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Farrell Four: Shilpa Ray, Growler's Blues Band, Badfish, Nth Power

This weekend will cap the end of the coldest month in Buffalo’s storied (and frigid) history. Leaving behind average daily temps of around 11 degrees will be a cause for celebration, a chance to envision warmer days ahead. And what better way is there to get into a sunnier state of mind than to attend the Nickel City’s first-ever winter luau?

On Saturday, Buffalo’s recently opened RiverWorks complex (359 Ganson St.) will host the Madd Tiki Winter Luau from 2 to 10 p.m. Sponsored by Goo Goo Doll Robby Takac’s Music is Art initiative, the afternoon and evening extravaganza will feature a veritable cavalcade of items to put attendees in an island state of mind. Grass skirts. Bikini contests. Guinness Book of World Records limbo queen Shemika Charles, ocean rhythms of the Caribbean Extravaganza Steel Band and horror-tinged surf rock of Surfin’ Cadavers. It will all be happening aside America’s largest Labatt Blue six-pack, and it’s the perfect way to hula away from the frost of February.

But luaus aren’t for everybody. Maybe you’d instead like to kiss the month goodbye from the comfort of a corner tavern or downtown rock club. You’d rather bask in Friday blues, sway through Saturday soul, sing Sublime tunes or shelter amid the Sunday darkness of Allentown. All are available in addition to the weekend’s wildest riverfront dance party, and they’re all part of this week’s Farrell Four.

Growler’s Blues Band, 8 p.m. Feb. 27 in Hot Mama’s Canteen (12 Military Road)

 The term “gutbucket” used to be assigned to bands featuring a homemade bass, consisting of a large stick strung with a single string and amplified by an attached and grounded washtub. Not exactly an instrument for Duck Dunn, but certainly one for the rawest of Americana acts. So when a band like Buffalo’s Growlers label its style as “gutbucket blues,” it is either indicating a respect for the music’s utilitarian roots or teasing their use of a moonshine jug as a main instrument.

Thankfully for those who appreciate good barroom blues, it’s the former, as the quintet of Dan Shurtleff (drums), Steve Abbey (bass), Rob Enderlee (guitar), Larry King (keys) and Jon Lewandowski (harmonica) share vocal duties on a gritty mix of classics and originals ideal for Black Rock’s favorite Canteen.

Before you go, listen to: “How Blue Can You Get?”

Venue and show info:


The Nth Power, 8 p.m. Feb. 28 in Waiting Room (334 Delaware Ave.)

Djembe wizard Weedie Braimah of Nth Power isn’t the first musician to make a bold prediction about his band’s on-stage product. But when the West African claims that his soul outfit’s musical message of love and understanding will connect you “with something higher than yourself” via the band’s distributed bio, he’s raising the stakes from mere show to instrumentally delivered transcendence. Is this possible?

Check in Saturday and surrender for yourself, as the multifaceted five-piece of Braimah, Nick Cassarino (guitar), Nate Edgar (bass), Nikki Glaspie (drums, vocals), and Nigel Hall (keys, vocals) will try to back up their percussionist’s claim with cuts off of 2013’s “Basic Minimum Skills Test” six-song EP and swaying, searing rhythms that have moved both club and festival crowds alike. Ethereal at times, earthly at others—but always with an intertwined soul that beats every track—the Nth Power has the goods to raise up audiences in Buffalo and elsewhere.

Before you go, listen to: “Only You.”

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Venue and show info:


Badfish, 8 p.m. Feb. 28 in Town Ballroom (681 Main St.)

Listen to late singer/songwriter Brad Nowell on tracks like “Santeria” or his band’s inventive cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias” and you’ll hear more than the voice of the California ska-punk act Sublime. You’ll hear a kaleidoscopic mix energy, passion, sadness and sincerity that’s both entertained and connected with generations of students and skaters since the early '90s. His is a voice that’s sorely missed, but one that continues to be honored by the touring exploits of tribute act Badfish, who’ll roll their ongoing homage to Nowell into the Theater District on Saturday night.

Though surviving Sublime members Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh have performed their bandmate’s work with others since his death (most recently as Sublime with Rome), Badfish has continued to deliver the essence of the once-united trio at its thumping, Bad Religion-meets-Toots-Hibbert heights, back when they were headlining Warped Tour and luring listeners with their frenetic, flowing style.

Before you go, listen to: Sublime’s “Badfish”

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Venue and show info:


Shilpa Ray, 8 p.m. March 1 in Nietzsche’s

Happy Hour crooner in a Transylvania nightclub. Throaty theatrical wailer in a Goth lounge. Resident musician inside Hell’s hottest tavern. All these vocations would be perfect for the haunting vocal storm that is Shilpa Ray, which might explain how she earned the admiration of noted dark prince Nick Cave in 2011.

Touring and collaborating (on her last EP and the song “Pirate Jenny”) with the Bad Seeds frontman has led Ray toward the release of her latest album, “Last Year’s Savage,” due in May and backed by her current touring trio of Catfish DeLorme (pedal steel, bass), Russ Lemkin (drums) and Allison Paxton (guitar, bass). Those who end their weekend in Allentown can take in the quartet’s newest work, as well as bask in the shadowed hue of Ray’s exhaled syllables and on-stage silhouette.

Before you go, listen to: “Mother Is A Misanthrope.”

Venue and show info:

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