By ELMER PLOETZ
It is with some mixed feelings that I’m letting you know that I’m moving on from my position as editor of the JAM (Journal of Americana Music).
I’m not going anyplace. I still plan to write for the JAM from time to time, but it seemed the right time to step away from assembling the monthly newsletter. I’ve got a stalled book project, some eldercare issues in the family and some increased commitments in other parts of my life.
In addition, the Sportsmen’s Americana Music Foundation has a new executive director, Jeff Miers, who as a longtime writer and former editor (remember Buffalo Beat?) is more than qualified to take on the JAM. Working with SAMF board member Greg Hennessey (a great graphic designer), he may even be able to bring back the print edition of the JAM, which has been missing since March 2020. The last print issue featured Szelest Fest on the cover a couple of weeks before Covid hit.
I joined the SAMF board and became editor of the JAM in August of 2018 and attempted to put my journalistic generalist skills as a writer/reporter, copy editor, graphic designer and photographer to use.
Looking back, we’ve been able to do some pretty cool stuff. Here are a few of my favorites:
Courtney Lennon is best known for her book “Live Forever: The Songwriting Legacy of Billy Joe Shaver” and for her roots music online mag Turnstyled Junkpiled. But for us, she did a deep-dive story on Townes Van Zandt’s connections with Buffalo. On top of that, she convinced her friend Mandy Newham-Cobb to provide a fantastic cover illustraton to go with it. It’s one of the best pieces we’ve published.
We got Buck Quigley to start writing his monthly Buckwords column for us. I consider myself a pretty decent reporter, but Buck is a great storyteller. Every month I look forward to seeing that Buck has to say and how he gives meaning to the music and the scenes that we all love. Many of you do as well, judging from your reactions.
I’ve had a chance to put my photography to use and to to develop my skills there. I still think my favorite photo is an extreme close-up of Tyler Westcott, shot at the SAMF fall concert in 2019. We used it as the cover for the October 2019 print issue of the JAM.
It’s been great seeing Mark Panfil’s Bluegrass Roundup column develop from a simple listing of local bluegrass events to pieces looking at life within the bluegrass world. Mark and his band, Creek Bend, are a treasure within the Western New York music community.
For a sample of what I’m talking about, check out his column from this past August.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention working with Bob McLennan. While most of you may know him from his Buffalo Bob Sez column or putting together Buffalo’s Last Waltz shows since their inception or any of the other things he has done for the SAM Foundation, it should also be noted that Bob is one hell of a copy editor. Having him go over our pages and posts always made them better and saved us from embarrassing mistakes. Thanks, Bob!
So that’s it for now. Until the next show … see ya!