Michael Farrell
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Michael Farrell

Buffalo News contributor Michael Farrell is the author of two novels--Running with Buffalo (2007) and When the Lights Go Out (2015)--and has had work featured in several publications, including Buffalo Spree, WNY Craft Beer Magazine and The Boston Herald, where he worked as a reporter from 2004 to 2011. A graduate of St. Bonaventure University (B.A., Journalism) and Pine Manor College (M.F.A., Creative Writing), he enjoys dark beers and corner bars; and owns multiple copies of Bruce Springsteen's "Tunnel of Love."


Lots of items get exchanged between neighbors, whether power tools, shrub suggestions or casual conversation. But sometimes, such abutting interaction can turn into something bigger—like turning an old auto parts store into a marquee craft beer store and bar. Such is the case with Hamburg’s Hamm & Fattey’s Beer Company, started by two village neighbors intent …

There are a finite amount of classic rock characters that could suggest recording orchestral versions of their greatest tracks inside an ancient cathedral—and it would seem completely appropriate. Jethro Tull architect Ian Anderson is one of these individuals, and this year’s “The String Quartets” is a testament to the instrumental flexibility of some of his mos…

Charlie’s Boat Yard doesn’t have to be a spectacular bar and restaurant to be a seasonal success. If the sun is setting just right over Lake Erie, its neighboring Small Boat Harbor is packed with occupants, or a swell of cyclists is circling the nearby Buffalo Harbor State Park on a temperate summer night, the waterfront locale could please with lukewarm hot dogs an…

With its July presentation of 311, New Politics and The Skints, Buffalo’s 103.3 WEDG unveiled a bombastic serving of its newly apportioned Edgefest, its long-running annual alt-rock revue now broken into three separate summer shows at the picturesque Artpark. And while its show likely brought people back to the '90s (with 311), its next and final installment should br…

Pioneering country crooner. Influential songwriter. Mafia surgeon Doc Miles in the adrenaline-pumping “Crank” (and “Crank 2”). The legendary Dwight Yoakam has worn many hats under his signature-tipped Stetson, and it’s earned him a career of cross-genre appeal that his country music brethren could only hope to achieve. But the multifaceted concoction of artist…

Fact: There is a fertile market for formulaic, overproduced pseudo-rock. The music’s intent, direction or emptiness doesn’t matter. The underlying (or overt) message of any track will be glossed over with the wail of amplified Fender chords, and all of the aforementioned is perpetually secondary to a song’s ability to get fists, fingers or frosty cups in the air. …

It doesn’t feel like Tegan and Sara have been performing for almost two decades—but that’s less a commentary on the passage of time and more a testament to an act whose artistic evolution has rendered them ageless. Since the Canadian-born indie-pop sisters appeared as teenagers alongside fellow female-led stalwarts like Luscious Jackson and The Pretenders at 1999…

Over nearly two decades, The New Pornographers have churned out seven albums of pristine power pop while boasting a seven- to eight-member band roster that reads like an alt-rock all-star team. A.C. Newman of Zumpano. Dan Bejar and John Collins of Destroyer. Neko Case of, well, Neko Case. Cohesive and enjoyably cacophonous, the Canadian super-collective has routed a rel…

Aside from their identifiable female leads, the live pairing of '90s grunge rockers Garbage and new wave stalwarts Blondie for their current Rage & Rapture Tour may not sound like a seamless fit. The Shirley Manson-stamped Garbage dazzled its decade’s alt-rock set with its unique combination of dark, industrial-leaning guitar cuts and tracks smiley enough to sound…

Buffalo groove gaggle Aqueous has not been abiding in anonymity since forming a decade ago. Whether recording live material, cultivating spacey jams for an upcoming album or tirelessly touring from anywhere to everywhere, the lauded quartet is out there. However, even with a growing notoriety on the national circuit, it doesn’t hurt to have a recent Huffington Post he…

When synth-and-guitar duo Jeffrey Jacob and Angela Gail's In the Valley Below played Alternative Buffalo’s summertime Kerfuffle in 2015, they were one of a cavalcade of indie-pop acts on a steamy Canalside afternoon – but they still stood out. The dueling sexual tension and energy. Brooding cuts off breakthrough debut “The Belt” shined and amplified for a live o…

Historically, punk rock isn’t the type of music performed under the glow of sunlight. It’s ground out in garages, performed for neighborhood friends inside the local VFW halls and community centers. It’s perfected in dank, Pabst-soaked city bars and popularized within the type of legendary rock clubs that are now promoted via $30 T-shirts. But in 1995, Vans War…

What is it about relocating from cramped pubs to sunlit patios that enhances the communion between music fans and Buffalo’s local bands? Maybe it’s the Lake Erie breezes that intermingle between live musicians and Bud Light Lime drinkers. Or the Rust Belt warmth that radiates across flailing arms and dancing legs. Or, perhaps, the Jimmy Buffet and Journey covers tha…

Despite generations of howling, hirsute resistance, music fans do unfortunately age with their album collections. But the songs inside those vinyl sleeves? The best remain frozen in time, attached to formidable years and memories established decades ago. Fog-sheathed guitar solos serenaded first kisses and moonlit keggers. Wailing voices ignited smiling hysteria or soot…

The Shins didn’t need a life-altering approval by a movie character played by Natalie Portman to become an influential early aughts indie force – but it certainly didn’t hurt. The Albuquerque, New Mexico, band already had released two critically acclaimed Sub Pop albums when Portman’s character in the 2004 film "Garden State" gave her memorable endorsement of th…