Commentary: Veteran country star Joe Nichols has been in country music for over two decades, fine-tuning both his sound and live performances along the way.
Over time, the baritone has gravitated toward "traditional country," according to Cleveland's Scene, which is a refreshing stiff-arm to the "bro-country" that seems to have taken root among other stars in the genre.
Marketing itself as "Buffalo's new home for country," VENU has previously welcomed Eric Van Houten, Dylan Scott and Brooke Eden over the last few months, but Nichols is easily the biggest name among that group. Sam Grow is listed as an opener.
2) Mother's Day Wellness at Canalside, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 13; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 14 at 44 Prime St. Costs vary - the vast majority are free, some mini-events have a price.
Commentary: Take the initiative on Mother's Day to hit the waterfront, where a vendors market, massages from Straight Up Health Performance, a special Mother's Day Weekend Paint the Town from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. both days for $28, a yoga class on Sunday and more will be available to celebrate mothers, who are, in fact, pretty great.
See the full slate of activities for both days here.
3) Queen City Roller Girls playoffs: Devil Dollies vs. Suicidal Saucies, 7 p.m. May 12 in Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). General admission tickets cost $15, with front-row seats $20, and can be purchased here.
Commentary: It's crunch time for the local roller derby house teams, as the Alley Kats are sitting pretty in first place with a spot in the finals clinched, while the Devil Dollies and Suicidal Saucies will clash to determine the Kats' opponent. Expect a competitive bout on Friday, too, as the two split the two-game season series, with the Dollies winning the most recent tilt on March 12, 192-131.
If you're madly in love with QCRG or just like to compete over meat, the Lake Effect Furies travel derby team will host a meat raffle fundraiser from 6:30 to 9 p.m. May 13 at Live Hose No. 4 (71 VanderVoort, North Tonawanda).
Commentary: Erie County Medical Center hosts a swanky awards dinner on Saturday, honoring Dr. Samuel D. Cloud and Sonja M. Melvin for their contributions to the medical community.
Cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, a dinner program, a dessert station, live music from DJ Milk and a complimentary Paula's Donut as a departure gift make for a celebratory evening downtown. See the evening's program here.
Commentary: Swing down to Springville for a late-afternoon for food and drink presented by the Springville Area Chamber of Commerce, with Ellicottville Brewing Company, Southern Tier, Flying Bison and more breweries set to join the festivities, while the winery, distillery and cidery lineup gives balance to the event. I can't say I know much about the food options, but they appear rather meaty.
6) Opening of Elmwood Village Farmers Market, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 13 at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Bidwell Parkway. Free to attend.
Commentary: Oh, perfect- the Elmwood Village Farmers Market opens for the season just in time for Mother's Day. An absolutely stacked list of vendors makes the market a worthy stop, as popular businesses like Butter Block, Lloyd Tortillas, BreadHive, Public Espresso, Leonard Oakes, Plato Dale and dozens of others will congregate in the green space by a bustling area of Elmwood.
7) SMUG, Dreambeaches, The Slums, 8:30 p.m. May 12 in Mohawk Place (47 E. Mohawk St.). Tickets are $5 (cash) and available at the door.
Commentary: You might wonder who exactly "SMUG" is, but it's actually the Naturalists re-branded. The new name is accompanied by a new sound - "indie rock with a pinch of punk and a bit of pop," according to the Facebook event page - so you'll have to see how Craig and Travis Perno, plus Zach Russell, have changed their approach. The band's first album under the new moniker is due out later this year.
8) Outer Circle Orchestra as part of 11-Day Powerplay, 7 p.m. May 13 in Town Ballroom (681 Main St.). Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here.
Commentary: Although Friday's Animals as Leaders show is one reason to be pumped about the Ballroom this weekend, Saturday's Outer Circle Orchestra gig has a charitable twist by raising money for the 11-Day Powerplay, which benefits Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
Read more about the initiative - which will include 250 consecutive hours of hockey at the end of June - here.
9) Mother's Day brunches, times and prices vary by restaurant/venue.
Commentary: I don't need to tell you about what Mother's Day brunch entails, so here's a link to the various events we've cobbled together.
10) Buffalo Art Harbor: New Works by Ashley Kay, 7 to 9 p.m. May 12 in Ashker's Juice Bar (1002 Elmwood Ave.). There is no cost listed.
Commentary: There are worse places to have your work displayed than Ashker's, which welcomes a variety of people craving colorful smoothies or seeking a quick, healthy sandwich.
Ashley Kay's solo exhibition, "This Realm: Ladies of the Night," takes over Ashker's beginning with a reception Friday night. Live music will be provided by DJ Danny the Kid, and there will be giveaways.
BONUS: Donnie Darko 4K Restoration, 10 p.m. May 12 and 13, with a showing of the director's cut at 10 p.m. May 14 and 15 in North Park Theatre (1428 Hertel Ave.). Tickets are $10.50 for adults and $7.50 for seniors.
Commentary: I get teased at The Buffalo News for missing out on key parts of pop culture, and I'd assume having never seen sci-fi film "Donnie Darko" is right up there among "reasons to be baffled by Ben." I do, however, know there is an alarmingly big rabbit involved (which I personally have no problem with).
Here is the IMDB link to Richard Kelly's 2001 film starring Jake Gyllenhaal (the director's cut was released three years later), but the North Park has the restored version of "Donnie Darko" in 4K - which is ultra high-definition.