The death of David Bowie in January hit a lot of music lovers hard. He was, after all, one of the most influential figures in rock , and his fingerprints are all over the WNY scene from the 1970s to today—so it’s no surprise we’re seeing not one but two tribute concerts this month. The crowd-pleasing set list for the BPO event on March 30 mostly sticks to the hits, and the show is preceded by a panel discussion on Bowie’s legacy; if you want a deeper, more local, and more personal look at a career that spanned five decades, head to IronWorks on the 11th, too.
Los Lobos with Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Carlos Moreno @ UBCFA: This inventive double bill finds one of the most musically adventurous of bands sharing the stage with a fabled dance company as both ensembles explore Mexican folklore through traditional and contemporary material.
Marian McLaughlin @ the 9th Ward: Based in the Baltimore/DC area, McLaughlin constructs delicate, playfully eccentric compositions that owe as much to chamber music as they do to folk. Buffalonian Katie Weissman plays cello in McLaughlin’s touring band; she’s also a member of Tiny Rhymes, who open this show.
Dr. Dog @ Town Ballroom: These Pennsylvania-based DIY neo-psychedelic oddballs have built up a faithful following for their extravagant live shows (sometimes incorporating a cast of thirty) and their tongue in cheek humor. For evidence of the latter, check out their website (drdogmusic.com), a kitschy throwback to the early days of the internet.
Science & Art Cabaret/Signal:Noise @ the 9th Ward: Hallwalls’s always-packed didactic burlesque is back with another evening of free infotainment in a casual setting, including lectures on "DNA and Computers" by UB Computer Science professor Jaric Zola, "Cosmic Noise and the Limit of Knowability" by UB Physics prof Will Kinney, and "Music as Noise, Noise as Music" by composer/performer Bill Sack, along with a concert by "the Vorchestra," the expanded version of the Vores (featuring Sonny Baker, Cathy Carfagna, Biff Henrich, Patrick Heyden, Gary Nickard, Jeanette Sperhac, and Patty Wallace).
Nothing Has Changed: A Celebration of David Bowie @ Buffalo Ironworks: Musician and Buffalo News critic Jeff Miers, organizer of this event, calls it "a real labor of love." I know I’m loving the lineup, which as of presstime includes Nelson Starr, Lucy Bell, Terry Sullivan, David Kane, Jimy Chambers, Mark Norris, Sonny Baker, Paul Weisenburger, Craig Warner, Eric Crittenden, and Zuri Appleby. They’ll be performing with a house band consisting of Harry Graser, Ryan John Nogle, Erin Ward, Miers himself, and his son Declan Miers.
Delicate Steve @ Nietzsche’s: New Jersey guitarist Steve Marion fronts a (mostly) instrumental outfit that plays intricate, trippy tunes resembling what I assume Martian surf music must sound like.
TR3 (Tim Reynolds Trio) @ the Tralf: Dave Matthews’s longtime bandmate and collaborator brings his own group to town.
David Sanford’s Pittsburgh Collective @ the Albright-Knox Art Gallery: Sanford, a bandleader and composer whose music straddles the divide between jazz and classical, brings a twenty-piece ensemble to the Albright-Knox’s Art of Jazz matinee series. Many of the players are alums of Maynard Ferguson’s various bands, including our own Bobby Militello.
Dave and Phil Alvin @ Sportsmen’s Tavern: The founding members of the Blasters have been fusing roots rock, blues, and rockabilly since the punk era.
Megadeth @ the Rapids Theatre: Get your thrash on in the Falls as the noisy neocon headliners are joined by Suicidal Tendencies and Children of Bodom.
The Bards @ Pausa: Classically trained musicians Inga Yanoski, Brian Walnicki, and Michael Yanoski perform folk tunes from around the world.
BadDDD Sonia Sanchez @ the Burchfield Penney Art Center: This 2015 documentary celebrates eighty-year-old poet, activist, and hiphop mentor Sonia Sanchez.
Blake Shelton @ First Niagara Center: The country superstar who moonlights as a talent show judge returns to his day job. Which he mainly does at night, so I guess that analogy doesn’t really hold up. Dang!
Vintage Neil: The Music of Neil Young @ Musicalfare Cabaret: Zak Ward pays tribute to You Know Who in one of the theater’s popular informal lobby cabaret shows.
David Cross @ UB’s Center for the Arts: Catch an evening of standup from the man whose résumé (Mr. Show! Arrested Development!) makes TV cultists drool.
Deniece Williams @ Rockwell Hall: The R&B powerhouse was a constant presence on the airwaves in the late 1970s and 1980s thanks to hits like "Let’s Hear It for the Boy" and her many duets with Johnny Mathis, including the theme to Family Ties.
Deer Tick @ the Tralf: Rhode Island-based songwriter John McCauley and his bandmates are on a brief acoustic tour this time around, but don’t expect them to leave their rough and rowdy ways at home.
Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Bird Calls @ UBCFA Drama Theater: Alto sax player and composer Mahanthappa is known for blending South Indian classical music and progressive jazz; in his fascinating new project, he and his band members pay stylistic tribute to Charlie Parker without playing a single one of the jazz giant’s own tunes.
Titus Andronicus with Craig Finn @ the Tralf: The indie punks with a thing for Shakespeare have now created a full-scale rock opera about drug abuse and mental illness. Finn, best known for his literate, Springsteenish work with the Hold Steady, opens.
David Wax Museum @ the 9th Ward: Bandleader Wax has indeed assembled a "museum" of sounds from around the world, including Mexican rhythms, Celtic textures, and global dancefloor energy. Fans of Vampire Weekend, Poi Dog Pondering, Camper Van Beethoven, David Byrne’s solo work, and Paul Simon’s Graceland will all find something to love in this blend of traditional instrumentation and post-modern sensibilities.
Rihanna @ First Niagara Center: Everyone’s favorite Caribbean queen released her long-awaited eighth album, ANTI, in January. Swapping experimentation for obvious singles, it’s racking up great reviews and building anticipation for the superstar’s latest arena tour. Texas rapper Travis Scott opens.
Daryl Hall and John Rzeznik @ Seneca Niagara Events Center: As informal as a coffeehouse song swap and as informative as a master class, the online series Live from Daryl’s House (also shown on the Palladia cable channel) is one of the best music-related TV shows out there. This weekend, Hall stages a live version of the concept at two area casinos, sharing the stage with a Boy Sometimes Named Goo. Fingers crossed we’ll get to hear Rzeznik’s take on "Sara Smile" and Hall’s vocals on "Iris."
Kurt and the Loders @ the Tralf: Bowie’s not the only recently deceased rocker getting the tribute treatment this month. Zak Ward and company salute the late Scott Weiland with a performance of Stone Temple Pilots’ Purple album.
Joan Baez @ Asbury Hall: As one of the best-known and most loved of the folkies who got their start in the early 60s, Baez could easily coast on nostalgia when she takes the stage these days, but she doesn’t. Her set lists are as apt to contain tunes by contemporary songwriters as vintage favorites, and her between-song banter is almost certain to provide a sharp, smart, and much-needed take on the state of America in 2016.
Daryl Hall and John Rzeznik @ Seneca Allegany Events Center: The road show moves to Salamanca. See March 25 for details.
Mac Sabbath @ the Tralf: OK, so a Black Sabbath cover band fronted by a man dressed as Ronald McDonald may not be for everyone, but maybe it’s the mashup you’ve been dreaming of since you met your first Happy Meal. If so, this evening of "Drive Thru Metal" was made for you.
Spring Fling @ First Niagara Center: Whattaya call cool bands nowadays: "alternative" makes absolutely no sense anymore, nor does "indie" for that matter. Anyway, Cage the Elephant, Silversun Pickups, Foals, and Bear Hands are all cool bands —in a really good way, I mean—nowadays, and they are staging a monthlong group tour of venues that would probably be too big for any single one of them to play (other than possssssibly CTE). Sounds very cool to me!
AC/DC @ First Niagara Center: Yes, they’re older now, but so are you. Load the grandkids into the SUV and introduce them to the joys of "Hell’s Bells" and "Back in Black."
The Music of David Bowie @ Kleinhans: The Late White Duke gets the Jeans ’n’ Classics treatment courtesy of the BPO, preceded by a panel on Bowie’s lasting legacy featuring WNY music writers Jeff Miers, Mark Norris, and yours truly.
Kurt Vile and the Violators @ Asbury Hall: The folkie with the punky name has been writing and recording songs since his teens in the 1990s, gradually earning critical acclaim and listeners along the way. He’s also been expanding his sonic palette lately, from lo-fi guitar to banjo, piano, Farfisa, and horns.
March 31–April 2
Ron Funches @ Helium: If his TV appearances as a regular on Undateable and a frequent guest on @Midnight and Chelsea Lately, Funches’s club act ought to be bunches of, uh, fun.
Ron Ehmke tweets (@ronehmke), bookfaces (RonEhmke), tumbls (RonEhmke), instagrammifies (RonEhmke—noticing a pattern here?) and does other sociable, artsy fartsy things you can find out about at his site: everythingrondoes.com. By chance, he was listening to Foals’ killer album when he learned the band will be playing the Spring Fling at First Niagara at the end of the month. Glorious syncronicity!