The Syracuse Area Music Awards, affectionately known as the SAMMYS, wrapped up its 25th edition Friday, March 3, at the Palace Theater in Syracuse with a brief performance from freshly inducted Hall of Famers moe.
Ahead of Saturday night’s show at the F Shed, moe. closed out the two-night affair with a three song set of “Tailspin,” “Spine of a Dog” and “Buster.” Friday night’s awards ceremony, hosted by veteran Syracuse DJ and staunch supporter of the local scene, Dave Frisina, featured awards in 18 categories, including three People’s Choice categories, and performances by four Syracuse area bands, reflecting the broad range of styles and talent found in and around the Salt City.
The SAMMYS is the brainchild of Frank Malfitano and now under the care of Liz Nowak. In 1993 Malfitano created the celebration of area music for an event at the Landmark Theatre. The event changed venues several times over the years before finally settling on the grand old Palace Theater on James Street in the Eastwood district.
The festivities began with the Hall of Fame dinner Thursday night, upstairs at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. The Dinosaur has been one of Syracuse’s premier music venues since opening on Willow Street in 1990 and was a fitting venue for the honors and stories that filled the room.
This year’s inductees were Mohawk Valley via Buffalo jamband moe., pioneering new wave singer/guitarist Meegan Voss, 70s blues rock artists Jukin’ Bone and singer-songwriter Paul Case. Also being honored were Anthony and Patricia DeAngelis for Music Educators of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Vincent Falcone. It was a night that had the feel of a class reunion. Hugs and excited shouts from people who haven’t seen each other in years mingled with stories of years’ past in venues no longer around.
The inductions and awards ceremonies were hosted by Dave Frisina, a 1994 SAMMYS Hall of Fame inductee, long-time Syracuse radio personality, champion of local music and self-professed band dad. His son, Mike is a member of Syracuse-based band Simplelife. Most, if not all, of those in the room have dealt with him in some way throughout their career. A man like Frisina is what every music town needs. He is local music’s strongest advocate and has the platform for it at his current station 105.9 The Rebel.
Induction and acceptance speeches were filled with anecdotes and inside jokes. Though, most in attendance, were on the inside of those jokes. Memories of broken down vans, vanished venues and bad decisions peppered the speeches. It was the talk of well-worn musicians who have dedicated their craft not to become famous, but simply to play. To the outsider, it was a look at a scarcely seen side of the working musician.
The first honor of the night was for Educators of the Year. Husband and wife, Anthony and Patricia DeAngelis, two area music teachers were honored for their decades of influence on local musicians at Syracuse University, Colgate University, LeMoyne College, the Lyncourt School and Onondaga Community College. They were inducted by their well-spoken and surprisingly laid-back granddaughter Olivia.
Voss was inducted by her husband and band-mate in the Verbs, drummer Steve Jordan. In her acceptance speech, she pleaded to “Save the clubs.” Case, visibly touched at the recognition for his long career avoided revealing too much of past days on the road, “My kids are in the room.” He lavished praise on fellow musicians in the room, including Jukin’ Bone member Joe Whiting as well as the master of ceremonies.
Case, sporting a black tux and pronounced the Best Dressed in the Room by Frisina, closed his acceptance speech saying, “You get up. You drive to the gig. You set up. You play your ass off. You tear down. You drive a million miles home, week after week, month after month, decade after decade. You do it for the music.” He then dedicated his award to the late Bob Fleming of the Mossback Mule Band, who passed away in September.