The Buffalo music Hall of Fame inducted some new members Friday night at Erie Community College's City Campus, while up the street, jazz guitarist Tony Gazlla and a lot of friends partied at the Tralf.
ECC City Campus:
Buffalo Music Hall of Fame
Lenny Silver has done some fast talking during his remarkable career in the record business, but the man who founded Amherst Records had a difficult time speaking Friday night.
Silver was among 14 inductees into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. The classy event, hosted by comic Airborne Eddy, was held in the auditorium of the Erie Community College City Campus.
"I never realized I touched so many people," Silver said with emotion in a quiet voice. He has signed and worked with numerous national and local artists and sold millions of records during the past five decades.
Phil Dillon, who has lived in Nashville for the past six years, was also honored. "I'm a Buffalo guy and I learned everything about music in my hometown," said the singer/songwriter and musician.
Nick Veltri, president of the hall, began the evening with a tribute to former inductees who died in the past year, including a moving tribute to famed saxophone player Grover Washington Jr.
Rick Falkowski, who founded the hall, announced that the organization has received non-profit corporation status. "This is going to help us with donations and make the plans we have for this hall of fame turn into reality," he said.
The following artists were inducted, but unable to appear: Peter Case, Spyro Gyra, Clint Holmes and Kenny Hawkins.
Radio personality Dan Neaverth was away on vacation, but his son, Dan Neaverth Jr. played a heartfelt and funny acceptance speech on tape.
The younger Neaverth added: "Dad's on his computer tonight because he found out that 'Rats In My Room,' can be downloaded off Napster," That was the novelty song Neaverth recorded in the early '60s with fellow disc jockey Joey Reynolds.
The members of the band Weekend -- Tom Ryan, Rick Ryan, Bob Culver, Ned Wood and Frank Grizanti -- who recently reunited after nearly two decades apart, were moved by the honor. "To be back together and have this happen is unbelievable," Rick Ryan said.
Janice Mitchell, who toured with Ray Charles and other national acts as a singer, said: "Tonight represents the whole journey of my career; the ups and downs, the detours, the bumps -- the whole bit."
Jan Williams, classical percussionist, conductor and professor at the State University at Buffalo: "This city is a wonderful place for music and musicians."
Ron Davis, best known as Lee Ron Zydeco, received a standing ovation and said, "This is what the music is all about."
Longtime percussionist Emile Latimer: "Buffalo always gets dogged, but it's a great place for music. People here make you feel things, you didn't know you could feel."
Wendell Rivera, jazz sax player and one of the most influential musicians in Buffalo's Hispanic community, was nervous but happy. "I'm shaking for real up here," he said from the stage. "But I'm happy."
Fred Rapillo, a session musician in Los Angeles, flew in for the ceremony. "It was worth it but I want everybody to know I'm not a gang member," he joked, arriving on stage wearing a black shirt and black ski cap over his head.
-- Anthony Violanti
Tony Galla and friends
Tony Galla has one of those rich, full bodied, soul searing tenors that parts its sonic surroundings like the proverbial hot knife through butter.
He also possesses a fairly diverse artistic palette, alternating gigs between blues, Italian flavored songs, and gospel inspired material, ranging between the three idioms with surprising comfort and conviction.
Galla has led a fairly active life on the West Coast studio session scene and was joined Friday night by a few of his Los Angeles area compatriots (including bassist Bruce Atkinson, keyboard player Mark LeVang, and Buffalo expatriate Tommy Walsh on drums).L Tralf co-owner and longtime Dave Brubeck associate Bobby Militello was also on the bill as the saxophonist while Galla and Western New York stalwart Doug Yeomans played guitars.
Area blues fans should have been in attendance for his Friday night show at the Tralf as the band played to a full house of friends, family, and admirers.
Galla is not only a strong, noteworthy vocalist, he has a solid, broad toned guitar style that serves as the perfect accompaniment for the songs he sang. Standards like "Stormy Monday" sounded quite comfortable next to self-penned cuts from his latest blues inflected album ("A.S.A.P.") and the occasional flashback to lounge jazz artistry (a surprisingly effective up tempo rendition of "Misty" that featured Militello singing).
In fact, although Galla was the featured performer, everybody on stage got their share of the spotlight, showcasing their formidable talents.
Atkinson sang Robben Ford's "Prison Of Love." Militello, in addition to blowing some absolutely righteous alto solos, got to display his fluid jazz vocal phrasing, Walsh got to cut loose with some tasty percussive accents and Yeomans managed to snap off a few brisk riffs that showed he belonged up on stage with all the heavyweights.
Special guests, singer Mike Costley (soon to show up at the Tralf with his Louis Prima inspired big band) and the amazing jazz accordion player Frank Marocco, also added to the evening's fun.
-- Garaud MacTaggart