Our Board

Robert McLennan

Board President

I remain honored that Dwane Hall asked me to serve on the Board of the Sportsmen’s Americana Music Foundation. I’m not a musician; I never had the talent or the dedication to become one. However, I’ve always been an enthusiastic fan. I love going out to see live music, it’s like magic witnessing what some great musicians are able to do, including many of our local treasures. Also, I continuously listen to so much music, new and old, that I can barely keep up with it. I’ve been this way all my life, from The Beatles and Stones to that first rock and roll song that gave me that physical rush we all look for, “Gimme Some Lovin”’ by The Spencer Davis Group. My first concert was Steppenwolf at the Aud in ’68, I went to the first Woodstock in ’69, and I’ve been into music ever since. All kinds of music; rock and roll, blues, country, bluegrass, Celtic, jazz, Cajun, soul, The Pogues, Allman Brothers, The Clash, Miles Davis, Talking Heads, The Blasters, Mark Knopfler, Dylan, Gipsy Kings, Tom Waits, Los Lobos, Jason Isbell, to name a few. Rock turned me on to country when The Band made Americana music before it had the name. And now Americana, which has a very wide range of types of music, is what I look for most often. It’s hard to describe it but you know it when your hear it.

My career has been in union leadership. I’m retired from the US Postal Service where I was President of Branch 3 of the National Association of Letter Carriers for 20 years. I’ve worked with Senator Tim Kennedy and I’m also a part time Buffalo/WNY Business Agent for the Office and Professional Employees International Union. The organization we’re building with SAMF is similar to the labor movement. We’re all pulling in the same direction to achieve our goal, which is to put Buffalo and WNY on the same level as Austin or Nashville. We have the talent, we have the Hall Family to lead the charge, and we have music fans and SAMF membership that will support the effort.

The Sportsmen’s Americana Music Foundation is now five years old and we’ve made a lot of progress with our educational efforts, festivals, our annual awards show and many more events throughout the year. We want our website, the SAMF Facebook page and our monthly newsletter, The JAM, to be important to you for making plans for live music. There are discounts and free ticket opportunities for members; we’ll have members only events, concerts, professional filming and archiving of Americana music, and live streaming. But as a member, the best thing of all is being part of a historic adventure to put Buffalo at the top of the Americana music pyramid. You know how disappointing it is when your favorite artist plays Toronto and then goes right to Cleveland or New York and skips Buffalo? That will happen less and less because Buffalo will be the place to be. Thanks for reading, keep listening, keep rockin’ and I’ll see you at the Sportsmen’s.

Jason Hall

Chairman of the Board

Bernie Walsh

Secretary

Bernadette (Bernie) Walsh was born and raised in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY, and holds a B.S. in Business, Economics and Management from SUNY at Empire State College and an M.S. in Adult Education from SUNY Buffalo State College.

While working for National Air Cargo for over fourteen years, as Training and Development Manager, Bernadette developed an Ethics & Compliance training program and traveled around the globe to deliver mentoring and training to a multi-cultural staff. Currently as the Practice Manager for Ellicott Small Animal Hospital she enjoys working on business strategies, mentoring employees and of course sneaking to the lobby and treatment area to show love to the furry clients.

At a young age a love affair began with music of all types by listening to her parent’s albums. It began by participating in chorus, plays and musicals in elementary school. In high school she took up the clarinet and played in the school band and earned a Varsity Letter in marching band. Music kept her engaged in school.

Bernadette enjoys giving back to the community and volunteering. She served on the board of Young Audiences of WNY as Board President, Vice President and Governance Committee Chair for four years. When time allows, reading for the blind at Niagara Frontier Radio Reading is a top priority. Also, near and dear to her heart is getting involved with event planning for many local fundraisers.

Spare time is spent with her husband Mark, family and friends enjoying life and all its adventures.

Patrick Gormley

Originally from Lewiston, NY, Patrick graduated from Niagara University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Science in Secondary Education. Patrick previously worked for 7 years in the Education Department of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan, NY where he planned and facilitated offsite community programming. He returned to Western New York in 2014 and joined the Valley Community Association as the Academic Coordinator for the Striving for Excellence after school program. He is still with the organization, currently working with Executive Director Peg Overdorf on funding, programming and daily operations of the VCA.

Jeffery Griffin

There are only two kinds of music in this world; good and bad.

That statement has been attributed to numerous musical figures, but its true origin remains unclear. Regardless of who said it first, I fully embrace the sentiment.

My formative musical exposure and education began around the age of 13 or 14 through the influences of family, close friends and friends’ older siblings. Early staples of my listening pleasure ran the gamut of classic rock and blues-rock bands formed in the mid to late sixties that dominated the airwaves throughout the seventies.

One fateful experience in the early 1990’s was a an exposure to the soul drenched expression of human emotion known as the blues. It was an epiphany and an awakening to a wondrous new world. Deeper exploration into blues music pulled me further and further back in time to the origins of the form. Blues eventually led me to the discovery of Jazz and Americana roots music. This ongoing musical journey leads me down the path in exploration of nearly all genres of music. I am always searching for new findings in the riches of the past and prospects for the future. There is so much new musical ground to learn, experience and absorb. I embrace it all.

I have been blessed with the good fortune of having attended nearly 2,000 shows over 39 years in travels near and far. Many hours have been logged in dive bars, honky tonks, blues / jazz clubs, rock halls, elegant theaters, casinos, sports arenas and festival grounds. From my very first concert in 1979 to present day, I have witnessed many wonderful local, national and international acts. Whether the setting is small and intimate, or a grand spectacle, I love experiencing live music in its many forms.

In addition to the enjoyment of experiencing music itself, I am hungry to learn what inspires it, what drives it, how it is created and how it is recorded and presented. From technical minutia to the sonic vibration which fills my heart and soul, I love it all.

I was born in the city of Buffalo and raised in Western New York. I graduated from Buffalo State College with a degree in engineering and I am presently employed at a local manufacturing company as a Quality Engineer.

My intense love of live and recorded music fuels my passion. I am enthusiastically energized to help expand the foundations’ mission of music education, increasing membership and geographic reach, as well as meeting current foundation members and potential new members at future events.

Please allow me to close with a quote from one of my favorite musicians…

“This Year I Will Be More Thoughtful Of My Fellow Man, Exert More Effort In Each Of My Endeavors Professional As Well As Personally. Take Love Wherever I Find It, And Offer It To Everyone Who Will Take It. In This Coming Year I Will Seek Knowledge From Those Wiser Than Me And Try To Teach Those Who Wish To Learn From Me. I Love Being Alive And Will Be The Best Man I Possibly Can.” ~ Duane Allman

I thank the foundation board for giving me this wonderful opportunity.

Rock on!

Tim Franczyk

Tim is a member of The Kensingtons band as a singer and guitar player. Their band’s music is a mix of rock and roll with some twang thrown in for good measure. Tim plays along with some great local musicians in the band – Willie Schoellkopf and Joe Nicastro on guitar and vocals, Jack Freedenberg on keyboard and vocals, Julie Atti on vocals, Tom Lillis on bass, Mike Lillis ( and sometimes Mike Lillis Jr) on percussion. They can often be found jamming to great tunes while supporting their community.

Tim’s musical influences are Elvis, Roy Orbison, Rick Nelson, JD Souther, Chris Isaak, The Beatles, The Eagles and the like.

Professionally, he is retired from the Erie County Court bench and teaches Evidence, Ethics and Trial Advocacy at UB Law School.

Tim’s wife, Michele, is a school teacher and his daughters Claire and Natalie ( age 30) live in Richmond Va.

Mark Winsick

“There’s no substitute for a band rockin’ out live . When I perform, I always give it everything I’ve got.”

That energetic and audience pleasing philosophy has made this guitarist, singer and songwriter a mainstay on the live music scene. Mark was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame in 2010, an honor he shares along with the Goo Goo Dolls, Ani DiFranco, Take 6, Rick James, Grover Washington, Harold Arlen and 10,000 Maniacs just to name a few of the great artists that are also from Buffalo. Mark was honored with the 2002 Buffalo Music Award for Best Traditional Blues Band, the Listener’s Choice Award for Acoustic Blues Act, the 2004 Artvoice Best of Buffalo Award, and the 2005 BluesBeat “Muddy” Local Artist of the Year award. His cover of “Rise and Shine” appears on the national released tribute CD to two time Grammy nominated singer songwriter Peter Case entitled “A Case for Case”. His song “True Love Brings Peace of Mind” was selected to appear on 107.7 FM’s The Lake Local Music CD Vol. 1 to benefit the Music is Art Foundation. Another song of Mark’s, “It Hurts to Say Goodbye”, was chosen to appear on The Lake Local Music CD Vol. 2. His song “Shufflin’ For Blue” is featured on 88.7 WBFO Gives Me the Blues CD Vol. 2. Winsick’s guitar skills landed him a spot on the Maverick Records release, “Hot Guitars from Buffalo, Vol. 1. His own live recording, “Straight Up,” has been played on 88.7 WBFO’s Saturday and Sunday blues shows regularly since it’s release. He donated three songs to a charity compilation called; “Sounds of Buffalo Blues, Volume One,” for cancer research. In the 80′s he recorded two albums with Canadian Gospel artist and songwriter Randell Hill and toured throughout Ontario and Quebec. His producing skills were tapped by blues singer Shaky Ray for his album “Goin Home” of which he co wrote eight songs.