Say it with me: 25 days to go until the sights, sounds and sun (hopefully) of St. Patrick’s Day.
The Buffalo Irish Center is crossing the passing days off its calendar with a green Sharpie. While it does, it is happy to host such holiday lead-up events as tonight’s annual and international Great Guinness Toast inside its locale at 245 Abbott Road starting at 6 p.m. Attendees can take advantage of stout specials, basket raffles and inhale one of the city’s finest fish fries while raising a pint amid the stomping rhythms of local Irish acts like Penny Whiskey, Crikwater and Poor Ould Goat. And if that’s not enough, rival step dancing troupes Rince na Tiarna and Clann na Cara will be on hand with enough reels to roll you into March.
But if you would rather reserve your Celtic enthusiasm for a few more weeks, that’s fine. You can keep it locked up under your goat-hair sweater and woolen cap and, instead, find a quartet of solid weekend shows across Buffalo’s frozen expanse. Burgeoning guitar gods and “Tripping Billies” chords; eclectic jam sessions and Cajun surprises. They’re all scheduled, and they’re all part of this week’s Farrell Four.
Hayden Fogle and the Ambassadors, 8 p.m. Feb. 20 in Hot Mama’s Canteen (12 Military Road)
High schooler Hayden Fogle isn’t old enough to vote. He can’t legally drive a car, and until last year, he couldn’t attend PG-13-rated romps at a Regal without a parent. But when you’re a guitar prodigy who straps on a Fender to mystify tavern and festival crowds with Jimi Hendrix and Muddy Waters covers, these comparatively tame pubescent benchmarks must matter a lot less. The Orchard Park teen already has played aside Buddy Guy and the harmonica of James Cotton, but on Friday, he’ll roll his Ambassadors and brand of electric blues into Hot Mama’s Black Rock back barroom for an evening of fascinating riffs. Stop down, order up your first fish fry of the Lenten season and get a glance of the mannish boy who’s only getting better.
Before you go, listen to: Fogle’s guitar solos on Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing”
Venue and show info: www.hotmamascanteen.com
Tim Reynolds and TR3, 8 p.m. Feb. 21 in Tralf Music Hall (622 Main St.)
Guitar virtuoso Tim Reynolds has enjoyed an over 35-year musical career that's specialized in six-string experimentation. Whether expertly crossing genres with controlled improvisation or flanking Dave Matthews on albums that have served as surround sound for two decades of college lawn games, Reynolds has proved a significant force—just as he's been as nucleus of his namesake trio, TR3. Originally formed in the mid-1980s with a rotating cast of musicians, Reynolds's power trio earned a reputation for wildly fusing jazz, rock and funk years before he would become a dorm-known name for hypnotically backing Matthews at Iowa's Luther College. Now solidified with bassist Mick Vaughn and drummer Dan Martier since 2007, the electric threesome will find the Theater District on Saturday to deliver tracks off last year’s “Like Some Kind of Alien Invasion,” wild covers of hits from acts like Led Zeppelin and James Brown, and plenty else for fans expectant of Reynolds's traditional sonic spontaneity.
Before you go, listen to: “All Over The Place”
Venue and show info: www.tralfmusichall.com
The Heavy Pets at Buffalo Iron Works, 9 p.m. Feb. 21 (49 Illinois St.)
The term "jam band" is a lazy designation, but most multi-instrumental outfits that present cuts as endless entities capable of spiraling wildly through rhythms deemed danceable by those donning beards, beads and Birkenstocks can't avoid the label. Fort Lauderdale's Heavy Pets could certainly be filed under this genre description, as will be evident when it joins locals Brown Sugar to take over the city’s Cobblestone District on Saturday night.
But to simply classify the jazz, funk and reggae-fusion five-piece as your typical Phish or Jamiroquai mock-up would be to ignore the substance that's earned guitarist Jeff Lloyd and friends slots in festivals like Bonnaroo. It could also distract from the complexity of work on its critically acclaimed 2010 self-titled release and trio of EPs over the last two years. Or, it could have the opposite effect and, instead, influence a slew of groove devotees to shuffle toward the Buffalo River to inhale the band’s ballyhooed live percussive product. Either way, pop into Iron Works and hear what the South Florida quintet has to offer.
Before you go, listen to: “Giant Birds”
Venue and show info: www.buffaloironworks.com
Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, 8 p.m. Feb. 22 in Sportsmen’s Tavern (326 Amherst St.)
Parade floats. Colored beads. Tanned dudes slugging Blue Hurricanes out mugs the size of mop buckets. These are the things many people associate with the week of Mardi Gras. Fortunately for Buffalo, the festival’s traditional sound will visit the Nickel City via the Grammy-nominated Cajun thump of Riley and his Mamou Playboys.
Honed in the southern Louisiana and loyal to their style’s French-spoken roots, the accordion-led quintet has been dealing out worldly and two-step-inducing collaborations on albums like “Trace of Time” and “Bon Reve” for more than 25 years. On Sunday night, it will bring a bit of the French Quarter to Amherst Street through the circling guitars, fiddles and Creole charm that have proven standard throughout the band’s performing career.
Before you go, listen to: “Church Point Breakdown”
Venue and show info: www.sportsmenstavern.net