Eddies Hall of Fame Hall of Fame to Welcome Fifth Group of Area Musical Giants
Honorees Include Performers, Scene Stalwarts, Educators
On March 27, the Eddies Hall of Fame will induct eight significant contributors to the area music scene, comprising the fifth group of honorees.
In a gathering at Universal Preservation Hall (25 Washington St., Saratoga Springs) that evening, live performances, video presentations and introductory speeches will honor Hall of Fame selections. Each will also be depicted in wall plaques on display at the Hall. A part of the Proctors Collaborative, Universal Preservation Hall opened in February 2020 with a performance by country singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash.
The eight new members of the Eddies Hall of Fame will be honored for “the accomplishments of these men and women and what they represent,” said Jim Murphy, marketing and publicity director of the Collaborative and founding producer of the Eddies Music Hall of Fame. Murphy explained, “Their stories represent an amazing cross-section of…the vital music scene in the Capital Region.”
Martin Benjamin, a visual arts professor at Schenectady’s Union College, has photographed a great number and range of performers on stages across the region and beyond. His fine-arts work has graced galleries in the U.S., Europe and Asia, but he’s best known for images of performers published in national print and television productions, everywhere from Metroland to the New York Times, Rolling Stone and People.
Mike Campese inspires as both guitarist onstage and teacher-columnist in such publications as Guitar World and Guitar Player. Member of many performing ensembles including the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, he has also released 11 albums under his own name. Albany-born, trained at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, Campese lives and works in the Capital Region and California.
Felicia Collins grew up in Albany’s Arbor Hill, taught herself to play at age 12 on a pawn-shop guitar and went national in Paul Schaffer’s World’s Most Dangerous Band on “Late Night with David Letterman” (1993-2015) on CBS-TV. She has also toured and recorded with artists including Nile Rodgers, George Clinton, Aretha Franklin, Cindy Lauper, Madonna, the Thompson Twins and others. She’s led her own bands, recorded three albums and played Music Haven in Schenectady’s Central Park.
Wanda Fischer, host since 1982 of “The Hudson River Sampler” on Saturday nights on WAMC-FM, introduces listeners to folk music, bluegrass, and blues music. She celebrated her anniversary on air last fall with an all-star concert, in which she also sang – an accomplished singer-songwriter, herself – after being inducted into the Folk Alliance International’s Folk DJ Hall of Fame in 2019.
George Frayne, better known as Commander Cody, pioneered a rambunctious 1960s blend of rock, country and boogie shuffles that opened doors wide for artists hybridizing musical genres ever since. With his Lost Planet Airmen, which featured John Tichy, honored below, Frayne scored several Top 10 hits and a live album Rolling Stone ranked as one of the top 100 albums of all time. Moving to Saratoga Springs in 1990, Frayne formed a new batch of Airmen and worked as a visual artist until his death in 2021.
Smokey Greene has built a kaleidoscopic, decades-long career as country and bluegrass singer, banjo, guitar, mandolin and fiddle player; also music club owner, DJ and festival organizer. He led the 1970s Green Mountain Boys and more recently a family band with sons Arlin and Scott. A one-man Nashville-like music industry all by himself, Vermont-born Greene has performed with nearly every country, bluegrass or roots music artist across the region.
Sister Mary Anne Nelson, CSJ, pioneered professional music education as founder and leading light of the Music Industry program at The College of St. Rose in Albany for nearly half a century. Before retiring in 2021, she introduced generations of players and singers, engineers and producers to the techniques and technology for making, recording, broadcasting, presenting and representing music and musicians. Her innovations have won national notice in Billboard and other publications.
John Tichy played guitar in Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen from 1967 to 1976, recording seven albums and touring constantly. Formed in Ann Arbor, where Tichy earned his Ph.D., the band moved to Berkley, California before hitting the road. After the original Airmen disbanded, Tichy continued his academic career, heading the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy. And he mentored his guitarist son Graham while continuing to perform actively.
On March 27, the Hall of Fame evening begins at 6 p.m. with a social hour, followed by the induction ceremony at 7 p.m. Admission is $50; tickets are available at universalpreservationhall.org.
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