What started out as a group of veteran musicians getting together each week for a jam session and a few beers has grown into a group so successful they've been invited to perform opening night at the Niagara County Peach Festival.
A couple of years ago, the five musicians quickly found that their jamming reaped some serious good sounds, so they dubbed themselves Rusty Nickel and began looking for places to play.
"We’re all friends," said Jim Couch, who is also a manager at Tops Market in North Tonawanda. "We’ve all been in the music business over the last 30 or so years, so we all kind of know each other ... We just started getting together once a week and knocking out some songs."
Three of the other guys also have day jobs. Sal Barone of Amherst, the rhythm guitar player, owns Sal's Blade Shop," a tool sharpening shop for pet owners and groomers in Amherst; Chris Lepovich of Kenmore, who plays bass, is a computer analyst, Sal Mineo of North Tonawanda, lead singer and acoustic guitar player, owns Sticky Face Barbecue in North Tonawanda, and Joe Marciniak of the Town of Tonawanda who plays drums, is a retired air conditioning repairman.
"The first night we played was for a benefit someone asked us to do at the Cove, a seafood bar and restaurant out on Transit Road, almost near West Seneca," Couch recalled. "They loved us. They were dancing and having a great time. It made us feel we could continue to move forward."
The band does a wide variety of music, moving through the years with tunes like “Little Sister,” by Elvis Presley to “Breakdown" by Tom Petty and "It's Just My Imagination," by the Rolling Stones.
These days, Rusty Nickel is booked every weekend and was recently nominated as Best New Band in the recent Night Life Magazine awards.
The group appreciate every step forward. "We’ve been doing this for a while in different ways, but this is different," Couch said. "There’s something about this mix of guys, the music that we’re putting out is just special and we’re really enjoying ourselves."
The band will perform on the grandstand stage at 8:30 p.m. Friday night, and Couch said the members appreciate the opportunity to open the event. "The Peach Festival is a big event in Niagara County and to have the Friday night slot is huge for us. We’re really looking forward to it. It’s the biggest night attendance wise for the festival."
To learn more about Rusty Nickel and their upcoming performances visit them on Facebook at Rusty Nickel WNY.
For more details on the Niagara County Peach Festival, see pages 8-10 in todays Night and Day section.