One of Buffalo’s very own is returning to play a show at The Sportsmens on Amherst Street. Michael Lee Jackson’s prolific music career began in Buffalo when he surfaced with his band called Animal Planet.
Now Jackson is reuniting with a few of his hometown musician friends to put on a memorable homecoming show that will be one for the records. This assemblage of talents is considered off the scale and off the hook. Any Buffalo music aficionado will know that this line-up is a once in a lifetime opportunity to catch bunch of talented hotshots in action. It’s going to be hard to tell who’s having more fun – the audience or the band.
On November 23, Jackson is brining together a wide range of talents that include Geno McManus, Jeff Schaller, Brian Burd, Nicki Hicks, Jim Bohm, Jim Runfola, and special guests Terry Sullivan and Tommy Z.
Anytime we can get Michael Lee Jackson aka ‘MJ’ back in Buffalo for a gig, we are lucky to have him. Anyone who knows the man/musician will tell you that he’s salt of the earth and a Buffalo statesmen through and through. Although he is not living here currently, he’s back more and more these days, looking for ways to contribute to the local music scene while staying in touch with friends and family. I’ll never forget when I once ran into him at Ulrich’s and he told me, “This morning I woke up and looked out my window and saw a whale swimming in the ocean. Twelve hours later I’m in Buffalo having a drink at the city’s oldest pub. I live for both experiences, but the more that time passes, I am realizing that I’m missing this one more and more.”
Now MJ will be reconnecting yet again, with a gig that promises to be high energy and a ton of fun. You see, MJ’s early music career in Buffalo still resonates with his local fanbase whenever he visits. MJ says it best – “A few years back I was briskly walking through the Buffalo airport to fly back to LA and I heard someone yell “Hey, MJ!” It was the bartender at one of the bars in the terminal. I went over to say hello to a friendly face I’d known forever, and he said “got time for one?” I said, “sure” and he replied “usual?” I said, “I have a usual at the airport?” and he replied, “Dude, I’ve been pouring drinks for you for twenty-five years…” and he then recited all the bars and restaurants he’d worked at over the millennia as he slid one of my “usuals” down the bar into my hand.”
Whether it’s the airport or walking down a city street, MJ still retains a sort of celebrity status here in Buffalo. As we all know all too well, once a Buffalonian, always a Buffalonian. This city has a way of getting under your skin, and not ever letting you go, as MJ can attest. “I went to Guercio’s and the guy who was ringing up my food said “MJ, how you been? You still playing guitar and touring around?” I hadn’t been in Guercio’s for 7 or 8 years. Everywhere I go in Buffalo I see people I’ve known for a lifetime and when the conversation picks up it’s like no time has passed. That’s a wonderful and comforting thing, and I suspect it’s more that way in Buffalo than many other places. So, home is always home, and I love it. And even though I’ve been collecting my mail in California for a while, I always think of Buffalo as home.
So much of my life is here, family, old friends, and memories. It always feels like I haven’t really been gone. Though I joke, even in the winter, that Buffalo is the warmest place I know, it’s true.
“I’m so looking forward to our show at The Sportsmens on Wednesday, November 23. I haven’t performed a full show in Buffalo in eleven years or so. The last one may have been the 2006 opening of the Ian Gillan North American tour (lead singer and lyricist for Deep Purple) at the Town Ballroom. Our set on the 23rd will be heavy in Animal Planet favorites, of course, and much of my new record, Death by Sunshine, with a few other gems I haven’t played live before. We’ve got a killer band featuring Geno McManus, Jeff Schaller, Brian Burd, Nikki Hicks, Jim Bohm, and Jim Runfola. It’s as close to an Animal Planet reunion as will happen for a while, and Tommy Z, Terry Sullivan and other special guests will be joining us at various points in the set. I’m super excited about playing with all these guys. Should be a blast, and on the night before Thanksgiving with everyone in town, I expect it will be an old-home-days type party. We’re on at 9:30 p.m., I’m told, and tickets are available via The Sportsmens’ website.