Singer songwriter Melanie Safka (known to most as Melanie) is currently on the Just As Hot 2018 Tour. Most remember Melanie from being the first woman to perform at the original Woodstock festival almost 49 years ago. She has a long relationship with Buffalo, she recorded her 1985 album “Am I Real or What” here and had ties to local funkmaster Rick James back in the day. So, when Melanie had a date at Aqua on her itinerary, it was a joy for WNY fans to see her in such an intimate setting. The set up at Aqua is basically a restaurant geared towards having banquets and weddings. Gary Swanz and his staff were up to the task of setting up proper staging for this performance. A mini stage was set on the back of the patio with a beautiful backdrop of the Niagara River. She was accompanied by her son Beau Jarred, who warmed the audience for about 20 minutes before her mother’s set.
Melanie took the stage around 8:40pm and still dresses (bohemian) like the hippie she truly is. At first, she remarked how she would have preferred to play inside where there was air-conditioning. After about 45 minutes, the scenery and weather cooperated making it the perfect backdrop in which Melanie later acknowledged and appreciated. For her set, Beau Jarred joined her as well. The set was total impromptu. She took some request form the crowd. Her and Beau went back and forth and played a few chords to various songs before deciding which song to delve into.
A nice snippet of the Barbara Keith cover of “Detroit or Buffalo” was an appropriate way and ode to Buffalo to start off her set. Melanie talked about how she wrote Beautiful People during a blackout in NYC in the early 1970’s. Beau played a cross between a violin and a guitar called a “GuitarViol” for this track. She talked about how “Johnny Boy” was written for a guy who she had a platonic love affair with named John McEverly from Toledo, Ohio during Summerstock. He was yet to be seen again after that always wondering what ever happened to him quipped Melanie. Beau Jarred played a flute on parts of that song as well. She still showed her acoustical prowess on “Do You Believe” as she strummed that guitar with authority. She dove into her latest studio release “Ragamuffin” by playing “White Man Singing the Blues.” How else would you expect Melanie to close her set but by playing a snippet of The Plastic Ono Band’s “Give Peace a Chance.”
As the set came to a close, an unorthodox move was made as Melanie as she came back to the stage to read a passage from her book called “Tales from the Roadburn Café.” After reading for about 15 minutes, Melanie and her son played The Rolling Stones classic “Ruby Tuesday” to close out the evenings performance. It was an interesting show to say the last, Melanie showed she is a true hippy through and through. Her voice still remains strong, she still seems she still likes performing and I’m sure performing with her son makes these gigs extra special for her. The remaining Woodstock artists won’t be performing forever so if you appreciate that era of peace & love and music, you may want to see Melanie before she decides to call it a day.
Detroit or Buffalo (snippet)
Do You Believe
Lovers Cross (Jim Croce cover)
Brand New Key
White Man Singing the Blues
Look What They’ve Done to my Song Ma
Candles in the Rain
Give Peace a Chance (Plastic Ono Band cover- snippet)
Read a passage from her book (I Am a Woman With a Past)
Ruby Tuesday (The Rolling Stones cover)
We would like to thank Gary Swanz from Classic Catering for the credentials to review the show.