Upcoming Events at a Glance

Welcome to the August 2017 JAM!

This month’s issue is full of exciting stuff. Read below what Bob Sez (including our ticket giveaways), Beave Sorenson’s article, Paul Todaro’s testimony, an interview with Mr. Conrad, a great article about Doug Yeomans, pictures from Helen Butler-Ceppaglia’s workshop with children, Tim Franzak’s CD party and Twang Gang at Larkinville. As always, don’t hesitate to contact me with ideas or concerns. samusicfoundation@gmail.com.

We are still looking for a few more volunteers for the September 16th Annual SAMF Festival. Please email me!!!

Angela Hastings – Director of Membership

Buffalo Bob Sez

All Kinds of Things Goin’ On, Here’s a Few of Them:

-In the next month or so, in addition to many other shows, the Sportsmen’s Tavern will host Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials on 8/20, Lee Harvey Osmond on 8/30, Dale Watson on 9/2, Sunny Sweeney on 9/15, the re-scheduled Peter Asher/Albert Lee show on 9/25 and Gurf Morlix on 9/28…and free ticket opportunities listed below.

-The coolest thing goin’ on is the 3rd Annual SAM Foundation Festival at beautiful River Fest Park on Saturday, September 16th from 2-10 PM. Some of the best bands in Buffalo, a bunch of local artists, Slow Roll, Flying Bison, fun, fun and more fun!Sponsored by Labatt’s Brewery, Blue Cross Blue Shield and more.

-Tim Franczyk is doing his CD release party at the Sportsmen’s Tavern on August 18th with all proceeds going to the Foundation.

-Our 3rd Annual Awards Show will be October 16th. Members will not only choose the winners; this year members will do the nominating to get on the ballot. More information coming soon, watch for more emails and our Facebook page.

-On July 17th, we gave out our first $1000 scholarship to the Buffalo Jazz Collective and the winner was Arianna Jones, going on to a music education at Buffalo State College. It was a really cool event, especially due to her surprise and a great performance by the Collective, followed by George Caldwell and the Repertory Orchestra.

-SAM Foundation members will be appearing at 189 Public House in East Aurora very soon. Doug Yeomans and Sue Kincaid on 8/25, The Kensingtons on 9/1 and Ten Cent Howl on 9/15.

-McCarthyizm is at The Buffalo Niagara Scottish Festival at the Amherst Museum on Saturday, August 19th from 3-5 PM on the main stage. Last year, they did a fantastic unplugged show when the power in Amherst went out, with special guest Leroy Townes. Put on your favorite kilt and join the fun!

-Again, McCarthyizm, at The Buffalo Irish Festival at the Outer Harbor on August 26th at 3:30.

-Mohawk Place is our newest musical collaborator. Bill Smith of Ten Cent Howl is opening for Sinners & Saints from Charlotte, NC on Tuesday 8/15 at 8 PM. And there will be future ticket opportunities, starting with Ten Cent Howl and Leroy Townes on September 30th and BJ Barham and American Aquarium on October 2nd.

Free Ticket Opportunities

All active members can send me an email and tell me what shows you’d like to win tickets for. Deadline is Monday August 21st at 11 PM.

Suitcase Junket – 189 Public House, September 12

From the salvaged sounds of American juke joints, back porches, honky tonks, and rock clubs, The Suitcase Junket is Matt Lorenz: artist, tinkerer, swamp yankee, one-man band.

Babeville presents Dan Tedesco’s “Chasing the Lightning” – 9th Ward, September 7

Over two years in the making, “Chasing The Lightning” offers a unique, never-before-seen perspective into the life and mind of the independent working musician. Follow Tedesco through the wide-open countryside, playing his way through small clubs and late-night meditations on what it means to pursue a life in music. Following the film, Tedesco will hold a short Q&A with the audience and perform an acoustic set.

Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers – Babeville’s Asbury Hall, September 14

Conor Mullen Oberst is an American singer-songwriter best known for his work in Bright Eyes. Oberst was named the Best Songwriter of 2008 by Rolling Stone magazine. Los Angeles based singer songwriter Phoebe Bridgers has been described as Elliott Smith meets Gillian Welch. See Babeville website for more information.

Billy Strings and The Whiskey Shivers – Buffalo Ironworks, September 27

See Buffalo Ironworks website. I’ve seen Billy Strings twice, once at DelFest and once at Ironworks, and this kid and his band will just blow you away. And the Whiskey Shivers did a great show a few years ago at The Sportsmen’s. This will be a wild night!

Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys – Sportsmen’s Tavern, August 31

Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys is a western swing/country boogie musical band from California. They began as rockabilly revivalists in the late 1980s, then dug deeper into the music which rockabilly came from: western swing and particularly the country boogie style of the late 1940s and early 1950s.

CASH: The World’s Most Authentic Johnny Cash Tribute Show – Sportsmen’s Tavern, September 1

This is the one Tribute Show that everyone will enjoy and connect with. We all have either grown up listening to Johnny’s music in our parents’ home, experienced a Johnny Cash television show, Johnny Cash movie or a live performance somewhere in the world. Johnny Cash spent his life writing music and telling the stories of people from all walks of life. Paul Anthony: The World’s Only Johnny Cash Tribute Artist invited by John Carter Cash to record an album ‘The Nashville Connection’ at Cash Cabin along with Johnny Cash’s musicians.

Bob McLennan
President, SAM Foundation

Guest Column: Questioning the Answer

by Beave Sorenson

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

Thomas Merton

Sunday, July 2nd began and ended for me with a pile of dirt. After a quick but satisfying four hours of sleep (we had played our debut show in Olean the night before with the hardest rocking band in Western, NY, the Dredneks!), I drove down to Silo City to begin setting up for the festival. There would be continuous live music all day on two stages: the main stage, sandwiched between the colossal concrete grain elevators and the acoustic stage, located inside the main silo on a small wooden platform surrounded by the work of local artists. Upon arriving at the acoustic stage, I found a large mound of dark soil covered in bright green grass. Why? I quickly found Swannie Jim, the inimitable caretaker and curator of Silo City, and put this query to him: “Why is there a pile of dirt on the acoustic stage?” He replied in his gravely Pittsburgh accent: “It’s not dirt, it’s an art installation,” and supplied me with a shovel and a wheelbarrow so that I could relocate the work.

Silo City Alive! began as a seed planted in my own fecund soil nearly a year prior, when I attended the wedding celebration of my friends Jessica Silverman and Matt Daggett, a local artist who would become the inspiration for this project and the artistic director of the festival (you can see his photography, one of his many artistic talents, on all of the promotional posters for the festival.) Matt built a traditional Jewish wedding canopy, or chuppah, out of reclaimed barn rafters from his hometown of Elton. It still stands along the canal behind the main silo and greets kayakers and bartenders on Tiki boats, reminding them that Silo City is someplace different, a place conceived out of architectural rubble and economic decay into something new, something creative, something hopeful. It is the brainchild of Rick Smith, founder and CEO of Rigidized Metals, a visionary who sees opportunity where others see deterioration. Matt and Jessica had asked us (the lovely Loretta Mayfield and my right hand man, Ronnie Stinger) to provide some acoustic accompaniment to their celebration. When I heard how incredible the music sounded, both outside and inside the silos, I was enamored with the space and its sonic and aesthetic possibilities.

This last winter, over a plate of Siracha chicken and waffles at Pano’s, I pitched the idea to our drummer, Jeff Schaller, who immediately began working my protozoan concept into a full-fledged working organism. Jeff’s years of varied musical experience is matched only by his artistic desire for new concepts, fresh visions and creative energy. He understood that the strength of this festival would hinge on collaboration, between the artists, musicians and the foundation. We immediately called the SAMF board and set up a meeting, pitched the idea to our comrades in Shaky Stage, Black Rock Zydeco, Mr. Conrad, The Brothers Blue and Ten Cent Howl. This collaborative enterprise blossomed, with the Howl’s Bill Smith connecting us with Justin Booth of GoBike Buffalo and Tim Herzog of Flying Bison Brewery, two sponsors whose generosity made the festival not only successful, but unique. The foundation’s tireless Angela Hastings and Bob McLennan saw the fledgling festival for the powerful possibility of what it could become and had the faith and unflagging dedication to see it through.

During the often arduous planning process for the festival, a member of our artistic community was dealt a hard blow. One of our dear friends, Crystal Smith, was diagnosed with cancer and began the hard fight at Roswell. When one of your friends is attacked by this phantom disease, you struggle to be of use. It was Justin Booth of GoBike who introduced the idea of using the festival as a fundraiser and a celebration of Crystal’s brave spirit. I will never forget the smile on her face as she proudly walked around Silo City that Sunday, a living testament to courage under pressure.

At dusk, when all that remained of the day’s nearly 1,500 revelers was windblown plastic cups, I found Swannie Jim aboard his ATV with his faithful pitbull by his side. We were the only two souls left at Silo City. Overflowing with joy and physically exhausted from the day, I jokingly offered to move the “art installation,” which I had dumped from the wheelbarrow near the canal, back to the acoustic stage. He sternly turned to me and explained the vision and process of the Canadian artist who had created the piece and reminded me that art exists for one reason, TO ASK WHY. All that we do as artists, the seed of our creations, exists in that uniquely human ability to question the present tense.

Thank you to all of our volunteers, our artists, our dancers, our friends and family who helped to make this festival an amazing success. We can’t wait to make it bigger and weirder next year!

Yours truly,

Beave Sorenson, Leroy Townes

Editor’s Note: We missed thanking a few volunteers last month. We want to thank Phil and June Knoerzer, Norm and Thuy Murray, Dan and Molly Harrington, Tom Maday, James Hall, Jason Hall

Guest Column: Paul Todaro of The Skiffle Minstrels

This is Paul Todaro of The Skiffle Minstrels. I will try not to gush too much as I express some appreciative thoughts about Sportsmen’s Tavern and the SAM foundation.

The Skiffle Minstrels started with a hodge podge of players and ideas. The players were feeling their way and the ideas were in need of focus. Dwane and the Hall family offered a support system that encouraged the players and set the group on a path where we could keep learning and growing.

With steady jobs at Sportsmen’s, we HAD to get better. Dwane would often say from the stage: “come see The Skiffle Minstrels, they’re getting better all the time.” The comment may seem tinged with irony, but that didn’t stop me from setting new goals for the band and myself. Another time Dwane said to us: “ I remember when you guys couldn’t tune your instruments and now you’re one of the top groups in town.” It had never occurred to me that anyone thought of us that way. But once said, we felt the obligation to live up to it. We established more regular practice habits and decided to focus on a genre that would fit with the Country/Americana atmosphere at Sportsmen’s. Dwane knew we were interested in Western Swing and let us in to an early Asleep at the Wheel show. That year the Buffalo Music Awards voted us the “Top New Original Band.” That never would have happened without the exposure and confidence provided by Dwane, his vision and his club.

When we wanted to record a studio album Dwane said, “book the studio, but you’ve got to let me produce the record.” It was time to up our game again!

Dwane and Jay put their trust in us again (and thereby pushed, promoted and furthered us again) when we were asked to be a featured act in the Pilot episode of Live From Black Rock.

We have made so many friends and booked so many shows thanks to our association with Sportsmen’s Tavern. And we’ve had the chance to play with Sportsmen’s greats Randy Bolam, Doug Yeomans, Phil Banaszak, Chris Panfil, Kenny Peterson and now with Jim Whitford as our core steel player.

I am proud to be a member of the SAM foundation because it is the natural fruition of Dwane’s practice of fostering and nurturing so many artists in a specific place, time and style.

Ten or twelve years ago, I hardly think it was good “business” to continue to book The Skiffle Minstrels. But Dwane’s commitment the players, his willingness to let them struggle and his stick –by- them attitude is a “business model” that pays dividends in artistic achievement, new ideas, unthought-of opportunities and more practicing/working musicians – benchmarks of any society worth living in! Money is always necessary, but should never be the first priority.

Thank you Dwane, Sportsmen’s, and SAM for your priorities! Support the Sportsmen’s Tavern and the SAM foundation – they’re getting better all the time!

The Skiffle Minstrels play Western Swing. In this part of the world it is an all but forgotten style of Country/Americana from an important era in our musical history. “The Western Swing Happy Hour” happens on the second Friday of every month at Sportsmen’s Tavern and features The Skiffle Minstrels.

Paul Todaro
Skiffle Minstrels

Guest Column: Ted Lambros aka Mr. Conrad

An interview by Lucy Bell

“I use to hang out with a record collector guy who was a friend of mine who actually turned me onto a lot of music. And at one point, I started wearing glasses. So he said to me one day, jokingly, ‘oh, you look like a Conrad,’ whatever that meant. So then he started calling me Conrad. And then later on…Eli [Hall] would introduce me to the crowd as Mr. Conrad.” “So that stuck.”

Sitting across from me with a hot cup of Spot coffee, Mr. Conrad looks like a greaser who could never let his look go. His silver hair slicked back into a thin duck’s ass with a black shirt and black rimmed glasses, the look suits him. And makes him instantly recognizable. For those who may have known Mr. Conrad over the years, they know him as the rockabilly man, the blues swinger, a hep cat, if you will. But why? His obsession since he was at the ripe age of 12 was blues, rockabilly and swing music that stayed with him until his age of 60. “It’s what grabbed ahold of me.” And it didn’t let go. Upon discovering musicians like Big Joe Turner, Bill Haley and Chuck Berry at such an early age, Conrad decided to not settle there, but go deeper; finding out who exactly were his hero’s heroes.

“I became an archeologist,” laughs Conrad. “I read an interview with Chuck Berry and he said he was very influenced by T. Bone Walker. Then I read an interview with B. B. King and he said he was influenced by T. Bone Walker. So I thought, ‘what the hell is T. Bone Walker?’ so I found out that. I was going backwards.” With the discovery of countless blues legends, Conrad was able to expand his obsession with the music and add new names to his collection of influences.

Although he was a huge fan of the music, Conrad knew he had to participate in the music after a show at the Kleinhan’s music hall in 1969, where he saw Jerry Lee Lewis as the headlining act. “I came out of there a completely different human being. I said, ‘that’s what I’m doing.’” He was 15 years old. After that night, Conrad focused on teaching himself the piano, playing Jerry Lee Lewis singles until the grooves wore down to nothing. “You’re hearing that big beat, with horns and piano. That swingin’ boogie woogie with the horn section…oh boy.”

By the age of 17, Conrad felt confident enough to play in high school bands and get experience performing in public but took a break from music for a few years. When he was 21, however, he started a band called The Cobras who specialized in surf and rockabilly music. Around that time, he had also met some musicians from the East Side. “Since I was always interested in the blues…I ended up on the East Side.” In 1977, Conrad started to devote his free time to jamming with the greats on the East Side. “It was kinda like blues college.” Conrad played with some of the best from the East Side: Eli Hall, Count Rabbit and King George, just to name a few. “I was going around to jam sessions and I really got a lot of welcoming from these guys.” Without feel, you have no blues. Through playing with the musicians of the East Side, Conrad learned something much more valuable than chord structure or music theory- he learned feel. “It’s something that you can’t consciously define. You have to absorb that by being there and learning. It wasn’t, ‘this is the note, these are the chords’, it was, ‘this is how it feels. This is the emotional content of what we’re doing.’ It’s like osmosis. I absorbed it by being there.” “I owe them a big debt of gratitude for letting me in.”

By the 1980s, Conrad started his own band that established themselves in the Buffalo scene. Mr. Conrad and The Excellos, named after a blues label that shared the same name that recorded many tracks The Excellos were playing, reached success in the Buffalo area, playing the blues and swing around town.

While the band as a whole was having fun, Conrad had other thoughts. “I was trying to get opportunities: go on the road, get a record deal, booking agent. None of that ever worked out.” Tied down with extended and permanent plans life had given them, the other members of The Excellos didn’t have the luxury of quitting Buffalo, making it difficult for these opportunities to be reached. “The guys in The Excellos all had jobs and families. They couldn’t leave. I could. I was free to do whatever I wanted.” While on a trip to Austin, Texas, Conrad had met famed bass guitarist Keith Ferguson, known for The Fabulous Thunderbirds, in 1990. They had quickly become friends and Ferguson became infatuated with Conrad’s playing. In turn, Ferguson invited Conrad to come to Austin any time to play.

When coming back to Buffalo, he told The Excellos what he wanted to do. “So I told them, ‘I got an opportunity to go down [to Austin] and play with [Keith Ferguson] and I’m gonna do it.’” In 1992, Conrad took the leap and traveled down to the Lone Star state to kick start his musical career. While there, Conrad gained musical success by playing with various bands and his own version of The Excellos he started in Austin. For personal reasons, Conrad came back to Buffalo in 1993, but soon was on the move again when settling in LA in 1998. Playing with White Boy James in The Blues Express every Wednesday and with 2,000 Pounds of Blues every Thursday, then playing every Friday happy hour with his own band, Conrad was finding a lot more action on the West Coast. “It was cool! There was a lot of work. I was playing 5-6 nights a week.” Conrad was working the scene by not only playing in bands, but being on call as a guitarist. He toured with bluesman James Harman right when he got to LA. “I went into the tour cold. I knew one guy when I got to LA.”

Conrad moved back to Buffalo in 2003 and just started getting back into music in the last few years, focusing primarily on playing piano. For fans of rockabilly or swing blues, this is absolutely the guy to see. Not only is he a fantastic musician, but an encyclopedia of blues, rockabilly and swing music. You can see Conrad at The Sportsmen’s Tavern, Hot Mama’s Canteen and The Mohawk Place’s happy hour.

Lucy Bell
JAM Journalist

Member News

If you are an Active member and do not have a SAMF membership card, please email me at samusicfoundation@gmail.com. If you are unsure if you’re an Active member, please don’t hesitate to ask.

NOTE: To receive discounts, you must show your membership card. To enter to win tickets, you must be an Active member. And as always, please don’t hesitate to contact me at the email address above.


The discounts we’ve arranged at this time are:

  • Sportsmen’s Tavern – The first Tuesday of every month, all members who show their card at the door will get free admission to The Twang Gang.
  • Buffalo Ironworks – 10% off all food items
  • Allentown Music – 10% off all regular items
  • Smolen/Bonghi CPA – 10% off all tax preparation and accounting services
  • Korona Jewelry – 2 discounts
    • Watch batteries installed for $5 instead of $7.
    • 25% off the regular price of anything in stock.
  • Ellicott Small Animal Hospital – 30% off regular exam
  • Flying Bison Brewery – 10% off
  • Buffalo History Museum – buy one regular admission and get one free.
  • American Reperatory Theater – $10 tickets (1/2 price)
  • Red Thread Theater – $15 ticket (regularly $25)
  • MusicalFare Theater – $5 off General Admiss. online. Enter SPORTSMEN in coupon code. Limit 4
  • Byrd House Restaurant – 10% off food
  • Arts at the Bakery – 10% off admission
  • Buffalo Distilling – 10% off food and drinks
  • Kissing Bridge Discount Pass – look for emails from SAMF for discounts throughout the year.

Author ch0yx

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