One doesn’t always think of hip-hop as being a family-friendly genre, but that needs to change. One way to foster such change is through encouraging community involvement, particularly of the family-friendly variety.

Hip-hop is, after all, an art form that requires and encourages discipline, while also providing opportunities for the betterment of self.

Battle @ Buffalo: Under the Lights, billed as the only breakdancing and hip-hop festival in Buffalo – will celebrate its fourth year as a major force in connecting the form to the broader culture on Saturday. Both international and local dancers and MCs will compete in battles within the sub-genres of hip-hop – breakdancing, MCing, DJing and graffiti artistry.

The festival, which will take place beginning at noon outside the New Era Cap Company World Headquarters (160 Delaware Ave.), boasts a family-friendly vibe, with free hip-hop dance workshops for children throughout the day, and a mission statement seeking to “nurture young artists and create a positive environment that promotes unity and respect across diverse demographics.”

For more information on the festival, or to inquire regarding participation, hit, or

Music on the avenue

The annual Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts will continue a well-established tradition of celebrating the arts in all their varieties, and emphasizing synergies between them.

Over the years, we’ve seen it grow into a deeply progressive, open-armed, all-embracing event that celebrates and helps to define the community from which it springs.

In keeping with that ethos, the musical aspect of this year’s festival has a theme. It’s a celebration of American music icon Pete Seeger, and it takes a page from Seeger’s own Clearwater Festival, our country’s oldest festival of its kind. Seeger is revered, rightfully, as a man who employed traditional music to bolster progressive thought and the grass-roots dissemination of an open-minded agenda. Fittingly, Clearwater represented that school of thought, and the fact that the folks behind the Elmwood festival feel compelled to carry on such a tradition is more than encouraging.

Throughout the festival, which runs all day Saturday and Sunday, several performers who played with Seeger will appear alongside regional bands and artists, many of whom will perform Seeger-associated material on the late, great man’s chosen instrument – the banjo.

Some of the acts scheduled to appear are Barroom Buzzards, Randle and the Late Night Scandals, Twang Gang, Alassane Sarr, Sol y Sombra, the Grace Stumberg Band, Latin Jazz project, Zak Ward, Honey Spine, George Caldwell, David Michael Miller & the Campbell Brothers, Lee Ron Zydeco, and the Sutras. A full schedule is available through

Sultry blues

Randle and the Late Night Scandals – just “Randle” to the band’s ever-growing fan base – first came to my attention a few years ago, when I wandered into Nietzsche’s one night. I was immediately struck by the swampy, sultry, blues-based vitality of their jams, and also by the undeniable charisma of singer and frontwoman supreme Amanda Markovich-Rabb.

Watching this band grow and evolve over the past couple of years has been a real treat.

Since that time, the band’s sound has expanded to admit a broader variety of influences, from soul & R&B to funk and good ol’ rock ’n’ roll. Fittingly, as Randle evolved and diversified, its audience grew concurrently.

This weekend Randle and the Late Night Scandals will take part in the TGI Fridays Old Falls Street Concert Series (101 Old Falls St. in Niagara Falls) at 7 p.m. Friday.

Admission is free. Check for additional info.