Niagara Gazette — After a hot Valentine’s Day weekend of shows, things are cooling down a bit this weekend. There are a couple of interesting choices well worth checking out including a tribute to one of the hottest tours of the 1950s and a visit from one of the hottest artists in recent years.
We will start over in North Tonawanda at The Riviera Theatre on Friday night, where they will be hosting John Meuller’s Winter Dance Party, a live recreation of the tour that inspired the iconic song “American Pie.” The main three headliners were Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P Richardson, known as The Big Bopper. (The tour also included Dion and the Belmonts, and Frankie Sardo)
A few years ago, I was teaching a rock and roll history class at a Rochester high school and “The Day the Music Died” was one of my favorite lessons. The kids really loved The Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace” and its flirtatious lyrics, a song that I thought might have been a little too dated for them.
The lesson I learned was that great music is timeless, and Holly, Valens and Richardson contributed some great music in their tragically shortened careers. “Not Fade Away” is my favorite Buddy Holly song, with “Oh Boy” being a close second. I can honestly say that I have never heard a Buddy Holly song I didn’t like.
The “Winter Dance Party” tour never came through Western New York, the closest the tour came was Youngstown, Ohio, on Feb. 13, 1959. That was 10 days after the crash that took the lives of the three headliners, nevertheless, the music did not die, the tour was finished without Holly, Valens and Richardson. In fact, they did not even cancel the show scheduled on the day of the plane crash.
One last bit of Holly trivia. In the movie “The Buddy Holly Story,” a Buffalo disc jockey named “Madman” Mancuso is credited with naming Holly’s group “The Crickets.” A great story, but sadly it was a Hollywood fabrication.
Tickets for The Winter Dance Party start at $30 and are available at The Riviera box office or at Rivieratheatre.org. You can call the Riviera at 692-2413 for more details.
On Saturday at First Niagara Center, they will be hosting Justin Timberlake. The 33-year-old singer has had quite a career, first rising to fame as a member of ‘N Sync in the mid 1990s. The group sold 26 million albums in a little over four years before going their separate ways.
Timberlake has been the most successful ‘N Sync member by a long shot, selling around 20 million solo albums and appearing in numerous television shows and movies.
While I have never been a fan of his music, his appearances on “Saturday Night Live” are some of my favorite moments in the show’s history. I did see him perform in 2003 at the “SARSstock” concert in Toronto. Timberlake braved a throng of hot, drunken, classic rock consumers waiting for Rush, AC/DC and The Rolling Stones, and dodged a bunch of water bottles during his solo set and his song with The Stones.
Tickets for the show are available through Ticketmaster and start at $47.50. If you were hoping to purchase one of the $1,500 20/20 VIP Bar and Lounge tickets they are sold out.
And for my weekly show on a tank of gas, you can head out to The Haunt in Ithaca on Friday to see Mike Doughty, formerly of Soul Coughing, for his Question Jar Show. The two-disc live album of the same name is one of my favorite albums. I had an opportunity to get cursed out by Doughty during an interview a few years back when I told him I loved his book but hated the title. The video is on BackstageAxxess.com.Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.