Niagara Gazette

February 13, 2014

JENNINGS: Feeling the love with Michael Bolton, The Whispers

By Thom Jennings
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — The weather may not be heating up, but the concert season is almost warm enough to melt some of the snow. This weekend there are plenty of opportunities to get inside and stay warm with your sweetheart, or catch a show with your best friend.

We will start at the Niagara Fallsview Casino where they will be hosting a two-night stand with Michael Bolton starting on Friday. I had the good fortune of seeing Bolton open for Kenny G just as he was moving from rock to pop. A couple years later I saw him headline, and both shows remain in my memory as some of my favorites.

Not many people remember Bolton before his days as a pop crooner, but he performed in a rock band called Blackjack, which featured current Grand Funk and former Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick. The band opened for Peter Frampton, Heart and even Ozzy Osbourne.

What may surprise more people is that Bolton once auditioned for the lead vocal job in Black Sabbath. To those not familiar with some of his rock material like “Fools Game” that may come as a surprise, but Bolton is one of the most versatile and powerful singers around.

Bolton successfully reinvented himself by covering soul and R&B classics like “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” and gut-wrenching love songs like “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You.” It would be a wonderful show for couples to enjoy on Valentine’s Day or the day after.

Both shows are sold out but you can check StubHub for tickets.

The Tralf will be hosting The Whispers on Saturday night for two shows. The R&B band from Los Angeles is celebrating their 50th year in existence, and in those 50 years, they have racked up tons of hit songs, awards and honors. They are Vocal and Soul Music Hall of Fame inductees.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, The Tralf is offering special packages that include a red rose for the ladies, champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. More info on the show may be found at

Over at Kleinhan’s Music Hall on Saturday they will be hosting a special evening with Ann Hampton Callaway singing the Streisand songbook. Callaway is not just a singer with a majestic voice, she is an accomplished songwriter and pianist as well, and penned and sings the theme for “The Nanny” which ran from 1993-1999. Tickets start at $28 and are available at

Finally, over at Buffalo Iron Works, 49 Illinois St., Buffalo, on Tuesday, they will be hosting one of my all-time favorite bands, Rusted Root. If you saw their show in North Tonawanda this past summer, that was my son Trevor onstage playing djembe on “Ecstasy,” which was one of my proudest moments as a father. I can’t say enough about Rusted Root, they always deliver an excellent live show and they are wonderful people. Tickets are just $22.50 and are available through

Finally, our show on a tank of gas is over in Rochester at The Eastman Theatre where they will be hosting two special performances on Friday and Saturday from the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. The RPO will be accompanying the iconic film “Singin’ in the Rain.” It’s a movie that my late father adored, and one I have seen numerous times. Tickets start at just $15 and are available at

Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.