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16 to be inducted into Buffalo Music Hall of Fame

BUFFALO -- The legendary Queen of Soul, a renowned sound engineer and one of the most successful bands in Western New York history are among the class of 2016 inductees who will enter this year’s Buffalo Music Hall of Fame (BMHOF). The inductees were officially unveiled during a special press conference held at the Buffalo History Museum on Wednesday.

“This year’s induction Gala once again has an incredible lineup of inductees,” said Anthony Casuccio, president of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. “We are honored to be able to showcase such an amazing class of incredible individuals from the Western New York region.”

The inductees will be formally honored at the 34th Annual Buffalo Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Gala on Oct. 6 at Cardinal O'Hara Performing Arts Center in Tonawanda. Light food, along with beer, wine and pop, will be sold. Proceeds from the concessions will benefit the music program at Cardinal O’Hara.

WBBZ-TV personality John DiSciullo will serve as the official host of this year’s event. Advance tickets go on sale at buffalomusic.org on Aug. 17 for $20. The price increases to $25 on Sept. 14 and some tickets may be available for $30 on the day of the event.

2016 Inductees

  • President’s Award: Aretha Franklin – Aretha is known for her connections to Detroit, but she spent much of her childhood in Buffalo. In addition to the years her father, C.L. Franklin, served as a pastor in Buffalo, she also spent summers in the city when her mother stayed in the city when C.L. went on to Detroit. So Aretha sang in churches here and …  well, you know the rest of the story. They don’t call her the “Queen of Soul” for nothing. 
  • Industry: Tony Romano – Romano was one of greatest sound engineers to come out of WNY and played a key role in helping Diana Krall hone her sound on her way to stardom. Romano started out doing sound for Bobby Militello and engineered Militello’s Motown LP as well as doing sound and road managing work with Michael Brecker, Stan Getz and Doc Severinsen. But his biggest achievement may have been in his work with Krall, where he engineered her Grammy Award-winning “Live in Paris.”
  • Legacy: Danny Cannon & the Vibraharps – The Vibraharps were the first and the best doo-wop group to come out of Buffalo in the late 1950s. They recorded for Atco, Beech and Dab.  Member Danny Cannon, who died in 2014, went on to record for Smash and ABC-Paramount, working with Bob Crewe, making the Billboard Top 100 as “Lenny O’Henry.” That song, “Across the Street,” was listed in Dave Marsh’s book, “The Heart of Rock & Soul” as one of the top 1001 songs in pop history. 
  • Legacy: Ray Chamberlain – Chamberlain has played bass and guitar with some of the best in the jazz world, dating to the early 1950s, when he toured nationally with the Stan Kenton Orchestra and the Pete Agiro Quartet. After most of a decade on the road, he returned to the Buffalo area in 1957 and became a mainstay of the local scene, playing and/or recording with the likes of Sam Noto, Joe Baudo, Don Menza, Larry Covelli and the best of WNY’s jazz scene. 
  • Jim Runfola – Runfola has done just about everything that’s possible to do in music in Western New York. He’s an all-star saxophonist and founder of J.J. Swing, teaches and leads the jazz ensemble at Erie Community College, wrote or co-wrote musicals that had runs at MusicalFare and the Kavinoky Theatre, recorded CDs with his band and toured with national groups, including the Tommy Dorsey Band.  
  • Joey Diggs – Diggs is one of Buffalo’s secret treasures. In addition to working with Rick James and a host of other performers (including UST Topaze and Van Taylor’s bands), Diggs became a go-to coach for performers on the “American Idol” TV show. They traveled to Buffalo to be prepped by Diggs to perform on the show. 
  • Joanie Marshall – Joanie Marshall is Ramblin’ Lou Schriver’s widow and was his musical partner for over 50 years. She’s another secret weapon, playing a wicked lead guitar on records, in hers and Lou’s shows and backing up some of the greatest country artists when they toured in Western New York. In fact, Lou always joked that so many country greats tried to recruit her for their bands that he had to marry her to keep her! 
  • The Panfil Brothers – As two of the mainstays of Creek Bend and on their own, Mark and Chris Panfil have been the face of bluegrass in Western New York. In addition to Creek Bend releasing multiple albums and touring festivals throughout the U.S. and Canada, Mark Panfil is the founder of the Buffalo Bluegrass Youth Ensemble, teaching students to play the style. Creek Bend also brought over 40 shows of national bluegrass stars (including Bill Monroe) to Western New York.  
  • Jeff Schaller – Drummer Schaller has played with an incredible list of bands over the past 25-plus years, including Grand National, Last Days of Radio, Blue Bullet Skater, McCarthyizm, Here Come the Comets,  Tiger Chung Lee, Jive Injection and  the Mohawk Street Saints. He’s produced albums, toured nationally as drummer for Jimmie Van Zant and written for Modern Drummer magazine. 
  • David Meinzer – Meinzer is an all-around threat as a songwriter, guitarist, singer and graphic artist. He has been performing and recording since his days leading Davy & the Crocketts and putting out his first record with Tommy Calandra’s BCMK Records in the late 1970s. Dave helped bring country and roots music into the punk and new wave scene, helping to create Buffalo’s Americana scene. In addition to his other bands like Dry Bones and the Outlyers, Meinzer has been a go-to graphic artist for posters and album cover art for Western New York performers. 
  • Alyn Syms – Syms is best known for The Alyn Syms Group, one of the most successful local bands in WNY history. ASG at its best was able to sell out Shea’s Performing Arts Center, a feat no other local band (that hasn’t been on a national touring level) has been able to accomplish. Syms career extends from the 1960s with Hank “Soul Man” Mullins to the ‘70s with Rick James through his progressive and classic rock recordings of the last few years. 
  • Patti Parks – Parks is a belter who has made her name in recent years with a series of blues recordings. However, her career started some 40 years ago; she performed regularly until taking time off for her family. Since her return to performing, her recent CDs have received airplay around the world and been well received in the national blues publications. Some of her biggest contributions, though, have been the blues therapy program that Parks, a nurse, has created for youths with drug dependencies or otherwise at risk. 

Photo courtesy of BuffaloMusic.org.

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