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Tuned In: Jackson Browne is still running, but far from empty

Jackson Browne comes to the Events Center at the Seneca Niagara Casino at 8 p.m. Saturday, and on the occasion of his arrival in town for the first time in several years, Browne and his music have been on my mind.

I’ve had a tough time over the years explaining my affection for Browne’s work to a certain type of music fan, one for whom anything redolent of mainstream ’70s singer-songwriter fare is to be viewed with suspicion.

Unlike, say, the late Harry Nilsson, or the even later Tim Buckley, Browne has never been considered particularly hip. He has always written earnest, beautiful songs with memorable melodies and poetic lyrics. Browne doesn’t seem, at least on the surface, to have an ounce of irony in his entire being, which makes him a bit of an outsider. Add to this the fact that he has long aligned himself with left-leaning political and social views, and it has become easy for some to write Browne off as an inconsequential old hippie.

I just don’t see it, though. Look back to the ’80s for a brief moment, and you’ll find that Browne was one of the only songwriters addressing covert wars in South America and calling the Reagan administration to task. His “Lives in the Balance” is a brave and important work from this era, even if the passage of time has made its production values seem a touch antiquated.

When, in the ’90s, Browne returned largely to the nonpolitical observations that informed his ’70s masterpieces “Late for the Sky,” “The Pretender” and “Runnin’ On Empty,” he never abandoned the informed and educated leftist stance of his ’80s work, and he regularly worked to further causes near and dear to him. I find all of this commendable.

Of course, if Browne wasn’t still writing and performing beautiful songs in the “Laurel Canyon rock” style he helped birth, he would be merely a nostalgia act. Happily, he’s avoided that route and has remained relevant.

Tickets for the show – a stop on Browne’s “2013 Acoustic Tour” – start at $50. They can be purchased through Sarah Watkins will open.

Rockin’ room

Beginning at 7 p.m. tonight, the Hard Rock Café (333 Prospect St., Niagara Falls), throws a party in honor of its recent partnership with the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. A new BMHOF Room will house memorabilia donated by the Hall, all of it commemorating the work of area musicians who have been inducted over the years.

Tonight’s ceremony will take place in three parts. At 7 p.m., the Class of 2013 Inductees will be announced, in anticipation of the yearly induction gala, which takes place in the early fall. At 7:45, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will officially open the BMHOF Room at the Hard Rock. Then, at 8 p.m., the BMHOf All-Star Band, a supergroup made up of previous inductees, will perform. Admission is free.

Gig picks

Tonight at 6:30 p.m., area fans will have the opportunity to take part in a meet-and-greet with singer/songwriter/rocker Willie Nile at the FYE Store in the Boulevard Mall, 1215 Niagara Falls Blvd. in Amherst. Nile will be celebrating the release of his excellent new album, “American Ride,” signing copies of the disc and performing an acoustic set.

Funktional Flow plays at 10 p.m. Friday at Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar, 253 Allen St. Project Weather Machine will open. Admission is $5.

A pre-party for the annual Night Lights Music Festival, to be held Sept. 13 and 14 at the Blue Heron Festival Site, takes place at Nietzsche’s (248 Allen St.) at 10 p.m. Friday. Festival organizers Lazlo Hollyfeld will take the stage after an opening set from Haewa. Admission at the door will be $5. See for more information.