For 27 years, the faithful have gathered in Nietzsche’s (248 Allen St.) on the Thursday closest to the date of John Lennon’s murder, to celebrate the man’s life and work. Rather than simply mourn Lennon’s passing, these “Cold Turkey” events have long been more party than funeral, as a host of diverse area musicians interpret their favorites from Lennon’s vast catalog before an always full house of fans eager to appreciate their efforts.
In the 23 years I’ve lived in Buffalo, we’ve been treated to many a memorable “Cold Turkey,” with singer-songwriters offering intimate interpretations of Beatles songs, punk bands tearing through edgy “Plastic Ono Band” covers, prog-rock outfits tackling the tricky bits from the Beatles’ “Abbey Road,” and even spoken-word renderings of Lennon’s song lyrics and prose writings. I’ve been lucky enough to perform at several of these annual Lennon-fests over the years, and what has been most striking about the experience is the tangible sense of being part of a musical community, a culture of musicians and music lovers for whom Lennon’s music has been a significant inspiration. One is comfortable imagining that Lennon would approve of our little bohemian celebration of his life.
Hats off, as ever, to musician and mentor Michael Meldrum, who started the event and presided over it until his death in 2011. Now, Meldrum’s widow, Diane, and his children, Julia and Xander, are carrying on the tradition.
This year’s “Cold Turkey” is at 8 tonight in Nietzsche’s. Among those scheduled to perform are Gretchen Schulz, McCarthyizm, the Effers, Sara Elizabeth, Savannah King, Bobby Angel, Erin Sydney Welsh, Vwortboy, Joe Rozler, Tom Stahl & the Dangerfields, Tina Nastri, Mike Sheffield, John Brady, Andrew Delmonte, Tina “Ono” Peel, and Julia & Xander Meldrum.
CPG Blues turns 1
A whole year has passed since revered Buffalo DJ and blues advocate Anita West teamed with the Central Park Grill (2519 Main St.) to create the “Thursday Night Blues with Anita West” concert series. In that time, the series has developed into a well-attended celebration of the blues and its various offshoots, while simultaneously revealing the estimable depth of blues-based musical talent in the region. Whether its outside on the patio during the summer, or inside on the rear stage when the weather turns cold, these Thursday showcases have become a weekly “sure thing” for music lovers.
Fittingly, when West and Co. gather to celebrate the anniversary of the series beginning at 7 tonight, the featured band will be one that has performed several full-house, soul-blues throwdowns at the venue over the past year, Dive House Union.
As always, the “Thursday Night Blues with Anita West” shows are free, and they always run on time for any of you concerned with being out too late on a work night. Those who come early will be treated to a free buffet and birthday cake.
Robot Holiday Live
The second annual Robot Holiday Live at Larkin show takes place from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Larkin Square (745 Seneca St.). The event finds a host of area singer/songwriters joining together to perform original holiday-themed songs, among them Dee Adams, Cathy Carfagna, Rob Falgiano, Lisa Forrest, Seamus Gallivan, Jonathan Hughes, Guillermo Izquierdo, Jony James, Joelle Labert, Doug Lambert, Rob Lynch, Alex Lynne and David Mussen & Jim Whitford.
Food trucks and area food and drink vendors will be on hand to join in the celebration, and sales of Robot Holiday’s CDs will support a donation to the Food Bank of Western New York. Oh, and in case you were worried about freezing your tootsies off, the Larkin Square boardwalk will be closed and heated for the show. This is an all-ages event, and admission is free.