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Heart of the City

Russell Steinberg, Guillermo Izquierdo, Pauline Digati, Biff Henrich, David Meinzer, Cathy Carfagna, Roger Nicol, He Who Must Not Be Named, Bob Kozak, Jeff Helmick, and Scott Miklasz (Michaels). Photo by Lauren Tent, Biff Henrich, Img_Ink

Early Buffalo new wave and punk musicians reunite for a good cause at Sportsmen’s

Put together a deadly disease/condition, a friend in need, about 20 musicians (including several Buffalo Music Hall of Fame members) with the number of bands and years of experience represented almost too high to count, one mystery man, and a few helpful friends, and you get a great benefit show.

Heart of the City: A Benefit for the American Heart Association, with the Good, Davy and the Crocketts, and the Embarcaderos performing, will be held at 3pm on Sunday, April 21, at the Sportsmen’s Tavern (325 Amherst Street). Admission will be $5, and the benefit is being organized and produced by Grenway Studios and Zero Budget Productions, also known as bassist (Pauline and the Perils, Kathy Moriarty Band, the Hydronaughts, the Jetsons, Sole Surfers, Original Assassins, Blaze of Glory) and all-around good guy Russell Steinberg.

The other musicians include: the Good (Steinberg; Biff Henrich, Bob Kozak, Scott Miklasz, Roger Nicol, and He Who Must Not Be Named on vocals), Davy and the Crocketts (David Meinzer, Cathy Carfagna, Steinberg, and John Brady, with a special appearance by Kathy Moriarty), and the Embarcaderos (Steinberg, Miklasz, Jeff Hemlock, Jim Celeste, Guillermo Izquierdo, and “distinguished guest” Jim Whitford). There will also be a short special performance by Pauline and Some Perils, featuring, as you’d expect, Pauline Digati.

The event developed after the Good played a memorial show for the late guitarist Joe Bompczyk (the Jumpers, the Enemies), and Steinberg realized that his bandmate was in serious straits. “We started to cut a couple of tracks and didn’t finish, and I know that it is possible that these things may never get finished,” Bompczyk says. “I wanted to make sure that, um, this guy [alluding to He Who Must Not Be Named] has something finished. He wanted no charity from us, but he would want us to raise funds for the American Heart Association. So this is in support of my friend who needs the AHA, which is helping keep him alive.”

It wasn’t hard getting members of the above-mentioned bands, plus members and former members of the Vores, Pine Dogs, Beatmongers, Steam Donkeys, Outlyers, High Flyin’ Babies, Jim Whitford/Cathy Carfagna Band, Riddlers, and the Corrections (among many others) to participate, according to Steinberg. “It was easy to ask and get the support of other musicians,” he says. “I look at it this way: Am I such a charmer to get all these people to help out, or is it a great cause? It’s great to get all of these people to volunteer their time. I had wanted to get a Davy and the Crocketts reunion for my 60th birthday party. My passion is surf rock instrumentals; I met Bob Kozak with the Jetsons, and I also wanted a Pauline and the Perils reunion of sorts. I wanted Jim Celeste, my favorite drummer around, and Guillermo is my neighbor. I asked, and nobody said no. I just picked good people and musicians, and a lot of people know and want to help my friend. It has been a lot of work getting everybody to rehearse, and we thought that $5 would be very reasonable and that no one would not be able to afford to go.”

Having played with so many, and so many prominent, Buffalo bands since the 1970s, Steinberg returns to the friendship factor. “We musicians became good friends back then,” he says. “It’s Buffalo; when it’s the wintertime, all you’ve got is your friends here. Like Pauline and the Perils, we’re all still friends, and in this core group of people, we’ve know each other for so many years, and we’re more than bar friends. There was something about that scene, the late’ 70s, early ’80s. Punk and new wave were really hopping and we were all friendly. It’s really part of Buffalo’s culture, the commonality of music and the loyalty. When you’re friends, you stay friends.”

Your dogged reporter asked Steinberg if he knew just how many bands he has played in over the years. “Oh, gosh, no I don’t,” he says. “I’d have to go back and try to count them all. My first band was a garage band back in junior high school, and we really played in the garage; the kids would watch us play through the windows. And now, with the current version of the Good, it’s the friendship thing. Going to practice is a laugh riot; everyone thinks that he is funny. At times, we are laughing more than we are playing.”

If you need more confirmation of the friendship and interlocking relationships among these early Buffalo punk and new wave bands, I found some of my old vinyl while doing some research. Two BCMK (Buffalo College of Musical Knowledge) albums were almost setups for this article. One is Davy and the Crocketts’ Lovesick, considered a classic by many of us; along with David Meinzer, the main credit names include Russell Steinberg and Bob Kozak, as well as guitarist Geoff Copp, later of Pauline and the Perils, and of course the late, great Tom Calandra. The other album, Airwaves, a BCMK showcase, includes songs by Bob Kozak, Kathy Moriarty and Liars, the Good, Russell Steinberg, and Mike Brydalski, with David Meinzer as art director.

Heart of the City: A Benefit for the American Heart Association will also feature a Chinese auction and a 50/50 raffle to benefit the cause, and for even more information on the bands and musicians, people can check the event Facebook page.

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