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NIAGARA FALLS – For a man who’s built two restaurants and hotels, given millions to charity, and funded a park that includes monuments to fallen heroes and a statue of himself, Russell Salvatore has a simple way of describing his birthday party. “We just come and drink, have a ball, dance,” he said. “Another year!” His 83rd year, to be exact. Salvatore, owner of Russell’…

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NEW YORK – The Metro Diner, with its chunky-lettered signage and neon-lit, apple-red exterior, isn’t exactly Broadway. On a chilly morning, it’s a place where the parka-wearing, scarf-wrapped Upper West Side crowd can order two eggs with bacon, home fries and toast for only $8.95, coffee included. The Metro skips glitz, and so does Pam MacKinnon. Fifty-five blocks south o…

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NIAGARA FALLS – Rock stars, particularly longtime rock stars and ones who aren’t named Springsteen, can be a bit robotic. It’s not their fault; try playing a hit song for two or three decades and make it seem fresh. Fans don’t mind; they’ve been listening to those same songs for those same decades. But a dose of discomfort doesn’t hurt anyone – not the fans, and not the m…

Comedy

Aidan Doran, a smiley, spiky-haired 14-year-old, and Frank Rossi, his real-talking, dude-you-can-do-this acting coach, had a lot to accomplish, and only an hour to get it done. During a session last month, their one-on-one rehearsal time was ticking away, leaving Aidan and Rossi with a choice: Practice his lines for the Hamburg High School play tryouts or rehearse auditio…

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A black swivel chair stood between Janet Snyder and the singer Robin Thicke. Thicke sat in it. With his charcoal herringbone scarf tucked under his gray overcoat, hair carved into a pompadour, Thicke fit his part: pop star. Snyder fit hers, too: Buffalo’s relentlessly youthful, on-trend media personality. She was wearing a dark dress that hugged a thin, muscular physique…

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Blake Shelton was imploring his Buffalo crowd to sing along when he tossed in a little motivation. “If I read a bad review tomorrow,” he said, “it’s all y’all’s fault.” Here’s that review. And the verdict: Both Shelton and his five-digits crowd of newly anointed backup singers inside First Niagara Center get a double thumbs-up, flying-colors, cool-cliché-of-your-choice g…

Comedy

Forget elephants. The Walmart truck in the room when Tracy Morgan stepped onstage was this: Will he talk about the accident? It took, oh, about 30 seconds to answer that. “I got hit by a Walmart truck,” Morgan told his near-capacity crowd Friday night in the Seneca Niagara Events Center. (And yes, that’s a slightly edited version of his quote. Consider any quote hereafte…

Comedy

The instructions – well, not really instructions, but warmly worded insinuations from publicists doing their job – couldn’t be clearer: When you’re talking to Tracy Morgan, don’t focus on the past. Don’t focus on the 2014 accident that nearly killed him. Don’t dive into the controversies, the apologies, or presumably even the triumphs from his work on “Saturday Night Live,…

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Imagine if a group of brothers grew up in creek house in the Catskills, became skilled multi-instrumentalists and, eventually, produced roots-reared tracks that are as rife with evocative lyrics as they are full of boot-stomping bombast. Envision no more. This family dynamic exists, and it beats in the form of the Felice Brothers, who will visit the Tralf Music Hall (622 …

Comedy

A funny thing happens when you interview comedians: They’re (usually) not funny. It’s a relentlessly consistent quirk, in the vein of hockey fighters being teddy bears off the ice and models wearing potato-sack clothes. (Well, OK. One of those examples is truer than the other, but you get the point: Comics can be surprisingly relatable – even normal.) Take Sarah Colonna,…

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He’s like a professor, the revered and feared kind, the scholarly voice-of-God type. He speaks with a purpose but sprinkles in humor (you best catch it!) and questions (so you better listen up). A conversation with William Shatner is short on chit-chat but loaded with rat-a-tat. In a recent phone interview from Los Angeles, the man who played the iconic Captain James T. K…

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Scott Kemper had rock-star dreams, ones he thought died some three decades ago.Then his phone rang, and he found out he’s famous.Buffalo famous – but still famous.Kemper, a lifelong resident of Indiana, is the guy who sang the iconic Buffalo Bills “Shout!” song. He recorded it 28 years ago, and had been largely anonymous until a Buffalo News article published Sept. 13 reve…

Comedy

Twenty-two years ago, Bill Maher melded comedy and politics to create a television show with a blunt purpose. So blunt that it was contained in the name: “Politically Incorrect.”“I thought we were drowning in political correctness then,” Maher said, “and I tried to jab a stake through its heart.”Maher failed. Not, in his mind, because ABC fired him from the show after he m…

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Catherine McDaniel has been waiting five years. Five long, screeching, ear-piercing, Oh-my-God-ing, fan-yourself, tattoo-your-foot, TEXT-IN-ALL-CAPS-CUZ-YOU’RE-EXCITED years. Her boys are finally here. Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson – who make up the world-dominating British boy band One Direction – played Ralph Wilson Stadium on Thursday night…

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By Tim O’SheiNEWS STAFF REPORTEREvery generation has its girl-power pop groups: TLC. Spice Girls. Destiny’s Child. The Pussycat Dolls.Today’s iteration? Fifth Harmony, the five-woman group that performed in Buffalo Sunday night on one of the final stops of their Summer Reflection Tour. Like their predecessors, Fifth Harmony was formed not in a garage or a living room by mu…