In 1985, Buffalo was a much different place.
Jim Kelly had yet to suit up for the Bills. Metrorail had just begun its first stops throughout Main Street’s still-bustling shopping district, and the Goo Goo Dolls were inching toward formation. But as all these items were waiting to alter the local landscape, Chevy Celebrities were cruising down city streets to the ebullient sound of Katrina and the Waves’ smash, “Walking On Sunshine.”
Thirty years later, the song has been broadcast more than 2.5 million times in the U.S. alone; helped choreograph Jack Black’s Championship Vinyl dancing in “High Fidelity”; and is still popular enough to score bandleader Katrina Leskanich gigs like her planned appearance at 7 p.m. March 27 in the Forum in the Maple Entertainment Complex (4224 Maple Road, Amherst). The singer/songwriter is now touring with a reset lineup and new solo album (the recently released “Blisland”), but will surely bring out fans of her greatest hit when she turns back the Queen City time circuits.
But for those of the Rob Gordon predilection (see: “High Fidelity"), there are plenty of bands formed after the mid-1980s performing across Buffalo’s nightlife landscape. A fiver of local Big Wheelers and jazz instrumentals en route to international travel; positive Portland folkies and a rising indie collective from New York’s state capital. They’re all in town to provide their own rays of sunshine, and they’re all part of this weekend’s Farrell Four.
Wooden Waves, 10 p.m. March 28 in Nietzsche’s (248 Allen St.)
To catch a show existing solely of the jangling guitar chords and rattling snare wails of Buffalo’s Wooden Waves would make for a nice little Saturday. The quintet’s synergy would be enough to satisfy late hours inside Nietzsche’s, and bouncing tracks off winter’s “Wilder Dreams” would please millennial attendees more than a Lloyd burrito backed by a bone broth chaser. But link one of the city’s most promising collectives with a lineup consisting of fellow prolific scenemates Applennium, Mags and Zak Ward - all together to celebrate the fifth anniversary of local music website buffaBLOG - and you’ve got a night of electric (and intriguing) possibilities in Allentown. [Read Mac McGuire's Buffalo music spotlight on Wooden Waves for more]
Before you go, listen to: “Big Wheel.”
Venue and show information at nietzsches.com
Gruvology, 8 p.m. March 28 in Pausa Art House (19 Wadsworth Ave.)
Dragging backpacked belongings abroad isn’t cheap for even the most minimalistic vagabond, so how much do you think a weeklong European tour costs for a quartet of jazz musicians? Answer: A lot. That’s why Buffalo’s Gruvology has invited the likes of Bobby Militello, George Caldwell and others to assist its Saturday fundraising show at Pausa. The quartet— Walter Kemp (piano), David Teaspoon Hulett (drums), James Benders (bass) and Bernard Kunz (guitar)—formed to push the boundaries of local contemporary jazz.
After the success of last year’s full-length release, “Freeway,” the band is trying to take its next steps forward by financing an ambitious schedule of April dates in Belgium, France, Germany and Switzerland. But before the Buffalo Music Award winners can board a plane, they’re looking to Western New York’s music community and supporters of their art to come out to Allentown, enjoy their brand of instrumental improvisation, and help them raise travel funds.
Before you go, listen to: “And So It Was.”
Venue and show information at pausaarthouse.com
Horse Feathers, 8 p.m. March 29 in the Tralf Music Hall (622 Main St.)
For the better part of a decade, singer/songwriter Justin Ringle has steered what’s been considered a dour, introspective chamber folk outfit in Portland, Ore.'s Horse Feathers. But before devising material for what would be his band’s 2014 fall release, “So It Is With Us,” Ringle needed a mood adjustment. He could still dabble in the sadness, but he didn’t want his music to be predominantly dark anymore. According to the band’s website, Ringle had become tired of talking to fans who said his last record “helped them through their divorce.” He wanted to start having more fun with his music, and rustic campfire jaunts like “Violently Wild” or skipping rollers like “Old Media” are just two examples of happier Feathers fare that’ll join the band’s sunnier set list on Sunday night.
Before you go, listen to: “Violently Wild.”
Venue and show information at tralfmusichall.com
Northern Faces, 6 p.m. March 29 in Studio @ Waiting Room (334 Delaware Ave.)
Fresh off recent dates at the South by Southwest Festival and an appearance in New York’s Webster Hall, the Albany-bred trio of Bryan Shortell, Marco Testa and Matt Ippolito is on a roll. The indie act signed with Equal Vision Records in February, released the new EP, “Southern Places” in early March and is now in the thick of its first US tour. Previous audiences have already enjoyed the Shortell’s guitar-led marches that personify the band’s current release, with songs like “Poor Moonlight” and “Side Of The Road” seemingly composed for music fans intent on angst-driven, '90s-era head bobbing. Buffalo audiences will get their intro to such action when the Faces arrive this weekend.
Before you go, listen to: “Under My Skin.”
Venue and show info at waitingroombuffalo.com