (and its recent limited-run reunion on HBO), followed by his years as the Blue Man-wannabe never-nude on Arrested Development, but he's been in so many indie films (most recently as the White Guy Voice in Sorry to Bother You), blockbusters, and kid-oriented cartoons by now that he's practically an institution. The more creative input he has into a project, the better he (and it) tends to be, so a chance to catch his stand-up act is not to be missed.
The jazz and classical guitarist performs in the gallery. (A week later, on Nov. 15, the Hot Club of Buffalo brings a little gypsy jazz to the same venue.)
Saturday, November 10
Talk about a match made in musical theater heaven. Given how many of Newman's songs are either written from the point of view of an unreliable narrator, composed for films, or are simply heartbreaking soliloquies straight outta Brecht/Weill, he's a prime candidate for cabaret/tribute treatment. The folks given the honor of embodying his half-century of material for this event are Theresa Quinn, Jim Runfola, Tom Fischer, and Jim Celeste.
Sunday, November 11
The Chicago-based jazz group pays a return visit to Buffalo with a set focusing on their 2017 album Screen Sounds, a collection of mostly well-known theme songs from the worlds of film (Midnight Cowboy, Cool Hand Luke, Blade Runner, The Godfather) and television (Twin Peaks, Kids in the Hall). While that may sound like the premise of many an easy-listening album and easy-money pops concert over the last half-century, bassist Policastro and co-conspirators Dave Miller (guitar) and Mikel Avery (drums) are up to something far fresher, more nuanced, and a lot more fun than what you're probably expecting. They approach each piece as ripe for reinvention and rediscovery, layering utterly unexpected twists and turns atop familiar melodies. Who could have predicted a twenty-first century rendering of the 70s kitsch classic "Nadia's Theme" from The Young and the Restless (to name only the most striking example on the album) could be so rich with genuine pathos and mystery? This is one case where you may not want to listen to much of the record before the live concert; the gradual revelation that what you're hearing is something you thought you knew by heart is a big part of the appeal.
Friday, November 16
This Scottish-born singer/songwriter/rocker still hasn't taken America by storm in quite the way her many passionate advocates have been expecting ever since the release of her first album back in 2005, but don't let the fact that she's not a household name in the States stop you from checking out what is bound to be a thrilling show.
Saturday, November 17
This New Orleans-bred post-bop pianist with two albums on the Impulse! label is the latest guest of the museum's Art of Jazz series. Come early for series producer and longtime Spree contributor Bruce Eaton's talk on the life of another master of the keyboard, Hampton Hawes.
Join writers Julio Montalvo Valentin, Megan Kemple, Robin Jordan, and Eve Williams Wilson plus participants in the Just Buffalo Writing Center Young Writers program for a daylong "celebration of the chaotic loveliness of all things poetry," featuring readings, panel discussions, small-press vendors, and a drop-in journal-making workshop with folks from the WNY Book Arts Center.
Sunday, November 25
Hard to believe the Toronto-bred post-punk/metal/noise/disco duo are only on their third full-length album in fourteen years, but it's not like they haven't been busy with solo and side projects, raising families while resisting the lure of Dad Rock, and dropping the "1979" from their official band name.
Tuesday, November 27
As you have no doubt heard by now, the other members of Fleetwood Mac apparently decided they no longer had any use for, uh, the most consistently interesting and compositionally sophisticated singer-songwriter in the group and rather unceremoniously dumped him from their latest touring configuration. Their loss is our gain: smaller venues equal greater intimacy, plus a much deeper dive into his top-notch back catalog as a solo artist and sometime team player
Friday, November 30
The UB history professor explores "Emancipation and the Meaning of Home Among Formerly Enslaved Americans," taking a look at the complex role of plantations in the first few decades after the Civil War ended.
Comedians Adrianne Chalepah, Teresa Choyguha, and Wolf Clan/Tonawanda Seneca native Deanna MAD joined forces in 2014 as the world's first all-female Native American comedy tour, taking the stage with jokes and stories drawn from their experiences and observations.
Ron Ehmke is a writer, performer, and media artist you can learn more about at everythingrondoes.com.