Sometimes, the toughest place to win acceptance for nationally acclaimed musicians is in their own hometown. Consider the jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra and pioneering alternative rocker Peter Case.
Both earned national fame and had hit records. Both cut their teeth playing with area bands and in local clubs. For some reason, though, they never quite earned the respect locally that they did nationally.
"It's ridiculous, considering what they have accomplished," said Nick Veltri, president of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.
That's why Veltri is happy Spyro Gyra and Case will be among those inducted into the hall during ceremonies at 7:30 tonight in the Erie Community College City Campus Center, 121 Ellicott St.
Also going in: Lenny Silver, who started Amherst Records; radio personality Dan Neaverth; singers Clint Holmes and Janice Mitchell.
Others going in: Ron Davis, known as Lee Ron Zydeco; musicians Kenny Hawkins, Emile Latimer, Wendell Rivera; classical percussionist Jan Williams; country performer Phil Dillon; guitarist Fred Rapillo; and the band Weekend.
All have made their musical marks, as did Spyro Grya and Case. But those two acts spent so much time away from Buffalo, the city never quite embraced them.
"I've never forgotten that Buffalo gave us our starts, but sometimes I feel Buffalo forgot us," Jay Beckenstein, the saxman who helped form Spyro Gyra, once said. The group had a string of hit records and is best known among pop fans for the single, "Morning Dance." The band is still making records and remains a club attraction after nearly three decades.
Case, who grew up in Hamburg, moved out to the West Coast where he joined the band, the Plimsouls. It was for a time in the forefront of the alternative rock sound and is best known for the number, "A Million Miles Away." The Goo Goo Dolls once covered that number on an album and have longed claimed the Plimsouls as a major influence.
Case has moved on to a solo acoustic folk career, and remains haunted by his old hometown.
"I miss living in a place where I grew up," he told The Buffalo News earlier this year. "I really know things around here like I'll never know any other place.
"I guess I try to recreate it in the songs. You know, one of the urges to sing is to summon up things that you miss."
Veltri, himself a member of the hall of fame for his skillful bass playing, understands those feelings.
"You look at what he's done and who he has influenced, and it shows how important his music was," he said of Case. "We should be proud that he's from this area and we need to recognize him."
Local musicians such as Fred Rapillo and Ron Davis also deserve that kind of recognition, says Veltri. "These guys have been fixtures on the local scene for so long. "They reach a lot of people with their music. They're both outstanding players and it's nice to see them in the hall of fame."
Tickets for the event cost $25. A reception will start at 6:30 p.m., with inductions following at 7:30. For information call 838-0034.
MICHAEL JACKSON, PAUL SIMON, QUEEN, BOB SEGER, AC/DC, AEROSMITH and BRENDA LEE head the list of this year's nominees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. The election results will be announced later this year.
JAKOB DYLAN, Bobby's little boy, and his band the WALLFLOWERS will sub for JIMMY PAGE and the BLACK CROWES to open for the WHO next month during four nights at Madison Square Garden. Page had to bow out due to back problems.
GREAT BIG SEA comes out of Newfoundland and loves to get the joint jumping with its brand of folk and Irish music. ALAN DOYLE is on vocals and leads the group during its energy-packed concerts. Great Big Sea is touring in support of its latest album, "Road Rage," and performs at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Rivera Theatre in North Tonawanda.
When Oprah Winfrey asked Vice President Al Gore what his "favorite quote" was, he responded: "BOB DYLAN, "those who are not busy being born are busy dying.' " When asked his favorite group, the veep said: "The BEATLES." Too bad Gore isn't in Buffalo, because the baby boomer would undoubtedly dig the LOVIN' SPOONFUL and the ASSOCIATION playing some '60s oldies at 7 tonight in Buffalo State College Sports Arena. Tickets range from $16 to $50.
Check it out: The PUSH STARS offer some younger, modern rock sounds at 10 p.m. Thursday in the Empire Brewing Company, 623 Main St.