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by Emilie Hagen
Accepting his VMA on Sunday night for Best Rock Video, Foo Fighter’s David Grohl urged the world to “never lose faith in real rock and roll music.”
“You might have to look a little harder,” he said, “but it’s always going to be there.”
A long-standing Buffalo native has been acting on his faith in the music since January, with the creation of BPO Nation, an organization bringing high-profile rock acts back to Kleinhans Music Hall.
Spearheaded and funded by Louis Ciminelli, BPO board of directors member and CEO of Western New York construction company LPCiminelli Inc., BPO Nation is a separate entity from the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, designed to sustain the BPO by providing additional funding from popular music and entertainment acts.
“We want to bring back Kleinhans Music Hall back to what it was in the 1970s and 1980s and give that money to the orchestra,” explains BPO Nation talent buyer Mike Montoro.
BPO Nation presented its first concert in May, bringing Graham Park and Garland Jeffreys to the stage, followed by George Duke and David Sanborn in June.
On September 9, one of America’s hottest female comedians, Kathleen Madigan, will kick off the BPO fall series with “light and ridiculous material,” followed by Cyndi Lauper and Dr. John on October 25, Jon Anderson and Rick Wakemen of progressive rock group Yes on October 26, Joan Baez on November 4, and the Kenny Rogers Christmas and the Hits Tour on December 21.
Since the 1940s, Kleinhans Music Hall has been a proud staple of Buffalo’s historical, architectural, and artistic landscape. One of the world’s largest concert halls, it boasts 2,839 seats and the 20th-century design of Finnish father-and-son designers Eliel and Eero Saarinen.
“I remember the days when we had two or three shows a week there. Elton John, Billy Joel, Earth, Wind and Fire,” says Montoro. “If you didn’t play Kleinhans on your tour, you may as well have stayed home.”
Unfortunately, with the changes in the music business in the last couple decades, concert halls and symphonies are not bringing in crowds and revenues like they used to. Symphonies and music halls from coast to coast are being forced to close their doors as costs to sustain operations skyrocket and interest declines. This past March, the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra was suspended during its 50th anniversary season due to a shortage of funds.
While there isn’t a direct threat to the BPO just yet, Ciminelli hopes the contributions raised at each BPO Nation event will sustain the orchestra, and eventually raise the salaries of the concert musicians.
Montoro, who has been booking bands at Kleinhans for 35 years, was the man who brought Bette Midler to the hall in 1973, the week she appeared on the cover of Time Magazine. Even though today scouting talent is much different than it used to be, he’s confident that he and Ciminelli can put their eyes for talent to use and bring solid acts to Buffalo.
“Nowadays, you only hear about the same 10 artists,” said Montoro. “Can you imagine any radio station in Buffalo playing Mumford and Sons?”
While clearly the music recording industry has changed, local music lovers, like Grohl, are confident that live performance remains a draw.blog comments powered by Disqus
Issue Navigation> Issue Index > v10n35 (Fall Arts Issue, week of Thursday, September 1) > Week in Review > BPO Nation
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