Rick Falkowski remembers Cory Wells’ special induction ceremony

When Cory Wells was selected to be inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame (BMHOF) in 1997, he was touring with Three Dog Night and could not make it to the event. He later had a break from touring so we scheduled a Special Induction Ceremony on May 26, 2000, at the Lafayette Blues Room.

Cory wanted to give the event a Buffalo slant so he reunited his band the Enemys, a group that was formed in Buffalo and relocated to L.A. in 1965. Drummer Dave Treiger was still living in Buffalo and guitarist Mike Lustan, who also played with Cory in The Vibratos, came up from Florida. They had not performed together since 1966. Three Dog Night keyboardist Jimmy Greenspoon came to Buffalo for the induction and Rick Ryan, from the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame band Weekend, completed the band on bass. It is ironic that Rick Ryan is now the bass player for WNY-based Three Dog Night tribute band – E.L.I.

To promote the Special Induction Ceremony, Cory was a guest on the Oldies 104 and 97 Rock morning radio shows, along with appearing on Channel 7’s AM Buffalo. Sportsmens Tavern owner Dwane Hall let the band use Sessions Recording Studio, next to the club, as a practice room. Cory put a lot of time into promoting and rehearsing for the show.

The induction ceremony opened with a set by BMHOF member Barbara St Clair and her band the Shadows. Cory’s plaque was presented by BMHOF radio personality Danny Neaverth, who admitted he was a big fan of the band and had the opportunity to introduce them at concerts in the 1970s. Officers from the Three Dog Night Fan Club came to Buffalo for the event. They expressed appreciation that Buffalo was inducting Cory Wells into the BMHOF, when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland had not recognized Three Dog Night for their numerous achievements.

45 FRIDAY ENTRY ON THE VIBRATOS

Everyone attending the Special Induction Ceremony was treated to a very memorable night. Cory Wells showed he was a down to earth person, who cared about not what you would do for him, but what he could do for you.

Since his passing on October 20, 2015, many stories have been told about Cory being a family-oriented person, who loved fishing and abstained from alcohol/drugs. He will not only be remembered as one of the top vocalists of classic rock music, but for the positive life he lived and the many lives he touched.

Rick Falkowski
Founder, BMHOF

 

 

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45 Friday: Davy and the Crocketts – Turn Your Back

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David Myles Meinzer has been making music in Buffalo for 40 years now. Here’s  his earliest recording.  BTW, I’m filling in for Bob Paxon this week, and I’ll attempt to fill you in on some of the background.

Since Dave is a friend, I’m going to eschew the Associated Press style and just call him by his first name. He traces his musical roots, like so many others,  back to hearing the Beatles as a young kid in the 1960s. But by the time he got to college in the 1970s, he was already exploring roots music. He was involved with the legendary Buffalo State College music magazine Shaking Street Gazette (which took its name from a MC5 song and took its money to publish from the student government there; it was edited by Gary Sperrazza). He would have been the one writing about Gram Parsons, and he recalls being at the legendary Kinky Friedman show in Buffalo where a small number of feminists were protesting Kinky’s song “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven (and Your Buns Into Bed).” In Kinky’s memory the incident has since grown into a feminist riot!

But by the time the late ’70s came around, most of the interesting music was coming out of the punk/new wave scene. And Dave says he remembers being inspired by the do-it-yourself attitude, that you could take a guitar and go play at a local club.  Plus his friends had always jokingly called him “Davy Crockett” as a kid because of his first name. So the name felt like a natural.

While Dave was never a punk, he could — and did — get into the rockabily and power pop edges of that scene. And since the since was really a melange of styles, that meant playing at McVan’s, the Schuper House and any of a number of other places where he and the band might be sharing the stage with Mark Freeland and Electroman, the Enemies, the Jumpers or a host of other punk/new wave/edgy bands.

When it was time to record, the group — Dave (guitar plus lead vocals), plus Dave Zwink (drums), Geoff Copp (guitar) and the mysteriously named E. Minor (actually Russell Steinberg on bass) — went to Tommy Calandra’s BCMK studios. Both sides of the single (“Long Time, No See” was the flip) were Meinzer compositions, and the production was credited to the Crocketts and Calandra.

Recorded in January of 1979, the song has been included on the “This Is It”  CD compilation of punk/new wave put out by Bob James (of the Third Floor Strangers, Restless and numerous other bands) in 2002. It’s a great piece of power pop that still holds up to this day.

The band actually had coonskin caps, by the way, although Geoff will tell you he was the only one to wear his.

The graphics for the single’s sleeve are actualy credited to Marlene Weisman and Attack Graphics. That’s a surprise, given that Dave went on to do graphics for many of the BCMK releases and has done art for dozens of albums, posters and CD covers for local performers and local shows by national artists over the years. He has also gone on to release an impressive number of recordings, with groups (Nimrod Wildfire, Dry Bones and, currently, with the Outlyers) and individually. The Crocketts, meanwhile, have scattered. Russ Steinberg is still in Western New York, but Dave Zwink is in Alaska and Geoff Copp on Long Island.

Meanwhile,  in one of this writer’s favorites, “Rock Castle,” by the Outlyers, Dave recalls the early years at McVan’s, which was indeed built to look like a castle. The castle was rockin’ indeed.

You can check out Dave’s own way more detailed history of the band here.

 

 

Another perspective on Lance Diamond

Much will be said and written about Lance Diamond in coming days, following news of his death on Sunday (Jan. 4, 2015). But here’s a perspective that may not get much attention.

As great as Diamond was as a performer, his bigger contribution to Buffalo may have been bringing the city’s residents together across racial lines. What bigger tribute can you pay to a performer than to say they helped peace and brotherhood grow in their community?

It can be a frustrating at times, but sometime it seems like that invisible line that runs down the middle of Main Street still keeps people apart. Music fans can be almost totally oblivious to great performers who live and perform just a few miles away. Soul great Jessie Butler is one who comes to mind in that regard. Recognition for Count Rabbit came late, and Donnie Elbert never received it in his hometown.

But Diamond didn’t just blur those lines he obliterated them. In his band. And especially in his audience. That’s thanks in part to his collaborations with the Goo Goo Dolls, but at least as much to his own personality. I can’t think of another performer – white or black – as widely loved in the Buffalo area. When it was a Lance Diamond show, it wasn’t a matter of black, white, gay, straight, or any divisive labeling. It was people coming together to enjoy the music, the moment and each other.

Dale Anderson wrote a great profile of Diamond for The Buffalo News back in 1989, when the singer had recently started working with the Goos and was seeing his prominence rise. Here’s a bit of what he told Anderson:

“There are so many great musicians I’ve had the honor to work with,” Diamond declared. “Drummers like Mike Caputy and Eli Konikoff. Keyboard players like Doug Gaston, Bobby Jones and Kevin De La Pinta. Great horn sections with Nelson Sky and Dick Griffo. Guitar players, I’ve got some awesome ones like Steve Camilleri and Tyrone Williams, Andy and Freddy Ripello. I’ve had the cream of the crop. Name any musician in this city and they’ve probably played with me.

“I came from that Pine Grill school of thought that said you had to dress the best and sound the best. I’ve spent over $50,000 on equipment that was stolen and on clothes. At one time, I could go two weeks in a row and never wear something twice, and that was when I was working six nights a week in the hotels.

“Everything I’ve done has been to look the part of the entertainer I’m trying to be,” he added.

And that was the kind of entertainer he was.

***

Who will take Lance’s place? Nobody, really, but it’s good to see walls breaking down in Buffalo. Critt’s Juke Joint and DBGB’s are entities that both fill that gap, as do performers like Rod Nickson, Van Taylor and others I’m either forgetting to mention or haven’t had a chance to encounter yet.

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Best of the Videos of the Day! A Top 10* List

This isn’t a scientific measurement, or really even an exact list. The Video of the Day project on WNY.FM’s facebook page has given me a chance to hear/see a lot of music that I might never otherwise have been exposed to. This, then, is a loosely assembled list of videos that I saw and loved this year.

Some were from before 2014, but all are relatively recent … and each was a Video of the Day in 2014. None of the archival videos for this post, and none of WNY.FM’s original videos.

So here’s the countdown:

10* — Juini Booth & Friends at the Colored Musicians Club: Why the asterisk? Because there’s a tie for No. 10. This one’s from 2013, with Juini Booth (bass)  playing with George Caldwell on piano, Carlos Day on trumpet, Dave Phillips on drums and Miles Tucker on sax. Some great jazz, Buffalo style.

10* — Those Idiots – I Want To Rock & Roll All Night (and Polka Everyday): Our other No. 10 makes clear that I can’t resist the silly and ridiculous. And they don’t get much more silly or ridiculous than Those Idiots. They can turn anything into a polka. The perfect pick for April Fool’s week.

9 — Alison Pipitone – Helpless: Alison Pipitone is one of those artists who you suddenly realize has become an institution on the local scene. It’s hard to believe Pipitone has recorded so many albums over so many years, and this video came off her new one this past year. It’s one of several shot in the grain elevators this year.

8 — Willie Nile – One Guitar: Buffalo Music Hall of Famer Willie is a WNY boy who has been restrengthening this local ties over the past few years. Well, he started last yar by playing with Bruce Springsteen and Mike Peters (of the Alarm) down in Asbury Park, N.J.

7 — Handsome Jack – Right On: Buffalo has always had a spot in its heart for 1970s-style hard rock. Handsome Jack nails it.

6 — The New Beginning Choral Assembly – Rock My Soul: The energy on this one is off the charts, but what really pushes this one over the top is the dancers. Hall of Famer Ella Robinson leads the group.

5 — The Steam Donkeys – Gimme Shelter: The Steam Donkeys are another great Buffalo institution, and on this one they do some Rolling Stones as an encore with a crowd of other performers at the Larkinville show. It’s a great example of the vibe of the Larkin shows.

4 — Chuckie Campbell – Synesthesia: Chuckie Campbell is a teacher and a coach – and also a rapper. He’s done some great work this year, doing well-produced videos, playing with live bands and staying positive.

3 — Cosmic Shakedown – Can You Help Me: This one says 1972 to me. Grand Funk. Heavy stompin’ music. Retro in a great way.

2 — Alan Evans’ Playonbrother – Back to Buffalo: A shoutout back home that’s also a great funky jam from one of Buffalo’s best connections to the national scene.

1 — The Sleepy Hahas – I Hate My Body (and it hates me too): The Sleepy Hahas have staked out their position as one of the city’s most interesting and energetic bands. This video is one example.

45 Friday: DIXIE DEE WITH WADE CURTISS & THE RHYTHM ROCKERS – Voodoo Mama

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By Elmer Ploetz
(Sitting in for Bob Paxon)

There’s a movie waiting to be made about these guys.  Hollywood just doesn’t know it yet.

Dixie Dee, Wade Curtiss and crew are some of the more interesting characters of old-time Buffalo rock ‘n’ roll.

Let’s start with Wade. Or Ted Russell. Or Duane Theodore DeSanto, or whatever you want to call him. They’re all the same guy.

 

Wade was a force of guitar nature, despite being in a wheelchair with arms turned in so he couldn’t hold an instrument normally.  He had a guitar adapted to be played like a steel guitar and learned to fire off killer solos anyway.

While many of his songs were instrumentals, he was joined eventually – and on this one  by Dixie Dee, otherwise known as Rich Derwald – a local professional wrestler.

Together they made some of the coolest records to come out of Buffalo in the 1957-61 era. This song was recorded at Howell Recording on Delaware Avenue and was released in 1958.

The story on this one is that the Vibraharps – one of Buffalo’s first rock ‘n’ roll recording groups – provided backing vocals on the song, but I don’t hear them on this version – reissued as a 45 by New York City’s Norton Records a few years back. Norton released a great compilation of stuff from Wade, Dixie & friends in 1997. Much of the information in this post is from the CD booklet.

Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers essentially played from 1957 to ’61, according to Derwald. They were booked indefinitely into the future in ’61 when Curtiss abruptly decided to move to Nashville.

In Nashville, Curtiss continued his music career in both the business side and recording. According to Norton’s CD liner notes, he was responsible for getting the legendary cult figure Hasil Adkins into the studio for the first time in the 1970s.

On top of that, he went into professional wrestling, serving as a manager with multiple identities and eventually working with a bevy of grapplers, chasing rival scalawags in a motorized wheelchair and whacking them with his jewel-encrusted cane.

He died in 1993 of congestive heart failure at age 50.

Derwald, meanwhile,   quit rocking, but eventually returned to fitness — and wrestling. He and his son, Richie, were eastern professional wrestling tag-team champions in the 1980s as Mr. Fitness and Son of Fitness. Rich went on to a career in fitness and personal appearance and eventually became Erie County’s senior fitness coordinator.

In the late 1990s, I put him in touch with the Irving Klaws – a Buffalo rockabilly-garage-punk-trash band – who did “Voodoo Mama” with him at the Americanarama Festival at Buffalo’s Mohawk Place.   It was a great to get to hear the song come alive again.

45 Friday: CARL LARUE & THE CREW – Please Don’t Drive Me Away

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By Elmer Ploetz

I’m filling in for superstar record historian Bob Paxon this week, so I decided I’d go with one of the records from one of the older performers I know best: Carl LaRue.

Carl LaRue & the Crew are best known perhaps for providing the core members of Dyke & the Blazers, including Arlester  “Dyke” Christian himself. Carl was a steelworker and occasional small-time numbers runner from Florida. He had taught himself piano as a kid in Florida before moving to Buffalo and working for Bethlehem Steel.

In the early ’60s, already over 30 years old, he put together a combo with a bunch of kids. They included Dyke on bass, Alvester “Pig” Jacobs on guitar, Willie Earl on drums. Those three, along with Carl, are in a postcard sized promo shot LaRue had made. The band also included saxophonist Tyrone Huckaby and occasional other players. The time was circa 1963.

They were a bit like Otis Day & the Knights, from Animal House, a band that could play the R&B hits of the day for white or black audiences, venturing into Canada, playing at Buffalo State College and any number of other venues. Sometimes they worked with “Baby Wayne” Peterson, a kid singer who grew up to become a well-known local drummer on the jazz scene before his death in 1989.

The group recorded two records with Kim Kimbrough, a friend and business partner of Carl’s (hence the KKC label name). The KKC record was a Baby Wayne 45, with James Manual credited on it.

The second record was a our feature 45 this week, a Carl LaRue original. It’s on the edge of ’50s R&B and ’60s soul. When Carl and some of the Crew/Blazers got together for some reunion gigs in the ’90s, it took on more of a gospel/James Brown edge.

The band later cut a second record on KKC, but that’s another week’s post.

The Dyke & the Blazers story is that the group hooked on with DJ Eddie O’Jay (who was one of the early  DJ’s on Buffalo’s WUFO-FM), then went with him to Phoenix. O’Jay is also the guy who gave the soul vocal group its name.  O’Jay moved on from Phoenix, the band petered out, and the kids wanted to try some more modern sounds. Carl came home, eventually worked 20-some years at Houdaille Industries and retired.

Dyke & the rest of the Crew, however, met up with some Phoenix musicians and came up with a little song called “Funky Broadway.” Maybe you’ve heard it.

 


 

 

For the full Dyke & the Blazers story, go to http://www.wnywebshop.com/ploetz/dyke.html

PS-When I referred to Bob Paxon as superstar record historian at the start of the post, it may have sounded like I was teasing. I wasn’t! Keep coming back to this blog every Friday or look at the past 45 Friday posts, and you’ll see why I mean it.