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Seven by Seven / Seven things you need to know by 7 a.m.

1. The fates are smiling on Rockin' the Knox, the big outdoor concert on the grounds of Albright-Knox Art Gallery tonight. The move from September to June has brought better weather. And the decision to go for younger, alternative artists has been hailed by everyone who thought this show should be artier and more cutting-edge. Headliner is singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, whose musical reference points run from Shakespeare to Judy Garland to his parents -- singer-songwriters Loudon Wainwright III and the late Kate McGarrigle, subject of his most recent album, "All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu." Co-headliner is The National, a grandly dour rock band whose reputation has been building among critics in recent years. It starts at 5 p.m. with opening acts Martha Wainwright (Rufus' sister) and Atlas Sound on the main stage, plus local bands playing on a second stage. Tickets are $45.

2. Buffalo's newest warm-weather celebration -- the BBQ & Blues Bash -- debuts from 5 to 9 p.m. on the far side of HSBC Arena along Mississippi Street in front of W.J. Morrissey's Irish Pub and Benchwarmers Sports Bar & Grill. Tickets are $30 at the gate for music by Billy McEwen and the Soul Invaders, plus unlimited beer, wine and barbecue. All proceeds benefit the at-risk and disadvantaged children served by the child and family service agency Gateway-Longview.

3. Tonight will go down in history as the first time that Buffalo has ever hosted four sitting U.S. senators at the same event. Coming to a National Republican Senatorial Committee fundraiser at the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society Museum are Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jeff Sessions of Alabama and John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the Senate fundraising committee. The senators -- who were invited by Anthony H. Gioia, the former ambassador to Malta, and former Rep. Tom Reynolds -- will be guests of honor at an affair for which the minimum ticket price is $1,000, with various other levels reaching to $25,000.

4. Holiday Valley, the ski and golf resort in Ellicottville, celebrates the grand opening of its new pool complex next to the Clubhouse Chalet with a free pool party for the public from noon to 7 p.m. One pool is designated as the "activities pool," with a water slide and diving board. Another pool is sectioned off into lanes for lap swimmers. There's also a toddler pool with a kid-friendly shallow depth and fountains, and several decks on multiple tiers for sunbathing. Admission rates for the rest of the summer are $8 for adults and $6 for children under 18. Season passes are $80.

5. Forgotten Buffalo is upping the ante for tonight's excursion into the cultural, ethnic and architectural landmarks of the Historic Polonia District on the city's East Side. In addition to the usual bus ride, dinner, prizes and docent-led guided explorations, the tour will be traveling with several legendary local polka musicians. Organizers are promising "a one-of-a-kind polka party at every stop." For information, visit

6. The big summer movie blockbuster opening today is "Toy Story 3," which reunites its original star-studded voice cast. Tom Hanks is back as Woody the cowboy, and Tim Allen returns as astronaut Buzz Lightyear. For eager fans who couldn't wait until this afternoon to see it, the Hamburg Palace Theatre obliged by screening it at one minute after midnight. There's a secondary blockbuster arriving, as well. It's "Jonah Hex," with Josh Brolin and Megan Fox starring in a supernatural Western about a gunslinger tracking a villain who aims to unleash havoc.

7. Today is the 198th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812, a central event in the history of Western New York. To mark the occasion, Niagara University will dedicate the United States 1812 Bicentennial Art of Peace Garden outside Alumni Hall on the Lewiston campus. The garden is a partnership among the university, the Binational Economic and Tourism Alliance, and the 1812 Legacy Council.


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