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HIT MAKER
WITH NEW ARTIST KEF, LENNY SILVER SHOWS HIS EAR FOR MUSIC

Lenny Silver's latest discovery came to Amherst Records by way of St. Paul, Minn., with a little help from Prince and "Baywatch."

He's called Kef and the DJ/MC is making a national mark with a hip-hop dance sound. Kef's new single, "Close to You," is gaining national radio airplay and just might be a breakthrough hit.

"I'm very excited about this record, it could be a smash," said Silver, the head of Amherst Records and a member of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.

Silver, executive producer of the single, knows something about making hit records and has been around the business for nearly six decades. He founded Record Theater and Amherst Records.

The local label has sold millions of records over the years and earned half a dozen Grammy Award nominations. Artists on the label include Spyro Gyra, the Stylistics, Della Reese, Doc Severinsen and Glen Medeiros.

Silver, 73, started out as a record promo man in the 1950s. He worked his way up to become a major musical force in Buffalo and throughout the nation.

Amherst sells around 200,000 CDs and albums a year, mostly with its back catalog. Kef, though, is the company's hottest contemporary artist.

Last year Kef had a hit with a dance track called "Hottie Boombalottie." It was played on dance radio stations and in clubs.

Kef's sound, filled with dance beats and funk grooves, was influenced by Prince. Kef, whose full name is David Charles Keffer, grew up in St. Paul and worked for Prince during the mid-1990s. He was an electric drum and computer music programmer for Prince, and also a music video editor.

Eventually, Kef moved to Los Angeles and worked on several television series in music and video editing. His resume included a stint as a music and film editor for the "Baywatch" series.

Kef's music has a huge dose of computer sounds and samples to go along with reggae, rap and hip-hop. It's sort of the Baha Men meet techno.

"He's an incredible writer and has a unique style," Silver said. "I guess you would call it electronic pop, but there's a lot of diversity to it."

Silver, meanwhile, shows no signs of slowing down. Amherst Records last year released a smooth jazz album by local trumpet player Jeff Jarvis called "Morning Drive."

"There's a lot of talent here and we want to expose it whenever we can," Silver said. He's been doing that since the 1950s. "I'm having too much fun to quit," he said.

The Super Bowl halftime show, organized by MTV, was a bigger bomb than the game.

Putting Aerosmith, 'N Sync, Britney Spears, Nelly, and Mary J. Blige on the same stage to all join in and sing "Walk This Way," was the only thing on the field more pathetic than the New York Giants offense. This all-star group of singers was out of tune and out of place.

Steve Tyler, lead singer for Aerosmith, looked and sounded lost. Nelly should have been flagged for holding for repeatedly grabbing his body parts.

All that was missing was the Backstreet Boys, who, by the way, sang the National Anthem before the game. The best part of the whole event was the great Ray Charles, singing "America the Beautiful."

Pop Notes

The date for the U2 concert in HSBC Arena has been moved up to May 31. No date for ticket sales has been announced. Previously, the U2 show was set for June 3.

SCOTT EAGAN, a Buffalo native, is a singer/songwriter now living in Boston. He recently released his first CD, "Remainderman" on Slane Records. It features a raw, acoustic sound backing Eagan's gritty vocals.

Eagan claims his major influences are Lou Reed, Paul Westerberg, Neil Young and Kurt Cobain. Like those artists, his music and lyrics possess an intense and powerful quality. He has a Web site at www.powerfolkbloke.com.

The singer returns to his hometown for a performance at 9 p.m. Sunday in Nietzsche's, 248 Allen St. He will also play later this month, at 9 p.m. Feb. 25 in Spot Coffee, 227 Delaware Ave.

Runwayz, the music club on 207 Youngs Road in Cheektowaga that suffered fire damage last November, is expected to reopen this spring. "We've done a lot of repair work; most of the damage was in the stage area," said DAVID TAYLOR, who booked acts for the club.

Taylor was spearheading an effort for the club to provide a suburban showcase for local bands. He wants to continue that trend when the club reopens. "We think there's still an audience for local music in the suburbs," Taylor said.

He also manages a Canadian rock band called TROUSER that plays at 11 p.m. Saturday in Backstage Pub, 454 Pearl St.

Celtic music, along with folk, bluegrass and rock will be heard at 10 tonight in Nietzsche's as part of the "Lower Bohemian Songwriter's Ball." MICHAEL MELDRUM will appear with a host of performers including, Cathy Carfagna, Dave Meinzer, Joelle Labert, McCarthyizm, Dave Ruch and Michael Sheffield.

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