Welcome to our December 2016 newsletter – May your holidays be merry and filled with love and celebration.

stressedSo if you’re stressed like this dude, continue to support our Foundation, come to the Sportsmen’s Tavern to hear live Americana music, be an active member of our Foundation family and your stress will disappear.

Coming up in this issue is Bob McLennan’s report on some important charity work being done right in our back yard. Don Nelson reports on one of our education initiatives, Kevin Cox reviews the Bill Kirchen Christmas show, and I have a few new music albums that have just come out to share with you.

Holiday gifts: Please cruise our merchandise booth upstairs at the Tavern for gifts. We have knit caps and baseball caps for only $10 – Great Stocking Stuffers! There’s a myriad of sweatshirts, hoodie with zip, hoodie without zip, crew neck, and of course our very popular Sportsmen’s Americana Music Foundation T-shirts in both women’s and men’s sizes.

A bunch of our favorite Americana Music bands have come out with new albums for the holiday season. Check them out below:

Lori McKenna "The Bird and the Rifle"Lori McKenna “The Bird and the Rifle” – gritty and pensive – just how we like it.





Bj Barham "Rockingham"Bj Barham “Rockingham” – debut album – check it out.





Earls of Leicester "Rattle & Roar"Earls of Leicester “Rattle & Roar” – with influences of Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt this album is sure to be a great one.




The Avett Brothers "True Sadness"The Avett Brothers “True Sadness” – let’s hope not. Reviews aren’t too good.





Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley "The Country Blues"Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley “The Country Blues” said to be mournful but fun…





Frankie Lee "American Dreamer"Frankie Lee “American Dreamer” – the reviews are really good. This is his first full-length album.




Christmas on the Lam & Other Songs from the Season“Christmas on the Lam & Other Songs from the Season” – this album features Sportsmen’s Alumni Dale Watson, Charlie Parr, Davina & the Vagabonds, and our own Bill Kirchen. Bill’s song was recorded and produced at the Sportsmen’s studio by Dwane and Jason Hall.



And as always – please don’t hesitate to contact me with concerns, questions and ideas:

Angela Hastings
Director of Membership



December is the time of year when many organizations and individuals think more freely about giving of themselves to help others. That’s not the way it should be, of course, and I’m as guilty as anybody else. We go on with our daily lives, our ups and downs, and think that we’ll get to that later; I’m busy right now. When I was president of Branch 3 of the National Association of Letter Carriers, in the early ‘90s we started the NALC National Food Drive, along with Phoenix AZ. And it still continues on the second Saturday of May every year. The Food Bank of WNY and other organizations that help feed the hungry among us told us they were thankful we did it at that time of year because the millions of pounds of food collected nationwide enabled them to feed hungry families throughout the year until the more frequent food drives occurred in December.

McCarthyizmI’m sure many of you do what you can throughout the year, as well as in November and December but I’d like to recognize and commend some charitable efforts that just happened and are happening this month at The Sportsmen’s Tavern. Let’s start with Joe and Kim McCarthy and McCarthyizm. On November 12th, they organized a Steve Earle Tribute and it was not only a fantastic evening of incredible music. They raised $800 and gave half to the Friends of the Night People and half to the SAM Foundation. I’m not equating what we do with the needs of other organizations who exist to provide food and clothing, but as you’re aware, we are trying to make a difference in children’s lives through music and we believe arts and culture are necessary ingredients for a happy and fulfilling life. Next the McCarthys organized a highly successful “Friends Helping Friends” night on December 3rd, again for the Friends of the Night People. They collected a mountain of clothing for those in need and increased the total contribution to $3,000. All the many musicians from both nights volunteered their time and played the shows for free just to be able to help out the people who needed it. On both nights, the music fans who attended received the gift of great music.

Coming up on December 16th, 53 Days is hosting a Christmas Show at the Tavern with the emphasis on collecting a lot of toys for kids whose families just may not be able to provide them. “Bring a Toy for Tots”

Black Rock ChristmasOn Sunday December 18th, Jason Hall of the Sportsmen’s Tavern has organized a Christmas Concert benefitting The Black Rock/Riverside Food Pantry…Food, diapers, baby food needed. Get a load of this line-up; Black Rock Zydeco, Tripi and Daniels, The Steam Donkeys, Randall and the Late Night Scandals, Shaky Stage and Ten Cent Howl. For a $5 admission and some non-perishable food items, you can’t afford not to be there.

More on the home front of the SAM Foundation; Billy Sheehan, Bobby Lebel and Jessie Galante will host a Buffalo Musicians Christmas Party for two nights, December 21st and December 22nd. All proceeds, all ticket sales, go to the Sportsman’s Americana Music Foundation. We’re extremely appreciative of all the musicians donating their time and talent to our cause.


As I’m sure you all know, one of your perks of membership is free admission to The Twang Gang the first Tuesday of every month. If you haven’t been there on a Tuesday night, you’re missing out on a great time. In December, we started adding a little more Foundation substance to that First Tuesday. Don’t worry, there won’t be long speeches but along with free admission, we’re going to provide you with an update on the latest SAMF news; education programs, scheduled concerts, members’ events and available discounts. On the first Tuesday of the year, January 3rd, bring some friends with you who haven’t gotten around to joining yet and we’ll sign them up. The more members we have, the more we can do for the WNY music scene.

Musically Yours,
Bob McLennan, President
SAM Foundation

Bill Kirchen’s Honky Tonk Holiday Show

Bill Kirchen Honky Tonk HolidayThe Sportsmen’s Tavern was decorated with lights outside on the balconies and around the windows. The decks were beautiful and you could hear the music already cooking entering from the side door under the jolly glowing Santa Claus. It was the annual Holiday Show with the oh, so talented and charming Bill Kirchen and his Too Much Fun band (Dave Elliott, drums and John Previts on bass). As usual the place was packed with smiling faces. There are lights everywhere, up and down the microphone stands, on the crossing beams, over the bar, and Bill and John are wearing red Santa caps.

The annual Christmas show, another Buffalo tradition begun by the sweet Buffalo home of Americana Music: The Sportsmens Tavern. This is part of Kirchen’s annual holiday tour. Maybe the central part. Kirchen has known owner Dwane Hall for many years, decades, and is the Official Spokesperson for the Sportsmen’s Americana Music Foundation. When I asked him what it meant to play the Honky Tonk Show every year at Sportsmens he replied:
“This show makes Christmas for me. I would not think of doing this tour without stopping at Sportsmens”

Kirchen’s career has touched so much of American music. A rockabilly guitarist par excellence, named “The Titan of the Telecaster” by guitar magazine, who has played with Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, Gene Vincent, and Link Wray to name just a few) and has been part of so many pivitol music scenes from San Francisco in the late 60’s, to Nashville, Texas blues and finally the thriving roots music in and around Washington DC.

There was much Christmas music through the night. Kirchen can weave so much into one song, “Silent Night” popping up in the middle of one chord progression. Then the classic country songs “Daddy’s Drinking Up Our Christmas”, “Trucking Trees for Christmas”, and a randy wise-cracking “Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’”. And Kirchen’s constant banter, the little stories, the mugging, he is a man enjoying himself. At one point he mentioned the CD’s and stuff for sale and called it Kirchendise and this reporter laughed out loud. There is so much joy in this building for these shows.

Other standout songs : a touching “Rocks into Sand”, “Hounds of Bakerfields”, and a beautiful “Man at the Bottom of the Well” (this was a recording collaboration with Elvis Costello). And, of course, the legendary “Hot Rod Lincoln” smash hit from the early 70’s that must be seen live to appreciate. Kirchen does a schtick in the middle playing to perfection the licks of 25 or more famous guitarists. It is hilarious virtuosity! Local vocal star Mary Ramsey joined the band for a beautiful rendition of the song “Snowbird”.

The evening ended with Kirchen doing the now annual walk through the crowd playing slide trombone (his High School instrument) and then an interesting version of “The Times They Are A-Changin”. A song that seemed to fit perfectly, the party, the times. Another warm, fun, amazing evening in the snow globe called The Sportmen’s Tavern.

Until Next Time,
Kevin Cox, SAMF Critic

Don Nelson’s update

Guitar Social is up and jamming on Tuesdays!

Time flies when you’re having fun and it’s hard to believe that the Guitar Social just completed the sixth session. Participants have been having a great time sharing tunes and techniques.
Jim Brucato, the group mentor has worked with the crew on a wide range of songs, genres, and picking styles. From the classic blues of Robert Johnson, Doc Watson’s version of Shady
Grove, country Rock of America and many more Jim breaks the tunes down and takes the club along step by step. All members are encouraged to offer up suggestions on songs they’d like to
learn or those they’d like to share.

While serious about music and guitar the atmosphere is casual and all members are extremely supportive. If you’ve ever thought you’d like to take another crack at playing that axe that’s been gathering dust in the closet, come stop by and check out the social. It’s Tuesdays from 6:30-8:00 behind the Sportsmens Studio in the ARTS theater. While the first session of the social will be running for another four weeks we hope to kick off a winter program geared for beginners in late January. Stay tuned!

Rock and Roll Workshop

Rock and Roll WorkshopEvery Monday afternoon over the past six weeks, The SAMF have been sponsoring Alan Whitney and Tim Pitcher to head up a Rock and Rock Workshop, their version of “School of Rock”, at the International Preparatory School at Grover Cleveland High School. Alan, aka “Adub” and Timmy P have the students rocking out on acoustic and electric guitars, bass guitar, piano and a drum kit.

The students work out their own tunes both the music and the vocals with the drum beat and the music these kids create is really cool! All all encouraged to try different instruments and for at least part of each session Tim or Adub will do a breakout session with the acoustic guitars in a separate area. While some of the students have prior experience most are absolute beginners but learning quickly! And what’s really impressive is that the kids are writing their own songs.

In addition to playing their original tunes, Alan is also recording their work, available of course for immediate playback for the young musicians.

Rock and Roll WorkshopWhat makes this program extra special is that the participating students are the sons and daughters of immigrants and refugees from all over the globe, several are learning English even as they learn how to play a drum kit! It really is true that music is the universal Language!!

The program runs through December 21st at which time the workshop will open its doors to friends and Family for an open house and short recital. A special “Thank you” goes out to Allentown music for loaning the workshop all the equipment including drum kit, bass guitar, electric guitar, amps and speaker. We couldn’t have done it without them!

Don Nelson
Vice President, SAMF
Director of Music Education


If you are an Active member and do not have a SAMF membership card, please email me at 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
  • Record Theatre – 10% off all regular priced 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
  • River Grill – 20% off food Mon – Thurs May through September

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