Mark Sommer - The Buffalo News

Share this article

print logo

Mark Sommer

I have worked at the Buffalo News as an enterprise reporter, and as arts editor, for the past 17 years.


What happens when you mix the unlikely combination of an a cappella group from Brooklyn with the sound of rock music's all-time great jam band?Try "Might As Well: The Persuasions Sing Grateful Dead," a new album of Dead songs penned by the late Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter. It's the kind of vocalization Garcia would have loved, said former Dead member Bob Weir, who perfo…

It's easy to forget Mickey Rooney, now 80, was once a beloved child star. Back when Calvin Coolidge was in the White House, Rooney, then 5 years old, made his motion picture debut by playing a midget in "Not to Be Trusted." He followed that up by assuming the character of Mickey McGuire in more than 50 two-reel film comedies based on a popular cartoon character. At age 12,…

Some films succeed at treating periods of unspeakable terror with humor. "Life Is Beautiful," a touching, poignant film that sparkled from the gleam and polish of Roberto Benini, is one that succeeded. "The Train of Life," a French film directed by Romanian exile Radu Mihaileanu that also concerns the Holocaust, is another.In "Train of Life," a beautifully photographed fil…

The annual Jewish Film Festival gets under way Saturday, which means Buffalo gets to be host for an array of comedies, dramas, love stories and documentaries from around the world.This year's bunch comes from six countries - France, Poland, Germany, Canada and Israel, as well as the United States."Our goal is basically to bring a genre of film here that really would not co…

If, as Muddy Waters said, "Blues had a baby and they named it rock 'n' roll," Redheaded Stepchild has located its other parent - along with assorted cousins, aunts and uncles."Redheaded Stepchild is the bastard child of Bessie Smith and Bill Monroe," band member Kathryn Koch said with a good-natured laugh on a recent evening in Spot Coffee on Delaware Avenue. Referring to …

WHO: Ben E. King with the Buffalo Philharmonic Pops, conducted by Scott SpeckWHEN: 7:30 p.m. tonight; 8 p.m. SaturdayWHERE: Kleinhans Music HallADMISSION: $45, $35, $29, $19INFO: 885-5000 or www.tickets.comAs Ben E. King remembers it, there was a little bit of leftover studio time to kill on Oct. 27, 1960. So the rhythm and blues singer, together with co-writers (and produ…

"The Beatles Anthology," which arrives in bookstores today and is quite likely the last major official Beatles release ever, is the definitive written and pictorial history of the band.The Beatles' story is presented in their own words, and allows the collective voice of arguably the most popular and influential act of the 20th century to finally be heard above the din of …

For those who think museum events are destined to be staid affairs, think again. On Thursday, the venerable Albright-Knox Art Gallery is inaugurating its Thursday at the Knox series with the funky party music of C.O. Jones. The band features keyboardist Dave Schulz, who occasionally tours with the Goo Goo Dolls. The event, which runs from 6 to 9 p.m., is sponsored by the N…

WHAT: Neglia Ballet's "Romeo and Juliet"WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. SundayWHERE: Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State CollegeADMISSION: $20, $17 and $14, students and seniors half-priceINFO: 447-0401Neglia Ballet is planning on putting its best foot forward this weekend. On tap for the 1-year-old ballet company, which grew out of the Neglia Conservatory Ballet School, is its …

WHAT: Renaissance FaireWHEN: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and SundayWHERE: Behind Francis Hall at St. Bonaventure UniversityADMISSION: $7, $5 kids and seniors, free for children under 5INFO: 375-2500Return to the days of the early 16th century and the reign of King Henry VIII this weekend on the campus of St. Bonaventure University. A wide meadow behind the school's former s…

Before the start of last week's nationally televised Senate debate in Buffalo, moderator Tim Russert lectured the audience at WNED-TV studio on the need to act respectfully toward the two candidates.It's too bad he couldn't follow his own advice.Not long into the debate, the "Meet the Press" host and South Buffalo native leveled an astonishingly cheap shot at Democratic ca…

You don't have to look hard in the Buffalo area to find the lasting legacy of the Grateful Dead.Terrapin Station, named after a 1977 Grateful Dead song and album, sells candles, incense, smoking accessories and tie-dyed clothes reminiscent of head shops that first sprung up in the 1960s. And "Jam bands" now frequently play Nietszche's, the Tralf and Showplace.Terrapin mana…

WHO: Further 2000: The Other OnesWHEN: 6:30 p.m. SundayWHERE: Six Flags Darien Lake Performing Arts CenterADMISSION: $35, $27.50 lawnINFO: 852-5000 or www.ticketmaster.comFor Grateful Dead fans and, of course, Deadheads, here's your chance to get a fix on the improvisational, hippie vibes that helped spawn Haight-Ashbury's "Summer of Love" way back in 1967 and launch count…

Teen pop star Christina Aguilera has had a whirlwind 13 months. It may be what a girl wants, but right now what this girl needs may be a little rest.Aguilera appears tonight at 7:30 in Six Flags Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, her 10th concert of 34 she's headlining with Destiny's Child. She's also been busy finishing a Christmas album of new and traditional holiday so…

Little Richard is prone to say of himself that he is "the originator, the forerunner, the emancipator, the architect of rock and roll!" And he just may be right. Born Richard Penniman, the third of 14 children to a family in Macon, Ga., 67 years ago, the outrageous showman and seminal rock and roller has no shortage of admirers. "Little Richard is one of the greatest kings…