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Mark Sommer

Mark Sommer is an enterprise reporter and former arts editor at The Buffalo News. He writes about an array of subjects, including development, the waterfront, transportation and culture.


Curtain Up! festivities get under way in the Theater District at 5 tonight in the 665 Main St. Building across from Shea's Performing Arts Center. Mayor Anthony Masiello will recognize the contributions of honorary chairwoman Blossom Cohan, who has been a major figure in Buffalo theater since 1960. Hors d'oeuvres will be served .At 5:30, a balck-tie gala dinner catered by …

Formed in 1963, the Zombies carved an indelible mark in the annals of pop music with three songs that have remained staples of classic rock: "She's Not There," "Tell Her No" and "Time of the Season," with the latter selling 2 million copies in 1968, one year after the British band's demise.For the first time since then, Colin Blunstone, the band's ethereal-sounding vocalis…

Performance artist Pat Oleszko, left, drew on her 30 years as a tenant in lower Manhattan and as a Sept. 11 rescue volunteer to create "Rubble Without Pause." It's not her first rumination on the World Trade Center; her humorous piece, "Whirled Trade Center 1 & 2," with text arranged in the form of the twin towers, was published by Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in 198…

Composer and piano man Thomas "Fats" Waller's life was the inspiration for "Ain't Misbehavin'," a Tony Award-winning musical that struck pay-dirt as the best musical of 1978 and a clutch of other awards nearly 25 years ago. Ken Page, who was nominated for a Tony Award in the original and later performed in "Cats" on Broadway, will be directing a touring company in the Rivi…

A blue-collar town reeling from financial decline. An underdeveloped waterfront. Underexposed tourist attractions. A dying downtown. Oh, and a world-class philharmonic orchestra.Sound familiar? Well, that could also have been an apt description of Liverpool not so many years ago.But no longer.Located on England's northwest coast on the banks of the River Mersey (immortaliz…

Where were you on Aug. 16, 1977, when you heard that Elvis Presley died?Terry Buchwald, Elvis' impersonator: "I was over at a friend's house, and his mother came out and said: 'Terry, I think you should go home. Elvis has died.' When I got there my sisters and my mom were all upset and crying. I was trying to understand what was going on. It definitely sticks in your head.…

N'Tare Ali Gault, 35, has been leading spoken word events for the past four years in Buffalo. He's held them in a variety of places, from theaters and cultural centers, to cafes, record shops and jazz clubs. Two years ago, he began a literary publication geared to the urban arts, Njozi magazine. From 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, he'll host open mic poetry at New Arthur's Pub. A lif…

August at Six Flags Darien Lake means it's also time for the annual Kingdom Bound Festival, which is expected to draw 60,000 this year to the four-day Christian gathering. Lots of contemporary Christian music along with sports activities, worship, inspirational speakers and amusement park frivolity are on tap beginning Sunday night and running through Wednesday.Daniel Rodr…

John and Mary, a folk-rock duo comprised of John Lombardo and Mary Ramsey, are known for Ramsey's sweet voice and viola, Lombardo's distinctive six- and 12-string guitar-playing, their original music and covers of English folk music. And, of course, for their involvement with 10,000 Maniacs -- John as a founding member who departed in 1985, only to rejoin the band in 1995,…

KenTon native Kate LoConti, at 23, is already a veteran of Buffalo theater. She's performed in about 20 plays with most of the city's major theater companies, and is cast in the role of Luciana in Shakespeare in Delaware Park's "Comedy of Errors," which opens Thursday and runs through Aug. 18. We recently touched base with her.This is your third time performing with Shakes…

The Anger Management Tour, led by Eminem, pulls into HSBC Arena on Thursday for a 6:30 p.m. show. Also on the bill are Ludacris, Papa Roach, Xzibit, Bionic Jive, the X-Ecutioners and D12. We caught up with MC EMERG McVAY of Bionic Jive from his home in Phoenix.How do you describe Bionic Jive?I'd say we'd be more along the lines of Rage Against the Machine, but we're not a …

A rock festival with such blasts from the past as Big Brother and the Holding Company, Mountain and Vanilla Fudge? It may sound like the Atlanta Pop Festival from 1970, but this classic rock star-studded lineup is for the 2002 Rockin' Music/Bike Fest, which begins today and runs through Sunday at the Festival Grounds at the Pier.Some 14 bands in all - also among them Jeffe…

With black polish on his face, a dark wig on his head and lips outlined in a chalky white, local entertainer Jon Kondal is kneeling on one knee, one white-gloved hand cupping the other, as he sings:"Look at me, Mammy! Don't you know me? I'm your little baby!"Rising in his spatted shoes, he sings, to a musical backing track: "I'd walk a million miles for one of your smiles,…

A few years after Bob Dylan sang, "In this age of fiberglass, I'm searching for a gem," his music entered a gospel phase, replete with African-American back-up singers who would have sounded equally at home on a church dais. Dylan, we soon learned, was on a spiritual search, and his path led him back to the honesty, passion and yearning found in the black gospel music trad…

Mark Goldman, the former owner of the Restaurant at the Calumet, has been instrumental in bringing some of Cuban's finest musicians to Buffalo over the past year, including Pio Leyva to Artpark last month. Leyva was one of many featured on the album "Buena Vista Social Club" and later the Wim Wenders' documentary of the same title - both projects of musician musicologist R…