Thursday, August 31, 2006

Music on the Avenue



Val and I spent time Saturday and Sunday at the annual Elmwood Festival of the Arts, which has fast become our favorite Western New York community arts festival along with Robby Takac’s Music Is Art. Both events concentrate on local arts and artists, music and community in general; for disclosure’s sake, Val has been an exhibiting artist at Music is Art for two of its annual festivals.
We concentrated on arts, food and talking to friends Saturday, but Sunday, after we enjoyed ourselves at the Buffalo Old Home Week brunch at the Hoyt Lake Casino, we headed back to the Elmwood fest because there were several musicians we wanted to hear, and we enjoyed all of them. At the Elmwood/Lafayette stage, we caught the last couple of songs of Michael Meldrum and the Buffalo Song Project Band; the highlight was watching Meldrum’s son, Zander, hawking his father’s new CD. When Val noted that we heard him playing and singing at his father’s CD release party, Zander got a serious look on his face and noted, “I play more than drums.”
The first act was guitarist and singer John Lombardo (original 10,000 Maniacs among other bands) and singer and violin player Mary Ramsey (David Kane’s Them Jazzbeards, later 10,000 Maniacs), better known as John and Mary, backed by the Valkyries, and all-star band of sorts with Pat Kane on guitar, Kent Weber on bass, Nelson Starr on keyboard and Rob Lynch on drums. The band sounded very sharp in its electric folk and roots rock sound, often upbeat and nicely layered, with some fine violin solos from Ramsey and a good amount of well-placed jangle to the tunes. After suggesting that the quiet atmosphere without vehicular traffic was nice and that one day a month without such traffic on Elmwood Avenue would be a good idea, Ramsey introduced what she called the “baby hit” 10,000 Maniacs had after she joined them before the band played its cover of Roxy Music’s “More Than This.”
Val and I then hiked it down to the smaller stage inside a tent in the Wilson Farms parking lot at Elmwood and Auburn (where I worked many years ago while attending Buffalo State College) to hear the duet of David Kane on keyboards and Mike Miskuly on (mostly treated) violin/fiddle; Kane and Miskuly are band mates in Them Jazzbeards. The sounds ranged from very ethereal and dream-like Brian Eno-influence to more classical passages, with healthy amounts of early electronic music hovering between experimental and new wave (Val compared it to Kane’s classic Decay of Western Civilization sound), while at other times displaying industrial punch and Mid Eastern sounds. At the end of a really good set, as Kane and Miskuly took their bows, Kane grinning before saying, “Thanks for listening; we’re John and Mary.”
We returned to the Elmwood/Lafayette stage for Terry Sullivan and Low Lamp Session, who played a strong set despite the cool weather turning hot and the sun finally making a pronounced appearance. The band concentrated on songs from Sullivan’s new “Theerthrmoovsaroundthesun” CD on Good Charamel Records, including great versions of “Satellite” and “Lorelei,” which display the gritty rock Sullivan is known for as well as some expansion to the pop and even slightly experimental areas. A punchy version of “Walk Alone” showed to anyone wondering that Sullivan can still deliver sweat-drenched, flaming bluesy rock, and he and Low Lamp Session performed a good cover of the Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset,” adding some electric muscle.
We then made our way home, having enjoyed yet another diverse Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts.

written by Kevin, photos by Val

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Great Concert

Val and I just got back from the Los Lobos show at Artpark. My lord, what a fantastic show (19 songs during the regular set and one for the encore) the band performed; the best I have ever witnessed by Los Lobos and one of the best shows of any kind I've attended in years,
We will have a review and photos of the Los Lobos show posted in the next couple of days to our web site, Buffaloroots.com.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Los Lobos/Artpark Query

Val and I will be attending the Los Lobos (what a great frigging band) show tomorrow, Tuesday, August 29, at Artpark; the free show is outdoors, which leads me to these questions, the response which I hope will be better than the overwhelming reaction to my shoe polish question.
What happens if it rains before/during one of these free shows? Do things still go on? And while I know that Artpark has a policy against bringing food or drink into the facility, can you bring in chairs and/or blankets? Val and I last caught Los Lobos opening for the Chieftains at Artpark, which was a tremendous show, and can barely wait for show time.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

You're Gonna Have to Serve Somebody

After attending the Buffalo Old Home Week brunch at the Hoyt Casino this morning and the Elmwood Festival of the Arts this afternoon, I let Val rest while I went grocery shopping at Wegmans.
I took one of two normal routes, Richmond Avenue to Forest Avenue to Grant Street to Amherst Street, and as I came to the circle at Richmond and West Ferry, traffic was pretty busy. I stopped and waited until traffic cleared enough for me to enter the circle, making sure the vehicle coming into the circle off West Ferry Street in front of me was far enough ahead, which it was. As I entered the circle, the driver of the next vehicle (a white minivan) decided that stopping at a stop sign was beneath him, and after slowing down and watching me approach, drove into the circle very close to me, forcing me to hit the breaks.
I raised up my arms in the universal "What (the hell) are you doing?" gesture; the driver, a man, yelled something in a guttural voice to me and returned my attention with the universal "Fuck you" gesture, which contrasted from his license plate, which read "LET GOD." Let God what, have to take time to make sure your asinine driving habits don't cause accidents, slappy?
It may be the devil, or it may be the Lord ...

Buffalo Old Home Week Catch Up

Val and I attended the job fair and small business seminar/discussion as part of the so far excellent (IMHO) Buffalo Old Home Week. I was impressed and thank the entire organizing cast, including Chris Smith, better known to many as Buffalo Geek, for all of their efforts.
Now, due to my education, work experience and skill set, I was for the most part unsuccessful during my searching in the job fair section, but I noticed many people dropping off resumes, picking up job information and talking with recruiters (Val included). While I may not have gained much from this portion, except for dropping my resume off at the start, I could see and hear others having more success; getting people from Buffalo/Western New York and from out of town and state together to discuss specific jobs is definitely a positive step.
I got more out of the small business seminar and talk by Kent Keating of Seevast/Kanoodle. These got me thinking about my approaches to and actual utilization of my freelancing activities as well as other possible business opportunities, something I find myself either too busy or simply not on topic with too often.
I am a bit mystified by criticism in the broadcast media and Internet community over the goals and events of Buffalo Old Home Week. Besides getting a lot accomplished by a relatively small group of volunteers in a relatively short time, this event has generated a lot of media attention for Buffalo, most good and a decent amount from out of town. There is no doubt that the organizers have plans in the works for improving and expanding the event for next year, and I believe they deserve pats on the back.
Depending on when you read this, we will see you at the brunch at the Casino at Hoyt Lake in Delaware Park tomorrow or we will tell you about it.

Quick Shoe Polish Question

OK, I need to buy some black shoe polish for my Doc Martens; I am looking for something decent but not too expensive, and a polish that will protect the shoes and is not too shiny; also, ease of use is important. Any suggestions are welcome and appreciated.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Another Musical Rant

Really, I do like 107.7 FM The Lake, a lot, but last week, while I was driving home from work (I think), I heard another song that absolutely nauseates me, both because the song itself is a bad performance and that the performer has recorded better versions of the song.
Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground are major favorites of mine, but when Reed recorded a live album in 1973, Rock n Roll Animal, it included several versions of Velvet Underground songs that lost much of their grit, dissonance and strength. Instead, the two guitarists, led by Steve Hunter, play way over the top and in a manner than can best be called masturbatory. The worst wankfest of all is "Intro/Sweet Jane," the song/songs I heard last week. The guitars are bombastic to the point of criminal, and Reed sounds like he is singing at gunpoint as a contractual obligation.
The studio version of "Sweet Jane," as well as at least one live version, are both widely available on Velvet Underground recordings, which I hope The Lake acquires and buries the present dog turd of a song.

Better Snacking Through Chemicals

One Thursday a few weeks ago at work, I bought a package of Hostess Snow Balls at the snack shop in the lobby; while my diet is much better in the last few years, I still have a sweet tooth, and if I eat one Snow Ball a day, the caloric effect isn't so bad.
After eating one that Thursday, I unexpectedly missed work Friday, and forgot about the snacks until Monday. When I saw the second Snow Ball in my desk drawer, I figured it would be stale, but thrifty me did not want to throw it out before finding out how it was. Well, the Snow Ball was absolutely fine and delicious in it own way, and wasn't even more firm or harder than normal, including the cream filling.
Preservatives? What preservatives?

No Thanks for the Paint Job

I recently posted on the new black paint job the City of Buffalo performed on the light post on the easement on our lawn and many others on Buffalo's West Side. Apparently, someone believed he or she had to add to our pole's paint.
When Val came home from work today, I met her at her car to carry her stuff into the house; as I reached out to grab her knapsack and so on, she remarked, "Damn, it looks like someone marked our light pole." Sadly, someone has spray painted a word or words or expression/signature in white on our light pole. I'll be calling the city tomorrow morning, I guess to get it painted over, but I do feel violated.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Connelly Reunion: Rain Doesn't Stop Fun

Part of the surviving U.S. contingent of the Connelly family (hailing from Town and County Sligo, Ireland, and northern England), my mother Sheila, Val and I, made our way up to Fort Erie, Ontario, to the Optimists' Club, for the (more or less) annual Connelly family reunion/picnic.
The rain, which started before we left Buffalo, not only continued in Ontario, but got harder and lasted through almost the entire picnic. The worst result of the rain was the cancellation of the water balloon and egg toss contests; this particularly was disappointing, because I was one of the two members of the defending championship water balloon toss team. We somehow found a way to carry on, and we will carry our crown for at least another year.
So, while kids games and contests went on inside, as did some drinking, although much less than a roomful of Irish people (maybe 25-30 out of 50 or so people present were of drinking age) would be expected to do, the games of the day were cribbage, euchre and talking.
You sports fans will enjoy some of this; I wore my blue and gold Buffalo Sabres hat with the official old logo, and one of the first persons to comment on it was Steve, a cousin several generations removed, who I knew had played hockey at some level. He asked Val and I about our opinions on the logo, and said he got to see the new logo on uniforms and other items because someone he used to play junior with now worked high up with CCM. "You guys aren't going to like it," he said while shaking his head.
He then told us, "My one OHA teammate played for the Sabres for a year. You might have heard of him." I asked Steve who. "Wilf Paiement," he replied. Of course I remembered him and told Steve, adding I remember that he had better seasons with Toronto and Colorado than with Buffalo. Steve mentioned that he recently played a charity golf tournament with Paiement and Fred Stanfield, another former Sabre as well as three-time Stanley Cup winner (two with Boston, one with Chicago). He said that when the three of them were at the bar after the tournament, several women came up, particularly paying attention to Stanfield with his three Stanley Cup rings on his fingers. "But they all thought we were former football players, because we've all gotten kind of big," Steve chuckled. "We had to almost convince them that we were hockey players."
There was a football player at the reunion, a college player. Michael Connelly, from Welland, plays defensive line for York University; I hadn't seen him in a few years, and he looked LARGE in an athletic manner Saturday. I checked the York University Lions' web site, and Mike is listed at 6-foot-5, 340 pounds, and yes, he is interested in professional football when his college career ends. He is still a bit quiet and happily shows much more class than too many U.S. college athletes; you can thank his dad, Mike, for continuing the tradition of Connelly discipline.
Otherwise, the food was great, the conversation even better (Val and I had to all but drag my mother out as the picnic ended) and I continued my good fortune by winning the jelly bean count (my guess of 321 was just off 312, which one of the organizers guessed and nicely gave up her prize).
I could go on now about how important and emotional family is and matters, but I think writing about and illustrating it works better.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Busy Day

Posting will be very light today, despite some ideas. After breakfast, Val has an eye examination, and then we have the annual Connelly Family Reunion picnic in Fort Erie.
My mother, Sheila, is a Connelly, and yes, a picnic with a bunch of Micks like us Connellys is a ton of fun, and with my mother, Val and I (my sister and her family cannot attend this year) being the only Americans among the 40 or so other people, all Canadians, in attendance, watching Canadians of Irish descent drinking is an almost religious experience.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mystery Thank You

There wasn't too much mail when I checked the mail box today, but one of the three envelopes inside was a small one addressed to me, in the size and shape usually of a thank-you note.
As I checked to see what it was, I noticed that the handwriting, kind of small and neat and not necessarily leading me to think it was from a person of a specific gender, only used my name and address, and did not put down a return address, making me more curious. When I opened it, I saw that it was indeed a thank-you note, red ink on white paper; but inside, there was nothing printed on it and no signature or any other kind of writing, just blank. I looked over the envelope for a while, and saw that there was only a postal stamp of "Buffalo 142," with no full zip code.
So, the mystery is this: who sent me this thank-you note, and was it an oversight that nothing was written in it, did someone put the wrong thank-you note in my envelope, or is someone commenting on something I wrote here, on our Buffaloroots website or one of the publications I freelance for by saying "thanks for nothing."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Thanks for the Paint Job?

The first thing I noticed when I pulled into our driveway when I came home from work today was that the light pole on the city easement on the front piece of our property, about a foot from the driveway, was no longer that medium, almost government-issue green, but instead, was black.
Now, I love black clothing, shoes and lots of other things this color, but while the black light pole will no doubt be able to be seen during daylight and in a snowstorm, how about during nighttime? I am afraid that some person, intoxicated or not and particularly someone not too familiar with our neighborhood, is either going to walk or drive into it some night. And aesthetically, it is also lacking, because the old numbers, three peal-off decals, were taken off the pole before it was painted and placed back on it, with the edges not exactly tightly sealed.
This is the second public project on part of our property I wasn't aware was going to happen before it did; last week, street crews came around our neighborhood (Norwood/Ashland/Bryant/West Utica) and used the black top material to patch up parts of the street and sidewalk, including two small parts of our walkway.

How Much Do I Love Val? Part I

This should be a continuing series; about 30 minutes ago, just after Val went to bed after we watched the end of Countdown with Keith Olberman, I heard some yelling and swearing from upstairs. When I asked her to repeat herself, Val said, between expletives, that she had forgotten to have us stop on the way home (from a visit to the optometrist and Anderson's for dinner) to get, you guessed it, tampons.
Well, to calm Val down and solve the problem as simply as possible, I got up, turned off the television and went to get her tampons, Fortunately, Rite Aid at Elmwood and Bryant, about two blocks from home, was still open and in 5-10 minutes, the problem was solved.

Would Listening Be Too Much to Ask?

I returned a book to the library today (not downtown, but at the branch nearest us that shall remain nameless), and while it was not the worst "customer service" I have ever received, it did touch on my pet peeve of someone you are talking to not paying attention.
The book I returned was one Val just finished reading, and I knew it was 4 days late, meaning we owed $1. I went to the desk and waited until the person in front of me was done. When it was my turn, I handed the book to the woman there and said, "my wife just finished this book and it is overdue. I believe I owe $1," and held the dollar bill in my hand on the desk top. She ran the book through the scanner (which I fully understand and support), then looked at me and said, "this book is overdue and you owe $1. Do you want to pay it now?"
"Yes, that is why I just told you that my wife just finished the book, and that it is overdue and I owe $1," I replied as I handed her the dollar bill and left.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Back Among the Living

It's about 24 hours since my last posting, and yes, I am feeling a world better; it seems that I caught some kind of 48-60-hour bug that has finally run its course. While I am still a wee bit tired and weak, my appetite has returned, as no doubt has the rest of my charming self.

Help Fund Our Retirement, Look Cool


Heys, guys; for all of you faithful Buffaloroots.com readers, web site and/or blog, who are also fashion and possession conscious, we now have shirts, stickers and tote bags with the lovely Buffaloroots.com logo. For those of you interested in seeing and buying these fine items, or just curious about our overt dip into the ocean of commercialism, please click

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Blah and Ugh

Since I wrote my three posts last night, I have been feeling pretty crappy, including a queasy stomach, fever, chills (I was shivering when I went to bed) and a headache. I'm not doing much better tonight, and while I was able to go grocery shopping, do the laundry and walk the dog, I put aside all thoughts of blogging, despite having a few topics to write about as well as wanting to comment on other people's blogs.
I hope that I will start taking a turn for the better and feel like a human being again tomorrow, and in particular, I hope I regain my appetite.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Greetings and (Lack of) Sightings

Well, well, well; Buffalo News columnist Mary Kunz Goldman certainly has her detractors and commentators; in particular, Alan Bedenko, our beloved Buffalo Pundit, has not only written some in-depth criticisms of her columns, he has developed a scale for judging her writing.
Well, an "Alive Night" Party held by Broadway-Fillmore Alive at Arty's in Buffalo last night appears to have been rather successful, with many bloggers in attendance. Also there, with her husband, was Kunz Goldman, who seems by all indications to have taken the commentary by Alan and others pretty well and made some friends, She also made a short video greeting for Alan, and is willing to meet and talk with him. The video can be seen at Buffalo Pundit, Buffalo Geek and WNY Media.
I suggest that Bedenko and Kunz Goldman meet, best over a beer or several, and that the meeting and discussion be videotaped by WNY Media for a podcast and other media.
And by the way, Val and I ate dinner at Amy's Place tonight; as usual it was excellent, but we still didn't see any piano.

Thank You, 107.7 The Lake

In a recent post, I complained that I haven't heard the original version of "Because the Night" recorded by the Patti Smith Group (and written by Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen), or the live version by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, in a long time, but had heard the much inferior live version by 10,000 Maniacs.
Well, a couple of days ago, while driving home, I tuned in to 107.7 FM The Lake, my favorite local commercial radio station. A song was ending, and I then heard the unmistakable piano introduction to the Patti Smith Group's "Because the Night." Yes, I cranked the volume and sang along. Being the third song in the set, the DJ then back sold the rest of the set; coincidentally, the first song in the set was by ... 10,000 Maniacs.

Someone Update My Spell Check

After I wrote my response to Red and Chris' comments to a recent post of mine about oldies radio formats, I spell checked it as I always do. For some reason, it does not have "Beatles" or "Motown" in it. Excuse me? Is/are the person/people who programmed this Spell Check that young or clueless? Am I that old or clueless?

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Music in My Head ... Sucks

While Val is frequently afflicted with this problem (and truly has some bad spells), right now, I am going through the "why is that awful song in my head" syndrome, because since I woke up around 6 a.m., the theme from "The Mr. Ed Show" ("A horse is a horse is a horse, of course ... ") has been going through my head non-stop. Man, I need to find a radio soon.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Stop Formatting My Early Adulthood

Val and I ate dinner at Rascal's on Niagara Street Friday (the River Grill had a ridiculous wait), and both inside and out, the restaurant had Oldies 104 WHTT-FM playing.
I have finally gotten used to the Eagles, Billy Joel and other artists from my adolescence being considered oldies, but as we waited for our food, the Bangles' "Manic Monday" was played on the station, and a couple of songs later, as we started to eat, "Call Me" by Blondie was played. Oldies? Why, I was only, um, oh, yeah, that's right; it was more than 20 years ago.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bill Kirchen and Too Much Fun Postponed

Damn; I just got an e-mail from Ken Biringer, who does the publicity for The Sportmen's Tavern, and it says that the Bill Kirchen and Too Much Fun show scheduled for tonight, Thursday, August 3, is postponed.
According to Ken, "Dave Elliott, Bill’s drummer was diagnosed late yesterday afternoon with a leaky heart valve that may be infected. This condition can be very serious. I know a couple of people that have this condition. Dave says he feels good, but simply needs some tests done today & tomorrow. Bill tried franticly last night & this morning to round up a substitute for this run of dates. A substitute drummer was found, but, he is not avail. to join the band until the Cleveland show. Bill sends his deepest regrets & says he will make it up to us in the very near future when he is touring to support his new CD."
As well as feeling disappointed at the postponement of Kirchen's show, I hope that Dave Elliott will be OK in his health situation.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Heat Wave? Not So Bad, So Far

While 87 degrees for a high temperature is pretty warm or even kind of hot, and humidity at 75 percent or so is uncomfortable, Day 2 of the predicted three-day heat wave (Monday got up to 90 degrees or so) was actually very tolerable and not as bad as the media repeatedly and loudly haled it would be.
The amount of coverage did seem to turn from extensive to excessive, although the advice to get out and stay out of the heat, if possible, and to stay hydrated was good. But it seemed like in too many circumstances that certain news operations would not let the 87-degree high temperature, about five degrees lower than expected, stop them from reporting EVERY single aspect of the weather and its effects, just as they do during the winter when substantial snowfall is predicted, regardless of it actually snowing a lot or being particularly bothersome or not.
Let's see how Wednesday, Day 3 of the heat wave, goes.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Irresistable Yard Work

I see that Derek at Punaro.com shares my inability to go into the backyard or elsewhere with a few spare minutes during the summer and not do some project.
While Derek worked on their house itself, yesterday, Monday, I went to the garage to get our propane grill out for dinner (I misunderstood Val, who had arranged and shared the grill of our neighbor, musician Jim Whitford, to cook our salmon). As I opened the garage, next to the grill, on a portable storage table, were my favorite pruning/tree/bush saw, weed trimmer/clipper and pruning shears. I proceeded, despite the 80 degree-plus weather, to cut down three "small" trees along our shared fence line with Jim and his wife Lynn, several bushes and also pruned and trimmed a bunch more, as well as did some serious weeding.
Val laughs at me because I can't go into the backyard for more than two minutes without doing some of this work, but we have a rather large backyard and my time to work in it is limited, so I frequently end up with green fingers by the time we eat dinner.

Hot, Hot, Hot

Let's see just how hot things get around here the next few days, to see if the various media outlets are accurate in their weather forecasts for 95-degree highs in this heat wave we're having in Buffalo; the National Weather Service itself is now predicting high temperatures of 95 degrees for Tuesday and Wednesday.
Bad as it is here, my sister, Heather, and her family live in Walworth in Wayne County, on the other side of Rochester, and their predicted high today, according to the National Weather Service, is 100 degrees, with it falling to 99 degrees for a high for them tomorrow. Sadly, I think we have them beat in humidity.

Bill Kirchen Back in Town

The concert of the week will be Bill Kirchen and Too Much Fun returning to The Sportsmen's Tavern at about 9:30 p.m. Thursday, August 3. Kirchen, who may be best know for writing and performing "Hot Rod Lincoln" while a member of Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, will lead his band in one of its usual twangy, rocking affairs. And yes, admission to the show is free.
The most unusual setting Val and I have witnessed Bill Kirchen and Too Much Fun (before we were even dating) was when they played the wedding reception of musicians Dave Meinzer and Cathy Carfagna (members of the Outlyers, etc.) several years ago at the Market Arcade. They used every inch of the place, upstairs and downstairs, as well as the stairs themselves.