March 2009


by Ed Healy

The Hunt Real Estate Art of Jazz Series at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is always a classic Buffalo experience. Seated in the ultra-modernist auditorium designed by Buffalo-born Gordon Bunshaft, a listener can be excused for being distracted by the surroundings. The glass walls to the right and left of the stage reveal bucolic Delaware Park on one side and the impressive architecture of Rockwell Hall and the Burchfield Penney Art Center across Elmwood Avenue on the other. The beauty just outside the walls imbues the space with a spirit that makes it among the most memorable in all of jazz. No wonder the series continues to attract the very best jazz musicians to Buffalo.

Used for lectures, film screenings, and other public events, the Gallery auditorium truly comes to life during the Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon Art of Jazz concerts. Produced by local impresario Bruce Eaton, the series annually brings an exciting mix of contemporary and classic performers to Buffalo. This past Sunday I had the pleasure of hearing the post-modern jazz provocateurs Ted Nash and Odeon.

Saxophonist and clarinetist Nash leads a band featuring a violinist, accordion player and tuba player – a line-up that may be unique in all of jazz. This eclectic ensemble, along with a very talented and creative drummer, is both brainy and brawny, playing sophisticated, intricate arrangements of original compositions and more obscure standards while at the same time keeping things funky and fun. Highlights of Sunday’s set included the pulsing rhythms of the Brazilian “Tico Tico” and the Argentinean flavored “Tango Sierra.” The group’s innovative, rocking rendering of Duke Ellington’s “Amad,” from his “Far East Suite,” was Ellington for the 21st Century — playful, multi-textured and propelled with genuine fire.

The Albright-Knox is justly renowned for its world-class collection of modern and contemporary art, but it should also be recognized as the host of world-class cross-cultural programming like the Art of Jazz Series. The series continues on May 2nd with a special double bill featuring vocalist Kendra Shank and pianist Frank Kimbrough. For more information visit www.albrightknox.org.

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by Karen Huefner

olv-exteriorWhatever your religious denomination, Our Lady of Victory Basilica is truly beyond a justifiable description that encapsulates all of its beauty, history, and grandour. Having just visited the Basilica this past Sunday, I could go on and on about the impeccable Italian marble or the close to 2,000 angels seen inside and out but the story behind Our Lady of Victory Basilica is what gives it its’ true beauty. OLV’s history starts with one man, Father Nelson Baker.

Although Father Baker was 79 years old in 1921, he was still a visionary with great dreams. At a routine parish meeting, the humble priest shocked all in attendance as he unveiled ambitious plans for a shrine that would rival any within the U.S. Astounding all with his infectious vigor, construction was begun almost immediately.

Even with no money set aside, Father Baker was confident support would soon come. The “Padre of the Poor” sent out a call of support and it was answered by thousands of citizens from around the nation. Some contributed through Father Baker’s direct-mail fundraising club (via per-brick sponsorships of $10), while countless others sent offerings both large and small.

By late 1925, construction was completed and the first Mass was held there on Christmas Day. Amazingly, when it opened, the Basilica had no debt, having been completely paid for at a cost of $3.2 million. In 1926, an even higher honor was bestowed upon the shrine as it was officially designated a Minor Basilica.

In July 1998, Msgr. Robert Wurtz, pastor of OLV Parish announced that the remains of Father Baker would be transferred from a nearby cemetery into OLV Basilica. The move would help raise awareness of Father Baker, his mission, and his legacy. Today, the Basilica continues to draw close to 2,000 visitors every month. The future will no doubt hold even more promise, as Father Baker advances down the long Path to Sainthood.

Tours are offered every Sunday at 1pm; or call for special arrangements. Visit their website at www.ourladyofvictory.org. While in Lackawanna, plan a stop at the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens, too.

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by Carolyn Batt

pureThis weekend I went to the Grand Opening of Pure Nightclub, the newest nightclub in the Chippewa Entertainment District. Previously called Level for its multi-level dance floor, this hot new club now places Buffalo in competition with the nearest nightlife meccas of Toronto and New York City.

Adding an additional level, this now three-floor club underwent $750,000.00 in renovations—and the evidence is obvious from the second you step foot. The Main Room features a giant bar, and the most important feature of any dance club—its dance floor now has the addition of four giant jets accompanied by a locomotive horn that spit CO2 down on command. From four points across the club and visible from every angle, professional dancers dance to the latest beats. With a state-of-the-art sound system and light show, you may spend more time just looking at the fusion of lights, color and sound.

“Wet,” the new 21+ room features premium well-drinks and top-shelf alcohol with the option of bottle service (patrons purchase an entire bottle of liquor and receive a private table, host and mixers). The blue lighting and minimalist appearance make for a sleek, upscale look. Moving upstairs, you will find the two-story “Dirty,” another VIP lounge with red plush couches, chandeliers and skybox, that overlooks the entire club.

It takes a lot to impress me, and Pure definitely has. The best part about Pure Nightclub is that whatever your pleasure—whether it’s dancing the night away, getting pampered by a VIP host, having a premium cocktail or just people watching, Pure allows for it all.

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by Doug Sitler

brodo1One of my favorite activities in Buffalo is attending a Friday evening art opening and then enjoy a nice dinner in one of the city’s amazing restaurants.

Last Friday I did exactly that, as I grabbed my friend and we headed over to the new Burchfield Penney Art Center for the opening of the intriguingly-titled “20,000 Crickets” exhibition. The arts center was abuzz with hundreds of art patrons sifting through the incredible gallery space – a scene that emphatically states that Buffalo is a major arts city. While there are numerous exhibits simultaneously hanging in the center at any one time, last week’s event was to celebrate the opening of “20,000 Crickets” – an interesting, walk-through installation that brings you into undetected world of bugs.

After the Burchfield Penney opening, we traveled down Elmwood Avenue to a cozy little restaurant called Brodo. We sat at a table in the raised section of the restaurant, which gave us a vantage point over-looking the colorfully decorated establishment. I heard from friends this place was known for their soup, but we elected to go another route. From the appetizer of Warm Spinach & Artichoke Dip with Asiago on a Toasted Pita, to our entrees of Pan Seared Salmon and Filet Mignon, the food was delicious. The dinner was accompanied with a bottle of Red Hook Shiraz and a waiter who was attentive, but not overbearing. If you are looking for a quiet dining experience, filled with delectable offerings, Brodo on Elmwood Avenue is certainly a place worth visiting.

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by Leah Mueller

zoo-giraffeMy kids and I took advantage of the sunshine this past weekend (while Dad was painting) and went for a ride to The Buffalo Zoo. It was one of the first times we went during the winter months. We had no idea what kind of surprises we were in for! The animals were so active. The bears were having a great time playing and putting on a show. The tigers that were tiny cubs last year at this time looked full grown and just beautiful. They were wandering about and enjoying the sunshine too.

No trip to the Zoo with kids is complete without a stop on the playground too! After a couple trips down the snake slide we were ready to move on to the new Rainforest Falls exhibit.

It is such a great exhibit with the tropical temperatures, beautiful plant life and animal activity. The three of us spent a great deal of time watching the playful monkeys and finally got a look at the serval, which is usually pretty shy. My boys’ favorites are the vampire bats. They love standing in front of the cave and watching those bats fly around.

Before we left we walked down to the giraffe house to see the new baby, Malia. The giraffes were indoor so we had to look through the glass to see her. It was worth it, she’s cute! Take advantage of The Buffalo Zoo before summer arrives! The crowd is small and the animals are sure to put on a great show! Visit www.buffalozoo.org for hours, directions and more.

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by Ed Healy

greatbatchpavilionFrank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House Complex truly comes into its own today as a tourist destination with the opening of architect Toshiko Mori’s brilliant Greatbatch Pavilion. This 8,000 square foot interpretive center will provide visitors to Wright’s Prairie Style masterpiece with museum quality exhibits, interactive touch screens, and a state-of-the-art orientation film that artfully and eloquently tell the story of Buffalo businessman Darwin D. Martin and the young man from Chicago who would go on to become the greatest architect of the 20th Century. For more information on Wright’s work in Buffalo click here. 

toshikomori

Toshiko Mori

But as impressive as the interpretive elements are, it is the unobstructed panorama of the massive Martin House Complex framed in a series of uninterrupted glass panels that will hold visitors’ awestruck attention. Toshiko Mori has succeeded in creating a sophisticated counterpoint to Wright’s masterpiece that is both deferential as well as dazzling in its own right. This wedding of innovative architecture separated by more than 100 years offers visitors an unparalleled architectural experience, one with few peers anywhere in the world. It’s really that special and sophisticated.

Standing in the magnificent glass pavilion, I was struck by the scope of the ambition that has always had a world-class visitor experience as its endgame. The Martin House – and Buffalo – have come a very long way in a relatively short period of time thanks to the dedication, vision and sheer force of will of the Martin House board, staff and volunteers. It is a truly impressive achievement.

While the final phase of the ongoing restoration of the Martin House interior remains to be completed, there is no need to wait to experience this true American treasure. In fact, the time has never been better. The Martin House is offering a special “Buy one, get one free” promotion from March 18 through March 31st. For more information on tours, click here.

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by Doug Sitler

wingsProbably the most frequent question I am asked by visiting journalists or out-of-town visitors is “Where’s the best place to get chicken wings in Buffalo?” It is one of those questions that almost leaves me speechless – not because I can’t think of any wing joints to suggest – simply, there are so many places that do an excellent job serving up Buffalo’s most-famous culinary creation.

Here are some of my favorite places to get wings:

The Anchor Bar – the original birthplace of the chicken wing. This downtown pub serves up wings to aficionados, morning, noon and night. It is a “must see” destination for visitors who want to experience the place that started it all.

Duff’s Famous Wings – my favorite destination before a University at Buffalo sporting event. This Sheridan Drive pub cranks out the wings – which many consider the best in Buffalo. For the brave wing eater, try Duff’s hottest style of wing titled “Death Armageddon.”

Gabriel’s Gate – for years, “The Gate” has been serving up the perfect wings – crispy and saucy. Some people claim that this funky Allentown restaurant’s wings are hard to beat. You won’t find any argument from me!

Grover’s Bar & Grill – this East Amherst restaurant is known for its burgers, but to me, the wings are top rate. Great place to bring the family or watch the game with your friends.

The Place – tucked away a block off the Elmwood Strip, this neighborhood pub serves up wings nice n’ saucy. Friendly bartenders and patrons provide a fun atmosphere to chow down some poultry delights.

I also hear great things about Bar Bill in East Aurora, Glen Park Tavern in Williamsville, and Papa Jakes in Buffalo. You tell me, what places would you include on this list?

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