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Sportsmen's Americana Music Foundation Fundraiser at Riverside Park Saturday

Front row, seated: Ken Biringer. Back row, left to right: Peter Stevens (Secretary), Robert McLennan (Vice President), Donald Nelson, Dwane Hall (Chairman), Anthony Smolen (Treasurer), Jeffrey Goldfarb (President), Charles Von Simson.

A Kickass Foundation

“My wife and I were Sportsmen’s Tavern junkies,” says financial planner Jeffrey Goldfarb, recalling how the idea of the Sportsmen’s Americana Music Foundation (SAMF) came about. “We became friends with Sportsmen’s owner Dwane Hall and his wife, Denise. They’ve brought such tremendous acts—it’s such a great place and so comfortable—like a home away from home. So one night we were sitting at the bar where Dwane does all of his work and I said to him, ‘Dwane, I’d love to help you with some music sometime if you’d like me to. I’d really like to bring in Chris Hillman.’ That’s because I like the Byrds and that whole era. Dwane said, ‘Nah. We don’t have any interest in Hillman, because he’s sort of a pain. He doesn’t want anybody to drink, and you have to sit around and listen—and it’s not really fun.’”

“Dwane took me next door to the recording studio and said, ‘How about giving me $25,000 so I can upgrade the equipment?’ At that point I laughed. I said, ‘I’m not giving you $25,000—do you think I’m crazy? What am I gonna get for that investment?’ He said, ‘Well, I think it’s gonna work.’”

“Dwane wants to create a sort of Austin City Limits in Black Rock,” Goldfarb says.

SAMF vice president Robert McLennan shares that vision. “Ultimately, we want to produce a live TV show from Buffalo, NY that would have national artists as guests while also showcasing local talent—bringing exposure to Buffalo and Western New York bands, singers, songwriters and musicians,” says McLennan.

Goldfarb told Hall that there might be a way to manage things if they didn’t have to worry about profits. “We could start a 501c3, a foundation,” Goldfarb suggested. “And that way we could get money for equipment. Whether it made money or not wouldn’t make a big difference because if somebody donated money to you they could get a tax deduction.”

The next step was to get a lawyer to help create the foundation. They needed officers and they needed a board. “Dwayne looked at me and said, ‘You’re president,’” Goldfarb recalls.

The SAMF mission statement succinctly sums up the overall vision:

To foster, promote and expand community appreciation for Americana music from Buffalo and Western New York through the production and sponsorship of performance and broadcast events and presentation of seminars and workshops on Americana music.

While the organization’s website is not fully operational yet—the “about us” page simply identifies SAMF as “A Non-Profit Organization that Kicks Ass”—members of the board give hints of what’s to come.

“When Dwane suggested that we could create a non-profit foundation and work toward making Buffalo the Austin of the north, I was immediately excited about that,” McLennan adds. “It was a long process getting approval from NY State and the IRS at the federal level and while we were waiting we had our first fundraiser on January 29, 2014. It was a great success as we raised over $10,000 for the SAMF. We met regularly after that, making plans for the future, and when the IRS approval came through a couple months ago, we immediately started working on having our big membership drive party and concert.”

The big fundraising show “Down by the Riverside” takes place at Riverside Park at Niagara and Vulcan Streets this Saturday (9/20) from 5-10pm. Featured acts include the Joe Baudo Quartet, The Willies, Flatbed, Leroy Townes and the Lonestars, and more. Also out in support will be representatives from the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, the Western New York Blues Society, the Colored Musicians Club, and the Big Easy in Buffalo under the auspices of the Arts Services Initiative of Western New York, and the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.

“Music is a core component of what Buffalo is all about,” says SAMF board member Don Nelson. “Outsiders who associate Buffalo with snow, wings, and the Bills should receive only partial credit at best. Buffalo has an incredible tradition of supporting the arts, fine art, cinema, live theater and of course music. As defined by our mission statement, the goal of SAMF is to promote and nurture the music talent that hails from our region through broadcast events, live performances, seminars and workshops.”

“We need to grow by signing up local music fans as members of the Foundation,” says McLennan, who has been a union leader and currently serves on the staff of New York State Senator Tim Kennedy. “There are thousands of western New Yorkers who support live music with their attendance and their money week in and week out. There are businesses that recognize the potential for boosting the city and region by supporting this effort. We’ve made the opportunity to become a member of the SAMF very affordable and desirable for all the loyal music fans in Buffalo.”

Although the SAMF is just getting off the ground, exciting plans are in the works to reward members who join, since the whole idea is to improve the experience for both musicians and fans of live music. According to McLennan:

“Soon, all members will receive a Members Reward App—access to an App for their smart phone which will allow them to earn reward points for supporting live music in Buffalo and western New York—not just at the Sportsmen’s Tavern, but at many other music venues. While the parameters of membership will continue to improve over time, in addition to the App, right now for only $35 annually you can become a charter member of the SAMF. For $50, membership will include a SAMF T-shirt, or women’s V-Neck shirt. Corporate memberships for $500 will include four memberships and shirts, the company logo on the SAMF website and event programs, the opportunity to meet national artists and special reserved seating at Foundation events. Charter members will get an additional three months, as their memberships will be good until January 1, 2016.”

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