If you grew up in Hamburg—and hit your legal drinking age over the past two decades—chances are you’ve found a round or three inside Clark Street’s favorite Irish enclave, J.P. Fitzgerald’s.
What started out as a quaint little village tavern inside the first floor of a vinyl-sided house is now one of the Southtowns’ most beloved watering holes, there with pitchers of Guinness, orders of beer cheese soup and free popcorn for those interested in a drink, lunch or eight-hour shift of laughs and Levon Helm tunes with friends you haven’t seen since barnstorming through the Young America Soccer Club.
And to commemorate 25 years of existence, J.P.’s will spend their anniversary weekend welcoming crowds for its own personal Fitz Fest, a three-day affair complete with fireworks, countless toasts and music from the local likes of McCarthyizm, the Leftovers and Theresa Quinn—all amid a Friday night giveaway of a free trip to Ireland. The Bob Brunner-owned establishment’s endurance deserves at least a 72-hour bash, so if you’re traveling through the ‘burg this weekend, stop by and raise a pint.
But if can’t settle in for what may amount to part multigenerational high school reunion, part Village of Hamburg Irish hooley, that’s fine. Roots bluesmasters off Amherst Street and a jazz favorite in Amherst; brooding acoustic brothers and Mexican mariachi between cobblestone streets. All are options on Buffalo’s live performance calendar, and they’re all on the weekend’s list of recommended gigs.
Delta Moon at Sportsmen’s Tavern (326 Amherst St.), 9:30 p.m. June 19
If you’ve spent more than an evening inside Sportsmen’s, you know which bands look best against its neon-lit backdrop. Count the bass, drums and dual-slide guitar sound of Delta Moon as candidates out of central casting. Led by former American Roots Music Association’s Blues Songwriter of the Year (2008) Tom Gray, the quartet’s smoky southern sound certainly adheres to their genre’s audible expectations, but still allows room to veer off course from time to time.
For one example, hear the echoing hints of recent Artpark visitor Widespread Panic on “Mean Streak,” a track nicely nestled on Moon’s newest album, “Low Down.” And these stylistic deviations can be found across the band’s catalog—or seen in person in Black Rock to start the weekend.
Before you go, listen to: “Nothing You Can Tell A Fool”
Venue and show info at sportsmenstavern.com
Nancy Kelly at MusicalFare Theatre (4380 Main St., Amherst), 8 p.m. June 19
Over her now 40-plus year career, Rochester-born jazz singer Nancy Kelly has performed at a venue or two. Sure, she’s taken her swing-bop style across the U.S. to Los Angeles clubs and legendary spots like New York’s Blue Note. She’s been through shadowed haunts of Japan, France and Switzerland; she’s dizzied intimate crowds throughout Turkey.
But on Friday night, she can add Amherst’s theater of note, MusicalFare, to the aforementioned string of exotic locations. Armed with selections from her fifth record—JazzWeek chart favorite, “B That Way”—the soulful songstress will certainly dazzle Main Street visitors as she introduces their weekend with her well-traveled swinging style.
Before you go, listen to: “The Great City”
Venue and show information at musicalfare.com
Mariachi El Bronx at Buffalo Iron Works (49 Illinois St.), 8 p.m. June 20
There are plenty of categories of music that can hum idly in the background, existing merely as complementary to a setting. Many might slap that description on the festive Mexican blast that is mariachi, with its acoustic guitars, horn section and percussion often staked in a restaurant corner or hovering over a table of candlelit lovers inhaling orders of enchiladas.
But these many presumably haven’t seen the party-ready sonic onslaught that is Mariachi El Bronx, the costumed Los Angeles septet as able to romance a music hall as to blow out its doors. But either way, the Matt Caughthran-led outfit is not exactly the house band at Don Tequila’s, as should be immediately evident to both Spanish and English-speaking patrons once the band appears this Saturday night in the city’s Cobblestone District.
Before you go, listen to: “Revolution Girls”
Venue and show information at buffaloironworks.com
Tough Old Bird at Armor Inn (5381 Abbott Rd., Hamburg), 9 p.m. June 20
Fillmore, New York songwriting brothers Matt and Nathan Corrigan have toured their duo, Tough Old Bird into various corners of Buffalo’s music scene since taking flight almost three years. Armed with subtle, understated instrumentation that evokes the imagery of their hometown’s rural landscape, the siblings have connected time and time again bar patrons from the same background.
On Saturday, they’ll drive their style and substance past the once-farmed plots of Abbott Road and into the Armor Inn, a bar known for blues-loving crowds and craft beer novices. Will those gathered enjoy earlier Corrigan tracks like “By The Morning Sun,” moody selections off their winter EP release “The Barn Sessions” or any number of upbeat Americana covers the duo can muster? Find your way to the Southtowns and see for yourself.
Before you go, listen to: “The Swinging Judge”
Venue and show information at armorinn.com
Story topics: Armor Inn/ Buffalo Iron Works/ concert previews/ concerts/ Delta Moon/ j.p. fitzgerald's/ Mariachi El Bronx/ Michael Farrell/ MusicalFare Theatre/ Nancy Kelly/ Sportsmen's Tavern/ Tough Old Bird