The SAMMYS Announce Lifetime Achievement, Hall of Fame Award Inductees, Educator, and Nominees for 2016

NYS Music is very honored to be working together this year with The Syracuse Area Music Awards. Syracuse’s Palace Theater on Tuesday hosted the announcement of the following awards and nominees for the 2016 SAMMY Awards.

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Hall of Fame Award Inductees

George Rossi

George Rossi, aka “Little Georgie,” originally made his way from Skaneateles to the Syracuse area and quickly became a celebrated Syracuse musician. Originally a member of area band The Works, this formidable keyboardist became known and in demand both locally and nationally, playing together over the years with The Dean Brothers, The Masters of Reality, Garey Frenay and The Neverly Brothers, the SAMMY-award winning band Little Georgie and the Sufflin Hungarians, and The Wild Magnolias Mardi Indian Tribe of New Orleans, to name only a few.

This musician’s skills as a leader, songwriter, and all around musical master has earned him respect among peers, fans and those within the business.


Bells of Harmony

In 1966 Charles Cannon, together with brother Homer Cannon and cousins Otis, Ben and Eugene Starling, formed The Bells of Harmony, a gospel choir with a mission to rejoice. Fifty years later, this group has been recognized by Syracuse’s Sammy Awards, Alpha & Omega Awards, CNY Urban Music Award as Best Gospel Group, and the National Council of Negro Women Community Service Award, to name a few.

Those in and around the area may have caught them as they performed at M&T Jazzfest, the State Fair, Oswego Harborfest, Utica’s Live Monday Nite, Redhouse, Dinosaur BBQ and a variety of other local and regional venues.

These recording artists can also be heard each week on the Charles Cannon Gospel Hour. The program has been running since 1978 on WSIV-AM 1540 each Friday from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.


Jam Factory

Born from an idea to put together a band with a strong horn section, something new and different at the time, Syracuse University graduate Howie Wyeth set out to acquire a group of SU’s best musicians to do just that, forming Sidewinders. Sidewinders consisted of Mark Hoffmann (guitar), Bill Storm (bass), Paul Petruccelli (vocals), together with the horn section of  John Hall, Steve Marconi and Mike Mattia; saxophonists Dave Scribner, Ron Johnson and Ian Taddeo (who later to formed the Stompin Suede Greasers); singer Charlie Brown (SU football player); and drummer Howie Wyeth.

Over the years Sidewinders evolved, with students graduating and moving on to join or form other groups, so the remaining members (Hoffmann, Ford, English, Marcone, McCormick and DeFelice) decided to change their name to Jam Factory. In the early ’70s, Jam Factory recorded an album for Epic Records, Sitting In The Trap, as well as a single, “Talk is Cheap” (1971). Opening for Steppenwolf and The Rascalls in Rochester, they ended up touring the country and playing venues such as the Fillmore West in San Francisco, the Whiskey A Go-Go in Hollywood, plus stops in Denver, Aspen, Seattle and Albuquerque. They shared the stage with The Byrds, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Joe Walsh, Ike & Tina Turner, Beach Boys, Steve Miller, Billy Joel, Chuck Berry Issac Hayes, Rare Earth and many others. Back in Syracuse, they packed every club they played.

Members within the original band went on to play with Paul McCartney and Wings, appear on television and in movies, and become icons within their professions both nationally and locally.

Savoy Brown

Savoy Brown has been described as a true innovator and a blues/rock institution throughout their 40-year career.

When Kim Simmonds founded this band in 1965 with Leo Manning (drums), Ray Chappell (bass), Brice Ports (vocals), and John O’Leary (harmonica), it’s unlikely he anticipated his rock and jazzy blues would have the musical impact it has, paving a path from England to America, where he eventually settled.

With hits over the years that included “I’m Tired,” “Louisiana Blues,” “A Step Further,” and “The Savoy Brown Boogie,” the blues became their calling card, rejuvenating the genre in the U.K. and then interspersing it within the rock culture to give it the sounds that are still reflected in blues today.

It was the early ’70s, though, that brought the band its best chart success with the release of  Street Corner Talking. “Tell Mama,” “Street Corner Talking” and “All I Can Do Is Cry” from that album, together with the band’s funky remake of the Motown classic “I Can’t Get Next To You,” took the band to platinum status and placed them in front of wildly enthusiastic rock audiences in arenas all over the world.

Once again following their creative muses, they found their sound in the ’80s to have more of a rock and roll flavor with their album Live ‘n’ Kicking. Fans loved it and couldn’t get enough as they played the new tunes live.

From London’s Soho night clubs in 1966 to headlining the world’s most famous venues (Carnegie Hall, Fillmore’s East and West, Cobo Hall, etc.), Savoy Brown has done it all and as the band continues to tour worldwide, they give a glimpse into the past and also inspire new listeners with their personal brand of rocking boogie, blues and rock.

The Music Educator of the Year

Mark Copani

Mark Copani graduated from Nottingham High School and attended Onondaga Community College as a music major graduating with a degree in Electronic Media Communications.

Mark’s love of music began after seeing the Beatles at the age of 9.  Studying with local legend Buz Cua and noted New York City jazz guitarist Sal Salvador, he found inspiration in musicians such as George Benson, Pat Metheny, Carlos Santana, Al DiMeola, Jeff Beck, Robben Ford and so many others.

Mark eventually made his way to the classroom, where he began teaching his passion to others. For more than 26 years now, Mark has taught hundreds of students in Central New York. He began giving lessons at Dishaw’s Guitar Shop in 1990 and since has taught at DeSantis Music Schoolhouse & Bonne Music, the Music Center, adult education classes, and private lessons at his home studio. His students Andrew Greacen, Kevin Metzger, Mike Burresci and Anthony Sauterno are notables in the current scene of younger players in Central New York today.

Mark has accumulated several awards over the years that include Best Jazz Instrumentalist 1994, the Larry Arlotta Award for Best Jazz Instrumentalist 2001, as well as being part of many SAMMY-winning bands including Stroke, Ronnie Leigh, Cookbook and the DeSantis Orchestra.

Expert at multiple musical styles such as jazz, smooth jazz, bebop, swing, funk, blues, fusion, rhythm & blues, rock, latin styles, some classical, top 40-pop, Christian and acoustic folk, Mark has never found a beat he didn’t love.

His resume looks like a who’s who list of performers that include Kevin Mahogany, Grady Tate, Marvin Hamlisch, Bernadette Peters, Clay Aiken, Petula Clark, Al Martino, John Davidson, Touring Broadway Shows, BIG, Hairspray, Jesus Christ Superstar locally, and others at Salt City Playhouse. One of his favorite gigs of all times was with Mickey Rooney!

Well known for his spirited, groove-oriented playing and improvising, rhythm playing, and his “default” (big, clean, no effects) sound coupled with his prolific, creative, comedic personality makes him the ultimate choice for the Music Educator of the Year.

The Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Mark Murphy

Mark Murphy grew up in a musical household in the Syracuse region. As a child, he began playing piano and eventually went on to study music and drama at Syracuse University, graduating in 1953. Heading off to New York City, Mark would go on a musical journey that would allow him to perform and record throughout his illustrious career the music he loved: Brazilian music, songbook recordings, vocals, hard bop and, of course, the standards that he is best known for.

Throughout the late ’60s, Mark was found overseas in England, where he recorded and performed for his ever-growing European fan base. He returned to the States in the 1970s, where he explored and remained ever in demand as a jazz vocalist.

Recording his last album in 2007, Mark Murphy’s longevity in music was a gift to his fans throughout the world as he introduced generation after generation to the jazz and standards he love so much.

He died in October 2015 at the age of 83.

MarkCaponi                     MarkMurphy

As voting begins in the People’s Choice categories, here are this year’s choices. Congratulations to all.

And The Nominees Are:

Best Pop

  • Bill Mott
  • Emma Jude
  • Jason Bean
  • Elizabeth Canino
  • The Guise

Best Country

  • Mick Fury
  • Dirtroad Ruckus
  • Lonnie Park
  • Chris Taylor
  • The Moonshine River Band

Best Jazz

  • Andrew Carroll
  • Jimmy Cox
  • Bob Holz

Best Hip Hop/Rap

  • Street Rock Mafia
  • World Be Free
  • Mafiosa
  • Tone Atlas
  • Steve Cook & Cyph

Best Americana

  • Molly and the Badly Bent Bluegrass Boys
  • Rabbit in the Rye
  • The Brothers MacRae
  • John Cadley
  • Early Bird Trio

Best Alternative

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  • Mountains & Valleys
  • Trespassers
  • The Action!
  • Professional Victims
  • Department

Best Rock

  • Lonesome Crow
  • The Golden Novak Band
  • Chris Eves
  • Honor Bright
  • Joe Whiting

Best Hard Rock

  • One Step From Falling
  • Terror Byte
  • Fall of Humanity
  • Wagner 3000
  • After Earth

Best Other Style

  • Nick and Noah
  • The AdVentures
  • Yazell/Richardson
  • Jason Kessler
  • Josh Dekaney

Jim Houle - Street Rock Mafia - Westcott w- Fishbone-18

Best Jam Band

  • The Lightkeepers
  • Jam Factor
  • Barroom Philosophers

Best Folk

  • Austine MacRae
  • Greg Pier
  • Allison and Zoe
  • Colleen Kattau
  • Gina Holsopple


SAMMY awards are given based on the judgment of submissions sent by mail to the SAMMYS Board by musicians in Syracuse and the surrounding area.

An independent panel of judges, led by James Abbott, review the submissions and make their selections based on their merit and their genre.

The SAMMYS Hall of Fame Induction will be Thursday, March 3, upstairs at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased in advance by mailing payment to SAMMY, P.O. Box 11196, Syracuse, NY 13218.

Tickets for the Awards Show on Friday March 5, at the Palace Theater in Eastwood are available through the SAMMYS website.

The people’s choice online voting is now open. Vote once every day at Vote for your local artist or band, venue to see live music and local festival or music series.

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