1. The rock band O.A.R. (short for Of a Revolution) built its reputation by word of mouth among college students to the point where the quintet got big enough to sell out Madison Square Garden. A hit when it played the Buffalo Place Rocks the Harbor series last year, it's the third act in a series of four major concerts in four nights this week at Artpark in Lewiston, playing the free Coors Light Wednesdays series. The performance comes just one day after the band released its latest album, "King." Opening at 6:30 is the Virginia-based reggae group SOJA (short for Soldiers of Jah Army).
2. Is it jobs? The waterfront? Low-cost electricity? We may find out later today what key economic issues the Western New York Regional Council will identify in its economic vision. The council, one of 10 councils around the state, is holding its first meeting today. Members are expected to begin to identify key regional issues and opportunities, establish work groups to focus on public engagement, address key issues and outline major elements of strategic plans. The meeting, at the University at Buffalo, is closed to the public, but afterward council members are expected to discuss their plans for public forums in the future. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo created the 10 regional councils, and each region will compete for economic aid.
3. It's about time for an after-dinner visit to the the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society Museum. The society is shifting its hours to highlight Wednesday evening programming. Starting today, the museum will be open from noon to 8 Wednesdays for visitors at regular admission rates. Special evening programs are in the works, including crafting, a lecture series, panels and film screenings as a way to engage the community.
4. Find out today what happens when Rust Belt cities, desperate for economic development, focus on gambling, new prisons, sports venues and other trendy money-making enterprises to bring them back from their moribund state. Urban sociologist Christopher Mele, an associate professor at the University at Buffalo, presents "The Art of the Deal: Casinos, Prisons, Incinerators and Other Adventures in American Urban Development" from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Student Union Theatre on the North Campus. Mele will discuss the underlying forces behind these developments that reflect the new reality of urban development. It's part of the UBThisSummer lecture series.
5. There's a new look to the Niagara County Fair, which opens today. The midway has moved to the former west parking area adjacent to Lake Avenue in Lockport. Fairgoers will continue to park free on the east side of the fairgrounds after entering at the north gate. The Farm-City Breakfast starts at 8 a.m., and a hot shot basketball tournament will be held daily from noon until 8 p.m. near the 4-H Training Center. The Veggie Barn, east of the 4-H Training Center, has been converted to a book barn where fairgoers are invited to bring a book and take a book between noon and 6 p.m. Admission to the fair is $2 per person. The fair runs through Sunday.
6. Only Humen performs from 6 to 10 p.m. today at Buffalo River Fest Park, 249 Ohio St. near Michigan Avenue, as part of the Wednesday night concert series. A Buffalo Hall of Music award winner, the band is led by South Buffalo native Frank Pusateri. Food and refreshments will be available. For more information, go to www.thevalleycenter.com.
7. Buffalo's Garden Walk always gets the attention, but West Seneca has its share of folks with green thumbs too. The proof is in a photo display of the West Seneca In Bloom garden contest, which will be on exhibit starting today and continuing through Aug. 21 at the Burchfield Nature and Art Center, 2001 Union Road, West Seneca. An awards reception will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday to recognize the winners of West Seneca In Bloom.
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Join a live chat with News Food Writer Andrew Z. Galarneau at noon today to discuss recipes, local restaurants and more.