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Thursdays will never be the same: Canalside move ends a Buffalo concert era

A Buffalo summer music tradition is quietly coming to end.

The weekly Thursday night concert series, a tradition in downtown Buffalo for more than 30 years, will no longer be limited to Thursday nights – nor will it be weekly.

It's all in an effort to book the best available bands through the summer for Canalside Live, said Erin Marra, assistant general manager of Canalside Media Group, an event management team of Be Our Guest. In the past, limiting concerts to Thursdays have cost the series bookings.

"Sometimes we don’t have acts that can make it here on Thursdays," Marra said, so the idea was to look for "really good talent and see what days it falls on."

For the eight concerts announced so far for the 2019 season, concerts have been booked for Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

In 2017, the series changed its name to Canalside Live, dropping the "Thursday" to afford this opportunity to open the schedule, Marra added. "This is freeing us away from Thursdays and gives us more options."

In 2018, the 10-concert Canalside Live series featured one Friday concert (Mighty Mighty Bosstones) and one Saturday (Vanilla Ice).

The 2019 Canalside Live season opens with back-to-back weekend shows featuring the bands Twiddle and Ripe on Friday, June 28 and T.I. on Saturday, June 29. Another notable change: there will be weeks without concerts and some with multiple shows.

"There will not be weekly concerts this summer. Instead the schedule will fit around the available bands and other events such as Buffalo Bisons' games, KeyBank Center concerts and other Canalside events," Marra said. For example, the arrival of a fleet of tall ships, docking at Canalside for a four-day Independence Day event, negates concerts during that time. "We are trying not to compete with ourselves and the ballpark," she added. (Be Our Guest is a subsidiary of Rich Products Corporation.)

Lafayette Square was packed for a 2006 performance by Blues Traveler in the Thursday at the Square concert series. (News file photo)

The Thursday concert concept started in 1987 as Thursdays at the Park in Fountain Plaza, with a performance by Big Wheelie and the Hubcaps. The following, year it moved to Lafayette Square and became Thursdays at the Square with a lineup continuing its focus on local bands. In 1993, the series expanded to include popular Canadian acts like Blue Rodeo and Lowest of the Low. In 2000, the series drew record-breaking crowds at concerts by acts like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Pat Benatar.

To help with large crowds, some of the concerts were moved to the Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf in 2011. Over the next few years the name would change to Thursdays at the Harbor and then, once the move was made to Canalside, Thursdays at Canalside in 2013.

The new season is starting and ending later, opening June 28 and currently going to at least Aug. 27 with a Tuesday concert by Social Distortion. At least three more concerts are expected to be announced. However, Marra said, they are willing to keep adding shows. "We have a good lineup and it's eclectic. But if something comes in our lap we will consider it and keep adding shows."

Tickets are available at the Canalside information kiosks, all Consumers Beverages locations and through eventbrite.com. Gates open at 5 p.m. for all concerts.

Here is the schedule so far:

Twiddle and Ripe: Friday, June 28

T.I.: Saturday, June 29

Get the Led Out: Friday, July 12

Psychedelic Furs and James: Thursday, July 18

The Struts: Thursday, July 25

Incubus: Tuesday, Aug. 6

Nelly: Saturday, Aug. 10

Social Distortion and Flogging Molly: Tuesday, Aug. 27

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