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Hall of Fame gala is one for the ages Anniversary event honors ties that link family of musicians

Family values and hometown pride prevailed among the inductees at the 25th anniversary Buffalo Music Hall of Fame Induction Gala Thursday evening in the Tralf.

Big rounds of applause arose from the full-house crowd when Lockport native Jimmy Sacca of the hit '50s group the Hilltoppers spoke of his love for his wife of 55 years and when Jeff Whiting introduced his father-in-law, Tony Marchese, who developed and refined the Moog synthesizer when it was manufactured on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga in the 1970s.

Admiration greeted songwriter and producer Bob James when he was joined on stage by his daughter, Emmy, for a song after he was introduced by Robbie Takac of the Goo Goo Dolls, who thanked James for providing the group a place to practice in the early days when they were kicked out of all their other rehearsal spaces.

Warm feelings abounded as virtuoso bassist Jerry Livingston, a veteran of five Rick James albums, thanked a lengthy list of people he worked with over the years and Mack Luchey, who has operated Doris Records on Buffalo's East Side for 46 years, thanked everyone for their support.

Ditto for record producer and promoter Rich "The Captain" Sargent, whose acknowledgments included a tale of how he got his first break from Tommy Shannon at WKBW after the FCC busted the pirate radio station he set up at home when he was 15.

Country singer Ed Bentley, who recalled how he and keyboard immortal Stan Szelest used to play dances where "Stan did Jerry Lee Lewis and I did Johnny Cash," declared that his hometown honor meant more to him than his 2004 induction into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He capped it with a performance of a song he wrote called "Buffalo Man," which celebrated local notables ranging from Tim Russert to Jimmy Griffin to Irv Weinstein.

Honored but absent was keyboardist Richard Kermode, who played with Janis Joplin and Carlos Santana and who died in 1996. Bob Minicucci, longtime proprietor of the Ontario House in Niagara Falls, where Kermode played regularly in the 1960s, accepted the Hall of Fame bison statuette for him.

Absent but alive on a WKBW-TV video feature from a few years ago was '60s singing and television star Joanie Sommers, who moved from Buffalo to California when she was 13. The video clip traced her career from her hit "Johnny Get Angry" to her lengthy run as the singing voice in Pepsi commercials.

The biggest celebration of family, however, came with the induction of the Schulz Family -- Robert, a classical percussionist; Dave, keyboardist with the Goo Goo Dolls and others; and Gretchen, a celebrated local singer and songwriter, as well as their father, Robert, a concert pianist and conductor who died 25 years ago.

Highlight of the evening was the three Schulzes playing together, first with sizzling bass by Jerry Livingston on Dave's "Naked in the World" from his days here with C.O. Jones, then on "Everything Counts," a powerful and touching song Gretchen said she wrote for her father.

Gretchen also wowed the crowd in the homage to Sommers, doing an impassioned alto version of "Johnny Get Angry," and in the tribute to Kermode, belting out an astonishing rendition of Janis Joplin's "Cry, Baby."

Performances wrapped up the evening's presentations with bassist Tom Reinhardt, joined by his group, Willie and the Reinhardts, and multitalented singer and instrumentalist Joe Rozler. The finale, as always, was an all-star jam.


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