14 Years Ago: The Inaugural Induction of the Capital Area Music Association Hall of Fame

There were plenty of great things happening on the mid-’90s Albany music scene, and the Capital Area Music Association was one of them. Organized in the spring of 1995 by various local musicians and concert promoters, the idea behind the non-profit arts organization was to promote all styles of music on the Capital Region scene and to help garner national recognition for the region as an important center of live and recorded music.

A pie-in-the-sky pipe dream? Perhaps.

But it was – and remains – a good idea, and it might have worked, too, if not for the fact that less than a year after its formation, CAMA’s president Lou Fournier was forced to resign by the board of directors after numerous local musicians claimed that he bilked them out of substantial amounts of money through his public relations consulting firm, Second Nature Communications.

A fledgling arts organization simply can’t recover from a blow like that. And while CAMA managed to hold on for several more months after the controversy, by the end of 1996, it had dissolved.

But not before establishing the CAMA Hall of Fame, which held its inaugural induction ceremony on October 20, 1995 at The Egg in Albany.

There were a dozen nominees for the inaugural induction, including:

Eddie Angel, retro-twang guitarist with such bands as Los Straitjackets, the Rockin’ Dakotas, the Planet Rockers, Jeannie Smith & the Hurricanes, more
Blotto, pop-rock parodyists (“I Wanna Be a Lifeguard,” “Metal Head”) and early MTV stars of the early ’80s
Nick Brignola, Grammy nominated baritone sax giant of the jazz world
John Carabella, composer and founder of the Albany Symphony Orchestra
The Figgs, pop-rockers from Saratoga Springs with several punchy major label albums to their credit
Lonesome Val Haynes, lead vocalist with early ’80s indie-rock faves, the Units/Fear of Strangers
Happy Rhodes, haunting singer-songwriter and ambient/new age music favorite
Lee Shaw, the piano queen of the Capital Region’s jazz scene
Charlene Shortsleeve, manager of such pivital alt-rock nightclubs as 288 Lark, Duck Soup and QE2
Matt Smith, versatile guitar master with E.B. Jeb, the Matt Smith Band
Lena Spencer, founder, owner and manager of venerable Saratoga Springs coffeehouse Caffe Lena
Ernie Williams, veteran blues musician and the catalyst for the Capital Region’s blues scene revival

CAMA’s plan was to induct the top five vote-getters, but because of a tie in the voting, there were actually six inductees for that first ceremony.

Can you name them?

We’ll print the answers on Friday right here at Nippertown.com.

  1. martyn says

    Hmm I thought Vinnie Birbiglia was on that list?

  2. Andrew Gregory says

    I look forward to Friday’s answers (I have my suspicions). I think the controversy created a big rift & much ill will in the local music scene. But it’s been in recovery, and I think a Capital Area Music Association has a chance once again.

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