In this issue is Kenny’s Korner, a reflection on his introduction to Leroy Townes, Foundation Vice-President Don Nelson’s report on the Valley Community Center’s Guitar Classes for Kids, Buffalo Bob’s report on the 1st Foundation Night and the premier of our TV show, and a little bit about our June 25th Tom Hambridge Americana Music Festival, SAMF member Kevin Cox reviews the new CD from Ten Cent Howl and SAMF members Mary and Lucy Bell write about their connection to Americana music.

The SAMF Board Members thank you for all your support:

Dwane Hall; Chairman of the Board
Bob McLennan; President
Don Nelson; Vice President
Ken Biringer; Director of Entertainment & Promotions
Peter Stevens; Secretary
Anthony Smolen; Treasurer
Charles Von Simson
Angela Hastings
Richard Donovan

Member Discounts

MEMBERS: If you are an active member and do not have a SAMF membership card, please email us at If you are unsure about your renewal date, please don’t hesitate to ask.

DISCOUNTS FOR MEMBERS: The discounts we’ve arranged at this time are:

  • Sportsmen’s Tavern – The first Tuesday of every month, starting on April 5th, all members who show their card at the door will get free admission to The Twang Gang. Please see Chairman’s note below.
  • Buffalo Ironworks – 10% off all food items
  • Record Theatre – 10% off all regular priced items
  • The Tralf – Buy 3 tickets for a show and get the 4th free with a reserved table
  • Allentown Music – 10% off all regular items
  • Smolen/Bonghi CPA – 10% off all tax preparation and accounting services
  • Korona Jewelry – 2 discounts
    • Watch batteriers installed for $5 instead of $7.
    • 25% off the regular price off anything in stock.
  • Flying Bison Brewery-10% off anything at the brewery

Kenny’s Korner

I have been a fan of Blue Rodeo since in mid 80’s, so when they were scheduled to perform @ the Tonawanda Canal Series in 2005, it made my calendar.

Leroy TownesI was particularly curious of the opening act, Leroy Townes & The Lonestars. With all of the bands in the area that would have loved to get the opening slot for Blue Rodeo, how did an unknown act land this plumb? The cast of musicians that took the stage was a bit overwhelming. There must have been 7 or 8 of them including a couple of female backup singers. I was quite taken back by this group of unknown musicians. After their set, I made it my business to purchase their CD.

I thought of inviting them to perform @ Sportsmen’s Tavern as their original Americana sound would be perfect for our stage. Upon scouring the CD, I wasn’t able to find any contact info. Who records a CD without a phone number, mailing address, e-mail address? Oh well, maybe someday I’d find them.

Fast forward a couple years or so…

Leroy TownesBill Kirchen & Too Much Fun were performing @ the Wellsville creative Art Center. Doug Yeomans & I decided to attend the show. We had dinner with Bill and upon finishing our meal, the table next to us introduced themselves to Bill and mentioned that they were members of a band Leroy Townes & The Lonestars. After a bit of small talk between them & Bill, I was able to chime in. I mentioned the Blue Rodeo show, how much I liked their performance and that I purchased their recording. They thanked me & said how thrilled they were to land the gig. I then asked If they intentionally decided to not list any contact info on their CD? A bit red faced, they did acknowledge the mistake and said it was recorded while they were attending college in the southern tier, near their hometown of Wellsville NY.

Fast forward another couple of years or so…

Beave Sorensen aka Leroy Townes started attending the open mic that Dee Adams hosted for many years. Both Dee & Jay Hall mentioned to me about this great singer songwriter that was frequenting open mic & I should consider inviting him and his band to our stage for his own show. I made a point of attending an open mic and here was this guy that I’ve been running into for several years. It seems Beave moved to Buffalo to finish his education.

Fast forward a couple of years or so…

Leroy Townes now has a month residency @ Sportsmen’s Tavern, won the SAMF Jim Lauderdale Songwriter of the year award and Bill Kirchen is the SAMF National Spokesperson.

Until Next Time,
Ken Biringer

Guitar Club for Kids Update


Greg Zeis and Jess Chizuk

Greg Zeis and Jess Chizuk

As they continue to practice their chords and strumming patterns, the young student members of the guitar club are also getting the opportunity to enjoy the talents of several top artists who have graciously volunteered their time to work with the Kids.

In week four of the club, the kids were wowed by a terrific performance of several original tunes by Western NY’s very talented, Jess Chizuk and Greg Zeis. After their performance the club broke down into small groups and Jess and Greg worked with the kids individually. The highlight of the session was the kids accompanying Jess and Greg as they played one of Jess’ original tunes.

Greg and his band Zeis and the Muckrakers have a terrific CD, Shouting in Key, available on Itunes and Spotify.

Dave Thurman

Dave Thurman

Ms. Chizuk’s has been recognized by a number of prestigious organizations for her songwriting, winning the 2014 Yellen Foundation songwriting competition for her submission of “China Plates” (check it out, it’s great!) Last year, Jess walked away with first place in the Smoky Mountain Songwriting Festival in the folk category and was runner-up in the Great American Songwriting competition.

Jess and Greg are performing together over the next few weeks at the following venues. I highly encourage you to give them a listen. Columbo’s in Lakeview-4/17 from 5-8, Braymiller’s Lanes (Hamburg’s version of New Orlean’s famous Rock`n Bowl!) 4-22 from 9-12) and the Bear Brick in Little Valley on 4/30 from 9-12.

Jamie Holka

Jamie Holka

Next Tuesday the GCFK (Guitar Club for Kids) will be welcoming the very special guests, the fabulous Jamie Holka and Dave Thurman! I’m pretty sure the kids have no idea what a musical treat they have coming their way but it promises to be a special experience, not just for the students but their parents and staff at the center! It will be a blast for sure!

Not only are the guest appearances by Western NY’s local talent entertaining for the club members, all of the artists serve as musical role models for the young musicians; examples of what can be accomplished: With enthusiasm, hard work and opportunity, anything is possible!

Again, the Sportsman’s AMF wants to thank Jess, Greg, Jamie and Dave for giving of their time to help with the club. We also want to thank members Dave and Cindy Waddell for helping to make the artist appearances possible and for their continued support of the GCFK’s!

Don Nelson


“Live From Black Rock”

There are a couple things I want to share with you this month. First, out pilot episode of “Live From Black Rock” is finished. The premier of the show was at our first Foundation Night at The Sportsmen’s Tavern during the Twang Gang’s break. The first Tuesday of every month, members get in free for The Twang Gang and there will be Foundation news and opportunities to sign up and get your membership card. The show was very well received by the members at the Tavern. The musical stars of the show are The Leroy Townes Band and The Skiffle Minstrels. Chris “The Bulldog” Parker and Geno McManus conducted the interviews with Leroy Townes and Paul Todaro of the Skiffles. There is a feature on Tom Hambridge (see my next topic) and the narration is done by Kevin Cox (who also reviews the new CD by Ten Cent Howl in this newsletter). Jason Hall and his old man, Dwane, did a great job putting this show together. Watch for more opportunities to see the show. The next step is to market the show and start getting more episodes completed.

Skiffle Minstrels with the Twang Gang
Mr. Conrad with the Twang Gang
Doug Yeomans & Jim Whitford
Bill Smith of Ten Cent Howl with Twang Gang
Wilbur James McBurney & Angela Hastings
Denise Hall & Ken Biringer
Skiffle Minstrels with the Twang Gang


Save the date, mark your calendar; get your tickets as soon as they become available. We’re very proud that Buffalo native Tom Hambridge has decided to collaborate with the SAM Foundation to present his very own music festival on June 25th at Riverside Park. There will be a lot more information coming on our website, Facebook, emails and the May newsletter. And there may also be a few surprises.

Tom Hambridge, a Sportsmen’s alum, is a Grammy winning producer and performer, most notably with Buddy Guy. He’s played the Sportsmen’s Tavern with his band, The Rattlesnakes, as well as The White House with Mick Jagger, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, Keb Mo, BB King and others. President Obama even joined the group for “Sweet Home Chicago”. Last December 28th, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown declared Tom Hambridge Day in the city of Buffalo. Tom is a big deal and very well connected with many great musicians and artists.

Joining Tom Hambridge will be the SAMF national spokesman Bill Kirchen and Too Much Fun, and Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen. Kirchen and Cody have been big Americana stars since before the term was coined. From the great stable of WNY artists, The Willies and Ten Cent Howl will also appear to kick off the festival.

We’ll be in touch with some of you who have volunteered to help out with the Foundation; we’ll definitely need some members’ assistance on that weekend. Also, if you know of any businesses or philanthropists who would like to take advantage of this opportunity to get in on the ground floor of what is sure to be a highly successful annual event, contact me, Dwane Hall or one of the Board members.

Austin City Limits started a TV show and their highly successful Austin City Limits Music Festival. Nashville has the Americana Music Association Festival. This is our moment; this is our Festival, right here in Buffalo. Let’s show Tom Hambridge, and the national music community, what we have going for us in Western New York. Thanks to the membership, we’ve achieved a lot of success in the past 18 months. This is our next big step. Don’t let anything else get in the way, BE THERE ON JUNE 25TH!


Last month’s ticket winners were Bill Hutchison for Mark Hummel, Dale Metzger for Band of Peace and Kevin Kassay for The THE BAND Band, all at The Sportsmen’s Tavern. Andrea Duncan won for Tommy Castro, Susan Lewis for Reverend Horton Heat, and Kevin Kassay for Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, all at The Tralf. Rose McLennan won Cabinet tickets, at Buffalo Ironworks, Dale Metzger won for Aaron Lee Tasjan at 189 Public House and Norm Murray won a pair for Gurf Morlix, also at 189 Public House. In the drawings for the most requested shows, Melody Harrison won a pair of tickets to the Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi Band at UB Center for the Arts and Angela Hastings won tickets to see John Hiatt at Babeville. We’re getting more members every month submitting their choices for tickets; take advantage of your membership benefits.

Bob McLennan

SAMF Member, Kevin Cox, reviews Ten Cent Howl’s “Ain’t It Strange” CD

Ten Cent Howl Nails “ Ain’t It Strange”

From the opening quick crisp chords of 10 Cent Howls’ song “Damned If I Do” you know you are on a special ride. Lost love, moonlight nights, endless highways, but nothing cliché about rhymes like

I was just a child then,
and she was younger too,
with hair like fire down her back
to the bottom of her shoes

The band joins in with vocal harmonies, banjo riffs and a drummer who snaps everybody into time. Tap your feet, stay a while, this is a beautiful collection.

This new CD of 9 songs written by lead singer Bill Smith is a wonderful statement of American roots music. The ebb and flow of each song reminds this reviewer of the days when ALBUMS were put together of a whole piece. The second song “Grain” slows the roll a bit with a chucka-chucka rhythm and some sweet mandolin picking. The ballad “Big Man” is a heartfelt prayer of hope that stretches Smith’s vocals, the church service has commenced. The fourth track “Dying Town” reaches back and is modern great country. And then the Dylan sounding “Ooee My Honey” puts a sweet smile on a spring morning looking at your love walking over the newly plowed fields.

Each song is a jewel and over several listenings I shuffled back and forth for a favorite. Bill Smith (guitar/vox) has a deep original plainttive voice that harmonizes beautifully with Jerry Hall (bass/vox) and Teresa Weakly (fiddle). The instrumentation is perfect, these folks know how to play; the sounds of guitar, piano, mandolin, fiddle, Dobro slide and standup bass are sharp and then, there is that drummer punctuating and leading the band through the stories and colors, beauty and sadness of an American life. Other band members include Peter Ramos (drums), Harmony Griffin (strings), and Tim Pitcher (strings).

Buffalo audiences have long known of the terrific live performances of this tight skilled band. Now we have this album of songs expertly produced and recorded by Dwane Hall & Jason Hall at Black Rock EPS, LLC.

Push this CD into the music machine and give a listen and then do it again. I have, pure pleasure.
yours truly,
Kevin Cox

Upcoming Shows:
April 16 9:00 Tudor Lounge, with Leroy Townes
April 19 5:00 Larkin Square
May 20 8:00 189 Public House
May 27 8:00 Sportsmen’s Tavern

Members Mary and Lucy Bell Tell their Story

Lucy Bell singing with Stone Country

Lucy Bell singing with Stone Country

Our small house in Kenmore, NY has housed music just as much as it has my family. My husband, at the time, and I showered our daughter, Lucy, in music from the moment she was born. Luckily, for us, Lucy had greeted our love of music with open arms so much and that with her being a bit of an old soul she soon became interested in vinyl and collecting it. We bought her a record player soon after she turned 14 years of age, and her collection grew almost as fast as her enthusiasm for finding new music. When I say “new” I really don’t mean it as such. After a year of owning her own player, her room soon turned into what sounded like a southern music dance hall in the 1940’s rather than a 15 year olds room in the year 2011. We would hear the devastating lamentations of Hank Williams painting her walls blue with sorrow to the bopping and electrifying rhythms of Wanda Jackson. Wanda soon helped turn our daughter into her own version of a rockabilly vixen! Lucy, along with her love of music also had a talent to sing her idol’s tunes and developed a knack for singing songs from the American roots.

I decided to take her to a watering hole that I had heard of called The Sportsmen’s Tavern to perform with the house band, the Twang Gang, who were known to generously host new and old talent in the area for a picking or song or two. Just as I had anticipated, she shined on stage and I watched her find her niche. Seeing her sing on a stage with a smile that brightened the room was all I needed to see. That’s when I knew and began to embrace Americana music myself. That is when I knew how important Americana music was to people and the stories that it told real stories of real people that had been around long before it was introduced to me by my teenage daughter! She introduced me to serenading and blues singing cowboys that revealed their tragic experiences in the deep south with a beat up guitar and a passion filled voice. And now the incredible world of Americana music, a world I didn’t know or care much about, is one of the most vivid memory filled aspects of my life that I wouldn’t give up for anything.

Waylon Jennings once wrote and sang “Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.” I listened to Waylon and didn’t let my baby grow up to be a cowboy, I let her grow up to be a cowgirl.


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