By Elmer Ploetz
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 ‘22 will be doing again on Sunday, April 10, at the Sportsmen’s Tavern. The show starts at 4 p.m.; tickets are $15.
Stan Szelest was a rock ‘n’ roll piano pounder out of the Jerry Lee Lewis mold and played a role in the creation of The Band. He toured with the likes of Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks (the band that would transform in The Band), Lonnie Mack, Roy Buchanan and Delbert McClinton. He was recording with Levon Helm’s latter-era version of The Band 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.
The previous Szelest Fest (Szelest Fest 6) took place on March 8, 2020, and was one of the last music events at the Sportsmen’s before the Covid-19 pandemic kicked in. Some of the past events could be sprawling affairs with a huge cast of singers and players, but this year’s event will be a tighter affair.
“We’ve got a core band and a couple people coming up,” said Doug Yeomans, the music director for the event. “The day goes by so fast. There’s so many songs that you’d like to get in. I felt like we didn’t get the people who used to come to hear Stan all the tunes that they would have liked to hear. So it’s kind of a tightrope to walk; I don’t want to not include people, but at the same time I’m there to play for the people who are coming to hear those songs that he used to do.”
The lineup will be Yeomans on guitar; Pete Holguin on drums; Ron Davis, Jim Beishline and Mr. Conrad swapping off on keyboards; Nick Veltri, Steve Sadoff and Joe Giarrano on bass; Matt Harris on saxophone. Everybody but Harris and Beishline will be singing, and Dolly Dee will be singing as well.
There will also be a tribute to Ernie Corallo, who died Dec. 22 in Arkansas. Corallo was a long-time guitarist in Stan & the Ravens and also did session work on the West Coast and toured with the Average White Band.
Corallo was the guitarist before Yeomans in Stan & the Ravens, and Yeomans said the band will performing Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams,” which was one of Corallo’s trademark songs.
Tickets are available at https://www.showclix.com/event/szelest-fest-22
Meanwhile, here’s a video of Ernie playing with Ed Bentley at a Taste of Buffalo event in 2013.