I was asked in an interview recently to explain what I feel makes the Buffalo music scene special. Seems like a no-brainer, really -- we have more musical talent around here than most cities three times our size, and you can see this talent on display out in Clubland pretty much every night of the week.
Reflecting on the question further, I decided that there is indeed a bittersweet element to the scene that certainly forms some of its appeal for me, and one that weighed heavily on my decision to make the Buffalo area my home. It has something to do with the whole "grace under pressure" idea, a manner of dealing with often limited prospects with a dignity that suggests that -- as much as the talented and driven musicians in the area are eager to "make it" -- most of them realize that music is its own reward.
It's a blessing and a curse, of course. In order to fully capitalize on all that you are capable of learning during your time in the trenches of the Buffalo music scene, you have to eventually leave town. Ideally, musicians can do so while retaining our area as a home base from which to strike out in all directions. Let's face it, trying to "get signed" and make money by selling albums is by now an outmoded approach. Bands make their living through performance, and as strong as our scene here is, it can be easily saturated if an artist is overbooked in the market. That means walking a tightrope for artists in town, and how one conducts oneself while walking that tightrope offers insight into one's character. So many of the wonderful musicians around here seem to be playing music because they want to, need to, have to -- not simply because they want to become famous and blow town at the first available opportunity.
Bird of fire
The brilliant Andrew Bird will be in town Monday, but please note -- if you are planning to go to the show that the venue has been changed. Slated originally for the indoor amphitheater at Artpark, Bird and Co. will fly south instead, for a performance at Asbury Hall, Babeville, 341 Delaware Ave., beginning at 8 p.m. Patrick Watson will share the bill. All tickets purchased for the Artpark show will be honored. Remaining general admission tickets are $32, and are available through Tickets.com.
His Royal Bob-ness
Speaking of Artpark, though it's technically not a concert club, when you're inside the amphitheater itself, the feeling is as intimate as, say, the Town Ballroom. Like the best club shows, when you're up close at Artpark, you really feel like you're part of the show. Which will make the just-booked "An Evening with Bob Dylan" gig slated for Sept. 6 at this very venue particularly special. Dylan last played Artpark in 1994, and hasn't played the Buffalo area since a frankly so-so gig at Shea's in 2005. So he owes us a good one! Be aware that tickets for the show officially go on sale today at 10 a.m., through Tickets.com and the Artpark box office. They're $60 reserved, $40 general admission lawn. A strict eight-ticket limit, with one order per credit card, will be enforced.
In the midst of the considerable musical tumult that sweeps through our region this time of year, it's easy to wake up one morning and realize you have forgotten about a cool show. Here's one that absolutely should not fall through the cracks -- Thursday's appearance by the Detroit Cobras at Mohawk Place, 47 East Mohawk St., at 9 p.m. The soulful, sexy and raw duo of singer Rachel Nagy and guitarist Mary Ramirez will be in town to promote their latest Bloodshot records effort, "Tried & True." This is a 16-and-over show. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased through Ticketweb.com, Ticketmaster outlets, or at the Town Ballroom box office.