Perhaps the biggest surprise during a summer concert season full of surprises has been the arrival, and rather rapid rise, of the "Live at Larkin" free concert series. The weekly gigs – which run from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays at Larkin Square (corner of Swan and Seneca streets), concentrate on local talent and have brazenly ignored perceived musical genre boundary lines in order to offer up a program whose only criteria seems to be that the music be good, interesting and family friendly.
Because of this policy, the series has ended up, thus far, offering a musical portrait of Buffalo that is more accurate than most. We are, after all, a musical scene that is delightfully eclectic.
What's delightfully surprising is how well the series has done. A few hundred people showed up for the maiden voyage, with music from 10,000 Maniacs. By this point, the events have drawn about 2,000 people some weeks, according to event promoters. Considering the all-local nature of the programming, this is an incredibly encouraging sign – for local musicians and local music lovers alike.
On Wednesday, the series continues with a bill featuring Aqueous and Free Henry. Since we last checked in with Aqueous – if you happened to catch my "imbedded reporter" feature, which chronicled my mini-tour with the quartet – the boys played a well-received set as part of the Moe.down 2012 festival, toured the Northeast, and recorded a new album at Robby Takac's GCR Studios. (More on that to come.)
I've said it before, and I'll surely end up saying it again – this band has got the goods.
Free Henry is another Buffalo-based band whose trajectory has been a thrill to witness. Nearly five years into its existence, the group has moved from more pop-oriented song craft into an area that fuses that song craft with instrumental prowess and improvisation-based exploration.
This double-bill is poised to kill. Start time is 5 p.m. Wednesday, and admission is free. Larkinsquare.com has driving directions and further information.
> Soulful sounds
With the summer concert season winding down, I'm getting ready to start ticking off events on my fall "bucket list." Near the top of that list is a visit to the weekly Neo-Soul Tuesdays series at Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar (253 Allen St.). Hosted by Verse – a soulful, funky outfit featuring some super-fine Buffalo musicians in the form of guitarist Michael DiSanto, bassist Zuri Appleby, keyboardist Rufus Cole and drummer DeShawn Jackson – the show runs from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Tuesdays.
This Tuesday, the band's guest will be the eminently talented vocalist Nicki Hicks. It's $5 at the door.
> Bushmen reunion
With Buffalo expatriate Matt Facciolla in town with his new group to open for the J. Geils Band tonight at the Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf, it seems wholly fitting that a reunion of the Electric Bushmen would be tacked on to his visit.
That band – featuring Facciolla, bassist Erik Abretskie and drummer Dave Privitera – was one of the funkiest of the crop of alternative rock bands populating the Buffalo area in the mid-to-late 1990s. Facciolla is currently living in Florida and hasn't played a Buffalo gig in 11 years. "I'm so excited to play," he said.
The Electric Bushmen will share a bill with Lance Diamond at Milkie's (formerly the Elmwood Lounge, 522 Elmwood Ave.) at 8 p.m. Saturday.