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Rock on; Lineups announced for two free concert series

The Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls and the Labatt Canal Concert Series have announced their respective series of free summer shows.

The Hard Rock series will be held at 6 p.m. Saturdays between July 7 and Aug. 11 on Old Falls Street, adjacent to the Hard Rock Cafe. For information, visit www.hardrock.com/niagarafalls.

For this year's lineup, a few familiar faces return, a number of first-timers to the Hard Rock roster have been enlisted, and a host of local bands will have the opportunity to open the shows.

The big news for many will be the appearance of revered Buffalo band Talas. The group, formed in 1978, performs together rarely these days, but whenever it does, it's big news in our neck of the woods.

Bassist Billy Sheehan, guitarist Dave Constantino and drummer Paul Varga were the first musicians to be inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, and Constantino and Varga have remained active in the Western New York music scene. Sheehan is based in California, where he performs with a variety of ensembles, including the multiplatinum Mr. Big. He is widely regarded as one of the pre-eminent rock bassists.

Following is the full list.

July 7: Canadian classic rock outfit the Guess Who. Regional bands Salt Peter and eXit! open.

July 14: The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will be joined by various regional musicians from the jam-band scene to perform the music of the Grateful Dead. Niagara Falls indie band Brass Monkeez will open.

July 21: Toronto's evergreen power-pop quartet Sloan is heading south of the border for a headlining set. Two independent bands from Toronto -- the Junction and Topanga -- will open.

July 28: Talas with guests the Road and Fat Brat.

Aug. 4: Disco warriors KC and the Sunshine Band with, appropriately, our own Lance Diamond, along with the Vinnie DeRosa-led regional outfit Vitamin D.

Aug. 11: Burlington, Ont., alt-metal ensemble Finger Eleven. Local winners of the 2012 Hard Rock Rising Battle of the Bands Whiskey Reverb, along with jam-folk-rock outfit USS, open.

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Canal Concerts

The Labatt Canal Concert Series will present a blend of jam band, classic rock, alternative and blues at 6 p.m. Fridays at the Ulrich City Center in Lockport, from June 29 through Aug. 24.

For information, visit www.canalconcerts.com. Here's the list:

June 29: The series kicks off with the Warren Haynes-led jam-band Gov't Mule. Joining the Mule will be the much buzzed-about Canadian jam/soul/rock outfit the Sheepdogs.

July 6: Eddie Money returns, playing before his sizable area following. Singer/songwriter Stacey Clark comes home to open.

July 13: Former Triumph guitarist and frontman Rik Emmett.

July 20: Revered Canadian heavy alt-rock quartet Big Wreck offers its first area gig in eons.

July 27: Platinum-selling Vancouver-based hard rock outfit Theory of a Dead Man.

Aug. 3: Canadian alt-rock journeymen 54-40.

Aug. 10: John Lee Hooker acolyte George Thorogood and his Delaware Destroyers. Thorogood will be joined by songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist and Buffalo native Tom Hambridge.

Aug. 17: Blues-rock wunderkind Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

Aug. 24: After the smash success of last year's reunion gig at the same locale, the Tea Party returns to close the season. Melie Maccarone will open.

email: jmiers@buffnews.com