Thanks to our nearly 500 members, the SAM Foundation continues to be an active, vibrant, busy organization. We’ve expanded our Board to 13 members to help with getting all our projects going. Check out all the names listed elsewhere in The JAM. I’m sure most of you will know at least several of the Board members. We want to hear from you; if you have ideas for the kinds of events we should be planning, we want to hear about it. Just as a reminder, our mission statement is:

To foster, promote and expand community appreciation for Americana music from Buffalo and Western New York through the production and sponsorship of performance and broadcast events and presentation of seminars and workshops on Americana music.

That leaves quite a bit of room for interpretation. Certainly, education and encouraging younger people to appreciate the music we love is a key component, and SAMF Vice President Patrick Gormley does a great job with that; and equally important is sponsoring live performances, encouraging original music and honoring the founders, musicians, singers, writers and artists who have made Americana what it is.

Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles look out into the crowd at the 2018 Americana Fest at Sportsmen’s Park.

In the past few years, we’ve developed a series of events that we’ve repeated. Beer and Chocolate is in February at Flying Bison, SzelestFest is in March at the Sportsmen’s Tavern, Boom Days and Derby Day happen in the Spring, we do Emerging Artists several times per year and we’re trying to work with Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village in Amherst.
Our annual Fest has been in September; last year’s was at the new Sportsmen’s Park. We’ve started a Vets Play Guitar program with Bob James and Doug Yeomans, we’re continuing our scholarship to the Buffalo Jazz Collective, we had our 5th Annual Awards Show in October and our 3rd annual Last Waltz in November, which has established itself as a solid Buffalo Thanksgiving tradition.

Foundation Night at the Sportsmen’s Tavern is the first Tuesday of every month and we get The JAM out to you on the first of every month through email, and that includes the opportunity to win free tickets for concerts. If you’d prefer, you can pick up a hard copy at The Sportsmen’s Tavern.

I’m sure I’m not remembering everything, and there have been other events that we’ve done in the past, such as participating at Hallwalls and festivals at Silo City. But again, we’re not totally locked in to a hard schedule of events. If you have an idea that the Board likes, we can add to our events or switch things around.

All the Board members, and some just recently joined, have their ideas and their areas of interest or expertise but I do want to specifically recognize the Editor of The JAM, Elmer Ploetz. He does an outstanding job and puts in a lot of time getting The JAM out to you every month.   Buck Quigley writes a column every month, and Mark Panfil does a Bluegrass roundup. Patrick frequently does an education column, and we’re looking for more contributors.

Again, we’d like your feedback. What kind of articles would you like to see covered in our monthly publication?
Once again, thank you for your membership. Make sure you rejoin when you’re notified, and spread the word to your friends and family that membership is very inexpensive and supports a great cause, and it is tax deductible.
Mark your calendar to attend the first Foundation Night of the year on January 7th. Best wishes from the entire Board of Directors to all our members and sponsors and to the Hall Family of the Sportsmen’s Tavern for a happy and healthy 2020.


Stan Szelest

Keyboard legend Jimmy Calire will be joining the band when the SAM Foundation hosts the 6th annual Szelestfest on Sunday, March 8, at the Sportsmen’s Tavern.

Calire, the keyboard player and primary songwriter for the legendary Raven, will be returning from California for a rare Western New York performance.

Szelestfest honors the memory of Stan Szelest, the legendary Buffalo piano and organ player who was also a huge influence on The Band through his years with the Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks.

Also in the band will be pianist Jim Beishline, drummer Pete Holguin, bass player Steve Sadoff, sax player Matt Harris and music director/guitarist Doug Yeomans.

Watch for more details as the show approaches.


In case anybody cares, I thought I’d list some of my favorite shows from this past year.

This is a very subjective list, of course. In addition to the performance of the musicians, your experience could also be affected by personal preferences, the venue or the crowd or maybe it’s as simple as the mood you’re in that night. And there is always the risk of offending some musicians who may not be included here. If you’re not mentioned here, it might just be that I didn’t get out to see you enough this year. Also, I get out to see quite a bit of live music and I’m trying to keep this list from getting too long; wish me luck with that. You’re all magicians to me; you possess the incredible ability, determination and guts to create or interpret music into a live show in the taverns and music halls in WNY. I salute all of you!

  • Cayamo Americana Music Cruise in Febuary, especially Billy Bragg doing a Woody Guthrie Tribute and Jason Isbell and Jerry Douglas leading a band in a small room through “In Memory of Elizbeth Reed.”
  • Workingman’s Dead: a killer 3-hour plus set at Fireman’s Field at the East Aurora Music Fest
  • Showbiz Kids:  a 10-piece WNY ensemble doing The Royal Scam and Aja from Steely Dan at the Sportsmen’s Tavern in early June and again in late November.
  • War & Treaty in the 9th Ward at Babeville in June. Like an eight-piece band in your living room.
  • Sonny Baker and Lazlo Holyfield doing Talking Heads at Larkinville in June.
  • My favorite Vinyl Happy Hours with Jeff Miers at The Sportsmen’s Tavern: The Who’s “Who’s Next” in July and the Garage Doors doing “LA Woman” in November.
  • A phenomenal Little Steven show at the Town Ballroom in July. It was an extravaganza!
  • Ameripolitan Fest at the debut of the new Sportsmen’s Park, featuring Dale Watson, Bill Kirchen, The Lustre Kings, Steam Donkeys and Skiffle Minstrels.
  • Woodstock 50th Anniversary show at RiverFest Park-an amazing performance by a large cast. Musical Directors: Doug Yeomans and Eric Crittenden. I could go on and on …
  • Miller and The Other Sinners with the Campbell Brothers at the Sportsmen’s Tavern: Rock ‘n’ Soul!
  • Uncle Ben’s Remedy at Buffalo Ironworks in August: their tryout performance for Borderland. They gave their all; the early evening show felt like a late-night performance.
  • The legendary Los Lobos in August at the Town Ballroom; they never disappoint!
  • Leroy Townes at Borderland in September and their CD release party in December at The Cave
  • McCarthyizm with Larry Kirwan of Black 47 at the South Buffalo Irish Fest in Caz Park in September.
  • The Brothers Blue Band: the trio with a steel guitar and a drummer at the Sportsmen’s Tavern in September.
  • The 3rd Annual Last Waltz in November at Babeville, presented by The SAM Foundation. An extraordinary performance by the cast of 30. Musical Director: Doug Yeomans.
  • And finally, I can’t even put a date to the performances of these two bands, but if you haven’t experienced Freightrain and Ten Cent Howl, don’t waste time waiting to see them in 2020.

Robert J. McLennan
SAM Foundation






Elmer Ploetz

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Join the discussion One Comment

  • Will Potter says:

    Hello Bob and Elmer,

    In another direction, our favorite show of the year was The O’Jays wsg Average White Band at ArtPark.
    Sorry we missed Little Steven.

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