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September 28, 2022 - 11:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, music, arts, entertainment, news.

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Five Finger Death Punch headlined a show Tuesday at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center that was supported by Megadeath, Fire From the Gods and The Hu.

PreviouslyFive Finger Death Punch brings AfterLife and familiar hits to Darien Lake tonight

Photos by Philip Casper.  Top photo: Five Finger Death Punch

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Five Finger Death Punch

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Megadeath

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The Hu

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Fire From the Gods

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September 27, 2022 - 1:13pm

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Five Finger Death Punch singer Ivan Moody, in various recent interviews, has revealed that four years ago, he died for three and a half minutes before being resuscitated – his body’s reaction to quitting drinking cold turkey.

His bandmate, guitarist Zoltan Bothery, knows what Moody experienced, disclosing he briefly died when was 12 years old.

“I was on my bicycle and I used to get behind big trucks because I could go faster...You’re getting in the draft (of the truck),” Bathory recalled in a phone interview. “The bicycle started to get to a speed when it was really not stable anymore.”

That’s when Bathory briefly took his eye off of the truck.

“I just plowed into the truck,” Bathory said. “I spent some time trying to find it (the truck). And at first I noticed, I can look behind a wall and I can look behind a bush. So I realized in that moment I had an out-of-body experience.”

After a bit, Bathory regained consciousness, and he actually walked away from the scene, much to the astonishment of onlookers who had gathered.

Bathory said he is talking about the incident because the new Five Finger Death Punch album, “AfterLife,” deals in part with this unique experience he and Moody share.

Specifically, the album includes the song “Judgment Day,” which Bathory said was meant to be “a soundtrack to the process of dying.”  Moody’s reaction when Bathory gave him the music was all he needed to see.

“I gave the song to Ivan to write the lyrics,” Bathory recalled. “He freaked out. He said ‘I’m not writing this song. I don’t want to (relive it).’” 

Eventually, Moody remembered he was actually at peace while he was dying, and he completed the lyrics. With that, all 10 songs were done and “AfterLife” was ready to be the ninth studio album from this popular hard rock/heavy metal band – seven of which have gone gold or platinum.

Headlining at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center tonight, Five Finger Death Punch is bringing out a visually elaborate show and playing lots of the hits.

“When you put in new stuff that people are not familiar with, it changes the vibe (of the show),” Bathory said. “They can’t sing along because they don’t know the song ...So you can put in new songs, but you have to be careful and you have to be very smart where you put them in the set.”

Photo by Travis Shinn.

September 20, 2022 - 3:00pm

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Spring 2020 saw Shinedown’s unplugged “Deep Dive” tour go up in smoke when the pandemic hit. It was going to be a rare opportunity for fans to see the hit-making group play a selection of rarely performed album cuts from across their career.

But fans probably aren’t complaining too much about the tour’s demise because Shinedown used some of the pandemic-instigated downtime to make the new album, “Planet Zero.”

The new album is a departure lyrically in that it’s the most topical of the seven studio albums from Shinedown, which formed in Jacksonville, FL in 2001 and has become one of mainstream rock’s most popular bands.

“When we started making this record, we were at a time when it was very uncertain. When we started writing, the world had just shut down,” Myers said. “It was supposed to be 10 days and it ended up being 16 months, and even more now. So when you’re in a place like that, you have all of this other stuff around you. You have people stating opinions that aren’t necessarily political or racial or anything else, and they’re still getting canceled for their opinions. So there was a lot to write about.” 

Indeed, tracks like “The Saints of Violence and Innuendo,” “No Sleep Tonight,” and “America Burning,” examine the divisions in today’s society. But Shinedown also offers moments of hope and spotlights the need for unity on songs like “Daylight,” “Dysfunctional You,” and “A Symptom of Being Human.”

A unique twist in the album is the introduction of a robot-like character, Cyren, who acts as a narrator and guides listeners through the album and helps connect the themes of the songs.

Shinedown, which also includes singer Brent Smith, bassist Eric Bass and drummer Barry Kerch, is on a tour that stops tonight at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, building a set list around a catalog that includes nearly 30 hit singles. 

“It gets a little dicey. When you try to make a set list, you want to make everybody happy,” Myers said. “Obviously, you have your, we call them the four corners. You’ve got to play ‘Second Chance.’ You’ve got to play ‘Simple Man.’ You’ve got to play ‘Sound of Madness’ and you’ve got to play ‘Cut The Cord.’ Other than that, you can kind of maneuver around a bit.”

September 16, 2022 - 12:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GSO, Oakfield, Haxton Memorial Library, music, arts, news.

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Members of the Genesee Symphony Orchestra were in Oakfield on Thursday evening to talk with children about the instruments they play and how music is made.

The orchestra members, along with conductor and music director Shade Zajac, explained their instruments, the sounds they made, playing examples, and how the instruments are played and how they might fit into a piece of music.

Participating were Holly Hudson, Nicole Zajac (top photo), Shade Zajac, and Claudia Deibold.

The event was sponsored by the Haxton Memorial Library and held at the Oakfield Government and Community Center.

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September 14, 2022 - 10:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Claudia Hoyser, music, arts, entertainment, news.

Claudia Hoyser, who has made a couple of appearances in Genesee County, has a new video out that was partially filmed in Genesee County, in a field of crimson clover owned by CY Farms.

For record collectors, they will also recognize the Record Archive in Rochester as one of the video's settings.

Previously: 

September 8, 2022 - 5:48pm
posted by Press Release in Batavia Society of Artists, GO ART!, batavia, arts, news.

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Press release:

The Batavia Society of Artists is hosting artist Karen Crittenden on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. at Go-Art/Seymour Place, 201 E. Main St., Batavia.  Karen will be doing a hands-on demonstration of Mono Printing on Gelli Plates.  Non-Members are welcome for a $5 fee.  Tavern 2.o.1.will be open for cash purchases during this demo.

Karen is a lifelong artist.  Starting with office supplies, cereal boxes and construction paper when she was very young.  Karen received her first camera at the age of 10 as a gift and has not put one down since then.  She has explored many mediums and styles of art.  In recent times, mixed media has been a well-received favorite as well as her photographs.  

Karen owns and operates Karen’s Yarn Paper Scissors, 550 E. Main St., Batavia, where she offers classes in mixed media, junk journals/folios as well as other art and craft lessons.  She has been doing this for the last 10 years.

Her philosophy regarding art and craft is this: “I sincerely believe that anyone can be an artist.  It takes time and practice and finding a medium you really love and feel comfortable doing.  Anyone can practice art and craft and can learn.  It is up to the teacher to find appropriate ways for people to learn.”

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September 7, 2022 - 11:48pm
posted by Press Release in Genesee Chorale, music, arts, entertainment, news.

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Rehearsals start soon for the Genesee Chorale and the chorale is eager to accept new members into the group.

Rehearsals are Monday evenings starting at 7 p.m. and wrapping up by 9 p.m. at St. James Episcopal Church. 

The first rehearsal is on Sept. 12.

The chorale is planning its seasonal concert for December.

Singers of all levels of experience are welcome. 

To register, visit https://www.geneseechorale.com/members

More information is also available at https://www.geneseechorale.com/join

Photo: File photo by Howard Owens

September 6, 2022 - 11:51pm
posted by Press Release in Haxton Memorial Library, Oakfield, GSO, music, arts, entertainment, news.

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Press release:

Six members of the Genesee Symphony Orchestra will be presenting a special program on Sept. 15 from 7  to 8 p.m. at the Oakfield Government and Community Center.

Music lovers are invited to come to listen to and learn from these talented musicians as they perform some selected pieces and showcase each of their instruments. Each of the six musicians from the orchestra will explain how their specific instrument works and how it is unique. The audience will experience the six instruments played alone and played together as part of a six-piece ensemble.

“This program is a great way for children and adults to learn about the special qualities of the musical instruments that will be showcased,” says Kim Gibson, Library Director at the Haxton Memorial Library. “Everyone will enjoy this presentation.”

The Genesee Symphony Orchestra is a regional orchestra that presents concerts for the enrichment of our community through high-quality performances, educational opportunities, guest artists, and partnerships. It is one of the oldest civic orchestras in New York state.

The special presentation takes place at 7 p.m. at the Oakfield Government and Community Center, 3219 Drake Street in Oakfield.

This family-friendly project is made possible with funds from the Statewide Community Regent Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the office of the Governor and the New York State legislature and administered by Go Art!         

The Haxton Memorial Library located at 3 North Pearl Street in Oakfield provides residents with a variety of programs, events and materials that are listed on the library’s website at www.HaxtonLibrary.org.

Photo: File photo by Howard Owens.

September 4, 2022 - 8:02pm

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The American Warrior Festival organization hosted a music night at Eli Fish Brewing Company to show appreciation for those currently serving in the military and for veterans of all eras. 

Performers included Joel Russlett (top photo), Billy Lambert, Travis Mackie, Rich Hancy, Josh Ketchum, and Monica Hall (bottom photo).

Photos by Howard Owens

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September 4, 2022 - 5:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in dwyer stadium, Robbie Nichols, batavia, news, music, arts, entertainment, notify.

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When people leave Dwyer Stadium laughing and smiling, Robbie and Nellie Nichols know they've done the right thing, whether it's after a concert, a Halloween costume party, or a baseball game.

Special events at the stadium aren't about making money, Robbie said.  In fact, the two concerts the Nichols hosted this summer were costly and a lot of work, that's why there are only two of them. But they fulfill a mission and keep a promise, he said.

"For us, it's not about the money," Nichols said. "It's about us seeing people having a good time at the stadium and us keeping our word when we signed the lease for Dwyer, that you would see more than just baseball there."

On a golden summer evening on Saturday, Dwyer was filled with the happy vibe of Zac Brown fans there to see the Rochester-based Zac Brown Tribute Band.  Frowns were impossible to find on the infield grass or in the stands or in the concession area where Robbie Nichols himself was serving up cocktails in palm-tree-top plastic containers and tall cans of beer.

The good times had by all might also help fill up the stands during Muckdogs games, Nichols acknowledged.

"Maybe 50 percent of the people there had never been to Dwyer before," Nichols said. "A lot of people came from Buffalo and Rochester.  I just want people to get used to coming to the stadium. I had a couple of people say they didn't know the stadium was this nice and that they will definitely be back for a Muckdogs game."

Given the amount of work and expense that goes into putting on a concert, there won't be any more shows at Dwyer this year, but given the success of the two events this summer, Nichols plans on doing it again next summer once the baseball season is over.

"I think my wife and I like to see people happy and having a good time," Nichols said. "We like seeing smiles on their faces, and I think we accomplished that with these concerts."

The next events at Dwyer are a baseball camp hosted by GCC and Geneseo College playing a ball game against alumni, and then there is the Alzheimer's Walk on Oct. 1, followed by the Halloween bash, which was a big success last year, on Oct. 22.

Photos by Howard Owens

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Robbie Nichols

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August 28, 2022 - 11:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sawyer brown, jam at the ridge, Le Roy, music, arts, entertainment, news.

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Jam at the Ridge closed out its 2022 summer concert season on Saturday with a big crowd and high energy for long-time hitmakers Sawyer Brown.

Photos by Howard Owens.

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August 26, 2022 - 8:45am
posted by Howard B. Owens in music, arts, entertainment, news, Batavia Downs.

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Video Sponsor

Once the accordion and brass kick in backed by the drummer's strong 2/4 beat, you know it's polka time. And it's hard not to smile.

There were indeed no frowns in the crowd at Batavia Downs on Thursday night for a taping of WBBZ’s Polka Buzz featuring The Buffalo Touch.

"Polka is happy music," said band leader Ken Machelski between sets. "It's fun music. You know, people get up and dance, they laugh, the songs are all about having fun --  drinking beer songs, whatnot, you know, all about the ladies, you know, pretty, pretty ladies."

Polka has a rich and varied history and many cultures of the world have adopted the 2/4 time signature for their own variation of party music.  The Buffalo Touch, thrice nominated for Grammy Awards, has developed its own style of polka over its 27-year history.

"You mention polka to somebody that doesn't know anything about it and the first thing pops to mind, the most popular is the oompa-pa. Oompa-pa. Oompa-pa,  you know the German thing," Machelski. "And that's fine. That's a Polka 2/4 beat. The Italians have a Polka. Everybody has a Polka. But ours is a Polish Polka. Our type of music has been created and evolved from songs from Poland but done American style. We add our own American twist, you know, with a couple of horns, and concertina, the accordion, piano, drums, with the ensemble. It gives us a unique sound Americanized sound."

Batavia Downs Director of Marketing Ryan Hasenauer said he was more than pleased with the event, and suggested Batavia Downs may do another polka party again soon.

"We've got all these people that are enjoying some great Polish music," Hasenauer said. "We've got the Polish specials at the Homestretch Grill, some Polish vodka, some Polish beer and a sold-out hotel. What more can you ask for? It's great. I look around and everybody's having a good time."

Not bad, he said, for an event that Batavia Downs and WBBZ decided to partner on less than six weeks ago.

"One of the things that we pride ourselves on at Batavia Downs is we're nimble, we're quick, we're able to kind of, you know, find an event that we want to do, talk to the right people, and then put it down very quickly," he said.

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Photos by Howard Owens.

August 25, 2022 - 5:37pm
posted by Press Release in GO ART!, batavia, news, arts.

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Press release:

GO ART!, on 201 E. Main St. Batavia, is soon to host two new art exhibitions. In the ground floor's Tompkins Bank of Castile Main Gallery, witness Rebecca Graham's “Traditional Mixed Media in a Digital World,” a series of subject-driven works that evoke warm nostalgia for analog experience. This show will run from Sept. 7 through Oct. 29, with a reception from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sept 17.

The second floor's Rotary Room gallery will feature works of various media by the GLOW Creatives, a group of artists that are collaborating (with each other, with GO ART!, and two other area arts councils) on a two-year grant-funded series of art projects intended to engage four rural Western NY counties. Sculpture by Susan Ferrari Rowley, photography by Keith Walters, painting by Dan Butler, and digital artwork by GO ART! marketing coordinator Austin Retzlaff will be featured. To learn more about the collaboration, please visit goart.org/glowcreatives. With an opening reception on September 15th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., the show runs from Sept. 7 to Oct. 29.

Please visit https://www.goart.org/upcoming-exhibitions for more information on these and other anticipated gallery exhibitions at GO ART!

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August 15, 2022 - 4:52pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, arts, Batavia Society of Artists, notify.

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Batavia Society of Artists will be hosting its Member's Summer Art Show, kicking it off with an opening reception this week at Go-Art/Seymour Place, 201 East Main St., Batavia. The free reception is from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, and light refreshments will be served.

Fifteen artists and 39 paintings will be on display, and there will be a People's Choice Award in lieu of a traditional judge for the exhibit. Spectators will have an opportunity to cast their vote, and the winning artist will receive a $75 prize during the reception. 

"So please come out and vote for your favorite painting," organizers say.

A cash bar will be available at Tavern 2.0.1.

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Submitted photos of Batavia Society of Artists' works.

August 15, 2022 - 4:21pm
posted by Press Release in news, arts, GO ART!, grants.

Press Release

GO ART! Announces Upcoming Statewide Community Regrant Program Funding Opportunities and Schedule of SCR Grant Workshops. What is the SCR Program? The Statewide Community Regrant Program (formerly DEC) was developed by the New York State Council on the Arts in 1977 in response to a mandate by New York’s Legislature that there be a greater local involvement in funding decisions, affecting local non-profit organizations, offering artistic or cultural services and programs, and to ensure New York State’s cultural funding reached every part of the State.  The program is funded statewide – in all 62 counties, and funds are regranted by local arts agencies through a transparent peer panel funding process. 

An organization or individual with a fiscal agent that meets NYSCA and GO ART! criteria may request regrant funds.  Through the Statewide Community Regrant Program (also known as the SCR Program), GO ART!, NYSCA and the New York State Legislature hope to extend, upgrade and increase the arts and cultural programming in Genesee and Orleans Counties. The goal is to make state arts support available to geographically, economically, and ethnically diverse segments of the state’s population. 

SCR grants are designed to support and develop the capacity of individual artists, collectives, and small nonprofit organizations to develop high quality local arts projects and programming and contribute to Genesee and Orleans County communities by providing opportunities for the public to experience and engage with the arts. Emphasis is placed on the quality and artistic merit of proposed projects and the depth and authenticity of audience experience, participation and engagement. 

Through the SCR Program, GO ART! awarded over $100,000 to individuals and organizations throughout Genesee and Orleans Counties last year alone and over 1.5 million dollars in the 35 years that GO ART! has been administering the program.

Applications will be accepted from Sept 15 – Nov 1, 2022 for the 2023 SCR Grant Cycle.

Funding Opportunities:
Community Arts Grants (Reach Grants) provide seed grants to individual artists, collectives and arts organizations for projects and activities that enable Genesee and Orleans County communities to experience and engage with the performing, literary, media, and visual arts. Individual Artist Commission (RIPPLE Grant) supports local, artist-initiated activity, and highlights the role of artists as important members of the community. The Commission is for artistic projects with outstanding artistic merit that work within a community setting. 

The Arts Education Program (Spark Grant) is offered in two funding strands: K-12 In-School Projects and After-School and Community-based Learning. Funds can support arts education projects that take place in-school during the school day and/or in after-school and community-based settings for youth and/or senior learners and must be carried out in partnership with a public school or a community-based organization. Emphasis is placed on the depth and quality of the creative process through which participants learn through or about the arts. Projects must focus on the exploration of art and the artistic process. Inter-curricular collaboration for in-school projects is encouraged but not required.

Funding amounts differ from program to program, but the maximum allowable project request from each applicant is $5,000. Applicants may submit up to THREE separate project requests in any grant cycle, with the total of all requests not to exceed $5,000.

Who is Eligible?

  • Nonprofit organizations, NYS incorporated nonprofits, agencies of local government (not New York State agencies)
  • Individual artists, groups or collectives, unincorporated entities must have a fiscal sponsor or community partner (see specific program guidelines)
  • All applicants must be over the age of 18 and have a permanent address in the county in which the programming will take place.

Selection Process:

Awards are based on a competitive, transparent peer panel review process. A panel composed of artists, arts administrators, and community leaders (who work and/or reside in Genesee or Orleans county) review each project on the basis of its own merits and against others in the application pool. Awards are based on panel recommendations at the completion of the review
process. Limited funds are available, and priority is given to applications that meet the specific program criteria published within SCR guidelines.

Schedule of upcoming SCR Grant Workshops ALL potential applicants are required to attend a grant workshop. Registration is required at least two days prior to the scheduled workshop.

  • Sat, 8/27 @ 10am GO ART! 201 E Main Street, Batavia
  • Sat, 9/3 @ 10am, Virtual (zoom link will be provided upon registration)
  • Tue, 9/6 @ 6pm, Woodward Memorial Library, 7 Wolcott St, Leroy
  • Sat, 9/10 @ 10am, Hoag Library, 134 Main St, Albion
  • Mon, 9/12 @ 5pm, Hollwedel Memorial Library, 5 Woodrow Drive, Pavilion
  • Tue, 9/13 @ 6pm, Orleans YMCA, 306 Pearl Street, Medina
  • Sat, 9/17 @ 10am, Haxton Memorial Library, 3 N Pearl St, Oakfield
  • Mon, 9/19 @ 6pm, Virtual (zoom link will be provided upon registration)
  • Tue, 9/20 @ 5pm, Byron-Bergen Public Library, 13 S Lake St
  • Sat, 9/24 @ 5pm, Yates Community Library, 15 N Main St Lyndonville

For more information on the application process, to register for a workshop, to apply, or nominate a panelist please visit www.goart.org/grants. If you have any questions about the program contact the SCR Program Coordinator, Mary Jo Whitman, at [email protected].

August 15, 2022 - 12:21pm
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, arts, music, news.

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced the lineup for indoor fall concert dates, which will take place inside Park Place this fall on select Fridays.

On Friday, Sept. 2, Batavia Downs welcomes Forever Seger – The Silver Bullet Experience.  Forever Seger creates a dynamic journey through the timeless music of Bob Seger featuring lead singer, Kevin Reid. Authentic vocals, commanding performance, and Reid’s unmistakable 1970’s Seger-look captures their audience and propels The Silver Bullet Experience onto the top-ranking concert stages and festivals in North America.

Bennie and the Rest: A Tribute to Elton John makes their Batavia Downs debut on Friday, Nov. 4.  The band of incredible musicians takes you on a journey through the musical hits of Sir Elton John.  The show is headlined by Rochester Native and Broadway veteran, Jason Ostrowski.

“We are excited to extend our events back inside for the fall,” said Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO for Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel. “The Pepsi Rockin’ the Downs concert series was a tremendous success, and we look forward to providing more entertainment throughout the fall and winter months.”

Tickets for these two shows will be available at www.BataviaConcerts.com beginning at 4pm on Monday, August 15th.

Tickets for the two tribute shows mentioned above are $15 for GA and $25 for VIP, which gives access to the first 2 rows.   All tickets can be redeemed for $10 in Free Play at Player’s Club within 24 hours of the show. 

Tickets are also on sale for already announced events:  Batavia Downs Catches the Polka Buzz – A Polka Party with WBBZ and the 2022 Vodka & Gin fest presented by Stoli and Ford’s Gin.

August 14, 2022 - 7:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in the batavian sessions, music, arts, news.
Video Sponsor

Flashback plays "Lodi" during the First Presbyterian Church of Elba bicentennial picnic in the Elba Village Park on Saturday.

August 10, 2022 - 11:36pm
posted by Press Release in polka, arts, music, entertainment, news, Batavia Downs.

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Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced that WBBZ’s popular show, Polka Buzz, will tape several shows inside the Park Place Room on Thursday, Aug. 25 at 7 p.m.  Local Polka Band, “The Buffalo Touch”, will perform that evening.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased on the Batavia Downs official tickets website, BataviaConcerts.com now.   Tickets can also be purchased at the Lucky Treasures Gift Shop. Tickets can be redeemed for $10 in Free Play on the day of the show.

Those wishing to spend the night can take advantage of a $69 Hotel Special, which includes $40 in Free Play ($20 per person, based on double occupancy) and includes 2 tickets to the show!  Check out the Batavia Downs Facebook Page for info on booking a hotel room to receive these perks.

“Polka Buzz” celebrates Polka music as a recorded dance party program, featuring the top Polka Bands in the country.  Local Media Personality Ron Dombrowski hosts the show and brings his knowledge of Polka music to the television screen. Dombrowski has been broadcasting polka programs since 1979 on both radio and television.

“We are excited to once again bring Polka Buzz on the road for the summer,” said Dombrowski.  “We hope to see lots of our fellow Polka fans from Batavia, Buffalo, Rochester and the surrounding areas at our Batavia Downs Show!”

The Homestretch Grill, located adjacent to the Park Place Room, will feature food and drink for those attending the event.  Several specials including Polish Beer, Vodka and Food will be available.

“Hosting the Polka Buzz on site is something we’ve been looking to do for a long time, “said Scott Kiedrowski, Vice President of Operations.  “Hosting these unique, fun and affordable events is what sets Batavia Downs apart from other entertainment venues.”

Photo via TheBuffaloTouch.com

August 10, 2022 - 7:00am

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By L. Kent Wolgamott/Last Word Features

“Jukebox Charley” isn’t really Charley Crockett’s moniker. It’s the title of his newly released 11th album. But it’s a fair description of the man, who performs a jukebox full of songs, like the Johnny Paycheck-penned title cut, that brings classic country back to vivid life.

The fourth album in his “Lil’ G.L. Presents:” series is intentionally packed with Crockett’s versions of honky-tonk tunes that even the biggest vintage country fans won’t know.

“Folks nowadays don’t know any of the classic stuff at all,” Crockett said. “We really wanted to do some stuff those guys might not know. Not just to stump them. That’s the real thing. So why not put stuff people haven’t heard before?”

There’s a very personal reason why Crockett unearths obscure gems like Jerry Reed’s “Feel for You,” Willie Nelson’s “Home Motel,” George Jones’ “Out of Control” and Tom T. Hall’s “Lonely in Person” and “I Hope It Rains at My Funeral.”

“I’ve written a lot of songs," he said. “Sometimes I write good ones, sometimes I don’t. If I’ve got any chance of writing a good song, it’s because I’m learning these (classic) songs.”

Crocket brings his honky tonk sound to the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Sunday as part of the Outlaw Country Festival.

Another key influence, he said, is Bob Dylan.

“If you’re not looking at Dylan, you’re not thinking about songwriting,” Crockett said. “I know there’s a Grand Canyon for some folks between Bob Dylan and Tom T. Hall. I love Tom T. Hall. I recorded a couple of his songs on this (“Jukebox Charley”) album. The reality is if you took Tom T. Hall out of me, I’d still be good. But take Dylan out and I probably wouldn’t be doing it at all.”

Crockett, 38, began his music career at age 17, developing what he calls his “Gulf and Western” country sound as he hit the road with his pawn shop guitar, playing at first on the streets, then clubs and other venues while independently releasing 10 previous albums and overcoming open heart surgery in 2019 to correct a congenital defect.

Too independent, too country, and too distinctive for Nashville and country radio, Crockett won Emerging Act of the Year at the 2021 Americana Honors & Awards.

“For me, coming out of complete obscurity, digging a hole through the floor, if not for Americana, I don’t know where I’d be,” Crockett said.

Photo by Bobby Cochran.

August 9, 2022 - 7:00am

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ZZ Top’s “Raw” is as close to being an accidental album as it gets.

The album, which was released on July 22, is drawn from a session at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, Texas in which singer/guitarist Billy Gibbons, bassist Dusty Hill, and drummer Frank Beard played versions of such familiar songs as “La Grange,” “Tush,” “Gimme All Your Lovin’” and “Legs” in the most live, spontaneous and basic setting possible.

The performances were filmed for use in the recent ZZ Top documentary celebrating the band’s 50-year history with its classic lineup, “That Little Ol’ Band from Texas.” That was supposed to be it, end of the story.

“The tunes on that occasion unfolded quite in the moment,” Gibbons said, recalling the session in a new e-mail interview. “Our director, Sam (Dunn), wanted a sequence where we played in the present day as a balance to the film’s historical narrative. We got in there and did what we did and later, much later, realized we had an album.” 

As Gibbons indicated, upon further review, the performances captured something worth hearing in its entirety – the unmistakable Texas blues-rock boogie of ZZ Top in its most authentic state. And the “Raw” album became a reality.

That authentic ZZ Top sound will be part of Sunday's Outlaw Country Festival on Sunday.

The album provides one of the last live documents of ZZ Top with Hill, who passed away in July 2021. A hip injury had prevented Hill from joining Gibbons and Beard for last summer’s tour, so long-time guitar tech Elwood Francis stepped in on bass. When Hill died, the band barely took time off before resuming the tour, knowing that’s what Hill would have wanted. 

Nevertheless, Hill’s death came as a shock.

“It was quite sudden, and we remained under the assumption he’d rally, recover and rejoin us,” Gibbons said. “We just had to deal with the reality of departure, and the quick turnaround helped reinforce “the show must go on” ethos. Our crew, our friends, fans, and followers have been a huge source of comfort.”

Now with Francis considered a long-term third member, Gibbons believes ZZ Top still has plenty to say musically. He’s hinted that an album of new material could happen.

“Elwood is certainly in with us for the long haul,” Gibbons said. “It’s still ZZ Top, not ZZ Top 2 or ZZ Top with an asterisk. The genuine article abides!”  

Photo courtesy of ZZ Top

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