By Michael J. Billoni
Nicholas Picholas, co-host of "Janet and Nick In The Morning" on WKSE "KISS 98.5," looked at the lineup of talent for the Canalside summer 2016 concert lineup and declared, "The names speak for themselves, these are big names. It's diverse, it's cool and classy and, of course, it's free and everyone loves free."
Picholas was among four diverse radio personalities on stage this week when the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., with the support of its sponsors, announced its exciting lineup of 12 free Thursday concerts that run from June 9 to Aug. 25, beginning with "The Screaming Eagle of Soul" Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires.
The lineup offers a diverse lineup of acts, including Public Enemy, Frankie Ballard, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra playing the music of the late David Bowie, and The Claypool Lennon Delirium, featuring Les Claypool and Sean Lennon (son of the late John Lennon of the Beatles).
"Music brings people together and our free Thursday concerts are no exception, drawing tens of thousands of people to Buffalo's waterfront each summer," ECHDC Chairman Robert Gioia said. "This year we worked hard to put together a diverse lineup that has something to satisfy nearly every musical taste. We hope to see some new faces at Canalside this year listening to their favorite tunes, as well as our regulars who keep coming back because of the great concert lineups."
South Buffalo native Tom Dee, the ECHDC president for the past seven years, lives on the Buffalo waterfront with his wife, Roseanne, and is often seen riding his bicycle through Canalside and over to the Outer Harbor. He continues to be amazed at the drawing power of the Buffalo waterfront for its concert series.
"It gives me a great sense of pride to look around and see what our team has done for the people of Buffalo, Western New York, and the multitude of guests we see from all over the world," he said. "We are really getting to be known as the place to be in the summer for wonderful musical entertainment."
Jeff Miers, the acclaimed music critic for the Buffalo News, who devoted his "Sound Check" column in the May 5 Gusto to the Canalside concert lineup, opened his column with "This year's Canalside Concert lineup is, with a few minor qualifications, one of the strongest we've seen since the series moved to the waterfront in 2011."
Some pretty strong words from a musician/critic who has seen thousands of live music acts and was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame in 2014.
The May 3 press conference to announce the concerts was held on the site of the former Memorial Auditorium, which now features the historically aligned canals where the Erie Canals were in the 1800s and is home to ice skating in the winter and small boats and water bicycles in the summer. Two of the guests at the announcement and VIP party, which featured an elaborate buffet of food from 716 Food & Sport, were Paul Ranallo and his wife, Nancy. Ranallo is the son of the late Buffalo Courier-Express sports columnist Phil Ranallo. His grandfather used to sell newspapers a short distance away on Main and Exchange streets many, many years ago.
Looking around at the changes on the waterfront, Ranallo said, "The Canalside area is going back in time to what it used to be like down here. I thank Tom Dee and his team for having the foresight to preserve and showcase the city's history in this area. Canalside is home to me, because this was the home of so many Italian-Americans when my grandfather came here from Italy."
In addition to the free shows, Canalside also will host six ticketed concerts, including "KISS the Summer Hello 2016," featuring Meghan Trainor, Iggy Azalea, Magic!, Troye Sivan, Melanie Martinez and Jonas Blue.
"This is probably our biggest show ever," Picholas said of the lineup. "We always look for established artists and new and emerging artists, and we hit on all counts this year. Meghan Trainor is an amazing young songwriter from Massachusetts who wrote, recorded, performed and produced three independently released albums between the ages of 15 and 17."
She famously released her hit song "All About That Bass" in 2015.
" 'KISS the Summer Hello' will be epic," Picholas declared.
Canalside, which works with all local media outlets to promote its events, has aligned with WKBW-TV's "7 First Alert" weather for the Thursday free concert series. Meteorologist Andy Parker said the weather will be broadcast live on the morning news and during the 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts each Thursday from Canalside. The Thursday weather forecast for the concerts will be highlighted throughout the week.
"It will be very warm with bright sunshine each Thursday this summer," Parker predicted with a smile.
"7 ABC is proud to be the '7 First Alert' official forecast sponsor for the Canalside Thursday concerts," said Sue Dobmeier, the creative services director for the Scripps-owned station. "This is a great opportunity for our station to showcase the tremendous changes and great things happening in downtown Buffalo."