East Aurora Advertiser

Music Hall of Fame Inducts on Friday

The Greater East Aurora Music Hall of Fame will unveil its permanent display and introduce its second class of inductees: Dave Constantino, Brad Felton, Joe Lamond and the Miller Family, on Feb. 5 at 5:30 p.m. in The Lodge at the Classic Rink,

The public is welcome to the induction and to a music jam, which will follow the ceremony, to be held at 42 North Brewing Company. East Aurora’s house band, Never Ben, will host the jam with many inductees adding their musical talents to the mix.

The induction ceremony was planned for June of 2020, a year and a half ago. The pandemic, of course, caused the committee to cancel both the 2020 and 2021 ceremonies. Now, hopefully, the event can take place, with attendees asked to follow all masking protocols.

Thanks to the generosity and community spirit of the Aurora Ice Association, the hall of fame will have its permanent display inside the west alcove in The Lodge, adjacent to the Classic Rink. Designed by local artist and sign maker Eric Zimmermann, the two-part display’s west wall will feature individual plaques honoring each inductee over a huge Marty Wanglin photograph, emblematic of the music scene in East Aurora. On the south wall, Zimmerman has created a montage of Wanglin’s music photos, which will be surrounded by images of the inductees. The hall of fame alcove will be open to the public whenever The Lodge is open. Said Aurora Ice Association President Mike Tehan, “We are thrilled to be able to welcome the Music Hall of Fame to The Lodge. This community rightly honors its artists, and our building is a perfect location—open to the public, centrally located, a place where visitors can drop in at any time. We think it’s a great use of our space.” 

The idea for a local music hall of fame arose after the death of musician John Deibel in 2018. Deibel had been active in local music, playing guitar, singing and hosting open mic nights during which he encouraged one and all to get up on the stage. Members of Never Ben will tell you that Deibel is as much responsible for their formation as anyone. At a tribute to Deibel at 42 North shortly after his death, Never Ben frontman Mike O’Connor and car wash impresario Sam Cosmano got to discussing the need for a more permanent tribute to Deibel. They acknowledged that since music has been and continues to be such an integral part of the town that some sort of recognition was needed, and the idea for a hall of fame was hatched. The pair brought in John Venezia, founder and director of East Aurora Music Fest. Music Fest has become a major sponsor of the Greater East Aurora Music Hall of Fame. Added to the board were one-time music promoter Clark Crook, music connoisseur Moe Gavin and writer Rick Ohler, because, as one board member said, “We need someone who’s been around long enough to remember the old days.”

For a logo, the committee turned to high school art teacher Thomas Kegler. One of the students, Finn Lasch, designed the logo and received a $100 award.

In 2019, during Music Fest, the committee inducted Bob Sowyrda, polymath and musical everyman; Suzanne Sprague, owner of Limelite Music, teacher and founder of Limelite University; beloved East Aurora music educator and nationally renowned performer John Hasselback and John Deibel. 

The class of 2021 brings a diverse group into the fold. The Millers have been playing music together and separately for decades. Their Beatles concerts at the Moose Lodge and during Reunion Weekends are legendary, as have been their Backyard Bash performances. Their talents are prodigious: Jenny Miller Higgins on vocals, Dave and Wes Miller playing guitars and singing and Todd Miller, a force on the drums. Sadly, Todd Miller died in October of 2019.

Brad Felton has the distinction of being the only member to win a Grammy Award, having received the honor as a member of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus last summer. Brad has also played music locally for most of his life, except for the decade when he was a sought-after studio musician in Los Angeles.

Joe Lamond graduated from East Aurora High School in 1979 and went on to play rock and roll in California, most notably as a drummer for Tommy Tutone, whose single “867-5309” was a top ten hit in the ‘80s. From there, Lamond went on to become the CEO of NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants, the world’s largest association of musicians and those involved in all aspects of music. As part of its mission, NAMM lobbies for music and arts education worldwide.

Dave Constantino becomes the first Buffalo Music Hall of Fame member to also be included in the local hall of fame. Dave recorded his first single at 14 and went on to record and tour nationally with Billy Sheehan and Talus. As a partner with Suzanne Sprague, the couple teach all instruments, while Dave coaches bands of youngsters and adults at Limelite University, giving them their first gig experience and helping them develop their “chops.”

There is no cost for either the induction ceremony at 5:30 p.m. or the jam at 42 North at 7 p.m. on Feb. 5.

One response to “Music Hall of Fame Inducts on Friday”

  1. Jeff Meatyard says:

    When will Roger Kowerko be inducted?

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