One of the hallmarks of the Sportsmen’s Americana Music Foundation is the celebration of Buffalo’s heritage – and that’s exactly what Szelest Fest ’24 will be doing again on Sunday, February 18th at the Sportsmen’s Tavern. the show starts at 3:00 pm and tickets are $15. Here’s a link to purchase tickets: https://www.showclix.com/event/szelest-fest-2024
Stan Szelest was a rock ‘n’ roll piano pounder out of the Jerry Lee Lewis mold and played a role in creation of The Band. He toured with the likes of Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks (the band that would transform into The Band), Lonnie Mack, Roy Buchanan and Delbert McClinton. He was recording with Levon Helm’s latter-era version of The Bank when he died in 1991.
But it was locally where he made his biggest impact. His Stan & The Ravens were the tightest of bands and served as a training ground for a generation of rock ‘n’ rollers.
Doug Yeomans’ experience:
“As a young musician growing up in Buffalo, NY, I was on a quest to learn from and to be accepted by the best players the city had to offer. The R&R, R&B, and Blues scene had many more experienced players than I was at the time and little by little I was getting to know them. The one musician’s name that always came up as the premier player in town was that of Stan Szelest.
Stan was about a dozen years older than me and he was just the coolest cat in town. It only took hearing him play piano one time to realize that all the things that I heard about him were true! (times ten). His playing was powerful and commanding. His sense of rhythm was second to none. He was good or better than all the famous piano players he grew up listening to, like Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Little Richard and more.
In 1982 he called me and hired me to be in his band, Stan and the Ravens. It was like getting accepted into the Rock & Roll University. When you played with Stan, you played “with” him. He laid down the groove so strong that you knew exactly how to play with him. In his band I learned how to play for the song and play with the band. Stan’s band wasn’t a democracy it was his band and your job was always on the line. You had to give it 150% every time you hit the bandstand, (and we did). He expected nothing less and he gave it every night on every song!
We had the best band in Buffalo for the whole time I was in the band and I came away from the experience so much better than I was when I started with him. It wasn’t that Stan was a teacher, it was just that he set an example to follow about how music should be played. I played with Stan from 1982 through 1987 and it set the stage for the rest of my career playing music to this day.”