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Buffalo Music Hall of Fame announces Class of 2015

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2015 on Wednesday, which features a diverse selection of individuals, groups and educators.

Many of them collaborated with the late Rick James, the Buffalo native who went on to national stardom in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In addition to his own recordings, James collaborated with other acts including Process and the Doo Rags, one of this year's inductees.

"We're so honored. It's a dream come true, and we're finally here in the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame," said group member Henry Graham.

Others who collaborated with James that are slated for induction this fall include Dolly Durante, a vocalist who credited having a "Buffalo foundation" for her success.

"Every single time, they'd say 'where are you from?' 'Buffalo'," said Durante, who also worked with Lou Rawls, Ike Turner, Stevie Wonder, Buddy Miles and, yes, Muhammad Ali. "They'd say 'wow, a lot of talent comes out of Buffalo.' "

Music education was also represented with the selection of Linda Appleby, who taught thousands of Buffalo students and, as part of her career, co-founded the Buffalo Select Chorus, which recorded with Grammy nominee Joseph Wooten.

An interview with Henry Graham and Dennis 'Shorty' Andrews, members of Process and the Doo Rags.

Another longtime musical teacher and talented guitarist heading into the Hall of Fame is Vincent Blasio, who celebrates his 102nd birthday later this year.

There is also a first among this year's class, a first Native American to be inducted. That will be Robert 'Freight Train' Parker, a bassist who has toured worldwide with numerous talents.

"It's a little surreal," Parker said. "I started playing music at such a young age. I'm lucky to have done it my whole life," Parker said. 

The formal induction gala will take place at The Cove, on Transit Road in Depew in October.

Interview with Dolly Durante, vocalist and member of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame Class of 2015.


Buffalo Music Hall of Fame Class of 2015

- Linda Appleby: Teacher who instructed thousands of Buffalo students; co-founded the Buffalo Select Chorus, which enrolled students from 12 public high schools and performed citywide.

- Vincent Blasio: Local guitar player known for his classical and jazz work; also taught.

- The Boys of Summer: Popular local party band whose performances have benefited numerous causes including Make-A-Wish Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

- Jim Brucato: Performed with acts including the acoustic trio Thirds, Billy McEwen's Soul Invaders; toured with Maureen McGovern for a year in the 1970s, appearing on the 'Don Kirschner's Rock Concert' television show.

- John Connolly: When Buffalo missed out on the Beatles in the 1960s, Connolly made up for it with bands such as Switch and the BBC Band, both of which were very popular locally.

- Dolly Durante: Vocalist who performed and recorded with numerous stars including Muhammad Ali, Buddy Miles, Stevie Wonder, Ike Turner, Lou Rawls and Rick James.

- Jackson C. Frank: Folk singer whose song "Blues Run the Game" was recorded by Simon and Garfunkel. Upon moving to England in the 1960s, he became influential on the rock-folk scene there. He passed away in 1999.

- Flash: Local band which never released any official recordings but had a strong following. Members included Richie Pidanick, James Ralston, Phil Dillon, Dean Mooney and the late Larry Swist.

- Eli Konikoff: A trombonist who worked with bands led by Woody Herman and Wild Bill Davidson in the 1950s; later led the Yankee Six dixieland jazz band in Buffalo; he died in 1996.

- Billy Nunn: Collaborated with Rick James with the Stone City Band, co-writing James' hit single "Mary Jane." Played with numerous acts and artists, including Johnny Lytle and Phillip Bailey (of Earth, Wind and Fire fame).

- Robert "Freight Train" Parker: Bassist who toured internationally with musicians including Johnny 'Clyde' Copeland, Bill 'Sauce Boss' Wharton and Ronnie Earl; has performed to benefit numerous charities; is the first Native American to be inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.

- Process & the Doo Rags: vocal group signed by Rick James, who made the Billboard charts with a James-penned single, "Shout and Stomp."

- Fred Raiser: A saxophone player whose career included performances on Mediterranean cruise ships and the Madhatters comedy band in the 1940s; he performed an estimated 27,000 gigs at Frank's Casa Nova, working six nights a week from 1947 to 1974. He was also a teacher and music store owner until his death in 1985.

- Jim Wynne: Bass player who worked with acts including Gamalon, Haiku and the Dave Constantino Band. He's also a studio musician whose credits include working with Robby Takac and Justin Rose.

- M&T Bank: The bank is being honored as an 'Institutional Inductee' for its 46-year sponsorship of summer plaza concerts in downtown Buffalo.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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