SOMETIMES the best way to start a weekend is with an old favorite. Around Buffalo, nobody fits that bill quite like the incredible Stan Szelest. Starting this weekend, you can hear him every Thursday and Friday at Nietzsche's on Allen Street from 6 to 9:30 p.m.
Szelest started playing his rock piano on the bar circuit in Toronto back in the 1950s. Since then, he has recorded and toured with such notables as Neil Young, Ry Cooder, Jackson Browne, Lonnie Mack, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Maria Muldar.
Saturday, Nietzsche's brings back another favorite, though this one is of a newer vintage. The reggae group Bop Harvey is back by something closely resembling popular demand.
Bop Harvey is a seven-piece band out of Michigan. Although that would seem to be a considerable handicap for a group that aspires to play the hot island sounds, Bop Harvey seems to hold its own. Not only has reggae star Sugar Minott called them "America's best reggae band," but their records have garnered rave reviews.
The key is their music style called "world beat." It's a sound that fuses several styles in an effort to make reggae more popular.
Speaking of coming back, a good local group is back on the scene after a six-month absence. Body Talk first got together a couple of years ago and they were popular. But as so often happens, career conflicts and other personal demands took their toll.
Six months ago, they broke up and two of their members left the area. Keyboardist Tom Ruberto says he went through a kind of withdrawal that was totally unexpected.
"I actually started visiting clubs and sitting in with any group that would have me," he says. "I really missed performing."
The two lead singers Sue Phelan and April Skeindziel as well as bass player Fritz Van Leaven also were ready to get back into the scene.
So the new Body Talk added drummer Dave O'Brien and guitarist Jeff Towers. With that, they were back in the music business with a new mission.
"We try to offer the excitement of a live band and the variety of a good sound system," Ruberto says. "We do the top 40 tunes and a good selection of oldies plus some special things like a Supremes medley."
They play this evening and Saturday in Niagara Falls' Red Jacket Inn.
The Multi-Jazz Dimension is returning to Tim's, the Bar at Harlan's in Theatre Place for a second six-week engagement. This is also something of a triumphant return following the success of their previous six-week engagement a couple of months ago.
The Multi-Jazz Dimension is led by percussionist and composer John Bacon Jr. It includes Carl Corwin on saxes, Kevin Doyle on piano, Greg Millar on guitar and Larry Manno on bass. The group is approaching their second anniversary. You can hear them at Tim's Fridays and Saturdays starting at 9 p.m. starting this evening and running through Jan. 14 (no performances Christmas eve or New Year's eve).
Sometimes, perseverance really does pay off. So believes Calvin Nichols, lead vocalist and guitarist for the Trolls. The band has been one of the area's best rock groups since it was formed in 1974.
They were nominated for various awards, but somehow, they always came in second. Now it has happened. The group was finally named best rock band in the recent 1988 Buffalo Music Awards.
Besides Calvin Nichols, the group includes brother Guy Nichols doing vocals and playing bass and Pete Gomez on drums. They play at Durf's Roadhouse in Lockport on Friday.
At the Comedy Trap on Hertel Avenue this evening's and Saturday's headliner is Chas Elstner. Airborne Eddy, who books the Comedy Trap and acts as emcee, says Elstner is so energetic he makes Robin Williams look like he's on Valium. Elstner is not only a comedian, but also a clown, gymnast and actor. He won the Hawaii state gymnastics championship.
After a tour of 160 colleges, he was nominated as college comedian of the year. And then Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus made him a featured clown.
East Aurora native Mark Fodero is the opening act for Elstner. Fodero's observational humor is delivered with quick and educated style honed over many appearances in top clubs and on college campuses across the country.
An evening of international food and music Tuesday at 8 p.m. will benefit C.R.U.C.I.A.L. Arts & Performances Workshop. The place is Rock-n-Roll Buffalo at 2610 1/2 Main St. near Fillmore. African, reggae, salsa and dance music will be provided by deejays from the Asafou Rockers, a local artists collective. A part of the proceeds will go to the workshop which received a LIFT grant this year from the Arts Council here, the State Arts Council and Erie County to conduct classes in African dance, percussion, poetry and other arts. It is seeking funds to continue these programs.