This is a follow-up to the previous column announcing the nominees and selection rules pertaining to the Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame 2019 induction ceremony. The event was sold out again in its third year with approximately 480 tickets sold and only 20 “no shows” at the Rapids Theatre on Main Street. There is much to write about but my words are limited and many of these groups will be presented in the next weeks to follow. Some highlights will be listed in this column.
It was music all the way starting with an entertainment Interlude provided by Michael Sanders Jr. as the crowd assembled when the doors opened at 1 p.m., followed by an opening by Marcangelo Perricelli on keyboard who was inducted in 2018 as everyone settled in.
Following are just a capsule of the careers of the inductees. Master of Ceremony, Tom Gariano, a member of the group’s board of directors got things grooving with the introduction of President Peter Paonessa Jr. who introduced Lydia Morreale who presented a tribute to honor Sam “The Saxman” Morreale. He was a well-known dentist in our area but perhaps better known throughout the music community. She noted the organization created the ‘Sam Morreale Music Award.’ Beginning at this event, the board would present an award to a community member “who exemplifies similar passion and support of the music and musicians in the greater Niagara Falls community.”
Who better than Albert Giambattista to be selected to receive this first honor? President Paonessa introduced Al as “no one knows more about local music history than him.” Al spoke kindly about Sam and his accomplishments as well as being one of his closest friends and fellow saxophone player, stating his renditions of Ave Maria and Amazing Grace brought tears to his eyes. More on Al in a later column.
Non-Performing Inductees were next with Bruce Wojick’s introduction of Bob Hillman as a “true master of his craft” as a production manager for over 40 years. Bobby Minicucci, owner, operator of the former famous Ontario House bar and restaurant that became the “house of jazz” was covered in previous columns as a nominee and was introduced by Lisa Minicucci-Chester who called him “a larger than life individual who brought jazz into Niagara Falls.”
Legacy Inductees were announced next with Ralph Fava introduced by his daughter Maria Fava as “one of the greatest jazz guitarists to ever come out of Western New York.” His legacy is the hundreds of students who shared his talent as a “first call” guitarist for many celebrities who came to Western New York. He founded the Lockport Music Center now managed by her which will continue his legacy along with his former students as they find success in the music world.
John Marasco, also covered in an earlier column, was introduced by Ron Marasco and Jimmie Marasco, and was a left-handed guitar player, who like so many others here, had a love for music at an early age. Also a teacher, locally at Jerry D’Amico Music in Niagara Falls and later at the Berklee College of Music, he leaves behind many students as well. He viewed his classes as a way not only to teach techniques and skills but to continue to grow his own musicianship.
Band Inductions were next and Ted Shredd introduced God’s Children, a group born in 1989 in the backstreets of Niagara Falls where they quickly became the torch bearers of original rock and roll music. In 1999 after their appearance in Las Vegas, the group disbanded. Since they will be documented in my next column I will leave it at that for now. Most of the group appeared in person and performed for the audience.
Stemm, an American metal band from Niagara Falls also appeared and entertained for the audience. They formed in 1998 and within four months, their first album sold over 600 copies and their first concert was the opening for a major label recording group Sevendust. They have recorded more music to come out this year and performed for our audience.
Individual inductees were the last to appear and many provided musical entertainment either in person or by a video presentation. Bob Volkman, a keyboardist, was introduced by Diane Volkman who presented a video and the group also performed. April Stevens & Nino Tempo were introduced by Peter Paonessa who visited this family duo recently and a historical video of their careers was shown. Ed Supple introduced by Mark Dixon has been playing the guitar since 1965 and was also a teacher at D’Amico Music in the early '70s . More to follow on his fantastic career. Mary Nero presented a medley of some of her favorite numbers. She was introduced by Stan Pietras and received a standing ovation. Ron W. Laster, Sr. brought down the house with a “rocking” number. A self-taught guitarist, he later auditioned for the James Brown Band which led to a great national career. Bobby Previte was introduced by JoAnn Simon, secretary to the Hall of Fame organization. A video of highlights of his career was presented. Peter Paonessa introduced Dee Ann DiMeo who also brought the crowd to its feet with a medley of some of her favorites. And, last but not least was introduction of A D Ligammari II, by Marcangelo Perricelli and the presentation of a fabulous video of some highlights of his career as a visual artist with creations of logos, brands and ad campaigns for bands and local businesses.
All good things must end, but more will be highlighted in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
Contact Norma Higgs by email at email@example.com.