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POP MUSIC NOTES

The Friendship Festival brings a pair of star headliners to the pavilion in LaSalle Park for free shows this weekend. Singer Natalie Cole offers her many hits at 8 p.m. Friday, while the Commodores revive their funk favorites of the '70s at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Local performers open both shows, beginning at 5:30. Canadian rockers Colin James and Tragically Hip play free at Mather Arch in Fort Erie, Ont., at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Melody Fair features R&B diva Patti LaBelle at 8 p.m. Thursday and country music's rookie of the year, Clint Black, at 8 p.m. Saturday. Michael Cooper opens for LaBelle; singer Alan Jackson opens for Black.

Chautauqua Institution opens its season with a week-long series of entertainment specials in its amphitheater. Country hitmakers Restless Heart plays tonight, followed by reggae pioneer Jimmy Cliff and Nigerian Afrobeat master Fela Anikulapo-Kuti on Tuesday, the art-song duo of William Balcom and Joan Morris on Wednesday, Las Vegas entertainer Wayne Newton on Thursday and pop-jazz keyboardist Chick Corea with singer Bobby McFerren on Friday. All shows start at 8 p.m.

Heavy-metal rockers Whitesnake and Faster Pussycat roar into Darien Lake Theme Park's Lakeside Amphitheater at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Lonnie Mack, influential '60s rock guitarist, plays the Native American Center for the Living Arts (the Turtle) at 9 p.m. Friday.

Hiroshima, Japanese-American jazz fusion quintet, returns to the Marquee at the Tralf for shows at 8 and 11 p.m. Saturday.

The Black Crowes, up-and-coming Southern rockers, make their first local appearance at 8 p.m. Sunday in Sinbad's, 207 Youngs Road, Williamsville. Opening are Terry & the Headhunters. Featured free at 8 p.m. Thursday is Canadian rocker Andy Curran.

Other notable touring bands in local clubs this week include Georgia blues-rock guitarist Tinsley Ellis, Wednesday at 10 p.m. in Nietzsche's, 248 Allen St.; Colorado rockers Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Wednesday at 10 p.m. in Marshall's, 1678 Main St.; Washington, D.C., blues-rockers Tough Luck, Friday at 10 p.m. in the Lafayette Tap Room, 291 Washington St.; Cleveland rockers Oroboros, Friday at 10 p.m. in Nietzsche's, and Boston blues band Billy Blue and the Blazers, Saturday at 11 p.m. in Marshall's.

Darien Lake features a lineup of regional rockers beginning at noon Tuesday. Playing are Nik and the Nice Guys, Pulsar, Reporter, Jeff Coscoe and Times Square.

Upcoming concerts announced last week include Jackson Browne in an all-acoustic evening July 25 in Shea's Buffalo, former Bauhaus singer Peter Murphy plus House of Love July 11 in the Country Club-Skyroom, 2186 Seneca St. (tickets on sale Tuesday) and British singer-songwriter John Renbourn in a Buffalo Friends of Folk Music show July 18 in UB's Allen Hall.

Also coming up: Conway Twitty plus Ronnie Prophet, next Monday at Mather Arch, Fort Erie; Tino Gonzales Blues Band, July 3 in the Lafayette Tap Room; Canadian Brass, July 5 at Artpark; Baton Rouge, July 5 in Sinbad's; Michael McDonald, July 5 at Melody Fair; Tom Paxton plus Doc Watson, July 6 at Artpark; Motown Sound with Junior Walker & the All-Stars, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, Eddie Kendrick & Dennis Edwards and the Contours, July 6 at Chautauqua; Vicious Rumors, July 6 in the Country Club-Skyroom; Melissa Etheridge plus Del Amitri, July 7 at Darien Lake; Spyro Gyra, July 8 behind Albright-Knox Art Gallery; Roger Whittaker, July 8 at Melody Fair; Ten Years After plus Nazareth and Blackfoot, July 8 at Darien Lake.

Also Wayne Newton, July 10 at Melody Fair; Spencer Davis, July 10 in LaSalle Park; Dennis Miller plus Richard Lewis, July 12 at Melody Fair; Tom Tom Club, Jerry Harrison, Deborah Harry and the Ramones, July 13 at Darien Lake; Tony Bennett, July 13 at Chautauqua; Luther Vandross, July 14 at Melody Fair, and Steppenwolf, July 15 in Sinbad's.

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