Each year, the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame honors significant members of the Buffalo music community. Those involved are a dedicated bunch whose intentions are honorable, and the list of inductees always seeks to cover a considerable cross-section of our area's musical culture.
There's nothing bad to say about this institution or the people behind it. That said, it's been bugging me this summer when, in my travels, I take in the gifts offered by key members of the current Buffalo music scene, folks working most days of the week in a sometimes unforgiving climate to perfect their art. If these musicians and non-performing music scene operators are ever inducted into the BMHOF, it's not likely to happen to them until they're much older. Nothing wrong with that, but hey, why not shine a spotlight on some of them now, while they're out there doing their thing in full swing?
I'd like to offer a tip of my hat to a few of them now, while the light is still good and the day is young. I'm not compiling a list that seeks to be all-inclusive here, but rather, just sharing with you a few of my observations from over the years. These are people who make me feel good about calling Buffalo home. They show a passion for music that knows no observable bounds. They put the music first, where it belongs, and leave the biz side of the business to follow. (This is not generally looked upon favorably in the modern music world, where an artist is expected to be a manager, a self-promoter, a fashion model, and an accountant, often to the detriment of the reason any of these things are even a matter of discussion - the music itself.)
Here are a few of the people who make being a music-obsessed freakazoid in 2012 Buffalo a more than pleasurable experience.
Michael DiSanto: One of the funkiest guitarists in a town full of them, DiSanto has developed over the years into a sublime player. He's achieved first-call status for band leaders looking for a guitarist eager to serve the song, rather than simply ego-trip all over the music. A regular performer with Critt's Juke Joint, DiSanto also runs Neo-Soul Tuesdays at Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar, where he subtly displays his prowess as a soul-jazz, R&B and funk guitarist of the highest order.
Zuri Appleby: Daughter of renowned bassist Rodney Appleby, she is one of the most able, understated, eloquent and ridiculously funky bassists in Western New York. I've seen her play everything from soul, R&B and funk to improv-heavy jam stuff, jazz and hybrids of all of the above. Anyone who values the groove in music knows that a bassist needs to lock in tight with their drummer. Zuri makes doing so look easy. It ain't.
Josh Holtzman: As one of the heads of Blue Stream productions, Holtzman provides management and marketing for some of the most exciting Buffalo bands extant. Principle among them is Aqueous, our area's pre-eminent progressive-psychedelic rock combo. But Holtzman also serves Peanut Brittle Satellite and Slip Madigan. He's part of a new breed of managers, one who puts his love for the music front and center. Holtzman's efforts helped land Aqueous a coveted spot on this summer's moe.down festival. Without seeking to draw attention to himself, he's quietly and doggedly worked to bolster the Buffalo music scene.
Justin Rose: As one of the head engineers at Robby Takac's GCR Audio recording studios, Rose has overseen a heavy load of Western New York recording projects, as well as working with artists from outside the area. His reputation among bands and artists who have worked with him is impeccable. We're lucky to have an engineer of his talents working in our town.
Bryce March: As head of Supernaut Productions, March has worked - on his own, and in tandem with promoters Fun Time Presents - to book some of the most buzzed-about and bubbling-under indie rock bands going into venues like Soundlab, Mohawk Place, the Town Ballroom and Rochester's Water Street Music Hall. Indie-rock fans in the area have him to thank, at least in part, for Buffalo's increasing "must-stop" status among touring indie-rock bands.
Join me in pouring one out for all of the above, men and women who are essential elements in the continued development of Buffalo's musical culture.
A Takac signing
Last week, I chatted with Goo Goo Dolls bassist and Music Is Art mastermind Robby Takac about a whole slew of his most recent enthusiasms, most notably, the 10th anniversary of his Music Is Art Festival on Sept. 15. Takac also gushed giddily about a new signing to his Good Charamel record label, Japanese punk/power-pop trio Pinky Poodle Doodle.
Takac is poised to record and produce the all-female ensemble's Good Charamel debut. He shared an early demo with me, and fans of garage rock, punk-pop, Cibo Mato and "J-Rock" in general, take note - Pinky Poodle Doodle is a blast.
Takac booked the band, along with our own Contagious Woo, into Mohawk Place at 8 p.m. Thursday, prior to its appearance at the MIA Festival.