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A busy time in a new Sphere Under its new banner, Town Ballroom books a full slate of acts

The danger in loving this city so much is that one becomes a cheerleader, or at the very least, a willfully optimistic soothsayer predicting great things around the corner, if we'll only hold on just a little bit longer.

When it was announced several months ago that the Sphere would soon be operated by a new team, remodeled and reopened with one eye on its formidable history as the Town Casino and the other on its potential future as a hotbed of concert-club activity, man, I wanted to believe it was really going to happen. And I wrote as much.

Looks like I'm not going to have to eat my (romantic and hopeful) words this time around. The Sphere is no more; long live the Town Ballroom, under the auspices of a new team and the watchful booking eye of Fun Time Presents' Artie Kwitchoff and Donny Kutzbach.

Over the past few weeks, Fun Time has been unveiling its schedule of confirmed bookings, and I've been receiving them with a mixture of glee and gloom; glee for obvious reasons, gloom only because the fall is supposed to be my down time, when I take a few breaths and recover from the hectic summer concert season. Apparently, Kutzbach and Kwitchoff have other plans; they're starting to stock the schedule at the Town Ballroom to the hilt, as if we're thirsting to death here in the desert and they've got truckloads of water to offer.

Part of what makes this flurry of activity exciting is the diversity of the lineup. There's modern alternative rock, blues, progressive music, jam bands -- you name it. And if you've ever been to the Sphere, you'll know that the sightlines and sound are among the best in town, a fact that didn't escape the Fun Time folks, who made further improvements on both fronts.

Here are a few of the shows planned for the Town Ballroom in the coming weeks.

Acoustic Alchemy, Tuesday

Pennywise, H2O and A Wilhelm Scream, Oct. 2

Robert Fripp, Oct. 5

Badfish, a tribute to Sublime, with the Red Chord, Oct. 7

Bob Weir and Ratdog, Oct. 9

Seether and 30 Seconds to Mars, with guests Haelstorm, Oct. 10

Former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, Oct. 14

Kathleen Edwards, Oct. 19

The Dresden Dolls, DeVotchka and Faun Fables, Oct. 23

Henry Rollins, Oct. 25

The Glengharry Boys, Nov. 5

David Wilcox, Nov. 11

The Blue Rodeo show originally slated for Sept. 22 has been rescheduled for Nov. 13.

The Robert Cray Band, Nov. 14

Matchbook Romance, Armor tor Sleep, Gatsbys American Dream and Lovedrug, Nov. 19

Living Colour, Dec. 2

Hawthorne Heights, Silverstein, Bayside and Aiden, Dec. 8.

Tickets for all of these shows will be available through Tickets.com. Follow happenings at the Town Ballroom by visiting www.townballroom.com.

> A toast is in order

Congratulations to this year's inductees into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, all of whom will be honored during the annual inductees ceremony, held this year at -- you guessed it -- the Town Ballroom at 8 p.m. Thursday.

This year, we'll celebrate our area's rich musical culture by offering a tip of the hat to Willie Nile, Mel Lewis, Mike Nowakowski, Venetta Fields, Gurf Morlix, Don Menza, John Hey and the Colored Musicians Club. All of these folks have had a major impact on shaping the musical landscape of Buffalo and many of them went on to become ambassadors for our city.

Nile will jet in from his adopted home in New York City to perform that evening. All scheduled to make some beautiful noise are Venetta Fields, Wendell Rivera, Macy Favor Plus Four, Janice Mitchell and the Hall of Fame All-Stars.

Tickets are $20 and can be found at Tickets.com or by calling (888) 223-6000.

e-mail: jmiers@buffnews.com

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