The Buffalo News - Music Latest stories from The Buffalo News en-us Fri, 18 Apr 2014 13:02:31 -0400 Fri, 18 Apr 2014 13:02:31 -0400 <![CDATA[ JoAnn Falletta bringing her guitar to Chamber Players concert ]]>
The new colleague is JoAnn Falletta, the BPO’s music director, who is going to be there with her guitar.

The concert is a program of transcriptions and arrangements. Falletta is joining in on Schubert’s Quartet for Flute, Guitar, Viola and Cello. It is an arrangement Schubert made of a trio by the Austrian guitarist Wenzel Matiegka. (Schubert loved to play guitar, an instrument he picked up as a teenager.)

The piece has a convivial feel, Castelo said.

“A lot of chamber music Schubert wrote was for his family to play. His father played cello,” he said.

Falletta has won admiration in international chamber music circles for finishing this piece, which Schubert left unfinished. “It ended up being too difficult for his family. Once he figured his dad couldn’t play it, he abandoned it,” Castelo explained. The combination of instruments has shifted, he said. It will be played on violin, viola, cello and guitar.

To finish the piece, Falletta sat down with Schubert’s score and Matiegka’s score, comparing the two and learning Schubert’s methods. Then she carried it forward in the same style. The result is a sort of gift for guitarists, who do not have much repertoire of this type.

The rest of the program also will focus on various composers’ music as filtered through the imagination of other composers.

The evening includes, for instance, a piece that Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu made of Tchaikovsky’s “Autumn Song.” “He arranged it for string quartet and clarinet,” Castelo said.

There also is an arrangement by Arnold Schoenberg of Johann Strauss Jr.’s uber-romantic “Emperor Waltz.”

“People think of Schoenberg as cerebral. But he was a romantic at heart,” Castelo said. “Unless you’ve experienced that part of Schoenberg, you’re not appreciating the whole man.”

Buffalo’s Ron Martin has arranged the Adagietto from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony for string quintet, harmonium and guitar. Falletta will be playing the guitar part. For the harmonium, we have Castelo to thank.

“We used it a few concerts ago for the Dvorak Bagatelles,” he said. “I found it on Craigslist. It was free but you had to get it out of the basement of this Williamsville house. We got a pickup truck and we had to haul this. This thing must weigh 400 pounds. But it was in pretty good shape. We keep it backstage at Buffalo Seminary. There are a lot of pieces that use harmonium,” he added. “We’ll be using it for this one.”

Short pieces by Rob Diina and Caroline Malonee (who reimagined Willie Nelson’s “Falling”) will round out the concert.

Castelo delights in the varied program. “During the concert, I’ll discuss things from the stage,” he said. “The transcription versus an arrangement – there’s definitely a difference between the two.”

A challenging art, at that. “I want to say it’s going to be tough,” Castelo said, anticipating the concert. “But they’ll do a great job. I’m not worried. Luckily we’ve got great musicians.”


What: Buffalo Chamber Players

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Buffalo Seminary, 205 Bidwell Parkway

Tickets: $15


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Thu, 17 Apr 2014 07:30:45 -0400 Mary Kunz Goldman
<![CDATA[ Tracing Cher’s influence among pop divas ]]> In addition to her ability to forge an immensely successful and lengthy career as a woman in a male-dominated entertainment world, Cher has acted as a musical role model for several generations of pop music divas. Her music has changed with the times over the decades, rather than changing those times through groundbreaking work. But her influence in the areas of performance, concert presentation, fashion and on-stage charisma is vast.

Here are a few of the many divas who owe a debt to Cher’s five decades of pop stardom.

Cyndi Lauper

Lauper’s 1983 debut, “She’s So Unusual,” was an instant smash, and presented its creator to the world as a brash, fun-loving and sartorially extravagant free-thinker. Taking a page from the Cher playbook, Lauper endeared herself to millions with her charismatic stage presence. She would later become heavily involved as a LGBT activist. Fittingly, Lauper opens for Cher at the FNC show on Wednesday.


The Cher parallels are plentiful here. With Madonna, it always has been as much about the show as the music. Bombast, plentiful costume changes, and the ability to make valid statements in a wide variety of trend-driven idioms have made Madonna her generation’s Cher. And like Cher, Madonna has a strong LGBT support among her fan base.

Christina Aguilera

Aguilera cites the first time she saw Cher’s “If I Could Turn back Time” video as a pivotal moment in her life. Combining a big voice with an ability to ease effortlessly between pop subgenres, Aguilera became her generation’s most prominent pop diva. She reportedly said she would “drink Cher’s bathwater” to act and sing alongside her. She got her wish with the film “Burlesque.” No clue what happened with the bathwater, though.

Lady Gaga

An avowed Cher disciple, Gaga combines exuberant showmanship with deep musicality, and an ability to shock without alienating her fans. Cher has been known to good-naturedly poke fun at Gaga during her own live shows, as if to say “Been there, done that.”

– Jeff Miers ]]>
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:30:36 -0400
<![CDATA[ Discs: Afghan Whigs, Dave Douglas, Christian Jacob, Ingrid Jacoby, Elvis Presley ]]>
The Afghan Whigs

“Do the Beast”

[Sub Pop]

3½ stars

No one this side of Nick Cave does rock noir like Greg Dulli.

Dulli and the Afghan Whigs emerged from the same soil as what came to be known as grunge, but there was always something exceedingly sinister – more hypnagogic, less druggy – about Dulli and the Whigs. That something set the band apart from its peers, with the possible exception of Mark Lanegan and Screaming Trees. It also didn’t hurt that Dulli was weaned on old-school R&B and Motown, a fact that always provided the Whigs with an unstudied soulfulness lacking in self-consciousness.

We thought the Whigs were done, for good, but a thoroughly unexpected gig shared with Usher during last year’s SXSW Festival lit a fire under Dulli, and voila, we now have “Do the Beast,” the first Afghan Whigs album in 16 years.

And a beast of an album it is. Moody, dark, sometimes disconcertingly intimate, this is Dulli at his creepy best, howling in a nicotine-damaged rasp or whispering menacingly in a melodically contoured near-croon, as the song demands.

Everything is in place, except for the presence of original Whigs guitarist Rick McCollum, who appears to be wrestling with personal demons at present. Dulli accounts for what could have been a considerable hole in the guitar department by crafting some of the most involved arrangements of his career. He also has a few guests stop by, to add sugar to the strong black coffee that is his singing voice, among them Van Hunt and Joseph Arthur.

One of the many projects Dulli has been involved in since the original demise of the Whigs is the Twilight Singers. That band’s 2004 release “She Loves You” offered an incredibly doomed and evocative take on Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” that might be seen as the template for much of what comprises “Do the Beast.”

The Dulli-McCollum guitar interplay may be missing, but it is largely made up for by Dulli’s flair for the sonically cinematic. Witness the sinister strut of “Parked Outside,” the twisted take on 1960s pop that is the falsetto-inflected “Algiers,” or the grimy soul-rock that informs “The Lottery,” all of which sound like severely amped-up Twilight Singers tracks. And that’s a compliment.

Most reunions of bands from bygone eras feel gratuitous, forced, cash-grabby. Not this one. “Do the Beast” smacks of vitality.

– Jeff Miers


Dave Douglas



4 stars

A great jazz disc predicated on one of the most heartening jazz revivals in many years. In consort with some newly released music from Jimmy Giuffre’s early ’60s trio, here is much-praised current trumpeter, composer and jazz thinker Dave Douglas paying tribute to the music of the great Giuffre, which has persisted since the ’50s being one of the hardiest underground enthusiasms in all of jazz.

Douglas discovered that tenor saxophonist Chet Doxas harbored a mutual reverence for Giuffre’s music. Doxas for Giuffre’s early ’60s trio with bassist Steve Swallow and pianist Paul Bley, Douglas for the Giuffre trio with Bob Brookmeyer and Jim Hall. (Says Douglas: “Showed how a band can swing so hard without always being driven by the drums or playing ferociously energetic all the time. That trio was so smooth.”)

So here playing irresistible versions of Giuffre classics like “The Train and the River” and his famous version of “Travelin’ Light” are musicians also playing some new Douglas and Doxas compositions. Swallow plays bass for them and Doxas’ drummer brother Jim evens the pianoless quartet out in a way that honors Giuffre’s huge but subtle propulsion. Terrific stuff.

– Jeff Simon


Christian Jacob

“Beautiful Jazz: A Private Concert”


3½ stars

French pianist Jacob has been one of the most beautiful pianists post-Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett for a long time. What has obscured him somewhat until his first solo piano disc is that he was the pianist and music director for a while for Tierney Sutton, whose brilliance as a jazz singer has been to fit in with Jacob’s arrangements as if she were part of the band and not the “star” singer. He’s now working with Betty Buckley. In the past, he’s played with everyone from Flora Purim to Benny Golson.

For his first solo disc playing a Hamburg Steinway Model D in Los Angeles, “I thought it would be interesting to work on some of the music that initially drew me to jazz. ‘Tea for Two’ because it was the first song I learned to improvise on. ‘My Romance,’ ‘I’m Old Fashioned’ and ‘One Note Samba’ because they take me back to when I was first studying jazz.”

To make sure you really know all corners of his frame of reference, there’s a buoyant performance of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” along with Igor Stravinsky’s F-Major Etude no. 4.



Ingrid Jacoby

Mozart Piano Concertos 14 and 27

Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Neville Marriner

[ICA Classics]

3 stars

These are straightforward, polished, conservative performances no one can argue with. Jacoby plays these beautiful concertos straight and with impressive precision. There is such a thing as being weighed down with too much precision, and sometimes her articulation is so studied that it verges on ponderous. I got that feeling in the last movement of No. 14, a concerto I love. Though the slow movement is gorgeous, the tempo of the last is just a touch too slow for me, and between that and Jacoby’s correctness, the music never takes wing. Good for them for including this concerto, though, as well as the Rondo K. 382. The sound is rich and warm.

– Mary Kunz Goldman


Elvis Presley

“Graceland: Recorded Live On Stage in Memphis”

[RCA Victor/Legacy two discs]

3½ stars

The disc doesn’t say “Elvis Presley” on it, merely “Elvis.” Who else would it be recording on stage in Memphis in 1974 with a picture of Elvis’ manse Graceland? Added to the original vinyl version on this deluxe two-disc package are all kinds of prime-time rarities from 1974, including all the tracks not originally included in concert at the Richmond Coliseum on March 18, 1974, and five tracks recorded in Hollywood in August that were meant as “reference tracks” for a Memphis gig. How can you resist Elvis in rehearsal asking his musicians “Well, what can we screw up next?” and playing with lyrics? The Elvis in Memphis concert rocks and rocks hard on home turf. You’re listening to a reasonably happy man with a bloodstream that’s letting him do his work and do it well.

– J.S. ]]>
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:34:14 -0400
<![CDATA[ The Observers release debut disc steeped in indie-folk and Americana ]]>
The group has expanded to include the talents of fiddle player Jonas Gage, flute player Jeannine Giffear, banjo player Tyler Wetcot and bassist Matt Eppolito. In the process, it has emerged as a harmony-heavy acoustic-based ensemble boasting both instrumental chops and songwriting smarts.

The band has labored to capture the rootsy and rustic nature of its ensemble interplay in the recording studio, and the result is a self-titled debut disc. The Observers, along with friends Savannah King – another bright, young hopeful on the Buffalo singer/songwriter scene – and Fredonia-born roots-soul outfit Lady Lush & the Vinyls, will take over the Ninth Ward at Babeville (341 Delaware Ave.) at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $8 advance, $10 at the door (box office, Ticketmaster).

Duke’s 4/20 party

A showcase in honor of 4/20 – a date widely observed as a counterculture holiday – takes place at 4 p.m. Sunday in Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar (253 Allen St.). A strong lineup of regional roots and jam bands will convene, with sets from renowned local turntablist DJ Whorehey filling the downtime between full band sets.

Scheduled to perform are the much buzzed-about funk/psychedelic/jam conglomerate Groove Force, prog/jam outfit Ajamja, progressive roots mavens Little Mountain Band, trance-electro quartet Space Junk, and a one-time-only set from regional jam band supergroup Sonic Force.

Additional information is available through

Gig picks

Tonight, psychedelic roots/reggae outfit and Buffalo fan favorite Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad makes its way back here to a stage the Rochester band has made into its favorite over the past 10 years, the Tralf Music Hall (622 Main St). GPGDS will be joined by the Heavy Pets, a Florida trio specializing in a jazz-funk-jam hybrid. Doors open at 8 p.m.; music starts at 9 tonight. Tickets are $15 (box office, Ticketmaster).

Canadian indie-rock quartet Hollerado arrives for a show at 9 p.m. Friday in the Town Ballroom (681 Main St.). Tickets are $15 advance, $17 at the door (box office,

At 9 p.m. Wednesday, Nietzsche’s (248 Allen St.) hosts the return of Israeli-American jazz fusion/progressive music ensemble Marbin, who were last in town for a scorching show at the Tralf Music Hall in 2013. The band will be joined by Imperial Brown and Infinity Machine. Admission at the door will be $5. Fans of serious musicianship that treads the line between electric jazz, rock, and progressive rock, take note.

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Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:33:32 -0400 Jeff Miers
<![CDATA[ Turkuaz, Alan Evans throw Buffalo-style funk party in Nietzsche’s ]]>
Amherst native Michaelangelo Carubba is one of the funkiest drummers going. As a member of Brooklyn’s Turkuaz, he has aided in the band fulfilling one of the mandates of its Facebook bio – adding “healthy doses of jittery, world-pop power-groove to a passion for Motown and R&B.” The result is a sound that is at once forward-looking and deeply rooted in the funk tradition.

Turkuaz has just dropped its third album, “Future 86,” and it’s a scorcher, a full-frontal funk tour de force. The nine-piece band will celebrate the album’s release with a party at 9 p.m. Friday in Nietzsche’s (248 Allen St.). Turkuaz will be joined by a few other funky Buffalonians, namely another of the world’s finest drummers, erstwhile Soulive co-founder Alan Evans and his new project, PlayOnBrother, and master turntablist DJ Cutler.

Tickets are $10 advance ( A visit to also is highly recommended.

– Jeff Miers ]]>
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:32:14 -0400
<![CDATA[ Prog-metal legends Queensryche play Riviera Theatre on April 18 ]]>
The remaining original band members have fallen out in a major way with founding member and vocalist Geoff Tate, to the point where there currently are two touring ensembles performing beneath the Queensryche banner.

There’s the Tate-fronted Queensryche, touring a show based on the band’s platinum-selling “Operation: Mindcrime” album. Then there’s the version of Queensryche fronted by Tate’s replacement, singer Todd LaTorre, with founding members Scott Rockenfield, Michael Wilton and Eddie Jackson, as well as second guitarist Parker Lundgren. Confused yet?

It’s the latter version of Queensryche poised to perform at 8 p.m. Friday in the Riviera Theatre (67 Webster St., North Tonawanda). The band is in the midst of its “Return To History” tour, and will be performing pieces from throughout its storied career, including last year’s eponymous release, its first with new vocalist LaTorre. Ticket are $39 (box office, Hair Nation will open.

– Jeff Miers ]]>
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:31:20 -0400
<![CDATA[ Cher says farewell, again, with ‘Dressed to Kill’ tour ]]> As far as burning existential queries go, “Gee, I wonder if Cher can still fit into that outfit she wore in the ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ video now that she’s 67?” probably doesn’t rate too highly.

But admit it. You want to know, don’t you? And Cher knows you want to know. Which is why she will break her promise to retire from touring, made to Buffalo audiences at then- HSBC Arena in May 2003, when she takes the stage in the same building, now the First Niagara Center, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Why, at 67, with what one supposes is a healthy bank account and well-appointed stock portfolio, would anyone want to put themselves through the rigors of touring a grueling stage spectacle that a Washington Post writer recently described as “Cirque du So Gay”? I blame Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus. Perhaps Cher is taking yet another victory lap just to remind these relative upstarts who the Queen of Kitsch was, is, and will forever be.

Today, Cher is a diva, a gay icon, an actress, a businesswoman and a fully tenured Las Vegas performer. Few of these descriptives have anything to do with her music, which has no distinct personality or conceptual continuity. Yet, consider this: Cher has had a No. 1 record in each of the last five decades. She’s sold somewhere in the area of 100 million records during that time, yet if one was pressed to find a single term to describe her music, it would be tough going. Cher is a musical chameleon, but not in the same sense that, say, David Bowie has been similarly described. Not so much an artist as a performer, Cher hops between musical trends, be they hippie-esque pop, disco, hair-metal lite, or electronic dance music, all genres within which she has had hits.

The glue that holds all of this genre-jumping together is her voice, an emotion-soaked contralto that has been routinely undervalued by critics, despite its obvious merits.

From background to spotlight

Cher cut her musical teeth singing background vocals on some monumental Phil Spector-produced recordings, among them the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” and the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.” She became songwriter, producer and Spector acolyte Sonny Bono’s teenage protégé, then Bono’s wife, television co-star (“The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour” commanded major ratings between 1971 and 1973) and finally, his ex-wife.

As an actor, Cher displayed significant talent and bountiful charisma, her performances in the likes of “Silkwood,” “Mask,” “The Witches of Eastwick” and “Moonstruck” demanding to be taken seriously, though often, they weren’t. Perseverance paid off and Cher nabbed a best actress Oscar for her role in “Moonstruck.”

Cher’s connection to rock music has always been tenuous. MTV treated her well in the 1980s, when she made music that was not dissimilar to that being mined for platinum by the likes of Bon Jovi, whose guitarist, Richie Sambora was a love interest of Cher’s for a time. She married Allman Brothers Band founder Gregg Allman in the 1970s, but later divorced him, unable to accommodate Allman’s drug habits. (“Gregory... was the nicest person,” Cher told Vanity Fair in 2010. “Even when he was doing drugs. But when you’re doing drugs, the people you’re hanging out with aren’t exactly... You’re not going to church to find these people.”) Cher would live in Buffalo with Allman for a time during the later ’70s, when he was in rehab here.) Cher and Allman made an album together as Allman and Woman, but the music was as wretched as the duo’s moniker.

Incredibly, Cher found a musical life after the 1980s, but she did so by hopping trends, most of them of the glitzy, dance music variety. In this, she was not at all unlike Madonna, on whom her influence is transparent and significant.

These days, Cher’s influence is impossible to miss. Christina Aguilera grew up worshipping her, and even adopted a version of Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” outfit for her own “Dirty” video. Lady Gaga is basically Cher with an underground NYC art streak. Miley Cyrus, in both her inability to be faithful to any specific musical genre and her seemingly limitless desire to shock with schlock, is taking a page from the Cher playbook.

Cyndi Lauper – who will open for Cher in the First Niagara Center – is perhaps the most Cher-like of all the past and present pop divas, for she, too, is a great singer given to sartorial excess and on-stage showmanship.

Cher’s influence is pervasive, but her single greatest talent may be her tenacity. Driven to succeed within what was certainly a male-dominated business when she started out, Cher endured the attempted career-dominance of Bono and clawed her way back into the music business just as she appeared to be at risk of fading away, in the late ’70s. In the time since, she has weathered the arrival and passing of countless trends in fashion and music, and retained a massive audience.

“I feel like a bumper car,” she said in a 2010 Vanity Fair feature. “If I hit a wall, I’m backing up and going in another direction. And I’ve hit plenty of (expletive) walls in my career. But I’m not stopping. I think maybe that’s my best quality: I just don’t stop.”

Bearing this in mind, it’s entirely possible that Wednesday’s show may be “Farewell,” but not goodbye.

And that “If I Could Turn Back Time” outfit? I’m not telling. You’ll have to go to the show and see for yourself.

Wed, 16 Apr 2014 23:11:09 -0400 Jeff Miers
<![CDATA[ Just Announced ]]>
Patrick Sweany. 7 p.m. June 30. Sportsmen’s Tavern, 326 Amherst St. 874-7734. $8.

3 Doors Down. 6:30 p.m. July 23. Artpark, 450 S. Fourth St., Lewiston. 754-4375. Tickets are $11 general admission and $26 for front stage and go on sale May 3. (box office,

The Winery Dogs. 8 p.m. July 26, featuring Billy Sheehan, Richie Kotzen and Mike Portnoy. Tralf Music Hall, 622 Main St. 852-2860. Tickets are $25 advance, $27 day of show and go on sale April 28. (box office,

Just Buffalo’s Babel Readings. Colum McCann, 8 p.m. Oct. 9; David Henry Hwang, 8 p.m. Nov. 19, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 8 p.m. March 26, 2015; and Patti Smith, 8 p.m. April 17, 2015. Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle. 883-3560. Season ticket packages are $95-$475 with individual tickets on sale in early September. (832-5400,

Man Man. 8 p.m. July 8, with Sleepy Hahas. Tralf Music Hall, 622 Main St. 852-2860. Tickets are $15 advance, $17 day of show (box office,

Liz Longley. 7:30 p.m. July 28. Sportsmen’s Tavern, 326 Amherst St. 874-7734. $10.

Drums Along the Waterfront, Tour of Champions. 7:30 p.m. Aug. 3. University at Buffalo Stadium, North Campus, Amherst. Tickets are $23-$40 (box office,

Professor Louie & the Cromatix. 4 p.m. Nov. 2, with the Hitmen Horns. Sportsmen’s Tavern, 326 Amherst St. 874-7734. $25.

David Wax Museum. 8 p.m. May 1. Ninth Ward at Babeville, 341 Delaware Ave. Tickets are $12 (box office,

Asleep at the Wheel. 6 p.m. Sept. 21. Sportsmen’s Tavern, 326 Amherst St. 874-7734. Tickets are $60.

Primus and Fishbone. 4 p.m. June 22. Gratwick Park, River Road, North Tonawanda. Tickets are $7 advance, $25 week of show and go on sale 10 a.m. Friday online and 10:30 a.m. Saturday at box office (box office, Collins Marine, 4444 River Road, North Tonawanda,

The Fray. 4 p.m. July 27, with Barcelona and Oh Honey. Gratwick Park, River Road, North Tonawanda. Tickets are $7 advance, $25 week of show and go on sale 10 a.m. Friday online and 10:30 a.m. Saturday at box office (box office, Collins Marine, 4444 River Road, North Tonawanda,

Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:27:00 -0400
<![CDATA[ Passing the baton requires peculiar process ]]>
On the one hand, the job could be seen as a stepping stone. Matthew Kraemer, who is leaving at the end of June, was appointed in 2009 to succeed Robert Franz, who is now music director of the Boise Philharmonic. Franz’s predecessor here in Buffalo was Ron Spigelman, now music director of the Lake Placid Sinfonietta.

At the same time, the position is very visible. Kraemer has shared the stage with celebrities including Wynonna Judd, the Four Tops and Chris Botti.

The associate conductor presides over classics concerts when JoAnn Falletta, the BPO’s music director, is out of town.

He or she also conducts children’s concerts. And until a pops conductor is appointed, pops concerts are also the associate conductor’s domain.

The BPO received 250 applications for the associate conductor job, said Dan Hart, chief executive operator. Last week, the orchestra auditioned five of them. Another five will audition in May.

The first five gathered at Kleinhans eager to make a good impression.

It’s a tall order. A conductor cannot audition behind a curtain, like an instrumentalist can. Comportment counts. Charm counts. And finally, there is that elusive thing called “musicianship.”

At the audition, Falletta and David Crane, the BPO’s general manager, took their seats at stage left to watch and listen.

The orchestra, mostly in jeans, assembled. Suspense hung in the air. At 10 a.m., the drama began.

‘Can I hear that sexier?’

The candidates drew straws to determine the order of the auditions, and the first slot fell to Lucas Waldin, from Edmonton, Alberta.

“I’m Lucas,” he told the orchestra. In a minute, we are into the music from the movie “E.T.”

The conductors may choose their first piece. After that they have to be ready to conduct anything from a list they were given in advance. It’s mostly familiar music with vivid orchestration, including Stravinsky’s “The Firebird,” Brahms’ First Symphony, Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and the overtures to Johann Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus” and Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.”

Waldin opted for the hipster look, a cute kind of rock get-up with red jeans and an orange vest. He started with the theme from “E.T.” Falletta had what looked like the score and was studying it intently. Brahms came next, and then the overture to “Die Fledermaus.”

“Lucas, please feel free to do some rehearsing,” Falletta told him.

Waldin complied. “The second bar, it feels as if we’re late and we catch up later,” he said. He turned to the violins. “Can I hear that sexier? It’s very dry.”

There was a little eye rolling. Conductor candidates are in a delicate position, having to guide the musicians but at the same time not irritate them. They also have to conduct with authority at their audition while, at the same time, be ready to be cut off by Falletta.

“I appreciate the rehearsal, but let’s go forward,” Falletta told Waldin, abbreviating his fine-tuning of the score.

Waldin kept his cool and appeared to find a good middle ground: He got courteous applause at the end.

Erin Freeman, the morning’s second candidate, looked happy and confident.

Freeman could be said to have the inside track. She is the current leader of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, and she and Falletta have worked together in Virginia, where Falletta also serves as music director of the Virginia Symphony, and Freeman is associate conductor of the Richmond Symphony. At the audition, she was lucky also in that she got the plum slot: The musicians were warmed up but still fresh.

She began with the overture to Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide,” which soared past with no problem. “I love that piece. I thought, ‘That’ll make me happy,’ ” she explained later. Falletta invited Freeman, as she invited Waldin, to feel free to rehearse. But it wasn’t really necessary: Freeman is a familiar figure. The flutes and oboes of “The Firebird” appeared with magical ease. “Appalachian Spring” sparkled.

She clearly has a rapport with the BPO and with its music director. When Falletta asked for the Stravinsky, Freeman answered: “Sure!” In the middle of Beethoven’s Fifth, Freeman flashed a relaxed smile when signaled to stop. She walked off confidently, carrying a pile of scores. “Take care, everyone. Thanks!”

Cutting off the Brahms

When Benjamin Rous appeared, following Freeman, he presented yet another image: loose trousers and a tucked-in shirt.

The outfit was more formal than Waldin’s, yet not quite dressy. One might think the would-be conductors would show up in formal wear, as if they were on the job, but that is apparently not the convention.

Rous smiled throughout the overture from “Die Fledermaus.” He did a good job with the accelerando – the tricky, gypsyish part where the music picks up speed. Falletta asked for Brahms’ First and gave Rous the speech about feeling free to rehearse. “Play very softly,” Rous told the strings, shaping a pizzicato section.

Throughout the long morning, the musicians were not exactly encouraging. They listened poker-faced in their jeans and sweatshirts. Falletta, off to the left, was on her feet, arms crossed. She listened, absorbed.

Agonizingly, she cut off Rous’ Brahms right at the glorious main theme, a jarring reminder that things were all business. Rous froze, smiling, the baton over his shoulder. He got some appreciative laughs.

After a 10-minute break, there were still two candidates to go.

Troy Quinn, a New Englander who went to Providence College, cut a natty figure with his dark hair and sports jacket, which he tossed over a stool. He began with “E.T.” and then was asked to switch to the uplifting overture to Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” “Feel free to rehearse,” Falletta said, and so Quinn polished the opening chords. There was one awkward moment while, in silence, he fussed with the score. But it was thrilling then to hear the music roll forward, finding its balance like a bicycle.

Falletta stopped him. “Let’s go on,” she said. “Copland?”

Finally it was Stefan Sanders’ turn. He is a former BPO trombonist and was an apprentice conductor here.

The last couple of conductors, one can’t help thinking, have a disadvantage. It was almost noon, and people were getting tired. Falletta neglected to tell Sanders he was free to rehearse.

Sanders had his head together, though, and the Mozart shone. A stocky figure, he grew graceful, all but dancing on the podium to the quicksilver piece. As he complied with Falletta’s request for Chabrier’s “Espana,” he smiled and became more handsome. It is funny, the effect music can have on people who love it.

Backstage afterward, the feeling was good. Waldin had added a cute cap to his rocker outfit. All the candidates, in an egalitarian Buffalo ritual, were eating subs.

It was interesting to study each candidate and imagine how it would affect the atmosphere of the BPO if he or she were given the job. Waldin, with his hipster vibe, would be very different from Kraemer. Sanders, with his accent and rolled r’s, would add a note of the Old World.

All the possibilities seemed promising, at least in the glow of Mozart and Brahms. Whoever the new associate conductor turns out to be, his or her tenure will probably be fun – while it lasts.

Round Two takes place May 6.

email: ]]>
Sun, 13 Apr 2014 18:21:19 -0400 Mary Kunz Goldman
<![CDATA[ Goo Goo Dolls duo delights hometown fans ]]>
Fifteen years later, that narrative’s lost its legs. The Goo Goo Dolls’ tour dates off I-190 have been treated like uproarious homecomings for nearly two decades, ones so celebratory of the band’s 28-year career that one show per season doesn’t cut it anymore.

On Saturday night, Buffalo’s punk-turned-pop rock icons arrived for the first of three area shows between now and August with the Midnight Otis Sessions tour, an intimate, acoustic-laden affair amid a standing-room-only crowd in Bear’s den of Niagara Falls’ Seneca Niagara Casino.

Now touring off 2013’s “Magnetic” and their just-released “Warner Sound Sessions Live” five-song EP, the Goos are down to a Nickel City twosome, with Johnny Rzeznik and Robby Takac sans longtime drummer Mike Malinin, who left the band in January. Come their summertime dates with Daughtry and the Plain White T’s, the pair may lean more on whoever provides regular percussion. But with the Otis tour’s stripped-down format, there’s never been a better time for the tandem to share the spotlight as a duo.

“This tour’s all about showing you who we are as a band, who we are as people,” announced Rzeznik, on stage solo to open the night. “A lot of times, we’re in a situation where we’re playing with the big lights and the big sound. Tonight our light show is provided by IKEA.”

Nestled below the red hue of bulbous patio lights, the Goos’ frontman settled in for what would a night full of relaxed, “MTV Unplugged”-style conversation with a boisterous crowd better suited for a Genny-slinging Kaisertown tavern than dolled-up casino theater. After the show’s starter, “Sympathy,” Rzeznik catered to the hometown attendees with details of how the aftermath of a recent California earthquake had him considering relocation.

“As God as my witness, I went into my kitchen and Googled ‘Buffalo, New York Real Estate.’ ”

This brought out the exclamatory hoots before Takac emerged with his bass for “Two Days In February,” a song fueled by Rzeznik’s self-described Polish passion. With the duo backed by both their touring band and members of Los Angeles’s Run River North, the Goos ripped through a number of Rust Belt-inspired ballads, old favorites and “Magnetic” amphitheater anthems.

“We’ll Be Here” – stirred by Buffalo’s loss of industry – transitioned into crowd pleasers “Name” and “Slide.” Neither needed to be stripped down to accommodate the night’s environs; both flowed freely off Rzeznik and Takac, the songs’ pace and power possibly underestimated until fronting an acoustic show.

The same went for the band’s “Superstar Car Wash” two-fer, the Takac-led “Already There” and the Rzeznik-Paul Westerberg-penned “We Are The Normal.” After Takac detailed the first song’s invention while living near Elmwood neighbor Lance Diamond, the raspy-voiced bassist ripped through the tune with 1993-era intensity.

Rzeznik recalled the latter song’s invention with the legendary Replacements leader, one who he revered and obviously inspired the Goos’ early sound. Backed by Run River North strings, the song echoed and swayed just like it debuted, back before the Rzeznik and Takac were booking cross-country arena tours with later hits like the wedding reception-ready “Come To Me” and the anthemic stomp, “Rebel Beat.” Both delighted the hometown crowd, eager to greet the newer ones just like the classics throughout the rest of the night. ]]>
Sun, 13 Apr 2014 00:15:11 -0400 Michael Farrell
<![CDATA[ Now it’s time for the R&B Hall of Fame ]]>
With that done, it’s time for music lovers to turn their attention to another Northeast Ohio-based hall of fame dedicated to a genre of music.

The R&B Hall of Fame, tentatively planned to be built in Cleveland, has announced its class of 2014. Several artists from a variety of eras will join the hall. This year’s inductees are the Whispers, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Marvin Gaye, the Delfonics, Chubby Checker, the Sweet Impression, the Dells, the Funk Brothers, radio personality Norm N. Nite, the Spinners, the Impressions, and Russell Thompkins of the Stylistics. The Living Legend award will be given to Joe Jackson, father (and alleged tormentor) of the Jacksons.

The second annual R&B Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Canton Palace Theatre. There will also be a concert featuring the Kinsman Dazz Band, Enchantment, the Dynamic Superiors, the Delfonics and the Dramatics starring Willie Ford, the Hesitations and the Sweet Inspirations, and an after party. Last year’s event sold out quickly; go to for more information and tickets.

Nominees are chosen on the following criteria: They must have rhythm and blues as the primary format or music style, have at least a 20-year history of R&B participation, made a historical contribution and had an impact and overall influence on R&B around the world.

This year’s class will join the inaugural class of 21 artists that included legends such as the Temptations and Sam Cooke alongside more contemporary artists such as Gerald Levert and lesser-known groups including the Dynamic Superiors and Sly, Slick and Wicked.

The man behind the museum, Lamont Robinson, is a lifelong R&B fan and collector with hundreds of artifacts. He grew up watching many of the enshrined artists perform at the fabled Leo’s Casino, the Cleveland R&B live music venue that played host to many R&B and jazz legends during its run from 1963 to 1972. Leo’s has been designated a rock ‘n’ roll landmark, but Robinson, who currently has a mobile version of the museum and is still looking for a permanent home, plans to use Leo’s interior design as a model for the museum. ]]>
Sat, 12 Apr 2014 16:22:12 -0400 By Malcolm X Abram


<![CDATA[ Listening Post: John McLaughlin & 4th Dimension, Johnny Cash, Doris Day, Zuill Bailey and Lara Downes ]]>


Various Artists, Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life (Rhino). Ronnie James Dio’s reputation as heavy metal’s greatest singer is well-deserved. The late native of Cortland brought a penchant for strong melodies, effortless harmonies and high drama to hard rock during the early ’70s, through his work with Elf and Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. When he replaced Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath at the beginning of the ’80s, Dio brought those same gifts to heavy metal, in the process, crafting some of the most memorable metal recordings of the decade in the form of Sabbath’s “Heaven & Hell” and “Mob Rules” albums. Dio had nothing to do with the cheese-pop underpinnings of what came to be known as “hair metal” – his talent was firmly located in his ability to blend bluesy phrasing with melodies more common to classical music, and his lyrics dealt in metaphor, often employing mythology as a springboard for universal meditations on good and evil. Dio died in 2010, losing a strongly fought battle with stomach cancer. His influence remains vast, and is celebrated with surprising clarity on “This Is Your Life,” which finds a host of marquee metal names gathering to pay the diminutive man with the massive voice his due respect. There are no real dogs on the album, but there are several clear highlights. The most prominent is Metallica’s brilliantly arranged medley of Dio’s seminal moments with Rainbow, which were always much closer to Led Zeppelin in construction and tonality than they were to the more streamlined attack of later heavy metal. (I count this period as being the high point of Dio’s career, with the Sabbath era coming in a close second.) Metallica simply crushes it here, melding “Tarot Woman” to “A Light In the Black,” “Stargazer” and a skull-melting “Kill the King.” Singer James Hetfield is, quite obviously, far from the vocal virtuoso that Dio was from first to last, but he accords himself very well here, never letting his reach exceed his grasp. Metallica fans should buy “This Is Your Life” for the “Ronnie Rising” medley alone, but Glenn Hughes’ take on “Catch the Rainbow,” the Scorpions’ understated “Temple of the King,” the Anthrax version of Sabbath’s “Neon Knights,” and the Lemmy of Motorhead/Biff Byford of Saxon double-teaming on “Starstruck” also are inspired. Tribute albums don’t get much better than this. ΩΩΩ½ (Jeff Miers)

Electric Jazz

John McLaughlin & the 4th Dimension (Abstract Logix). John McLaughlin’s 2013 tour with the 4th Dimension – keyboardist Gary Husband, bassist Etienne Mbappe, drummer Ranjit Barot – concluded with a show at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. It’s that gig that is documented on “The Boston Record,” and the resulting recording packs everything that is great about the finest electric jazz into nine fire-breathing songs. McLaughlin is not just one of the finest jazz guitarists going – he is one of the most consistently daring guitarists of the past 40-plus years in any genre, and throughout “The Boston Record,” we hear him at his peak. The ensemble interplay is remarkably sophisticated throughout, and everyone plays beautifully, but McLaughlin’s solos form jaw-dropping, dynamic and sophisticated improvisations, particularly during the set-opening “Raju” and “Little Miss Valley,” futuristic pieces that blend modal jazz, Indian music and blues. Most of the program is drawn from McLaughlin’s two studio recordings with the 4th Dimension, “To the One” and “Now Here This,” but an encore of the Mahavishnu Orchestra gem “You Know, You Know” seals the deal. This is as good as electric jazz gets. ∆∆∆∆ (J.M.)


Johnny Cash, “Out Among the Stars” (Sony Legacy). Here is an excerpt from John Carter Cash’s notes to this: “Dad relapsed into pain pill addiction around 1980. It was a few years later in the last half of 1983 that he found recovery. Though his creativity at this time is not as highly regarded by some fans as other times, he was of perfect voice, content and of hopeful heart during this recovery. When I heard these recordings for the first time in so many years what I immediately noticed was the joy in his voice – his spirit was soaring.” You won’t have trouble hearing exactly what Johnny Cash’s son is talking about in this music from the early ’80s, nor will you have any difficulty discerning this is not the greatest disc of Johnny Cash repertoire you’ve ever heard. But let’s be real here: these are 13 songs never before heard or released on disc including a decent duet on Hank Snow’s “I’m Movin’ On” with Waylon Jennings, duets with wife June Carter Cash on “Baby Ride Easy” and “Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time,” a jolly novelty version of “If I Told You Who It Was” and, are you ready, two different versions of “She Used to Love Me a Lot,” a song credited to Rhonda Fleming and Dennis Morgan. One of Cash’s versions was produced by Elvis Costello. Great Johnny Cash, it’s not but it was worth issuing for the first time. ∆∆∆ (Jeff Simon)


Bach/Mozart, Adagios and Fugues performed by Akademie Fuer Alte Musik, Berlin (Harmonia Mundi). One of the most beautiful stories about Mozart involves how he flipped out over a sheaf of scores by Johann Sebastian Bach, who at the time was eclipsed by his more famous son, Johann Christian Bach. Mozart said something to the effect of, here is someone you can learn from. And he proved it with the tributes on this disc. Mozart arranged a set of fugues from “The Well-Tempered Clavier” for strings and added his own brooding preludes. (His tastes show in the fugues he chose, including the one in E flat, which has a magnificent theme.) The disc also includes the Adagio and Fugue in C Minor, K. 546. The only trouble with this disc is it sounds too scholarly, too labored. I had this old recording of the preludes and fugues played by a string quartet and they were passionate. Expecting that, I found this disc kind of cold and clinical. Maybe the Academy of Ancient Music can’t help making things sound antiquated. In any case you can still admire the music’s architecture, and the thought of one master paying homage to another. ΩΩΩ (Mary Kunz Goldman)


Zuill Bailey, cello and Lara Downes, piano, “Some Other Time: Music of Barber, Copland, Bernstein and Foss” (Steinway and Sons). Here, performed by a notable young cellist and pianist, is a burgeoning mutual admiration society in American classical music. Foss wrote a piece called “For Lenny,” Bernstein wrote pieces called “For Lukas Foss” and “For Aaron Copland” and they’re all played here along with Samuel Barber’s Cello Sonata Op. 6, Bernstein’s clarinet sonata (adapted for cello) and Foss’ “Capriccio for Cello and Piano.” The cello/piano version of Bernstein’s gorgeous “Some Other Time” from “On the Town” is, along with a few others, a bit out of place with the ambition of some of the other music, but you have to appreciate what pianist Downes says: “The music that Bernstein, Barber, Copland and Foss wrote in the 1920s to ’40s, with its post-romantic grandeur, big-city bluster, and vernacular ease references the shape-shifting changes of those action-packed decades.… It opened the ears, minds and hearts of the nation and the world to new possibilities to an American sound.” Lovingly and superbly performed here. ΩΩΩ½ (J.S.)


Doris Day, “The Essential Doris Day” (Columbia/Legacy, two discs). Just a few days after her 90th birthday, this two-disc set will function quite nicely as a sterling corrective to anyone who might have thought that the only “essential” Doris Day were those huge ’50s hits from her movies – “Secret Love,” “Que Sera Sera” and “Love Me Or Leave Me.” They’re all on the second disc, along with “I Got the Sun in the Morning,“ “By the Light of the Silvery Moon,” her John Raitt duet on “There Once Was a Man” and the forgettable themes for “Pillow Talk” and “Move Over Darling.” But the biggest charm of the disc is its liner notes by Nancy Sinatra, who remembers “when I was 12, when my girlfriends and I would bring our Doris Day 45s – carefully nestled in their album-style binders – to sleepovers where we’d lug out a portable record player and play them all night long.” She distinctly remembers “being captivated by Doris’ recording of Oscar Brand’s ‘A Guy is a Guy’ – and all of us girls in our PJs singing along with her. I was hooked from the moment I heard that song and have been an unabashed devotee ever since. I’m proud to say that Doris is, in every way, my idol.” A lot of cutesy ’50s pop here but it’s amazing how many in Sinatra’s generation felt that way. ΩΩΩ (J.S.) ]]>
Sat, 12 Apr 2014 09:28:16 -0400
<![CDATA[ ‘War and Peace: A Concert for Hope’ was well worth attending ]]>
So … it was a good concert, interestingly programmed, and well worth attending. The performers were solid and the venue (from an aesthetic standpoint) fit the music well. When it ended, the audience, en masse, rose to its feet and applauded … a lot.

While the chorus and the instrumentalists were reason enough to check the concert out, the addition of an unusual program sealed the deal for a number of attendees. Despite providing the chance to hear well-performed versions of notable scores by Johannes Brahms and Heinirich Ignaz von Biber, for this particular concert and that particular night, the area premiere of Karl Jenkins’ “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace” grabbed the most attention.

Brahms’ wonderful motet “Warum ist das Licht gegeben” and von Biber’s brief 17th century orchestral piece “Battalia” both have their attractions, especially the motet, which caused Brahms’ biographer Malcolm MacDonald to speak of the work as striking a balance between “theological subtlety and confessional doubt.”

Von Biber’s claim to current fame relies on a few orchestral pieces, some choral works and a few ill-mannered jibes about the similarity of his name to that of a notorious pop star from Stratford, Ont. In “Battalia,” there is a point in the allegro (subtitled “Revelling of Musketeers”) where bitonality, the use of two different keys at the same time, comes into play. It’s the kind of thing that Igor Stravinsky stunned his “Rite of Spring” audiences with and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart inserted into his “A Musical Joke.”

Erin Freeman led the ensembles with a practiced hand, drawing every bit of energy and art from the score that she could get hold of. Together, they made a strong case for hearing the piece as it goes forward into the repertoire.

The Jenkins Mass is a sprawling beastie with its heart in a good place; the inspiration at its lyric core was drawn from centuries of text on war and peace, elements of the Latin liturgy mixed with poetry from Rudyard Kipling, a sampling of Psalms, an arresting segue between a poet/survivor from Hiroshima and an ancient war narrative from India.

Jenkins’ treatments of the Latin Kyrie, Sanctus, and Benedictus were generally inventive, well thought out and orchestrated for maximum effectiveness. The aforementioned segue between the Hiroshima piece and the Indian text was seamless. Using the classic “l’homme arme” mass anchor as a starting point was clever, as was the inclusion of the Muslim “Call to Prayers” in the body of the piece. Other times found the text and music blend a little underwhelming, as if this were a piece in process and hadn’t quite reached its final version. ]]>
Sat, 12 Apr 2014 17:55:32 -0400 Garaud MacTaggart
Garaud MacTaggart
<![CDATA[ A musical trip back to Hollywood’s golden age ]]>
This is a glorious concerto. Korngold wove into it an array of his movie themes, written for elaborate costume dramas starring the likes of Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and Bette Davis. Ludwig played it Friday with real dash, in the first of three performances this weekend. The concerto brings 1930s Hollywood to life as no coffee table book could.

And could it be that Ludwig had an extra spring in his step? He always is a superb violinist. But he seemed to have an extra buoyancy, which I take to be that lighthearted feeling you get when you have quit your job. He didn’t merely play this concerto – he just about danced it.

The entire concert, conducted by BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta, is a gem. It culminates with Schumann’s grand, luminous “Rhenish” Symphony, a joy every step of the journey. And it begins with a sleeper hit, the BPO premiere of Anton Webern’s “Im Sommerwind.”

“Im Sommerwind” means “In the Summer Wind,” and the 16-minute piece begins as if out of the air. There are whispering, gentle touches – the soft chirp of a flute, the barely audible jingle of the triangle, a high treble trill in the hands of Amy Glidden, the associate concertmaster. The music wraps around you.

Just like a summer day, you don’t have to overanalyze it, you just have to bask in it. It ended incredibly, tapering off into silence. Falletta’s hand froze midair, holding off the applause. What a lovely start to the concert.

The Korngold concerto, too, seemed to appear from out of the air. The soloist and the orchestra both begin at the same instant, which can be tough to pull off, but they did it. Ludwig’s tone, from the top, was honeyed and burnished.

He played from a score, which I didn’t mind. He hardly had time to glance at it anyway. His nonstop virtuosity matched the music’s swashbuckling boldness. There were enchanting interludes when he sailed to the heights and stayed there, his high treble tone almost a whisper.

Maybe it’s his newfound freedom, but he moved more with the music, stepping sideways this way and that, almost as if he were waltzing. His knees bent. His energy was infectious. The orchestra, too, rose to the challenge of this piece. The color changed on a dime, and melodies bounced from section to section with lightning precision. The piece ended in a flurry of crazy sound effects suggesting armies, horses, knights and ladies. The crowd – big for a Coffee Concert – rose and cheered.

I have one suggestion. In the morning you can make a case for business casual. But tonight and Sunday’s performances, I think, call for traditional concert finery for all involved, soloist included. This is music of Hollywood’s golden age. Rise to meet it.

Schumann’s “Rhenish” symphony was a good chaser to that heady excitement. Scholars say Schumann was inspired in the breathtaking finale by the Cologne Cathedral. He took a tour of it, and though he was Protestant, he loved the stunning ceremony surrounding the installation of a cardinal. That could help explain the symphony’s vibe, powerful but soaring and calming.

The Philharmonic let the music shine. The first movement’s robust melodies were strong and grounded. This is a good piece to observe the bass violins, crisply anchoring the action. The cellists played their hearts out.

The scherzo had a lovely understated grace, and the third movement had weight and presence. In the last movement, the luminous orchestration and bursts of woodwinds could remind you of Mozart.

The concert repeats at 8 tonight and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Kleinhans Music Hall.

email: ]]>
Sat, 12 Apr 2014 09:15:47 -0400 Mary Kunz Goldman
<![CDATA[ Kiss not the first to tell Rock Hall to kiss off ]]> Graciousness is not always high on the list of attributes you find in successful rock ’n’ roll stars.

Because of this, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions have sometimes brought out the worst in its inductees, whether continuing once-private feuds in public or launching criticism at the hall itself. This year it’s Kiss that’s angry, its members upset over the organization’s decision only to induct original members Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley while excluding members who joined later.

As a result, the makeup-wearing rockers weren’t wearing makeup or rocking at Thursday’s ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn when they were inducted with Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt, Hall and Oates, Yes, Cat Stevens, late Beatles manager Brian Epstein and former Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham, who also is boycotting this year’s show over dissatisfaction with his role.

Here’s a quick look at seven other acts who chose to make the ceremony uncomfortable for everyone else or just skipped it altogether:

• The guys in Guns N’ Roses are at a point now where they can sometimes play nice together, but that was not the case when the Los Angeles rockers were inducted in 2012. Frontman Axl Rose decided to skip the ceremony because it didn’t “appear to be somewhere I’m actually wanted or respected.” Guitarist Slash, bassist Duff McKagen and drummer Steve Adler, however, did take the stage, performing together for the first time in nearly two decades. Myles Kennedy served as the stand-in for Rose.

• There was nary a Van Halen during the towering rock band’s induction. Guitarist Eddie Van Halen chose to enter rehab the week before the 2007 ceremony – a pretty rock-solid excuse. But his drummer brother Alex also chose not to attend. And original lead singer David Lee Roth pulled a very Roth-like maneuver and pulled out at the last minute in a huff over what song he’d perform at the event. That left bassist Michael Anthony and second singer Sammy Hagar as the only official attendees. They were reduced to performing with Paul Shaffer’s house band.

• John Fogerty also faced the prospects of a put-together band when he refused to play with surviving Creedence Clearwater Revival members, bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford. He rallied with a couple of all-stars – Bruce Springsteen and The Band’s Robbie Robertson – to back him onstage, but the rift became oh-so-public when Cook and Clifford left the room while Fogerty played. The band split in 1972 and Fogerty was still holding grudges at the 1993 induction, telling Cook and Clifford he wouldn’t play with them ever again when they showed up for rehearsal earlier in the day. Cook and Clifford returned when the lights came back up, with a forlorn Cook holding the bass he’d hoped to play.

• The Sex Pistols were among the first and most notorious punk rock bands and fittingly extended a metaphorical middle finger to the hall when finally inducted in 2007 – six years after it was first eligible. The British band, which featured lead singer Johnny Rotten and late bassist Sid Vicious, said in a handwritten and ungrammatical note posted on its website that the hall was like “urine in wine” selling “old famous”: “Were not coming. Were not your monkeys and so what?” Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner read the letter in its entirety, and invited the band to pick up their trophies anyway: “If they want to smash them into bits, they can do that, too.”

• The middle finger was not metaphorical at all when Elvis Costello briefly appeared on stage as his backing band The Attractions during the same 2007 ceremony the Sex Pistols didn’t attend. The British singer had been touring with two members of the band, but was in a long-running feud with bassist Bruce Thomas that spilled over onstage. Thomas took his trophy from a presenter, said, “Thanks for the memories, that’s it,” and then walked off the stage and out the door. Costello marked his exit with his middle finger.

• Members of Blondie added even more bad blood to the 2007 ceremony as a division between founding members Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, and Frank Infante and Nigel Harrison spilled onto the stage. Harry and Stein had begun performing together in 1999 without the band’s other three members and Infante and Harrison sued unsuccessfully to rejoin the band. Infante continued to lobby Harry onstage at the ceremony: “Debbie, are we allowed?” She declined and the band went on to play its three biggest hits with stand-ins. “They wrote themselves out of the band history, as far as I’m concerned,” Stein said backstage. “They should have a little bit of honor. This is supposed to be rock ’n’ roll. This is supposed to be friendly. This is like going through the trenches together.”

• Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr recently reunited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first trip to the U.S. But things weren’t always so copacetic, as McCartney showed when he failed to show up to the group’s induction in 1988. He explained the decision through a publicist: “After 20 years, the Beatles still have some business differences. I would feel like a complete hypocrite waving and smiling with them at a fake reunion.” ]]>
Sat, 12 Apr 2014 01:09:38 -0400
<![CDATA[ Carol Wincenc’s magic flute ]]>
Wincenc grew up listening to a variety of music played by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, where her father, Joseph Wincenc, was the longtime concertmaster. It is no wonder, then, that her repertoire takes her all over the map. Tuesday’s recital begins with two luminous Mozart pieces, the Andante in C, K. 315, and the Rondo in D, K. 382. After Mozart comes Bach’s Flute Sonata in G Minor, BWV 1020. Then Wincenc moves up to the present-day, with two pieces by Jake Heggie, Soliloquy and Fury of Light, both for flute and piano.

Debussy’s “Syrinx” for solo flute begins the second half of the concert, followed by Faure’s “Morceau de Concours” for flute and piano. George Enesco’s Cantabile et presto for flute and piano follows, and Olivier Messiaen, “Vocalise” and “Le Merle Noir” (“The Blackbird”).

The concert ends with a splash: the “Rigoletto” Fantasia for two flutes and piano by the 19th century Ukrainian-born flute virtuoso Franz Doppler.

Stephen Gosling accompanies Wincenc on piano. The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Lippes Hall in Slee Hall on UB’s Amherst Campus. Adult admission is $12 in advance and $20 at the door. For info or tickets, call 645-2921. – Mary Kunz Goldman ]]>
Wed, 9 Apr 2014 16:17:27 -0400
<![CDATA[ The War on Drugs play the Town Ballroom on April 13 ]]>
“I wasn’t sure I needed an album like ‘Lost in the Dream’ until I heard it,” read Paste magazine’s review. That brief sentence nailed the appeal of the album, for it is certainly one of those slow-burners that build in appeal with each listen, until you’re left wondering how you ever got along without it.

I can’t wait to hear how this new material sounds in the concert setting, and I know I’m not alone. Tickets are $17 to $23 (box office, – Jeff Miers ]]>
Wed, 9 Apr 2014 16:20:13 -0400
<![CDATA[ A look back at highlights from memorable Goo Goo Dolls concerts in Buffalo ]]> Those in attendance when the Goo Goo Dolls played a triumphant homecoming gig during a rainstorm in front of City Hall on July 4, 2004, will never forget it. Far fewer will remember one of the band’s first gigs, 17 years previous to that City Hall show, almost to the day. That earlier concert took place in an AmVets banquet hall in the Black Rock neighborhood.

Goo’s bassist Robby Takac is one of those few.

“Yeah, I remember it well,” he laughed during a recent phone interview. “It was almost as awesome as the time in 1986 when we played on my front porch, on Elmwood Avenue.”

Across the expanse of a 28-year career, one that has seen it morph from a scruffy garage band into the most commercially successful Buffalo-born rock act of its generation, the Goo Goo Dolls have witnessed the dynamic extremes of the rock ’n’ roll life. The group started out playing dives in Buffalo.

These days, it headlines concerts in outdoor amphitheaters and “sheds.”

The original trio of founding members Takac, John Rzeznik and drummer George Tutuska, is now the duo of Rzeznik and Takac with a variety of hired backing musicians. Regardless of its commercial status or lineup, the Goos have always made Buffalo shows special affairs tinged with the excitement of a homecoming.

Over the next few months, the Goos are ramping up a commitment to Western New York with three concerts scheduled between Saturday and Aug. 22. That might seem like a surfeit of Goo-ness, even for the true blue Buffalonian Goo fanatic, but all three shows will present the band in vastly different formats.

The first gig, a sold-out show Saturday in the Bear’s Den at the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, will take the shape of what the band is referring to as “the Otis Midnight Sessions,” with Rzeznik, Takac and select friends performing in an intimate, acoustic environment.

On April 29, the band returns for its first performance in Buffalo proper since a fan appreciation show in the Town Ballroom in 2006, when it takes over the North Park Theatre for a special engagement that is, in a sense, a sort of “Otis Midnight Sessions” on steroids. The Goos will perform with a string section, auxiliary musicians, and in solo and duo scenarios for lucky fan club members in the beautifully renovated movie palace, and the whole lot of it will be recorded by multiple cameras for an upcoming concert film and documentary. It, too, is sold out.

Finally, the band will get back to its summertime bread and butter, with a outdoor tour that finds the Goos paired with rock band Daughtry. That jaunt will include a stop Aug. 22 at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center.

That’s a lotta Goo, Buffalo. But the diversity of programs makes each gig a must-see for fans. And certainly, the demand is there. One band insider told me the Goos probably could have packed the Bear’s Den for in excess of five shows, and part of the reason for the addition of the North Park gig was to satisfy regional fan demand for further intimate, acoustic encounters with the band.

When it comes to Goos shows in Buffalo over the years, almost everyone you ask is going to have a different opinion on what constitutes the best of the bunch.

If you are old enough to have seen the band at the Continental in the early days, odds are, you are more inclined to favor an intimate, high octane and boozy club gig over a latter-day amphitheater spectacle.

If you got into the band during the success of the more pop-leaning “Name” and “Iris,” your first exposure to the Goos might have been via a performance at Darien Lake.

There is a tendency among the listeners who can recall the band performing in the Old Pink Flamingo on Allen Street to suggest that, once the Goos hit the big time and connected with the mainstream, the sloppy punk urgency of the early stuff was gone forever, the band having effectively sold out. Yet, a look at the other side of the coin suggests that, with the diminishing of the roughshod intensity and uber-present Replacements influence came a deepening of the songwriting craft. Time passes, people grow up, and bands change.

The only thing that Goos fans of various ages seem to agree on is that the 2004 show in front of City Hall was an epic gig.


THE Goo Goo DOLLS rock western New York

Here’s a look back at the 2004 City Hall show and few other memorable ones among the many area Goo Goo Dolls performances:

New World Record, February 1993

The Goos played an in-store concert in this beloved and dearly missed independent record shop, in celebration of the album that is my favorite in the group’s discography, “Superstar Car Wash.” There was a palpable sense that things were about to take off in a major way for the band. And they were.

Thursday at the Square, Lafayette Square June 1993

The band set an attendance record for this summer series, and a considerable party atmosphere prevailed throughout. This was the show that really put Thursday at the Square on the map as an attractive gig for both local and touring artists. Goos friend and local legend Lance Diamond shared the bill.

Buffalo Memorial Auditorium April 1996

The first hometown arena show for the band. Just as all the years of hard work seemed to be paying off, all of a sudden, a rock band from Buffalo appeared poised to become a major commercial force in the world. “Playing the Aud for the first time was just incredibly satisfying for me,” Takac said. “I mean, I saw Cheap Trick and Kiss and so many other shows there as a kid. Playing there with my band was just a dream come true.”

Marine Midland Arena September 1996

This was officially the big time for the band. Packing the newly opened arena represented a significant step up from the old Aud. “It was our first time at the arena, and my Grandmother was there that night,” recalled Takac. “Unforgettable.”

City Hall July 2004

The stage was set, the film crews were all in place, and the city had been buzzing about the show for weeks. So, of course, it rained. And rained. And rained some more. There was a point – visible in the band’s subsequent DVD release – where the wind was blowing the rain sideways in what appeared to be thick black sheets of water. Everyone was beyond soaked. Yet somehow, it added to the experience, as the band kept playing despite the torrential downpour, and an air of giddiness prevailed among the crowd. It just felt so Buffalo, the whole thing.

“That’s gotta be No. 1,” Takac said. “Hard to believe it was 10 years ago already. It feels like yesterday! That’s the one, the best Buffalo show so far.”

The Town Ballroom April 2006

Just as the band was about to drop its eighth album, “Let Love In,” this fan appreciation party in the Town Ballroom before roughly 800 lucky attendees brought us back to the early days of Goo-mania. The Goos always seem to thrive in this sort of intimate and immediate atmosphere, and this show was no exception. I recall thinking that the new songs sounded more muscular and full in the concert setting than they did on the album. ]]>
Wed, 9 Apr 2014 16:10:57 -0400 Jeff Miers
<![CDATA[ Discs: Liars, Tigran, Bad Plus, Glenn Kotche ]]>



3 stars

Brooklyn trio Liars’ seventh album lives up to its title. “Mess” certainly is one, but this being a Liars creation, the aural trainwreck sounds at once appealing and mildly portentous.

Psychedelic electronic dance music seems to be what Angus Andrew, Aaron Hemphill and Julian Gross have settled on this time around. Good lord, do they do this kind of thing well. Listening to “Mess,” you feel like you’ve been walking on a beer-soaked floor all night, your feet sticking with each step, and now it’s 10 minutes to closing time, you can’t find a cab, and your phone is about to die. Strangely, you’re cool with all of this.

Unrepentant art-nerds who hatched the plan for their band while attending the California Institute for the Arts, Andrew, Hemphill and Gross make club music for intellectuals – a strain of pop that the beautiful people are likely to find too demanding, even if it is ultimately quite danceable, especially this time around.

Unlike the disquieting Autobahn hum of “They Were Wrong, So We Drowned” and the progressive computer noise that populated “WIXIW” – the two albums that earned Liars the lion’s share of their reputation as forward-looking creative types – “Mess” sounds like it very well could have been made under the influence of something illegal. It’s a party album, but you, the listener, walk in on the party already in progress, and it’s already completely out of control.

“Mask Maker” kicks things off, Andrew’s voice arriving like a robot on a weekend bender, as the synths and sequencers chew up the landscape with a glee bordering on the obnoxious. Like the majority of its partners in crime on “Mess,” the drum machine groove propelling “Mask Maker” suggests that this music is tailor-made for club grinding. But if you listen beyond and above the beat, it’s doubtful you’ll feel like dancing. This stuff is just plain too strange, and seems to demand you pay full attention, preferably while standing motionless with your mouth hanging open. Liars don’t seem to want to surrender the music to the listener – rather, they dangle it in front of you and dare you to snatch it away.

If you manage to do so, then you’ll find in “Mess” an album populated by esoteric art-pop of the first order. Most of “Mess” sounds like the perfect soundtrack for a night when the going has gotten weird, and the weird have turned pro. And in album closer “Left Speaker Blown,” you’ve been gifted one of the finest “morning after” tunes in recent memory while you clean up the previous evening’s mess.

– Jeff Miers



Shadow Theater


4 stars

I love this record. Unequivocally. And a lot.

Tigran Hamasyan is the 26-year-old jazz pianist and composer whom Chick Corea is proud to tell anyone who will listen that he first heard when Tigran was a teenager and Corea was playing a gig in Armenia. To the degree that anyone ever really “discovers” anyone, Corea’s were the first American jazz ears to hear how extraordinary a musician Tigran is.

He lives in Los Angeles now but his heart on this disc is still in Armenia, which is the glory of it. What he does here is adapt Armenian folk songs to jazz. And no, this is in no way jazz imposed from outside on Armenian folk music but Armenian folk music used to find terrific rhythms that can pass, more or less, as jazz. There’s no rhythmic jive of any sort on this disc. This is Armenian music presented by a young jazz musician who wants to love and honor it.

And too, there are vocals of all sorts – lovely soprano voices, roughneck voices sounding as if from mountain taverns, and beauteous chants that sound like the Armenian version of Pat Metheny at his most pastoral.

And most importantly, there is Tigran’s own piano in the center of it all. The fact that the melodic and rhythmic sources here are folk sources doesn’t change the fact that this music was transformed utterly by a jazz composer of extraordinary talent.

Destined, with little doubt, to be one of the jazz discs of the year.

– Jeff Simon


The Bad Plus

“The Rite of Spring”

[Sony Masterworks]

2½ stars

An interesting idea that turns out to be in practice, the lamentable exact opposite of Tigran Hamasyan’s gorgeous jazz adaptation of Armenian folk music (see review above).

This is a jazz piano trio version of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” with almost all the superimposition and kitschification that it seems to imply.

It isn’t that Stravinsky didn’t create a two-piano version of one of the greatest of all modern orchestral masterpieces. He did.

But what he didn’t do and would never have wanted done – because it is, in essence, close to pointless – is adapt the music for a jazz piano power trio with bass and drums.

It’s the rhythms and melodies of Stravinsky’s original orchestral music that are its essence. Superimposing conventional – or even unconventional – jazz rhythms on Stravinsky’s originals turns too much of this into a kind of well-played but trivializing rhythmic squabble.

There’s so much beauty and power to Stravinsky’s original music that the disc isn’t a total loss. It’s just that The Bad Plus doesn’t adapt Stravinsky as much as they do miniaturize and denature it.

– J.S.



Glenn Kotche


[Cantaloupe Music]

3½ stars

We know him principally as the drummer with progressive/alternative/folk outfit Wilco, whose work he greatly aided in its transition from alt-country and roots rock into a post-modern mélange of various influences. But Glenn Kotche doesn’t sit around idly twirling his drumsticks when Mr. Tweedy and company are on a break. Kotche is a composer of some merit, a musician with a rather fearless experimental streak, and a percussionist who sees no good reason why tenets of Steve Reich’s methodologies can’t be applied to rock music, and vice versa.

So “Adventureland,” Kotche’s first solo nod since the 2006 release “Mobile,” lives up to its name throughout. A sense of playfulness is ever apparent here, but there is a darkness too, a slightly foreboding presence made palpable by the presence of the Kronos Quartet, whose strings form the harmonic gray matter of the heady seven-movement composition “Anomaly.” The piece forms the core of the album, and rhythmic propulsion adds intensity to each movement, a result of Kotche’s compositional methods – he wrote the piece at the drum kit, assigning each of his four limbs to one instrument in the quartet, so that the bass drum would represent the cello, and so forth.

The influence of Reich is impossible to miss here, but Kotche filters that influence through sensibilities that are wholly his own, particularly during the progressive-pastoral montage that comprises Movement II. Elsewhere, the “Haunted” suite finds more arrhythmic, and sometimes atonal, vignettes conspiring to form a slightly more off-putting harmonic and rhythmic landscape. It all adds up to a surprisingly narrative-driven collection of musical themes. Kotche continues to surprise and delight, both within and without Wilco.

– J.M. ]]>
Wed, 9 Apr 2014 16:08:08 -0400
<![CDATA[ St. Vincent to play Asbury Hall, Babeville on April 12 ]]>
None of them were wrong. Clark is a ferocious talent, a writer able to delve deep into hyper-emotional terrain without ever coming across as melodramatic or trite, and a record-maker with an equal flair for drama and a sense of playfulness.

Clark, as St. Vincent, has played Buffalo in the past, most recently in the Town Ballroom, where she let her brilliantly idiosyncratic guitar playing do plenty of the talking. This time around, she’ll perform at 8 p.m. Saturday in Asbury Hall in Babeville (341 Delaware Ave.) Tickets are $25 advance, $27 day of the show (box office,

– Jeff Miers ]]>
Wed, 9 Apr 2014 16:03:59 -0400