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Arts beat: More festivals, two cabarets and light in the darkness at Albright-Knox

For a century, legend had it that Oliver Street in North Tonawanda had more taverns per block, or mile, or some other measure, than any other place in the state or country. The claim has never been verified, but anyone who ever tried to go from one end of Oliver to the other by having a drink at every bar will attest that there were a lot of them.

As Oliver's claim to pub fame faded, the neighborhood became a more eclectic mix, now celebrated with the sixth annual Oliver Street Art Festival, taking place from noon to 5 p.m. Aug. 17. More than five dozen artists and crafts people will be setting up on the block between Schenck and Robinson streets to display and sell works in a variety of media.

The event is organized by Natalie Brown, manager of the Project 308 Gallery in the festival block. According to Brown, the free, family-friendly afternoon includes performances by local musicians, a food truck and beer samplings from Flying Bison Brewery.

[Related: Smiles at Oliver Street Art Festival in 2018 and 2017]

Forever plaid

Pipe and drum bands from around the region, Celtic musicians and dance groups, and a collection of caber tossers and hammer throwers will be found this weekend at the Buffalo Niagara Scottish Festival at Heritage Village (3755 Tonawanda Creek Road, Amherst).

The celebration of Scottish culture runs 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 17 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 18. Admission is $16 for those 13 and older, with discounts for seniors, village members and military. The Highland Games will celebrate Scottish strength, and the Gathering of the Clans and Kirkin' of the Tartans honors Scottish heritage.

Digestive fortitude will be tested in the haggis eating contest. Don't worry: other traditional dishes also will be served, to wash down with local craft beer, wine or mead.

Your table's waiting at MusicalFare

Cabaret season has arrived at MusicalFare, with two weekends of shows in the theater's lounge on the Daemen College campus (4380 Main St., Amherst). Charmagne Chi and Joe Donohue III perform in "Let Chi Entertain You," at 8 p.m. Aug. 16 and 23. Promising "30% more jokes," the pair will share their versions of Broadway favorites and, they say, "make things even more ridiculous." Tickets are $22 at musicalfare.com.

The scene shifts to "LLC: Larger Than Life Composers," at 8 p.m. Aug. 17, when Phil Sims leads the Cabaret Big Band in the music of Gershwin, Cole Porter and Buffalo's own Harold Arlen. Vocalist is Katy Miner. Tickets are $27, also at the MusicalFare website. The series concludes with a tribute to singer/songwriter Carole King by the TLC Trio (Cathy Carfagna, Theresa Quinn and Leah Zicari) at 8 p.m. Aug. 24. Tickets are $22.

Lights! Galleries! Action! 

The new exhibit "Anthony McCall: Dark Rooms, Solid Light" is art you can really get into. Literally – you can walk right through it. There is a free public opening of the installation at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery from 7 to 9 p.m. Aug. 16, including a conversation with McCall in the gallery auditorium at 7:15 p.m. (A members-only reception precedes the public event from 5 to 7 p.m.)

For his first North American solo show, McCall is including five immersive geometric light sculptures, filling all the galleries in the Albright's original 1905 building. Visitors can "occupy and move around and through" the installations, according to a press release. The show also includes performance films by the artist, a work involving slide projections, and photos and notes documenting some of his other public projects.

"Dark Rooms, Solid Light," on view through Nov. 3, is the gallery's last major exhibition before it closes the Elmwood Avenue campus for construction of a new addition. The renamed Buffalo AKG Art Museum is expected to reopen in early 2022. For the interim, a new space, Albright-Knox Northland, 612 Northland Ave., will debut on Jan. 16, 2020, with a full schedule of events and exhibits.

The Shaw's full day of one play

George Bernard Shaw's four-act masterpiece "Man and Superman" will be performed in its seldom-seen entirety for 17 shows at this year's Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. The play opens in the Festival Theatre in previews Aug. 17 and continues through Oct. 5. Performances are approximately six hours long, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., including two intermissions and one 70-minute lunch break.

For an added charge, the festival is offering lunches on the Festival Theatre grounds designed to fit the performance schedule. Theatergoers also can bring or buy picnics, purchase food at the cafe, or go off-site for lunch.

Theater tickets start at $160 Canadian, but U.S. customers using a credit card can expect a discount of about 15% because of the currency exchange rate. Shaw also offers significant discounts to those under age 30. To purchase tickets and for more information, go to shawfest.com.

[Related: Review - Strong Shaw Festival season is unfolding, play by play]

Grand finales

The coming week brings the last performances of M&T Bank's noontime 2019 Plaza Events Series, this time highlighting local jazz musicians, including David Kane's Them Jazzbeards, the Joseph Michael Mahfoud Band, Tommy Z Band, Taylor Made Jazz and concluding with Total Eclipse and the Buffalo Horns.

Food trucks will continue to visit the plaza during the lunch hour through Aug. 30.

The final week of the Chautauqua Institution season begins Aug. 18, with the trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis in residence from Aug. 19 to 23. The acclaimed musician will take part in the weekday 10:15 a.m. amphitheater lecture series and perform several times in the afternoon and evenings. Go to chq.org for times and prices. The Beach Boys perform in the amphitheater at 8:15 p.m. on Aug. 21 and the Chautauqua Food Festival takes place throughout the week.

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