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How do you keep the music playing? That's everyone's question when the holidays fade.

The Allen Street Hardware Cafe (245 Allen St.) has the answer. Mondays at 7:30 p.m. the Back Room at the Hardware -- described by proprietor Mark Goldman as an intimate space with great acoustics -- plays host to a revolving cast of jazz musicians playing original music. They include saxophonist Kelly Bucheger, trumpeter Tim Clarke, pianist Michael McNeill, bassists John Werick and Greg Piontek, and drummers Russ Algera, Doug Dreishpoon and John Bacon Jr.

This Monday, Bucheger steps into the spotlight. The sax man, who has played with such well-known names as John Zorn and James Carter, is bringing his new group, House of Relics, to preview their upcoming CD. House of Relics features Clarke, McNeill, Algera and bassist Danny Ziemann.

"No one else in Buffalo is doing anything like this," Goldman says.

Monday nights at the Back Room are free, though the hat will be passed. Free parking is available in a large lot at Wadsworth and Arlington. For info, call 882-8843.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman