On October 13 the Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame held their third annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony with a sold out gala event at the historic Rapids Theatre.
The Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame pays homage to artists who have made significant contributions to music whether it be in the Niagara Falls area or around the globe.
Since last year’s ceremonies the Hall of Fame committee lost one of its own when board member and Hall of Fame archivist Dr. Sam Morreale died. As a tribute to Dr. Sam, the Hall of Fame has created the Dr. Sam Morreale Music Award. The inaugural recipient of that award went to Al Giambattista who like Dr. Sam is a saxophone player. A life long resident of Niagara Falls, Al is a virtual walking encyclopedia of Niagara Falls music history.
Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame member Tom Gariano returned to serve as host for what became a very emotional event that featured many memories, anecdotes, and performances by the new Hall of Fame inductees and those who inducted them.
The afternoon began with keyboard player Michael Sanders Jr entertaining the crowd as they entered the theater and found their seats.
The gala festivities began with a performance by NFMHOF member Marcangelo Perricelli and the CPSW Band.
After opening remarks from NFMHOF Board members vice president Bob Drazdowski and president Peter Paonessa the presentations began.
Along with honouring Al Giambattista, journalist Norma Hicks was recognized for her literary contributions on local musicians.
In the non performance category, Hall of Fame member Bruce Wojick inducted soundman Bob Hillman and Lisa Minicucci-Chester inducted her father club owner Bobby Minicucci.
After an In Memorium slide presentation,, the Legacy inductees marking those who are no longer with us were presented. Maria Fava inducted her father Ralph Fava and cousins Ron and Jimmy Marasco inducted fellow cousin John Marasco.
This year two bands were inducted into the Hall of Fame with Ed Shredd from 103.3 The Edge inducted God’s Children and Bruce Wojick returned to the stage to induct Stemm who also gave a performance.
In the individual performance category…
Diana Volkman inducted Bob Volkman who also gave a performance.
NFMHOF President Pete Paonessa inducted April Stevens and Nino Tempo. Cousins Tom and Sal also spoke on April.
NFMHOF member Mark Dixon inducted Ed Supple.
Ivy D’Amico inducted Ronald Laster Sr who also gave a performance.
Stan Pietras inducted Mary Nero who also gave a performance.
NFMHOF Secretary JoAnn King Simon inducted Bobby Prevette.
Mike DeMeo inducted DeeAnn Demeo who also gave a performance.
NFMHOF member Marcangelo Perricelli inducted musician and photographer A D Ligammari II.
ABOUT THE INDUCTEES:
Sam Morreale Music Award recipient Al Giambattista was born in 1928. For the past 70 years he has been entertaining music fans with his saxophone including President Dwight David Eisenhower while in the Army.
Bobby Minicucci owned and operated the Ontario House in Niagara Falls for over 40 years where he featured many Jazz artists and bands including Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Maynard Fergusson, and Chuck Mangione; along with western New York’s Bobby Jones and Spider Martin.
Bob Hillman has been the “go to” sound man in western New York for over 40 years. Since getting his start while still in high school, he has worked with Zola, Dennison Stars, Spyro Gyra, Quarter Flash, Sir Elton John, Kenny Loggins, U2, 38 Special, the Police, Journey, Yes, Bruce Springsteen, Duran Duran, Boston, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
He also plays the clarinet and guitar.
Ralp Fava was not only the founder and owner of the Lockport Music Center; he was a musician and a graduate of the Berklee College of Music. He taught hundreds of western New Yorkers how to play the guitar and shared his talents with a number of nationally known musicians when they made a stop in the area including Rich Little, Susan Anton, Wayne Newton, Mary Wilson, Bobby Vinton, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Jim Nabors, Connie Francis, Shari Lewis, Don Rickles, the Drifters, Al Martino, and Jerry Vale.
John Marasco grew up in a musical family. The left handed guitar player performed and taught music for over 50 years including over 30 years at the Berklee College of Music. He has shared the stage with a variety of artists including Peter Allen, John Valenti, Louis St. Louis, Alexis Smith, Al Martino, Jerry Vale, Mundell Lowe, Joan Rivers, Don Rickles, Eartha Kitt, and The Lettermen.
God’s Children, also sometimes known as just The Children, was started in 1989 was known for their original music which gave them a leg up when it came to opening concerts for national acts making a stop in the area. Getting recognition far beyond their western New York home, God’s Children’s music has appeared on “A Thousand Acres”, “Vegas Vacation”, “Man of the House”, “The Good Doctor”, “Hard Justice”, “The X-Files”, “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”, “Touched by An Angel” and “LA Firefighters”.
Though they split up in 1999, many of the band’s members continue to entertain local music fans.
God’s Children are: Peter Ajemian, Peter Vincent, Bruce Wojick, Leo McDonald, and Mark Pirolli.
Stemm is a metal music band that bagan in 1998 and found themselves opening for Sevendust less than a year after forming. Their song “Face the Pain” became the soundtrack for the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). Their music has also appeared on “Here Comes the Boom”, “Iron Man 2”, “Vegas, Baby”, “MX World Tour featuring Jamie Little’, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphis”, and “UFC 50: The War of ’04”.
Throughout their musical career, they have opened for Run–DMC, Chimaira, Hatebreed, Sevendust, Stone Sour, Korn, Black Label Society, Staind, Alter Bridge, Machine Head, Soulfly, Killswitch Engage, and Damage Plan.
Stemm are: Joe Cafarella, Dan Nelligan, Alex Scouten, and Stever Crowl. Former members include Mario Nobilio, Louis Penque, TJ Frost, and Rich Spall.
Dee Ann DiMeo was born into a musical family and began her singing career when she was just seven years old. She also plays the guitar, the piano, and dances. She performs pop, blues, jazz, country, and big band music. Like Nat King and Natalie Cole, Dee Ann and her father Frank recorded a version of “Unforgettable”. Along with performing all over the western New York area, Dee Ann has opened for George Jones.
Ronald Laster Sr began his musical path with the violin but after six years, he turned his four stringed instrument in for a six stringed one – the guitar. After high school, the former honour student formed his own band and became one of the most sought after fink guitar players in the country including working with award winning artist Rick James. He also worked with James Brown and has shared the stage with B.B. King, Aretha Franklin,m Carolyn Franklin, Prince, Mciahel Jackson, Robert Randolph, Fred Wesley, and Maceo Parker.
A D Ligammari II is a world class visual artist who has photographed numerous rock artists.
And at the age of 60 A D returned to school to earn his degree in music.
He has worked with Jon Anderson of YES.
Mary Nero has been entertaining audiences for over six decades after giving her first performance at age five. She has performed as a solo artist, with her band Magenta, and shared the stage with numerous western New York musicians.
Bobby Previte got his musical start in a talent show with his version of the hit song “Hound Dog”. A home made drum set failed to impress but that did not slow him down. A year later he bought his first drum kit…and still uses it. A happenstance meeting with Jimi Hendrix led to a music degree and collaborations with world class musicians including composer John Adams, NRBQ’s Terry Adams, filmmaker Robert Altman, Jesse Colter, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Tom Waits, and Iggy Pop.
He has gone on to earn numerous awards and had his compositions heard all over the world and on television.
Ed Supple has been playing the guitar for over 50 years, but he is also an educator, promoter, and salesman.
He is responsible for creating the ‘Suppling’ finger style playing. He has appeared on multiple albums as a “ghost musician” session player. Supple is now a member of the Buffalo Music and Niagara Falls Music Halls of Fame.
April Stevens and Nino Tempo were born Caroline and Antonio LoTempio. The sister and brother duo have been performing together since they were very small in their grandmother’s Pine Avenue restaurant. Since those early days April and Nino have gone on to appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show”, the “Perry Como Show”, “American Bandstand”, and to earn a Grammy Award for the song “Deep Purple”. They have shared the stage with The Beach Boys, the Righteous Brothers, and Sonny and Cher. Her song “Teach Me Tiger” was requested by shuttle astronauts as their wake up song.
April Stevens and Nino Tempo are members of both the Buffalo Music and the Niagara Falls Music Halls of Fame.
Bobby Volkman is an award winning composer and keyboard player who has composed a number of works for theatrical and television productions. He is also a jingle writer. Bob is a member of the BBC Band – a Beatles tribute band, the Three Dog Night triubte band Eli, The Rockers, Beginnings – a Chicago tribute band, Everyday People, and his own band.
ABOUT THE NIAGARA FALLS MUSIC HALL OF FAME: a non profit organization dedicated to honouring the musicians of Niagara Falls, to protect and preserve the area’s musical culture and heritage, and to recognize those individuals who have made significant contributions in this area.
ABOUT THE RAPIDS THEATRE:
A former movie house and vaudeville theater known as The Bellevue, The Rapids has been refurbished into a modern concert venue in Niagara Falls, New York. Since 1921 the venue has been a movie house, a dance club, , and a night club.
Reportedly a haunted venue, The Rapids was featured on the Syfy original series “Ghost Hunters” in 2011.