In the clubs and under the radar: Niagara Falls club reimagines the concept of community - The Buffalo News

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In the clubs and under the radar: Niagara Falls club reimagines the concept of community

The Topper Social Club was a popular bar and live music spot in Niagara Falls that opened in 1926 as the go-to joint for swing-era sounds. The club moved through many guises – including a tenure as a genuine speakeasy – before finally closing its doors in 1996.

Late in 2012, the club was reopened under new management, after undergoing significant restoration of woodwork and decorative aspects from its initial Roaring ’20s heyday.

For the past six months, the Topper’s new owners have been trying out a concept that takes its impetus from the community co-op model. Patrons of the club – which features live music every Wednesday evening through Saturday evening – are encouraged to purchase a share of the club for $100 each. This fee earns the patron monthly vouchers to exchange for drinks and food. Cover charges for entertainment evenings also are waived for patrons. The idea is to build a devoted local community of Topper patrons, though it should also be noted that the club is open to everyone, not just members.

The Wednesday evening shows in Topper have been generating a buzz as something fresh and unique on the music scene. Billed as a “Musician’s Reunion,” the evening draws musicians from both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border to what one patron describes as “way more than a jam session.” Presided over by house band Big Tobacco, “Musician’s Reunion” has become the go-to event for many tenured members of the blues, rock and jazz community, all of whom take the opportunity to sit in with peers and colleagues to offer a solid evening of entertainment.

This seems like a concept that deserves some support. Whenever a community-minded ethos prevails, our area’s music scene is strengthened, and we all benefit. “Musician’s Reunion” takes over the Topper (492 19th St., Niagara Falls) from 7 p.m. to midnight Wednesdays. Learn more through Topper’s Facebook page.

We are the Millers

Dive House Union singer/guitarist David Michael Miller and his son, Joshua Miller, are headed to Memphis in late January to represent Western New York in the annual International Blues Competition. The two are entered in the duo category, beneath the moniker Bare Bones. If you’ve seen Miller with DHU, you know he’s a beast of a guitarist and an incredibly soulful singer, and I’m guessing the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree in this instance.

Taking four days off of work and traveling to Memphis, then covering room and board for the duration, is tough for just about anyone who finds themselves in the professional (but not internationally famous) musician tax bracket. The Millers will ably represent the depth of our region’s talents in Memphis, so it makes sense that we would show support.

We can do that by attending this week’s Thursday Night Blues with Anita West series in the Central Park Grill (2519 Main St.) at 7 p.m. This weekly gig is normally a freebie, but a $5 donation to help defray the Millers’ out-of-pocket costs will be accepted. Members of the Campbell Brothers Band, Dive House Union and Tommy Z. will join the Millers.


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