Greg Spencer threw a party to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the union of the record label he started from his home in Baldwinsville and a pretty impressive band from the city of Syracuse, and the Syracuse showed up to party in a big way Sunday night at The Palace Theatre on James Street.
“My show started a little before the Kingsnakes did,” veteran radio host Dave Frisina said to begin the night from the stage, “and I’ve been a fan ever since.”
So, too, were the 600 or so blues lovers who turned out on the cool and almost-snowy between-Christmas-and-New Year’s evening to hear the cherished music of the Syracuse band that helped Spencer’s Blue Wave Records label gain traction back then, selling vinyl as they toured backing national act John Lee Hooker around the world.
The core of the Kingsnakes, harp blower and vocalist Pete McMahon, guitarist and singer Terry Mulhauser and keyboard player Jerry Neely, owned the stage once more, delivering to their fans the depth and range of blues that lifted them in esteem three in esteem then and has fueled a reunion at the New York State Blues Festival in Clinton Square this past summer and again this winter’s night.
Steven T. Winston and Mark Tiffault “kicked it up” on bass and drums, as Mulhauser proclaimed at one point. Veteran Doyle, who helped in the studio back the day, added his wide and talented touch on keys and guitar, and Syracuse horn players Joe Carello and Frank Grosso punched up the party in the second set.
Blue Wave Records expanded from vinyl to CDs, of course, and Spencer brought both media to sell in the lobby.
He also grew his Blue Wave Records catalog to include Central New York and national artists, and there the product was on fine display.
Kim Simmonds, Wales guitar star who grew up on that side of the pond where started the legendary blues band Savoy Brown but has lived some 30 miles north of Syracuse in Oswego County and been a friend and colleague of Spencer’s for a quarter-century now, was in The Palace for the celebration, too.
The sense of community ran deep. McMahon made sure to mention Syracuse-area players important to he and the band and music fans who’ve passed, Gary Goal and Kelly James, as well as international stars who left our world this year and giving so much, B.B. King and Johnny Winter.
Here’s a video I shot with my iPhone 6 of The Kingsnakes performing If You Can’t Get What You Want.
What music were you listening to 30 years ago? What musicians who’ve passed have you been listening to lately, and why? Which is your favorite band that you consider hometown, and why?