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This Week in Buffalo: Consider the friends up north

There's a special guest for This Week in Buffalo: Niagara Falls.

Our northerly neighbor is not a daunting destination for many Buffalonians; it's no more than an hour away from the farthest reaches of Erie County (even from you, Sardinia!).

With thriving alt band Judah & the Lion booked for Rapids, plus celebrities en route to the Niagara Falls International Film Festival, there's reason to cross several bridges and confirm your EZ Pass is up to date.

Judah & the Lion, 8 to 11 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 at Rapids Theatre (1711 Main St., Niagara Falls). Tickets are $25.50 plus fees for general admission in advance, with two different VIP options.

Dubbed the Best New Rock/Alternative Artist at last year's iHeartRadio Music Awards, Judah & the Lion jaunts to Niagara Falls in support of "Pep Talks," its change-of-pace May release that touches on serious subjects.

While lighthearted at times, the album's message shines light on anxiety/depression, substance abuse and suicide; lead singer Judah Akers has spoken publicly about how music provided a healthy release for intense, pent-up emotions from his youth, while single "Queen Songs / human." reveals how Akers' family dealt with his mother's alcoholism. This track-by-track review has greater detail.

[Related: Smiles at The Edge's pop-up Unplugged show with Judah & the Lion]

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Niagara Falls International Film Festival's Oscar winner reception, 6:30 to 11 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18 at Rapids Theatre (1711 Main St., Niagara Falls). Tickets begin at $65. Festival runs through Saturday.

The four-day film festival opens with a bang on Wednesday: celebrity guest Louis Gossett Jr. - an Oscar winner - will be given the NFIFF Legacy Award and then stay for a screening of his film, "The Reason," the following day.

Late legendary director Samuel Fuller will be honored as well, with his wife and daughter in attendance. Here's the list of celebrities and awards for Wednesday night's opening, as well as the festival's full schedule.

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John Coltrane Celebration, 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 at Burchfield Penney Art Center (1300 Elmwood Ave.). General admission tickets are $10 on-site, while $8 for seniors and $5 for BPAC members and the Pappy Martin Legacy Jazz Collective members.

Saxophone star Bilal Nugravee will perform along with the Nugravee Sextet to open the Coltrane Celebration on Thursday. The Burchfield Penney festival, commemorating what would have been the 93rd birthday of jazz icon John Coltrane, runs three days, each boasting special musical performances.

Bilal, known also as Bilal Abdullah, might be recognizable through his gigs with the Jazz Example, which played regularly at the Anchor Bar and at summer jazz festivals for years.

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Buffalo Beer Goddesses' seventh anniversary, 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 at Mr. Goodbar (1110 Elmwood Ave.). Cost is $10 general admission and $5 for Beer Goddess members.

Head upstairs at Goodbar to celebrate the anniversary of the Buffalo Beer Goddesses, who've worked tirelessly to improve the fortunes of women in the local beer industry. The event is part of Buffalo Beer Week, which Dan Almasi previewed in depth.

Tickets entitle the first 50 attendees to a complimentary pint of beer, while all eventgoers can enjoy underrated Goodbar wings and snacks provided by the Beer Goddesses. Samples will be offered by two women-run businesses, Lilly Belle Meads, from Lancaster, and Young Lion Brewing, from Canandaigua.

[Related: Smiles at 2017 Tour de Cask]

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Built to Spill, doors at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 in Town Ballroom (681 Main St.). Tickets are $26 in advance, $29 at the door.

The Boise boys are back in Buffalo on Thursday after joining the Afghan Whigs on a bill in April 2018. Even though Built to Spill doesn't produce new music frequently - its last two albums dropped in 2009 and 2015 - the band has remained loyal to the area.

In his summer concert preview, Jeff Miers included Built to Spill's club show in the honorable mention category, impressive considering the scale of the shows that made his top 10.

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STS9, 7 to 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 at Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). General admission is $25, while a Soundcheck Experience runs for $75; see full ticket details.

Sound Tribe Sector Nine - abbreviated as STS9 - is an enticing electronic-jam band scheduled to play RiverWorks. Back in 2015, News pop music critic Jeff Miers lamented failed attempts of the jamtronica genre - which works better live than as a recorded album - but cited STS9 as one of the few that managed to make the improv-EDM combo work.

Boasting big-time slots at mega-festivals such as Bonnaroo (six times) and Electric Forest (three), the six-piece is fresh off of Wave Spell, its own music festival established in Belden Town, Calif.

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Alpaca Night at Hydraulic Hearth, 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 at 716 Swan St. Free to attend.

The alpacas fight back! After llamas stole the show at WNY LlamaFest and even at the Dozynki Polish Harvest Festival, the Thistle Creek Alpacas - known for their bustling social lives that extend well beyond their home base of Elma - stand adorably in the spotlight for Hydraulic Hearth's themed event.

Community Beer Works - which brews beer on-site at Hydraulic Hearth - will release its annual Alpaca porter, which calls upon both English and American malt varieties.

[Related: Smiles at Beatles Rooftop Tribute at Hydraulic Hearth]

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Bad Suns, doors at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18 at Town Ballroom (681 Main St.). Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

In March, California alt-rock band Bad Suns debuted its third studio album, "Mystic Truth," their first under Epitaph Records, the property of Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz. Reaction has been generally positive, with a relatable, uplifting theme holding it together: optimism in the face of adversity, according to an Atwood Magazine interview.

Look back at smiling fans and the atmospheric, dim 2017 performance by Christo Bowman and bandmates in Town Ballroom.

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BuffaloJobFinder Career Fest, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 in the lobby of the Buffalo News (One News Plaza).

More than 30 companies will set up in The Buffalo News' lobby on Thursday for the annual Career Fest, which seeks to pair prospective workers with local and regional companies that are hiring.

From GEICO to Tops Markets' distribution center to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, there's a broad range of opportunities available, plus three free speaker sessions on job interviews and demands on the modern workforce.

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Theater Central: See The News' full 2019-20 theater season preview by Anthony Chase.

Reviews of several shows that have already opened:
• Alleyway Theatre's "The Navigators"
• Kavinoky Theatre's "Hairspray"
• MusicalFare's "West Side Story"
• Subversive Theatre's "Catch-22"
• Road Less Traveled's "The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid"
• Buffalo United Artists' "Bright Colors and Bold Patterns"

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Sold out: Dining in the Dark for Olmsted Center for Sight, Tuesday, Sept. 17 at the Hyatt Regency.

Also, the WNY Refugee Film Festival opening night, slated for Thursday, Sept. 19, has sold out. But single tickets remain for Friday's showing.

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5 quick-hitters for this week

Lettuce at Asbury Hall in Babeville
Thursday Night Terrors' "Demons 2"
Buffalo Film Seminars' "The Asphalt Jungle"
Farm to Pint and Plate at Hotel Henry's 100 Acres
Hank Williams' birthday celebration at The Tabernacle

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5 events to look forward to this weekend

Borderland Music & Arts Festival at Knox Farm
"Mean Girls" opens at Shea's Buffalo
Williamsville Oktoberfest in Island Park
Curtain Up! at Shea's Buffalo Theatre
Sponge Candy Fest at Platter's Chocolates

Email: btsujimoto@buffnews.com

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