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3 can't-miss shows: Strictly Hip, Sam Marabella, Talking Dead Heads

Strictly Hip, 7 p.m. Jan. 4, the Tralf Music Hall (622 Main St.), $10-$12.

The area's premier Tragically Hip tribute act will return to the Theatre District music venue to kick off its annual residency series.

Each Friday during January, the band will deliver a faithful rendition of one of the beloved Canadian band's albums. The first installment will feature a front-to-back performance of the Hip's second release and first proper LP in 1989's country-tinged rocker "Up to Here." Tiny Music will open the show.

Future weeks of the residency series will see Strictly Hip tackle "Road Apples" on Jan. 11 (with Kurts Back), "Fully Completely" on Jan. 18 (with Fully Clothed Gents) and "Phantom Power" on Jan. 25 (with Johnny Hart & the Mess). A four-concert discount pass ($30) is available at the Tralf box office.

[Photos: Smiles at Strictly Hip's sold-out show in Hamburg Brewing]

Sam Marabella and his Band, 10 p.m. Jan. 5, Thin Man Brewery (492 Elmwood Ave.), free.

Local artist Sam Marabella will continue his long-running residency at the Elmwood Village brewery with the latest installment of his five-month long Artist Series.

Kicking off this past October, the musician and his crew of backing players have devoted one of their three evening sets to performing the music of one of the greats. Having already tackled the songs of Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen and the Tragically Hip to finish out the year, January will see Marabella dive into the deep catalog of Van Morrison, the soulful Irish singer-songwriter whose classic album "Astral Weeks" celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018.

The Morrison batch of tunes will be bookended by a pair of sets featuring Marabella originals and covers from his eclectic roots background.

The Talking Dead Heads, 8 p.m. Jan. 5, Buffalo Iron Works (49 Illinois St.), $10.

Grateful Dead and Talking Heads fans will live as one in Buffalo's Cobblestone District. After making its well-attended debut performance at Nietzsche's earlier this fall, the Talking Dead Heads, a tribute outfit to the two American rock legends, will shuffle down to Iron Works for the latest installment of co-honoring evening.

Featuring veterans of the rock, jam and improv scene including Jason Staniszewski of the Dead cover act Scarlet Begonias, Lazlo Hollyfeld members Matt Felski and Sonny Baker and Donny Frauenhofer of Intrepid Travelers, the collection of seasoned musicians will bounce between both bands long into the night during two crowd-pleasing sets.

[Read more about Intrepid Travelers in Jeff Miers' 2018 piece]

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