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Sounds of summer: Local bands

What is it about relocating from cramped pubs to sunlit patios that enhances the communion between music fans and Buffalo’s local bands?

Maybe it’s the Lake Erie breezes that intermingle between live musicians and Bud Light Lime drinkers. Or the Rust Belt warmth that radiates across flailing arms and dancing legs. Or, perhaps, the Jimmy Buffet and Journey covers that sound far more appropriate amid the fading sunlight. It’s all of these things — along with the acceptance that, in Buffalo, our time to shine under tropical temperatures can be brief.

“It’s almost like there’s a sense of urgency because our summer season is so short, and wearing a coconut bra in February just doesn’t have the same effect — although it does happen, and I have the photos to prove it,” said Jim Jowsey, frontman and sometime-guitarist of Buffalo’s preeminent trop-rock band, Pirate Dreams.

The band plays to grass skirt-clad parrotheads year-round, singing about Margaritaville and cheeseburgers in paradise no matter the conditions outside. But when the temperate weather moves into Western New York, the band follows the short-sleeved masses to patios or breezy venues on the waterfront to sing their catalog of covers amid a more ideal ambiance.

“I think when it comes down to it, we really appreciate our opportunities to use the outdoors,” said Jowsey, whose band is booked for a Buffalo Bisons’ Friday Night Bash and the Outer Harbor’s Wilkeson Pointe, among many more. “When venues like Mickey Rats, Sunset Bay and others start dusting off the cobwebs and preparing for summer, you can really feel the excitement in the air.”

The same is true for bands like local stalwart Black Widow. Winners of the Buffalo Music Awards’ Best Rock Band 11 times, the quartet doesn’t need to wail aside a tiki bar to work Queen City crowds into a Corona-hoisting lather. But when summer arrives, the foursome finds that open air events like Tonawanda’s Canalfest (July 16-23) or Hamburg’s Erie County Fair (August 9-20) elicit a different vibe from everyone — including the band.

“[The crowd’s] outside and not squeezed indoors,” says Black Widow singer Lana Marie. “[There’s] the smell of the air, the sun beating on them and, honestly, the band’s more into it, too.”

In the back corner of Public House on the Lake or in the shadow of U.S. Naval ships at Liberty Hound, at Catholic Church lawn fetes, Southtowns corn festivals or suburban Chiavetta’s chicken barbecues, our local bands carve through tunes you’ve sung enthusiastically since high school (or before). You’ll dance and drink and sing those same old songs again, because that’s what you do when you feel good — and it’s summertime in WNY.

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