Thursday, 02 June 2022 15:16

Local Music Legends Inducted into HOF June 7 at UPH

Eight legends of the local music scene will be honored in an induction ceremony for The Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Hall of Fame class of 2022.  The event will take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 7 at Universal Preservation Hall. Eight legends of the local music scene will be honored in an induction ceremony for The Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Hall of Fame class of 2022. The event will take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 7 at Universal Preservation Hall.

SARATOGA SPRINGS —Eight legends of the local music scene will be honored in an induction ceremony for The Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Hall of Fame class of 2022.  The event will take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 7 at Universal Preservation Hall.

Inductees include ambient music artist Sara Ayers; music promoter Greg Bell; the late Brooks Brown, founder of independent radio station WEQX; Michael Eck, poet, solo artist, member of several musical acts, and a producer and music critic; the late Greg Haymes, longtime TU music writer, founder of the publication Nippertown and lead vocalist of the band Blotto; Grammy- and Academy Awarding-winning music producer and Spa City resident Joel Moss; solo artist Rich Ortiz; and the Troy rock trio Super 400.

Haymes, who passed away in 2019, was one of the first people I met in the region when moving here in the 1990s. 

Supreme master of musical knowledgeable and grand enthusiast as an A&E music scribe, Haymes shined a light on the region’s activities where it ought be shined, for all to see, and offered thoughtful encouragement for musical ensembles of all kinds, including my own. He also helped get me my earliest writing gigs at the TU, don’t you know. The memories are plentiful: standing together awaiting the stage arrival of Neil Young at SPAC; gossiping back-and-forth between readings at Bob Dylan’s birthday celebration gathering at the Old Chapel at Union College in Schenectady; sharing a patch of Shepard Park grass as David Amram wonderfully navigated a collaboration between the T.S. Monk Sextet and Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra during the Lake George Jazz Festival. That last one, in mid-September 2001, was the first time many of us had mustered the courage to gather together in a public space during those twitchy, nerve-frazzled days immediately following the attacks of 9/11. 

In 2017, I had hosted an event at Saratoga Springs Public Library – “The History of Rock and Roll: Saratoga and Beyond,” which featured a panel of talented and gifted luminaries from across the region – Greg Haymes, among them. 

Published for the first time, here is a partial transcript of what he said: 

“August 10 is the anniversary of the first gig I played in Saratoga. It was with the Star-Spangled Washboard band. We went on an played a couple of more shows, at Caffe Lena, and within a year we played at SPAC, opening for Sha Na  Na. A year after that, 1974, we played at the Saratoga Fair. Remember the Saratoga Fair? It was at the racetrack, a 10-day fair in June.  It was Mac Davis, Anne Murray, Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Red Skeleton – who is the one I remember most because we played that same day. I remember him sitting in front of this little booth where he was selling his paintings for clowns that he did. How cool is that? Tickets were $2.50 a day. $1 parking charge. Not too bad,” Haymes remembered. 

“Star-Spangled Washboard Band lasted through about September ’78 and everybody went their separate ways and got ‘Real Jobs.’ I worked at a record store – not a real job! And our bass player, Cheese Blotto, got a job bartending at his friends who had just opened a bar that was called 17 Maple Avenue. 

“The Washboard band had broken up, but we were still around. One Friday on Saturday, one or two of us would show up. You never knew who was going to show up. We would play and whoever would show up would play. Eventually it coalesced into a group and we needed a name. We came up with the name Blotto. We came up with these little cardboard convention badges that would say: Hello My Name Is. That became the title of our first record: Hello My Name is Blotto. 

“Like I said, anybody would get up and play with us. There was a night, late in the evening, we’re doing our third set or something. We did mostly ‘60s covers, off the wall stuff: Freddie & The Dreamers, Ballad of the Green Beret, Mother’s Little Helper – I’d bring out a medicine chest in the middle of the song and everybody would be throwing pills all over the place. That’s the kind of band it was.  So, one night there’s a group of gentlemen who come in and stand in the back. Big poodle hair. Satin baseball jackets with the sleeves pushed up. This was like ’79. So naturally we started making fun of them. They’re a band? ahaha, it’s a Friday night and they’re not playing anywhere. 

“Hey, you wanna come up and jam? So we did “House of the Rising Sun,” and “Johnny B. Goode,” because everybody does “Johnny B. Goode,” and I think we also did “We Gotta Get Outta This Place.” I think it was maybe four guys came in, the drummer came up, the guitar player. And they were pretty good! We were very impressed. After our set it was time to say thank you, wrap up the night and we asked them who they are. The guitar player’s Neil, the drummer’s Steve…it was Journey, who had just finished playing at SPAC earlier that evening. They were pretty cool about it. 

“Two years later I was in Colonie Center, somebody said ‘Have you seen the poster?’ We had to go to Spencer’s Gifts and in the back there were these racks of posters and there’s a Journey poster. They’re just kinda standing there. There are some green trees and some white pillars and I’m looking at it, and… hanging from Steve Smith’s belt-loop is a cardboard tag that says: “Hello! My Name is Blotto. What’s Yours?’’

The ceremony will feature live music, a presentation of a brief video about each artist, and acceptance speeches. Tickets are $50 and are on sale at universalpreservationhall.org. Admission includes complimentary hors d’oeuvres. A bronze plaque is placed on the Hall of Fame wall at UPH for each inductee, and a video about each inductee will play there in a loop with past, present, and future recipients.

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