Bob Silvestri has been a member of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame Board of Trustees for more than a decade. His position has allowed him an interesting perspective on the Buffalo music scene in all its genre-crossing diversity. That position has also taught Silvestri a thing or two about the meaning of "success" in the music industry.
"For every big name the general public knows," says Silvestri, "there are 10 great musicians from our area working behind the scenes on a recording session or slogging it out in the clubs six nights a week. They deserve our attention, too."
Earlier this week, Silvestri spoke to The News regarding the BMHOF Class of 2012 and the yearly induction gala, which takes place Thursday in the Tralf Music Hall.
What criteria are you and the board at the BMHOF employing to come up with each year's class of inductees?
Well, there's a seven-member induction committee that tallies a score based on certain criteria – for example, number of recordings released, public service, total number of years recording and/or performing. The induction committee members are not the ones who do the nominating, though – members of the general public send in nomination packets for the artist in question, and we kind of screen them, based on our criteria. We do it this way because we all want to avoid nepotism, or even the appearance of nepotism – no one gets into the hall just because they know someone on the induction committee, I can assure you. I like to say, "We honor an elite class of musicians, not an elitist class."
What about artists who perhaps worked for a very short time for whatever reason, or only released one recording, but were very influential as a performer? Is there room for someone like that in the hall?
Absolutely. The Legacy Award was designed to address exactly that issue. This year, the great Dyke Christian is receiving the Legacy Award. Dyke's career was short, and he died young, but man, his influence is immeasurable! Just on the strength of his "Funky Broadway" alone, the guy deserves to be inducted. He is a progenitor of what we now consider funk.
Interestingly, last week, when [English singer/songwriter] Nick Lowe played at Ani DiFranco's Babeville, he gave a shout-out to Dyke from the stage, saying that he'd just learned that Dyke was from Buffalo, and claiming him as an influence. That's huge!
Are there any artists you feel particularly good about inducting this year, bearing in mind that you don't play favorites in the induction process?
I'm excited about all of them equally, really. I think the diversity of this year's class touches segments of just about any imaginable genre, and seeks to represent everybody, from classical to pop to funk to what have you.
Having said that, it is really very cool to see Bernie Kugel being inducted this year. Many people might not know how important he was to the formation of what was an incredibly strong punk rock movement in the late '70s and '80s here in Buffalo. He's not known as the godfather of Buffalo punk for nothing!
Obviously, the Dyke Christian induction is a very big thing for us. Representing classical music with Marylouise Nanna feels particularly cool to me – when I was a kid, she lived across the street from my grandmother, and I can remember hearing her practice violin through the window, and thinking it was a recording, it sounded so perfect. Now, we're inducting her into the hall. These kinds of things really validate what we do, I think.
This is the 30th annual BMHOF induction. How has the gala changed over the years?
Well, in my opinion, it has just gotten better and better. We now do a full production, and the Tralf Music Hall is the perfect place to pull all of this off. The event is centered on live performance, which is the way it should be – we're honoring musicians and music people, after all. And then afterward, there's the after-party jam, where everyone lets their hair down and shares their love of music right there on the stage. It's a pretty amazing thing. You never know exactly what's going to happen – one year, we had moe. jamming with Dr. Lonnie Smith, for example. This kind of thing keeps it all very exciting.
This year's inductees:
Bob Falk: Revered guitarist whose credits include work with the Shadows, Hot Guitars from Buffalo, and Lee Ron Zydeco & the Hot Tamales.
Al Hury: Veteran blues, R&B and rock drummer.
Bernie Kugel: The "Godfather" of Buffalo punk scene, member of the Good, Mystic Eyes and others.
Shawn McQuiller: Lead vocalist with R&B/funk/disco legends Kool & the Gang.
Marylouise Nanna: Acting assistant concert master of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, founder/conductor/musical director of ARS Nova Musicians Chamber Orchestra and the Viva Vivaldi Music Festival.
Stephen Sadoff: Tenured area bassist, session musician and performer.
Tadj Szymczak: Polka musician, worked with Grammy-nominated band Jerry Darlak and the Touch.
Patrick Wilson: Founding member and drummer with the power-pop/alt-rock band Weezer.
Marc Hunt: Musician, producer and engineer with a resume including work with more than 100 bands, among them the Goo Goo Dolls.
Armand John Petri: Producer/engineer/musician who has worked with the likes of Sixpence None the Richer, 10,000 Maniacs, John & Mary and the Goo Goo Dolls.
Arlester "Dyke" Christian: Soul-funk pioneer, leader of Dyke & the Blazers, composer of the classic song "Funky Broadway." No less a member of funk royalty than Rick James told former News writer Elmer Ploetz in 1991 that, upon hearing "Funky Broadway," "The world was stunned. It was revolutionary as far as what the music was saying, revolutionary as far as its sound. And it showed me somebody from Buffalo could make music that was new and fresh and funky."
Cameron Baird: Worked behind the scenes to help found the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Baird Hall, the music building on the University at Buffalo's North Campus, was named in honor of Baird's contributions to Buffalo culture.
Tom Lorentz: Long-serving musician and music educator.
Ralph Parker: Blues/rock guitarist who performed with Billy McEwen, the Road and others.
Tune Rockers: Performed hit tune "Green Mosquito" on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" in 1958.
Frankie & Boyd Lee Dunlop: Pianist Boyd Lee Dunlop and his drummer brother Frankie are members of Buffalo jazz royalty. Boyd Lee recently enjoyed a late-career renaissance after emerging with a nationally recognized new recording at age 85. Frankie played with the likes of Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Lena Horne and Charles Mingus.
30th annual? Buffalo Music Hall of Fame Induction Gala
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Tralf Music Hall,? 622 Main St.