A couple of weeks ago, I had a meeting at Daily Planet on Hertel Avenue. The meeting was set for 10am, so I figured “perfect”, I’ll grab a cup of coffee while awaiting the arrival of my guest. To my surprise, a couple of incredible musicians were centered in the middle of the room, and a crowd of café-goers were circling around. It only took a couple of songs before I was mesmerized with the performers, one who was Drew Azzinaro, who teaches at Daily Planet’s in-house music school (there are two private practice rooms in the building – that should tell you how into music this café is). The other guitarist (photo-right) was Joe Mahfoud, who was once featured in a Sounds of Buffalo interview on Buffalo Rising (see here). As I sipped my coffee, the two would take turns playing, and then talk to the crowd about their styles, their experiences, and the songs. It was great to see so many people interacting with the musicians. It was obvious that most everyone was there to catch some soulful live music.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about how special that impromptu (on my behalf) session was. Moments ago, I reached out to Paul Sottnik, who books all of the music for the café. It turns out that Paul is not from Buffalo (he’s from Long Island, and studied music at Fredonia), but he does have an impressive handle on the local music scene. He also manages to attract plenty of traveling musicians who are passing through town.
“I work and live in Buffalo, because it has a good music scene,” said Sottnik. “The music scene here is kickin’, and getting better.”
I asked Sottnik about his role in the café as a promoter, and as an influencer in the local music scene. I also wanted to know how he meshes the local talents and the visiting talents. “From my perspective,” he answered. “It is of course imperative to support the local scene, and these are the people most likely to bring people out to their shows because they already know people who live here. But touring acts generally have more experience and might have a higher quality show. So I try to balance the two, and give everyone a fair chance.”
A visit to Daily Planet is always an adventure. Musically speaking, there are always plenty of enjoyable acts to catch throughout the week, including the occasional African drum and dance troupe. I highly recommend that you catch one of these (donation-based) intimate shows, which take place whether you’re expecting it or not.