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This Week in Buffalo: The majesty of free music

Free concerts are fundamental to Buffalo summers. Enjoying a green space or bustling village while listening to local and regional musicians is an enduring pastime, and there's ample opportunity to participate.

Buffalo River Fest Park's concert series opened nearly three weeks ago, while the popular Picnic in the Parkway will return to the Elmwood Village later in June. But this week, two compelling - and weekly - live music series spring into action.

And before you stress about how musicians playing free-to-attend shows are poorly compensated, just because a show is free absolutely does not mean musicians are playing pro bono. The acts are typically paid through sponsorship money.

Live at Larkin opening night, 5 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 5 at Larkin Square (745 Seneca St.). Free to attend.

Vin DeRosa and Vitamin D will get the Live at Larkin concert series rolling with a dance party Wednesday, officially kicking off the list of 12 shows that runs through Aug. 28. Local beer and wine, food trucks and lawn games complement the musical acts each week and add to Larkin Square's playful, relaxed atmosphere.

[Related: Smiles, band shots from opening night 2018 | Smiles at Start Making Sense finale]

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Music on Main begins in Williamsville, 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 6 at several venues on Main Street in Williamsville. Free to attend.

A whopping 10 bands will perform each Thursday night (with the exception of July 4 and 18) this summer at Main Street venues such as the Irishman, Glen Park Tavern, Lloyd Taco Factory, D'Avolio and more. Among the bands scheduled to kick off the series are Critt's Juke Joint, PA Line, The Invisible Touch and Wine on Third.

See the fancy Williamsville Business Association flyer that prepares you for the full month of June.

[Related: Smiles at Williamsville Memorial Day Parade from last weekend]

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Here's the rest of this week's compelling events:

Shea's Wine, Food and Beer Festival, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 6 at Shea's Buffalo Theatre (646 Main St.). Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door. VIP holders enter a half hour early.

The grandeur of Shea's lobby - when paired with food and drink - creates the feeling of a royal dinner bustling with hundreds of guests. Sample-sized portions from six local breweries (plus one from Rochester), a few wineries, creameries and restaurants will be available for tasting, with merriment all around.

[Related: Smiles at Shea's Black Tie Gala 2019]

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Wine & Wags, 5:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 5 at SPCA Serving Erie County (300 Harlem Road, West Seneca). Cost is $40 presale or $50 at the door; VIP experience runs for $75.

Capturing the coveted award for best Facebook event cover image, the SPCA Serving Erie County will raise funds Wednesday through its annual Wine & Wags, touting 10 breweries and wineries, eight local restaurants and three bakeries, with another selection of businesses - plus several hands-on activities - available to the VIP crowd, which can enter at 5.

The still-fairly-new SPCA location will take advantage of its giant parking lot to set up vendor tents, and well-behaved dogs are welcome to sniff around, too, as well as pose in a photo booth.

[Related: Three more dog-focused events coming this weekend]

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Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus Beer Choir, 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 4 at Flying Bison Brewing Co. (840 Seneca St.). Free to attend, with discounted pints available. The event is open to all ages.

The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus is trying something new in the Queen City that's proven popular around the country: a beer choir. Buffalo brewery Flying Bison, which hosts overflow food trucks during Larkin Square's Food Truck Tuesday, will also welcome members of the local professional chorus to guide attendees through a rousing sing-a-long.

Pints of Flying Bison's beer will run for $4, which might embolden you to belt the high notes.

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Sammy Hagar's Full Circle Jam Tour, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 4 at Artpark (450 S. 4th St., Lewiston). Ticket prices range from $24-$42.

Known best for his exploits as Van Halen's frontman for more than a decade, Sammy Hagar has thrived in his solo career and side projects, such as Chickenfoot and The Circle. News contributor Michael Farrell broke down everything you need to know about the show, which marks Artpark's first concert of the season.

[Related: Jeff Miers tackles the best and the worst of the Van Halen saga]

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Bridging the Gap, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, June 6 at the Foundry Suites (1738 Elmwood Ave.). Individual tickets cost $85, and dress is business casual or cocktail attire (cultural garb is welcome, too).

Jericho Road Community Health Center is very much attentive to the needs of the Buffalo refugee community, but that doesn't take away from their global impact. Bridging the Gap is a fundraising event with the goal of $200,000 that would support outreach health programs in Nepal, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.

The ticket includes hors d'oeuvres, one drink voucher, valet parking, live music and the chance to win a door prize.

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The Artie Awards, red carpet at 7 p.m., program begins at 8 on Monday, June 3 at Shea's 710 Theatre (710 Main St.). Tickets are $20 apiece, or $10 for children 10 years and younger.

The Artie Awards run the gamut of Buffalo theater, with honors given to the best directors, ensembles, choreography, acting and more. Check out the long list of nominees at WNED's site, then pay tribute to the hard work of local theaters from the past season.

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Food Truck Rodeo, 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 5 at the Buffalo History Museum (One Museum Court). Free to attend.

Even though it lacks the fanfare of Food Truck Tuesday, the History Museum's Food Truck Rodeo was one of Buffalo's first food truck events - beginning in 2013 - and still meets monthly during the summer in the venue's parking lot. Participating trucks for the first foray of 2019 include Lloyd Taco Truck, Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs, Pizza Amore, The Green Box and the Cheesy Chick.

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"Rock of Ages," 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 4 in Shea's Buffalo Theatre (646 Main St.). Tickets begin at $24.

The celebrated touring musical marks its 10th anniversary with a one-night-only stop at Shea's. The production's premise is a delightful roll through 1980s rock and its Hollywood story lines, pulling in numbers from Poison, Styx, Whitesnake and more, heightened by a new cast of performers. Relive a memorable era of music through the sights and sounds of "Rock of Ages."

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BONUS: Groundwork Buffalo Bash, 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 4 at SolRise Farm and Cultural Arts Center (226 E. Utica St.). Tickets begin at $30. Groundwork Buffalo focuses on urban renewal, restoring life to vacant lots and taking environmental responsibilities seriously.

BONUS 2: Polish Happy Hour, 5 to 11 p.m. Wednesday, June 5 at the Irishman (5501 Main St., Williamsville). Free to attend. This gathering is unusual because it's on a Wednesday rather than the typical Friday, but DJ Red, free food and more will be comforting after a hump day of work.

BONUS 3: What's Next?: The Rise of Hate, Racism and Intolerance, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 4 at the UB Educational Opportunity Center (555 Ellicott St.). Free to attend. The panel discussion with several community assets - including Jewish Family Services, NAACP Buffalo Branch and Temple Beth Zion - tackles a theme that's been on Buffalo's minds, with Pride Week concluding yesterday.

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5 events to look forward to next week

East Aurora Music Fest
Star Wars Night with the Bisons
Allentown Art Festival
Strictly Hip with the BPO at Kleinhans
Resurgence Brewing's fifth anniversary

Email: btsujimoto@buffnews.com

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