Niagara Gazette

Features

February 6, 2013

A distant drummer

Former Falls native living in France leads a family rich in artistic success

Niagara Gazette — In Jim Vaccarella and his family, the arts run deep. 

Formerly of Niagara Falls, he’s 63 now, lives in western France and, during a recent phone interview, contemplated the “regal tip” drumsticks of the J.D. Collato Manufacturing Co. of Niagara Falls, his personal preference.

“Western New York has a huge amount of great musicians,” he concluded. 

Jim Vaccarella is one of them. Consider this resume: Lasalle High School, union bricklayer, Kent State University, present in 1970 when the Ohio National Guard fired on war protesters there, UCLA, screenwriter/poet/playwright, Goddard College in Vermont for alternative medicine.

Wait, there’s more. In North Carolina, he met sculptor Martine Vaugel. They’ve been married 19 years (“Her parents were from Paris. Raised French in New York City,” Vaccarella says of his wife. “They escaped the day Hitler came to Paris.”) 

Sons from a previous marriage include Taj Vaccarella, 26, a painter and sculptor in Santa Barbara, Calif., and Brahm Collin Vaccarella, 22, now of Los Angeles, most recently a star in David Chase’s film “Not Fade Away,” a love letter to rock and roll for those of us who watched the Rolling Stones on television in the Sixties and obtained a little inspiration. He plays the bass player in the band.

With this family, where to begin?

“He screen-tested eight times,” Vacccarella says of son Brahm, who was at Bard College on the Hudson River when alumnus Chase, of HBO’s “the Sopranos,” called to cast his first film “He’s got his SAG (Screen Actors Guild) card now. He’s launched.”

With a voice full of pride, Vaccarella explains this from the village of Les Cerqueux Sous Passavant, where Martine, an internationally-known sculptor with renown for 13-foot tall realistic (and heroic) representations, has a studio, and he is rebuilding an abandoned church into a museum for her work while living in “a modern house we’ve worked on for 15 years.”

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