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Buffalo-themed holiday gift guide, arts and music edition

Jeff Miers

If you’re planning on celebrating the holiday season by lavishing gifts on arts-loving family and friends, allocating some of your budget for locally owned businesses, independent artists and community-based craftspeople is both civically minded and just plain smart.

The reasons for doing this are plentiful: Keeping money in the local economy; fighting the homogeneity that can come along with corporate products; using your wallet to support the individuality of the local scene. The most obvious reason might be the most significant one – Buffalo has an incredibly vibrant arts community, and that community creates an awful lot of wares that directly reflect our immediate environment.

In other words, we make some really cool stuff.

Here’s a list of ways you might offer a loved one a meaningful gift while simultaneously supporting Buffalo-based wares:

Gift them a copy of ‘Underground Buffalo Rock Posters: The Continental and Beyond’: Compiled and penned by Robby Takac, Don Keller and Karl Kotas, this book tells the story of the underground Buffalo rock, punk and new wave scene from the late '70s through the millennium. Perfect for the aging rocker who never parted with the black leather jacket they wore to the Continental back in the day. (

Buy them a membership to a local music foundation:

  • Historic Colored Musicians Club of Buffalo. For the lover of both local music and Buffalo history, a membership is a win-win. You’ll get access to live shows and exclusive events while simultaneously supporting a local landmark. (Life membership $500. Individual year-long membership $35.
  • Buffalo Jazz Collective. Support the bustling, ever-evolving Buffalo jazz scene by throwing some money toward this organization that works to, as Buffalo Rising has said, “ensure that this city’s jazz future is as solid as its past.” (Become a supporter for $100.
  • Sportsmen’s Americana Foundation. The SAF celebrates, promotes and nurtures the local independent music scene, and it also works tirelessly to “get music into the ears and instruments into the hands of as many kids as possible.” That’s a gift that will keep on giving. ($35-$50,
  • BPO’s annual fund campaign: Celebrate 20 years of JoAnn Falletta’s reign by contributing in the name of someone on your gift list. You support the orchestra, extend its community outreach and education programs, and tip your hat to Maestro Falletta, whose years leading the BPO have been both world-class and glorious. (

JoAnn Falletta has been the BPOs music director since 1999. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Donate an instrument to the Music Is Art Foundation in their name: This foundation has been refurbishing and allocating used musical instruments for Buffalo Public School students for more than a decade.  Put that old guitar gathering dust under your guest-room bed to good use. (

Include them in a family membership to Just Buffalo Literary Center: For 40 years, Just Buffalo has been bringing the finest fiction and non-fiction writers to town for appearances and events. You can support them, while simultaneously getting on the inside track for future events, gaining access to the members-only Writer’s Critique Group, and connecting with the local book-loving community. ($75,

Buy them a copy of Night Slaves’ new album: Support local music by paying for it. This exciting and dynamic local duo just released its sophomore effort. Might make a good two-fer with the “Underground Buffalo Rock Posters” book mentioned above. ($7,

Holiday gift guide, Buffalove edition

Snag them tickets to see Carla Bley’s “Trios” at the Albright-Knox: For the true jazz-lover in your life. The locally conceived and administrated Art of Jazz series scored in a big way by booking Bley for Sunday, March 17. Her live shows are far from plentiful these days. This won’t happen twice. ($29,

Take them to Revolution Art Gallery: This Hertel Avenue spot also presents a wonderfully eclectic mix of live, mostly local music. Hertel is hopping, so plan on a dinner and drinks first, and make a night of it. (

Grab them a season pass for Buffalo Iron Works: I wish someone in my life would get this for me. Hint, hint! The season pass allows someone on your list to attend every 2019 show – local and international artists alike – at this Cobblestone District club. ($395 full season, $195 half season,

Buffalo Iron Works sells full- and half-season passes. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

Take them to Imagine Events Center: This new live music room and recording studio complex in the Black Rock neighborhood is a beauty. Take the discriminating live music lover in your life out for a night of sparklingly clear live sound in a classy venue. (

Gift them an original Mark Freeland artwork: The late Mark Freeland was the unofficial (but permanent) Mayor of the Buffalo underground arts scene from the late '70s through his death in 2007. Nothing says “I support Buffalo arts and music” like one of Freeland’s brilliantly idiosyncratic art works. ($200 for a 12-inch x 12-inch piece,

Take them to see Aqueous’ homecoming gig on New Year’s Eve: The best way to support the Buffalo music scene is to go out and see a Buffalo artist. Aqueous’ annual New Year's Eve gigs have become the stuff of legend. Do the independent music lover on your list right this year. ($25 to $85,

Take them to Mohawk Place for the 17th annual all-local Joe Strummer tribute, ‘Clash City Rockers’: Here’s a chance to take in a tribe of Buffalo rockers while they pay tribute to the greatest punk rocker of them all, the late, great Joe Strummer, on Dec. 21. ($15 advance at club, $20 at door)

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