The "Storm Front" tour ran into a major snowstorm in Iowa this week, but after a couple days stranded, Billy Joel is back on the road again. He got to New York to receive a humanitarian award from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and a "Grammy Legends" award. Now he'll stop into Memorial Auditorium at 8 p.m. Saturday for the first of two sold-out concerts here. He circles back for a second performance next Thursday. As of this week, Joel and his seven-piece band have been out for a year, doing a two-hour-plus show. By the time they finish in New Zealand in March, they will have played 165 nights to more than 3.5 million fans on five continents. What drives Joel so hard after two decades of hits? Money. It turns out he's broke. He's suing his former manager and brother-in-law Frank Weber, claim ing he cheated Joel out of $30 million. "The reason for the length of this tour is financial," he told the Associated Press earlier this year. "Look, at this age (41), you don't want to go out on the road for fun and games. When I started the tour, I was in deep financial straits. The accounting firm I'm with now said I was looking at a deep, deep, deep, deep financial hole that would take two years to get out of. So I said, 'OK,' and put my head down and went to work and I'm getting back in the black. Am I angry about it? 'Bitter' is a good word." -- Dale Anderson
Scraps of Drama Like many abstractionists working today, Buffalo painter Shel don Berlyn has moved from flat painting to three-dimensional relief. With the shift comes greater visual drama. Berlyn can use such materials as bits of pottery, metal scraps and found objects as so much painting material. Color can take on a tangible presence and interact with the real light and shadow moving across the surface of the relief. These new reliefs -- often massive works -- will go on view in a show opening today with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Poetry/Rare Book Collection of the State University at Buffalo's Amherst Campus. "Paintings and Reliefs by Sheldon Berlyn, 1958-1990" will also include early paintings inspired by pre-Columbian art and minimalist and color field paintings from the '70s and early '80s. The exhibition continues on view through Jan. 31.
-- Richard Huntington
Rediscovering the New World For many area folk the appearance of the New World String Quartet on the Slee Beethoven Quartet Cycle tonight at 8 in the State University of Buffalo's Slee Hall on the Amherst Campus will constitute a reunion of sorts. That's because the ensemble's violist Benjamin Simon was, from 1980 to 1988, principal violist of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. This will mark the quar tet's second performance here since Simon joined the ensemble. It was featured on the Buffalo Chamber Music Society series two seasons ago. In this third concert of the annual Slee Beethoven series, Simon and his associates, violinists Curtis Macomber and Vahn Armstrong and cellist Ross Harbaugh, will play the Quartet in D Major, Op. 18 No. 3, the "Grosse Fuge," Op. 133, and the Quartet in F Major, Op. 59 No. 1. -- Herman Trotter
Encounter with the Sacred One world premiere and two Buffalo-area premieres will mark a concert of contemporary sacred music by the Buffalo New Music Ensemble this evening at 8 in the Burchfield Art Center, Buffalo State College's Rockwell Hall. The major offering will be the first performance of "In Memoriam Matris et Patris" by the BNME's artistic director, Ferruccio Germani. It will be performed by the vocal ensemble Harmonium, whose members are counter tenor Scott Gray-Vickrey, tenor Michael DeLano and baritone Spencer Craig, with flute, clarinet, string quartet, piano and percussion. The program will open with regional premieres of George Crumb's "Christmas Suite, A.D. 1979" for amplified piano played by Scott Tinney, and Germani's song cycle "Psalmi" performed by Gray-Vickrey and pianist Tinney. -- Herman Trotter