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Sportsmen’s Americana fest turns three, changes venue

When Sportsmen’s Tavern and its associated Americana Music Foundation hosted its inaugural music festival at Buffalo’s Riverside Park three years ago, the event was the perfect hootenanny from a roadhouse long known for its dedication to musicians championing the rustic beauty of roots music.

But at its inception, the event—due for its third edition from 2 to 10 p.m. Sept. 16—was solely focused on jump-starting the operation of the foundation, established to foster, promote and expand appreciation for local Americana music. For this, they needed money and members, and the day’s five hours of entertainment would be the lure.

“Our first fest was all about fundraising, since we had no money,” said Robert McLennan, president of the Sportsmen’s Americana Music Foundation. “Now, while that is still important so we can meet our mission, it's also crucially important to us to put on an outstanding day of music from the outstanding talent in Western New York, and collaborate with visual artists as well.”

This will be evident at this year’s Sportsmen’s Americana Music Foundation Music Festival, set to debut in its new location at River Fest Park off the revitalized Buffalo River. The revered, locally bred lineup features Ten Cent Howl, Leroy Townes, Uncle Ben’s Remedy, Skiffle Minstrels, Rear View Ramblers, The Willies and The Kensington as well local artists of a variety of disciplines displaying their creations. The family-friendly festival is an outdoor replication of the type of homespun community that the beloved Sportsmen’s has been fostering inside its Black Rock barroom for decades.

The major difference—just as with other events like its July “Silo City Alive!” or planned reenactment of The Band’s “The Last Waltz” inside Asbury Hall @ Babeville on Nov. 17—is that this musical communion will directly benefit the work of the Americana Music Foundation. Whether hosting roots music workshops at community centers or buying instruments for kids across the area, the now 500-member organization is committed to enhancing appreciation for and application of the art form of Americana music.

And McLennan said, this year’s festival lineup should show that form as the vibrant Buffalo-area entity it continues to be.

“It shows there is great talent in our area and an enormous appetite for Americana music,” McLennan said. “[It’s] the real thing, with artists doing their own original work along with covers that honor the genre.”

Music Preview

Sportsmen’s Americana Music Foundation Music Festival

2 p.m. Sept. 16, River Fest Park (249 Ohio St.). Tickets are $7 in advance, $10 day of show; ages younger than 12 are admitted free. To learn more about the event or the foundation, visit

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