A new venue for jazz in the Buffalo area

On Tuesday night, November 1st, a new “Tuesday Nite Concert Series” begins. The Tim Clarke Trio will take the stage at the Village of Williamsville’s historic Meeting House for a 7pm concert.

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If you’ve never been to The Meeting House on Main Street in Williamsville, you might be wondering, “How did this place become a new venue for jazz in the Buffalo area?” Here’s the story…

In 2013, local jazz singer Mark Weber decided to paint old, upright pianos colorfully and place them around the Buffalo area, outdoors, for the public to play. “Pianos in Public Buffalo” made a lot of people happy, accomplishing its intended goal.

Back then, Weber met with Dick and Sharon Rich from the Village of Williamsville. At the time, they were somewhat interested in having colorful pianos placed in Williamsville and Amherst. As the chair of the Village Arts & Culture Committee, Sharon Rich had been instrumental in organizing many positive events for years, including the Glen Park Art Festival. She and her husband asked Weber to join their committee since he was interested in promoting music and art in the area.

Fast forward to now. Weber somehow connected with JazzBuffalo’s email list to get news of area jazz events, and became Facebook friends with its founder, Tony Zambito. Since joining the Williamsville Arts & Culture Committee, Weber had helped put on various events at The Meeting House, which is located on Main Street near Mill Street. Seeing all the good Zambito was doing online, promoting jazz in the region, Weber thought, “Why not see if Tony Zambito would be interested in promoting jazz concerts at The Meeting House in Williamsville? It’d be another venue for jazz in the area– the more, the better.”

Zambito met with Weber, as well as Dick and Sharon Rich, at the Original Pancake House in Williamsville to discuss the potential of bringing jazz to the Village. Then Zambito attended the Arts & Culture Committee meeting at Village Hall recently, where the idea for a Tuesday night concert series this November and December at The Meeting House was met with both approval and enthusiasm.

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The Meeting House on Main Street

So will The Meeting House go over well with jazz aficionados? Time will tell. If the “Tuesday Nite Concert Series” is well-attended, the musicians like the place, and word gets out, the Buffalo area may have another great place for jazz concerts.

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The Meeting House stage

The Meeting House is at 5658 Main St. in the heart of Williamsville, at Main and Mill Streets. It’s the building that looks like an old church from the 1870s. Parking is available behind the venue as well as on the street and in nearby lots. Restaurants within walking distance include Sorrentinos, The Irishman, Creekview, Share, Moor Pat and The Eagle House if you want to make a night of it with dinner before or after the concert.

Key info: Tuesday, Nov. 1st, 7 to 9pm, Tim Clarke Trio (with George Kane & Wayne Moose) at The Meeting House on Main Street in Williamsville, $10 general admission, $5 for students

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Glen Park Art Festival

The Glen Park Art Festival takes place the last weekend of July. In 2016, the festival celebrated its seventh year. Located on Glen Avenue in Williamsville, between Rock Street and Mill Street, the Glen Park Art Festival got its start because Mayor Brian Kulpa and Dick & Sharon Rich thought it would be nice to celebrate music, dance and art in the Village of Williamsville, in one of the region’s most beautiful parks. The community-oriented festival features some 140 local vendors, as well as food from local restaurants. With a space for kids to make art, high schoolers selling their art, and even a carousel, it’s a festival atmosphere. Meanwhile, the Town of Amherst stage hosts dancers, singers and musicians, providing a variety of entertainment from Friday night thru Sunday night. The Glen Park Art Festival is a highlight of the summer in Western New York. If you haven’t been, it’s worth a visit. –Mark Weber of Beautiful Buffalo

Buffalo Glen Park Williamsville

Buffalo Glen Park Williamsville is a beautiful Buffalo area park in suburban Williamsville along Main Street. Known for its waterfall, Glen Park is sometimes called “Glen Falls Park,” though its actual name is Glen Park. Located in the Village of Williamsville, Glen Park is unique in that it is vertical- you can walk down or up it depending on whether you’re coming from Main St. or Glen Avenue. People like to fish, feed the ducks, take wedding pictures, wade in the water, and attend concerts and an art festival in Glen Park. A popular summer spot in beautiful Buffalo, Glen Park is a Western New York treasure.

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If you’ve ever been to Glen Park or wish you were there right now, you can now order Glen Park artwork products so you’ll have a piece of the park in your home– how about a throw pillow for your family room couch or a shower curtain for your bathroom? Of course you can also get a metal print or acrylic print, etc. Order Buffalo Glen Park Williamsville products here.

For your knowledge, Glen Park has quite a history! Its location originally housed an amusement park, Harry Altman’s Glen Park Casino and Amusement Park. The property was razed following two fires.

The first fire in September 1968 destroyed a nightclub on the property called The Inferno. The Inferno was formerly the “Glen Casino”.

The nightclub was notable for featuring the bands Wilmer & the Dukes and Raven (formerly Tony Galla and the Rising Sons) on a weekly basis, which helped launch their careers. In addition, national recording acts such as Junior Walker & the All Stars, The Butterfield Blues Band, Sly and the Family Stone, Ike & Tina Turner, The Bob Seger System, The Esquires, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, Wilson Pickett, Wayne Cochran & the CC Riders, and Arthur Conley also played this famous nightclub.

The second fire in September 1973 destroyed several buildings, including the lower building called the “Underground”.

Altman, his son-in-law Dave Goldstein and grandson Steve Goldstein had hosted many famous entertainers at the Glen Casino over the years, including Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra Jr., Jayne Mansfield, Dick Shawn, Joey Bishop, Jerry Vale, The Three Stooges, and the Mills Brothers.

The Casino was built in the 1940s and housed both a theater and a restaurant. In 1966, Kevin Elliott, a local promoter, sold Harry Altman the idea to convert the nightclub into a rock ‘n roll venue. It was also the springboard for the Inferno house band, named the Rising Sons. This local group featuring Tony Galla on vocals, Jim Calire on piano, John Weitz lead guitar, Tommy Calandra on bass guitar, Gary Mallaber on drums, became national recording artists known as Raven managed by music executive, Marty Angelo. The Raven recorded a live album entitled, “Live at the Inferno” which was later released in 1969. The front cover of the album is a photo of the fire-razed nightspot.

In 1976, the park was converted to its current state with the installation of several ponds and concrete walking paths. It has since been owned and maintained jointly by the Village of Williamsville and the Town of Amherst.