by Ed Healy

For those of you who may still subscribe to the notion that Buffalo is a sleepy, snowbound city with little to recommend it and even less to do, let’s take a look at the weekend just past and put this nasty and dated (if it was ever remotely true) little stereotype to rest once and for all. Buffalo rocks and most weekends it rocks pretty hard with something for every taste and disposition.

If you happened to be in Buffalo this past Friday you would have done well to make your way to the always engaging and entertaining Gusto at the Gallery. That the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is one of the world’s (yes, world’s) greatest museums of modern and contemporary art is almost beside the point on Friday nights. Yes, the art provides a spectacular, stunning backdrop, but the real action is in Gusto’s provocative programming and party-like atmosphere as the Gallery opens its doors for free programs and events. On Friday night you would have been able to hear acclaimed photographer Gregory Crewdson discuss his amazing images that merge the craft of set design and film lighting with the artistry of still photography. Crewdson spoke about his groundbreaking and hugely influential approach to photography in a conversation with curator Heather Pesanti.

On Saturday night, the Albright’s Art of Jazz series got its groove on with the hard bop blues of legendary alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson. At age 83, Donaldson can still rain a sheet of staggering sound on his listeners in an amazing display of technique or pour his heart into a funky rendering of a soul jazz classic like “Alligator Boogaloo.” This jazz master’s between song patter and charming vocals made this a concert to remember in a series that continues to provide Buffalo’s jazz fans with amazing musical memories.

Across the street, the new Burchfield Penney Art Center was celebrating its first anniversary with Rendezblue, a four-day festival of free art and music. In its brief time in its new home, the Burchfield Penney has established itself as a vibrant center for the arts, presenting multi-disciplinary programs featuring concerts, lectures, performance and installations. The Gwathmey Siegel & Associates-designed space is warm and inviting and the crowds have been prolific, complementing, rather than competing with, the action at the Albright. Elmwood Avenue and Rockwell Road is now the nexus of Buffalo’s vibrant and ambitious art scene – one that any city would be thrilled to call its own.

Elsewhere in the city music, art and theater lovers were able to enjoy a program of Schubert and Strauss by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in the spectacular surroundings of Kleinhans Music Hall, the Viva Vivaldi Festival at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, an opening at the new Vault Gallery, a lecture by documentary photographer Brendan Bannon at Studio Hart, even an incredible performance by Liza (with a “Z”) Minnelli at the University at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts.

Oh, and one more thing: the Boss was in town. That’s right, Bruce Springsteen and the legendary E Street Band capped off the weekend with a tour-ending concert at HSBC Arena on the city’s waterfront.

What’s going on in Buffalo? More than you could possibly do in a single weekend!

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