Niagara Gazette

September 12, 2013

Music legend Allen Toussaint showcasing piano/song writing skills at Bear's Den

By Thom Jennings
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — This weekend certainly isn’t the busiest in terms of entertainment, but there are a few really good options if one is willing to expand their musical horizons. The best of the best is at The Bear’s Den this weekend, as they will host back-to-back performances from two Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees in a venue that seats less than 500.

On Friday, New Orleans music legend Allen Toussaint comes to town. The pianist has worked with a few “notable” names including Eric Clapton, Jerry Garcia, Elvis Costello, The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney. He also is in both the blues and rock hall of fame and is the recipient of the National Medal of Arts.

If that resume is not impressive enough, his songs include “Working in the Coalmine,” a hit for Devo, “Fortune Teller,” a song covered by many artists including the aforementioned Rolling Stones, “Southern Nights,” a hit by Glen Campbell and “Mother-in-Law,” a 1960s hit covered by Huey Lewis and the News.

The list of artists who have covered his songs includes Widespread Panic, The Pointer Sisters, Three Dog Night, Ringo Starr, Robert Palmer and The Doors.

To sum it all up, Toussaint is a music legend and American treasure. It is artists like Toussaint that underscore the important cultural contribution that the New Orleans music scene has made to the world, and why so many people came to support that music culture in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

On Saturday, a former member of the Au Go Go Singers, Richie Furay, will be headlining. You may not be familiar with the nine piece Au Go Go Singers, but Furay was in that group with a gentleman by the name of Stephen Stills. When Stills and Furay left the Au Go Go Singers they formed a group called Buffalo Springfield with another singer/songwriter you may have heard of, Neil Young.

Buffalo Springfield’s original tenure was only two years, from 1966 to 1968, but they spawned the careers of Young, Stills, and Furay. While Young went on to have a successful solo career and a stint with Stills in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Furay went on to form Poco, with another Buffalo Springfield alumni, Jim Messina.

Poco’s importance to modern music cannot be overstated, they were one of the first bands to fuse country music and rock, a genre that is now often called “Americana.”

Poco had other members of note, including Randy Meisner, the voice of the Eagles hit “Take it to the Limit,” and Timothy B. Scmitt, the current Eagles bass player (he replaced Meisner on bass in both Poco and The Eagles).

Tickets for both shows are available through Ticketmaster and at the Seneca Niagara box office. Toussiant’s tickets start at $55 and Furay’s start at $40. Either show is a great value and even though neither performer is a household name I guarantee you will hear a lot of songs you know and leave with a deeper appreciation of the artists.

I’ll spotlight one other local show, on Saturday, Buffalo’s Town Ballroom hosts Walk the Moon. They are an indie rock band from Cincinnati who released their eponymous full-length album last June. It contained the hit “Anna Sun.”

Walk the Moon is a really good up-and-coming band that has grown on me over the last year, it should be a fairly young crowd, but their music has broad appeal.

Finally, for your show on a tank of gas, the Tedeschi Trucks Band will be performing in Cleveland at the Nautica Stage, a really cool outdoor venue, on Friday night. If you don’t like them both Los Lobos and the Gin Blossoms are in town as well.

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