Weekly Feature

2006-12-27 / Entertainment

Area blues band heads to Memphis


The Patti Parks Band, whose members are all Western New Yorkers, will head to Memphis to compete in an international competition with over 150 bands. The Patti Parks Band, whose members are all Western New Yorkers, will head to Memphis to compete in an international competition with over 150 bands. If you haven’t heard of the Patti Parks Band yet, then you certainly will in the coming months.

The band, whose members include residents of Amherst, Lancaster and North Tonawanda, are the winners of the Memphis Bound Competition 2006, sponsored by the Western New York Blues Society.

In February, the group will represent Buffalo in an international blues competition featuring about 150 bands on the famous Beale Street. The band also has a chance to have its CD played over satellite radio.

While members of the band are excited about their pending journey, they’re currently all about the business of getting to Memphis.

“We were given $1,000 by the Western New York Blues Society,” said Patti Parks, who is the band’s lead vocalist. “That won’t even cover the cost of the plane tickets for the band.”

But the band has a solution.

On Saturday, Jan. 6, the band will hold a fund-raiser at the Lafayette Tap Room, 391 Washington

St., in Buffalo, to help cover the costs of the trip.

The fund-raiser is part of Parks’ Push-n Blues movement, to make blues music more prominent in Western New York.

The event starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $13 presale and $15 at the door and cover the cost of food and entertainment. Bands include Billy McEwen, Rod Nickson, Donna Rose & Jimmy Wozniak, Mark Winsick, Jack Prybylski, 12 Pack Jack, Harvey & The Hurricanes, and Ashburys.

“There’s a movement to bring the blues to Western New York,” Parks said. She has designated the band’s performances in various bars, including Laughlin’s and the Lafayette Tap Room in Buffalo, Montrose Bar and Grill in Tonawanda and Red Garter Bar in Salamanca, as Push-n Blues venues.

The band will also be performing at the first Western New York Blues Festival, March 9 and 10 at the Creekside Grove in Cheektowaga.

Parks noted that the band will be opening for blues legends Kelly Hunt and Jim Thackery on the opening night of the festival.

Band members, who formed the group in the last year, have more than 200 years of experience as professional musicians and come from an array of occupations — from automotive experts to a rocket scientist.

Guy Nirelli, an Amherst resident who plays keyboards, noted that the varying interests of the band, both musically and professionally, have led the band to its sound and chemistry.

“We all love what we do,” he said. “We all love playing the blues and the stories that come from the blues. And they’re not all sad.”

Drummer Richard Rey, a former North Tonawanda resident, and bassist Bob Ambrusko, a current North Tonawanda resident, agreed.

“I think I speak for all of us when I say we all love the music,” said Ambrusko. “We’re not in it for the money — we’re making the same money that we made in the 60s.”

For more information about the Patti Parks Band, call 839-3399 or 465-0841 or visit the band’s Web site at www.pattiparksband.com. For more information on the

WNY Blues Festival in March or the WNY Blues Society, visit www. wnyblues. org.

e-mail: etaufa@beenews.com

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