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The late Michael Meldrum spent decades encouraging aspiring songwriters and performers in Buffalo, among them the likes of Ani DiFranco, who went on to … well, if you are reading this, you know what DiFranco went on to do.

Meldrum started several traditions in Buffalo, among them the Monday night songwriter’s showcase, the annual “Cold Turkey” tribute to the music of John Lennon, and the annual “Bob Dylan Imitator’s Contest,” all of which are held in Nietzsche’s, Meldrum’s home away from home.

The annual Dylan Imitator’s Contest turns 27 when Nietzsche’s (247 Allen St.) hosts the event yet again, beginning at 8 tonight.

Some might interpret the idea of an event premised on singers trying to sound like Dylan on purpose as proof of Meldrum’s sense of humor. Well, he certainly had one, and a fine one at that, but when it came to Dylan, Meldrum was not prone to joke. Perhaps no singer has so consistently split opinion down the middle when it came to his singing voice as has Dylan – a guy who, one imagines, if he were an unknown contestant on “American Idol” or “The Voice,” wouldn’t make it past the first round.

Meldrum knew what only the true Dylan aficionado knows – that Dylan is a singer who consistently is able to inhabit the song in a voice that is far more believable than it is pretty. It’s the songs that count, after all, and over the years, I’ve seen countless variations on the man’s writings, in just about every imaginable idiom.

Happily, much of the good work Meldrum started has been carried on by his family – principally his wife, Diane Gall-Meldrum, who now oversees both the Dylan night and “Cold Turkey.” The area’s music scene would feel markedly different without both of these events.

Performers should arrive at 7 tonight to sign up.

Steam power

As reported here last month, Star People – an ensemble of heavy hitters on the local jazz scene (and beyond) dedicated to performing full albums from the canon of the great Miles Davis in order, as they originally appeared – has planned an ongoing series of such performances.

The second installment in the series will find Star People – George Caldwell on piano, Bobby Millitello on alto sax, John Bacon Jr. on drums, Doug Stone on tenor sax, and Danny Zieman on bass – tackling the early Miles albums “Workin’ ” and “Steamin’ ” in full at 8 tonight in Pausa Art House (19 Wadsworth St.).

Admission will be $10 at the door, $7 for students with ID.

Gig picks

Cleveland-born indie-rockers Cloud Nothings dropped a new album, “Here and Nowhere Else,” earlier this week, and it’s already generating a significant buzz. Cloud Nothings will arrive for a show at 8 p.m. Friday in the Buffalo Iron Works (49 Illinois St.). Tickets are $13, and can be found at Iron Works, or through www.buffaloironworks.com.

“Maybe I’m Amazed: A Tribute to Paul McCartney” will find area musicians celebrating Beatle Paul’s work both with and without the other four Fabs. That means you’ll hear some nuggets from the criminally undervalued catalog of McCartney’s Wings mixed in with the Beatles, and McCartney’s solo years, right up to the present day.

The Scott Celani Band, the Outlyers, the Mohawk Street Saints, McCarthyizm and Savannah King will share the honors at 9 p.m. Friday in the Sportsmen’s Tavern (326 Amherst St.). Admission will be $8 at the door.

If you haven’t heard the Hold Steady’s new album, “Teeth Dreams” then I suggest you promptly grab yourself a copy, get to know it, and head down to the Town Ballroom (681 Main St.) at 8 p.m. Tuesday to catch this wonderful band in concert, along with Cheap Girls. Tickets are $22, $24 day of show (box office, www.ticketfly.com).

Buffalo-based alternative rock quartet Crashfuse will celebrate the release of its self-titled new collection with a show at 9 p.m. Friday in the Armor Inn Tap Room (5381 Abbott Road, Hamburg). The band will be joined by prog-alternative outfit Blueshift for the release party. Admission for Friday’s show will be free.

Crashfuse also is one of the four finalists in the Hard Rock Cafe’s Hard Rock Rising contest. Crashfuse, Dirty Smile, Clark Rabbitt and the Indestructibles all will do battle at the regional final round, set for 8 tonight in the Hard Rock Cafe (333 Prospect St., Niagara Falls).

Tonight’s winner will move on to compete globally for an opportunity to perform at this summer’s Hard Rock Live in Rome festival.

email: jmiers@buffnews.com