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Previous story: The Quickened Season: AV Summer Guide 2010
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Free, Unhip, Outdoors

Post-punk veteran and Buffalo native Willie Nile keeps knocking out terrific albums, and his August 11 show at Artpark should be one of the summer's best.

Your guide to awesome free summer concerts by the dinosaurs of rock and soul

I can’t think of anything I’d rather do on a summer night than go to a live outdoor show, enjoy a few beers and some unhealthy meat product on a bun to the music of my youth. Over the years, Western New York has been a regular stop for lots of bands from the 1960s and 1970s (some with as many as two or three original members!) who perform for people like me who lost track of new music years ago. Even better, these shows tend to be free, which compensates for the outrageous beer prices. (The performers’ fees are paid by our tax dollars, of course, but we know there are far worse ways that money could be spent.)

That said, it seems like the warhorse bands are either packing it in or giving Western New York a pass this year. No Blue Oyster Cult? No Grass Roots? Not even a single Monkee? Maybe they’re getting pushed out of the way by younger bands who are joining this circuit—if Tears for Fears is playing a free Artpark show, how long can it be before Depeche Mode and the Cure follow?

Artpark remains the best spot for free summer shows, which have done so well in recent years that a Wednesday night series has been added to the usual Tuesday slot. Sure, it’s a drive, it costs you $10 to park, and it takes forever to get out of the parking lot after the show, but it’s usually worth it.

Some caveats and recommendations before we get to the full list of free outdoor summer shows (minus a few places that haven’t finalized their schedules yet, and what you guys waiting for anyway?):

War (Artpark, June 15) features exactly one member—the keyboard player—of the band that had hits with “Why Can’t We Be Friends” and “The Cisco Kid.” The rest of the band lost control of the name and tours as the Lowrider Band.

• The Chris Squier playing at Canal Fest on July 23 is not the bass player from Yes. That’s Chris Squire.

• The Fabulous Thunderbirds (Thursday at the Square) is now original singer Kim Wilson and a new band, but if guitarist Jimmie Vaughan made the band for you, he’s at Artpark on June 22.

Weekend (August 11, Gateway Harbor Park) played at my prom. I’m not saying how long ago that was, but they did a killer cover of Elton John’s “Love Lies Bleeding.”

• One of the biggest crowds ever at Artpark was for the Guess Who last year, even though it was a pale shadow of the Burton Cummings-Randy Bachman band that toured a few years back, with a front man who would be more at home in an 1980s hair band. They’re back on July 6, but you won’t see me there.

• The Allman Brothers aren’t playing here this year, but guitarist Derek Trucks (with wife Susan Tedeschi) visits Artpark July 13.

• The rhythm section is all that’s not original about Three Dog Night, which still features singers Danny Hutton and Buffalo native Cory Wells along with keyboard player Jimmy Greenspoon and guitarist Michael Alsup. The only possible reason you could have not to see them at the Molson Canal Concert Series on July 16 is because you miss Chuck Negron, he of the angelic tenor. The band swears they’re never letting him back in even though he kicked his legendary (even by rock standards) heroin habit, so he’ll be playing solo at the Erie County Fair on August 3.

• You can get your prog on with Kansas secure in the knowledge that the band has as many more-or-less original members (it’s a messy history) as any given incarnation of, say, Yes. Canal Fest, August 6.

Creedence Clearwater Revisited is essentially Creedence Clearwater Revival minus John Fogerty. Artpark, July 20.

• Both Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith are back as Tears for Fears—so much easier to reform a band when there are basically only two of you. Canal Fest, August 13.

• Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” includes the line “The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb, Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom Jones, Johnny Cash, Engelbert Humperdinck, or the Rare Earth.” I don’t know what ol’ Gil had against the band that gave us “I Just Want to Celebrate,” but they’ve been around in one form or another pretty much continuously since their early 1970s heyday. They’re at the Erie County Fairgrounds on July 13.

• If you can’t wait until October for Roger Waters, bide your time with one of two cover bands, the Machine (Artpark, August 31) or an outfit called the Buffalo Philharmonic (Niagara Falls Hard Rock, July 17).

• There are two English Beats, one that plays in England fronted by toaster Ranking Roger, the other led by singer/guitarist Dave Wakeling. Neither one has any other original members (and when is Fine Young Cannibals going to hit this circuit?), but here’s hoping Wakeling does justice to the band’s catalogue at the Niagara Falls Hard Rock on July 10.

• Hasn’t Terry Buchwald (Cheektowaga Concert Series, August 22) now been doing Elvis longer than Elvis did? Just wondering.

• All you need to know about the current edition of the Doobie Brothers (Artpark, August 10) is that it’s the original version of the band—no Michael McDonald!

Foreigner (Artpark, August 17) is founding guitarist Mick Jones and an otherwise new band. (May as well just call it Spooky Tooth.) If you really miss singer Lou Gramm, he’s solo at the Hard Rock series in Niagara Falls on July 31.

• Post-punk veteran and Buffalo native Willie Nile keeps knocking out terrific albums, and his August 11 show at Artpark should be one of the summer’s best.

Free Concerts

Unless otherwise noted, all shows are free and open to the public. Please bear in mind that most of these venues support themselves with concession sales, so bringing in your own food and drink is frowned upon (and usually outright prohibited).

Gateway Harbor Concerts, Gateway Harbor Park, Sweeney & Webster Sts. North Tonawanda.

June 16: East of Eden, 6pm; A-List, 8pm
June 18: Exit, 7-9:30pm
June 23: Hot Daddy Rocks, 6pm; Strictly Hip, 8pm
June 25: N.Y. Rockin’ Revue, 7-9:30pm
June 30: Jonsie & The Cruisers, 6pm; Nickel City Pimp Choir, 8pm
July 2: Backbeat 64, 7-9:30pm
July 7: Wanted Dead or Alive, 6pm; Beatle Magic, 8pm
July 9: The Shadows Motown Review featuring Barbara St. Clair & Billy McEwen 7-9:30pm
July 14: Soul Barons, 6pm; The Diva Show, 8pm
July 28: Wide Right, 6pm; Boogie Monsters, 8pm
July 30: Widow Maker, 7-9:30pm
August 4: Mick Hayes & The Reinhardts, 6pm; Joyryde & The Hitmen Horns, 8pm
August 6: Urban Renewal, 7-9:30pm
August 11: Fat Brat, 6pm; Weekend, 8pm
August 13: Naughty Dawg, 7-9:30pm
August 18: Dreamland, 6pm; That 80’s Hair Band, 8pm
August 20: Bleeding Hearts, 7-9:30pm
August 25: No Excuses, 6pm; Hit N’ Run, 8pm

Molson Canal Concert Series, 45 Main St., Lockport, 5:30-11pm.

June 25: Rusted Root
July 2: Our Lady Peace
July 9: Gretchen Wilson
July 16: Three Dog Night
July 23: Blues Traveler
July 30: Rik Emmett
August 6: Kansas
August 13: Tears For Fears
August 20: Big Sugar

2010 Canal Fest, Gateway Harbor Park, Sweeney & Webster Sts. North Tonawanda. Performers will be playing at multiple locations.

July 18: Pirate Dreams, 1-3pm , Leeron Zydeco & The Hot Tomales, 4-7pm; Passion Works, 8pm -11pm
July 19: Busted Stuff, 4-7pm; Doug Yeomans, 6:30pm-8pm; Ramblin’ Lou, 7:30pm-9:30pm, Dead or Alive, 8pm-11pm
July 20: Frankie Don Does Sinatra, 2pm; Blues Hounds, 4-7pm; Black Widow, 8-11pm
July 21: Phocus, 4-7pm; Only Frank & Friends, 4-5pm & 6-7pm; Widowmaker, 8-11pm
July 22: Beach-Front Property, 6:30-8pm; Who Are You-A Celebration of The Who, 8-11pm
July 23: No Excuses, 4-7pm; Chris Squier, 6:30-8pm; Bike Night 7-10pm; West of the Mark, 8-11pm
July 24: Parable Players Teen Group, 2-3pm; Rod Nickson Project, 3-6pm; Coda, 8-11pm
July 25: Tonawanda Dance Arts, 11:30am; Niagara Experience Players, 1pm; Lance Diamond & The 24k Diamond Band, 7:30-9:30pm

Thursdays at the Square, Lafayette Square, 5-9pm.

June 10: Alejandro Escovedo & The Sensitive Boys and Tift Merritt
June 17: Ingrid Michaelson
June 24: Martin Sexton featuring Ryan Montbleu Band & Civil Twilight
July 1: Ed Kowalczyk of Live
July 8: Ozomatli with special guest Rebelution
July 15: Umphrey’s Mcgee with special guest Tea Leaf Green
July 22: G. Love & Special Sauce with special guest Rogue Wave
July 29: Robert Randolph & The Family Band
August 5: Los Lobos
August 12: The Fabulous Thunderbirds with special guest Hit & Run

Town of Clarence Summer Concerts, Clarence Town Park.

July 11: Shuffle Off to Broadway, Featuring Nancy & John Shuffle
July 15: Clarence Summer Band
July 18: Fairy Tales & Family Fun
July 25: Popular Masterpieces featuring Ilya Kaler, violinist
August 1: Continental Delights
August 8: Dancing Under the Stars, with Alex Rene’s Big Band

The Fairgrounds Summer Concert Series, Erie County Fairgrounds Grandstand, Hamburg, 7:30pm.

June 15: Danny & The Juniors featuring Joe Terry
July 13: Rare Earth
August 3: Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night

First Niagara Tuesdays in the Park, Artpark, 450 South 4th St. Lewiston, 6:30-9:30pm. Parking $10.

June 15: War
June 22: Jimmie Vaughan & The Tilt A Whirl Band
June 29: America
July 6: The Guess Who
July 13: Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Band
July 20: Creedence Clearwater Revisited
July 27: George Thorogood & The Destroyers
August 3: Little Feat
August 10: Doobie Brothers
August 17: Foreigner
August 24: Sara Evans
August 31: The Machine Performs Pink Floyd

Coors Light Wednesdays at Artpark, 450 South 4th St. Lewiston, 6:30-9:30pm. Parking $10.

July 14: Katharine McPhee
July 21: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
July 28: John Brown’s Body
August 4: The Sadies
August 11: Willie Nile Band
August 18: Sloan
August 25: The Trews

Hard Rock at the Falls Outdoor Summer Concert Series, 333 Prospect St., Niagara Falls, NY, 6pm.

July 3: Gord Downie
July 10: The English Beat
July 17: The Buffalo Philharmonic Plays the Music of Pink Floyd
July 24: Soul Asylum
July 31: Lou Gramm
August 7: Tonic

Blue Mondays, Hennepin Park Gazebo, 4th and Center Streets Lewiston, NY, 7-9pm.

July 12: Harmonica Dean and the Blue Lights
July 19: Sonny Mayo Band
July 26: Soul Committee
August 2: Old School B-Boys
August 9: Jelly Jar
August 16: Double Take Blues Band
August 23: Steve Burnside & The Original Marquis

Cheektowaga Summer Concert Series, Casimir Pulaski Cultural Center in Cheektowaga Town Park. All shows 7-9pm. In the event of rain, concerts move indoors to the Alexander Community Center, 275 Alexander Avenue.

June 26: Nickel City Opera
July 11: Civiletto Sings Sinatra With The Pyramid Band
July 26: Beatlemagic
August 1: Speedy Parker Blues Band
August 8 The Diva Show
August 15: McCarthyism
August 22: Terry Buchwald

Cheektowaga Family Concert Series, Outdoor Amphitheater in Cheektowaga Town Park, 7-8pm.

July 7: Glenn Colton
July 14: The Hill Brothers
July 21: Magic of Course by Ted & Corey

Cheektowaga Senior Summer Gazebo Concerts, Cheektowaga Senior Center, 3349 Broadway, 6-8pm

June 29: The Formula Band
July 20: Crash Cadillac
July 27: Night Shift
August 10: Music Crew
August 24: Switchback
August 31: Bedrock Boys

Erie County Fair, Fairgrounds Grandstand, (free with fairgrounds admission).

August 12: The Village People, 8pm
August 18: The Four Tops, 7:30pm
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