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BR60: Feeling the Good Vibrations from Hot Mama’s Canteen

In the up-and-coming Black Rock Neighborhood, nestled at the intersection of Amherst, Military, and Kail streets is a safe place for original and aspiring artists of all walks. Owner, Valerie Meli opened Hot Mama’s Canteen in June of 2014, and takes great pride in presenting a comfortable atmosphere, with generous cocktails, amazing service, and fresh, tasty food, including her own brand of Hot Sauce. A self-described, “All-Inclusive-Everyone-Welcome kind of joint” where live music can be heard weekly, Thursday through Sunday.

“We wanted to open our doors to all the forms of art and music that our building can support.” Val said, “ to make artists feel welcome to perform, collaborate, and generate beauty.”

HMC is part of what we hope to be a growing trend of business owners regularly supporting local artists and musicians. The real magic happens for an artist when an owner opens their business and allows artists to connect one-on-one with their audience. These special moments allow artists to test the range of their talent, find their sound, and their soul.

But original artists often struggle to get a public gig, especially when it’s their first. Business owners often feel that inviting original artists to perform for the first time can be a risk.

Since their opening, Hot Mama’s has always heavily featured various musical acts, but this fall Val took a leap, and found her niche, and along with it, a new community which is now thriving. Val says that the attendance has been incredible, and she genuinely hopes more people will come check out this unique forum and experience. She started off with one night a week, “Original Tunes Tuesday,” which has since grown to include “Up Front & Intimate” on Thursday’s, as well as “All Arts” on the third Sunday of every month.

Late last year, we were invited by Val to come hear a band she considers pretty special, The Healing Committee, a Buffalo-Based collaboration of American singer-songwriters Alan Whitney, Kathryn Koch, and Tim Pitcher. The three artists trade lead and supporting roles on a wide range of songs, vocal harmony, guitars, and harmonica, and a “groove-driven American roots blend of Country, Folk, and Soul.”

Alan Whitney is originally from Rochester N.Y. began his journey in music while in Los Angeles, then went on to Nashville. In the 1990s, Alan was an early participant of the Americana movement, sharing the concert stages with Allison Kraus, Jim Lauderdale, and Lucinda Williams. Alan’s works were cut by major recording artists and placed in movies and television. He’s released three albums, including “The Borderland”. After years of work in major music biz cities, Alan migrated to Buffalo NY, where he heads a production firm.

Kathryn Koch is a Buffalo NY native who headed indie band Redheaded Stepchild as their lead singer-writer featured on bills such as Suwannee Springfest. An accomplished songwriter, vocalist, and harmonica player, Kathryn will be releasing a solo album, “The Single Girl”, in 2019.​

Rounding out the trio is Tim Pitcher (Batavia, N.Y.), an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. Tim comes from a dynasty of dance band musicians (third generation) and accompanied his father in the patriarch’s bluegrass group. He served as the guitarist for songwriter Uncle Rog and earned a rep for his fast as lightning guitar picking as well as playing solid rhythm in rock and bluegrass. Tim has shared bills including Dave Grisman and Victor Wooten.

The Healing Committee’s new album is scheduled to arrive in the spring of 2020.

Hot Mama’s regular music nights include:

  • Original Tunes Tuesday- which features a different musical guest every Tuesday
  • Up Front & Intimate – spotlighting a different guest every Thursday
  • 3rd Sundays “All Arts” – for an inclusive set of different artists and art-forms

They also currently have some regular monthly bookings featuring local artists, musicians, story tellers, and burlesque acts:

  • Dean Bell Solo on the 1st Sunday of the month
  • Mary Beth King on the 2nd Sunday
  • THC Trio on 2nd Wednesday
  • Burlesque with the Trash Can-Cans! On the 3rd Saturday
  • Kathryn Koch on 3rd Sunday
  • Rockabilly Steve & the BR 3 on the 4th Sunday

You can check out HMC’s extensive events calendar here.

Hot Mama’s Canteen | 12 Military Road | Buffalo, New York, NY 14207 | (716) 783-8222

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Written by Jessica Marinelli

Jessica Marinelli

Jessica Marinelli is a WNY native, born and raised in the Lincoln Park area of Tonawanda. She has been involved in local politics from an early age and is currently a Tonawanda Democratic Committee Member. As an avid equestrian and animal-lover, she trained and re-homed over 40 horses. For over a decade, she was an event planner with the law firm, Hodgson Russ LLP, and now owns her own marketing and event management company. She has worked with international and national organizations on large and small scale events. Jessica writes on politics and local events, as well as working with Buffalo Rising as a social reporter.

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