Jazz: Dick Guyer
JOSEPH P. SPERENO HALL OF FAME AWARD
Frostbit Blue is:
Nick Gravelding (guitar/lead vocals)
Mike Place (keys/guitar/lead vocals)
Tom McCaffrey (guitar/vocals)
John Bletch (drums/percussion)
Benny Fiacco (bass)
The Earliest Years:
Binghamton native Nick Gravelding started Frostbit Blue as a college band at SUNY Oswego in 1987.
As the band evolved in the late 80s, Oswego “townie” musicians infiltrated the Blue ranks. An early version of FBB consisting of Gravelding, Bletch, and musician extraordinaire Chris Ellerd (guitar/bass/vocals) had earned great popularity with the SUNY Oswego crowd into the early 90s.
With the departure of Ellerd in 1992, Bletch was responsible for bringing in McCaffrey, Smith and Place – finalizing what is considered to be the “classic” FBB lineup that would remain unchanged for almost a decade.
“Just What The Doctor Ordered” 1999
Syracuse Area Music Awards:
Frostbit Blue has been honored with two SAMMYs:
Best Rock Band
Best Rock Vocalist (Gravelding)
Songs from these discs were chosen for use on several nationally syndicated television shows including these two fan favorites:
“Party of Five”
FBB has opened for national acts numerous times including:
Warren Haynes/Government Mule
Kenny Wayne Sheppard
Blue Oyster Cult
FBB was invited to be the very first opening act at Woodstock ’99 in Rome NY. The band received national press exposure including MTV and a CBS News interview by Connie Chung with Mike Place.
Long Live “The King”:
FBB suffered a huge tragedy when Tim Smith (a.k.a. The Wease, The King, King Flav, et. al.) eventually lost his 10-year battle with melanoma cancer in 2002. Tim's impact on the band was immeasurable, his absence is deeply felt to this day - he will always be missed...Long Live The "King"!
To help insure that the band would go on in his stead, Tim hand-picked his own replacement - longtime friend and Binghamton bassist Benny Fiacco was asked to step into the "King's" shoes.
Through the years, there have been several lineups that have carried the Frostbit Blue name. Other musicians that have been a part of the Frostbit family include:
John Scott Hoey
Photo: Jim Thomas
*Perry was an accomplished tenor guitar (4 string) player.
*He played guitar and sang in early local television (late 40’s early 50’s) in Saginaw, MI.
*He was in local theatre in the late 40’s performing musicals in Saginaw, MI at the Pitt and Balcony Theater under the direction of Gene Roddenberry for a few of the productions. Later, Gene became the creator of the original Star Trek TV series.
*He brought Barbershop Harmony to Oswego, NY in the mid 60’s by being the founder, and charter president of the Oswego Snowbelters Chorus. It is still an active and viable chorus to this day.
*He frequently gathered his entire family together to sing old time tunes, thus instilling a musical interest in each of this four children
*Graduated in 1976 with a BA in Music Education.
*Played trombone with the Harry James Orchestra upon graduation.
*Toured and performed guitar & vocals with:
1. Del Shannon as musical director (Runaway)
2. The Coasters (Charlie Brown)
3. The Marvelettes (Please Mr. Postman)
4. Dee Dee Sharpe (Mashed Potato)
5. Bobby Lewis (Tossin' and Turnin’)
*Sang baritone in ‘Phoenix’, the Senecaland District Champion Barbershop Quartet in 1998.
*Currently singing baritone in ‘Upstate Harmonizers’ Chorus. Ranked 27th in the world, and #1 in the NE USA.
*Sang in International Barbershop Competition every year for the last 5 years in such locations as:
Toronto, Ontario CA
Las Vegas, NE
*Scheduled to perform in Las Vegas again on July 7th, 2017 in front of 6000+ audience members.
My musical history started when I wa a very young boy. When I was around ten years old, I started playing the harmonica. I always had a love for country music. I hade a friend who played guitar and we used to play together. We went up to the corner bar (Joe Doyl's), and asked if we could play there. They said sure, and we played for about an hour. They passed a hat and we made $5.00. Wow! We were rich!
I started begging my mother for a guitar. She gave in and I got my first flattop guitar for $6.50 at Sears-Robuck. My friend taught me how to tune it and simple cords so I could sing my songs. I was thirteen years old then, and as time went by, I got better.
When I was in fourth grade, the music teacher found out I had a good singing voice. She paired me with a girl to harmonize. We used to sing in all the school plays.
When I was 17, I got drafted into the army (WWII). I was sent to Georgia. While on pass, I saw a flattop guitar in a pawn shop window. I bought it for $18.00.
I used to sit in front of the barracks and play and sing. I still had my harmonica, and a fellow soldier played banjo. People were surprised that a "Yankee" could yodel. I told me, "Us Yankees liked country music too!".
That guitar went all through the war with me. We would strap it to the gun and the guys took good care of it. Wherever we were I used my pocketknife and carved the place and date somewhere on that guitar. The wars history was on that guitar.
When the war ended, while celebrating with other soldiers someone smashed my guitar. I was sent on a five day leave to Switzerland. I was on the balcony of the hotel, playing, singing, and yodeling. Someone in a far off mountain started yodeling back. The people on the ground were clapping and yelling. It was quite a thrill for me. I got discharged from the army in January of 1946.
I always loved making music, so I joined a country band and was the lead singer. After a while I joined my own band. In between this I married and had five children. We played all around Oswego and Cayuga counties. I played a lot at Kasoge Lake, where we had a camp. We would have jamborees at the hotel on Sundays. It was there that I met Duke Dixon. He was a well known tv and radio personality. I got to play with him on the radio. This was back in the late 50's, early 60's.
Some of the places we played a lot were Lysander Hotel (7.5 years), Brick Hotel (in Fulton), and Rosie's (in Granby). We played at many parties and weddings all over.
I did a radio commercial for Leon Shapiro Motor's, back in the late 60's, where I worked for thirty-six years.
I quit playing out with the band in the early 70's. Ever once in a while we would still get together. My love of music passed down to my son, and now my grandsons.
Now that I'm 94 years old, I still get out there three times a week to play. A bunch of us old-timers get together to jam. Monday at the Hannibal American Legion (with Jim Yeager), Bullhead Point (in Fulton) on Wednesdays, and the Parish Fire barn (with Jim).
People tell me they enjoy my signing, and that makes me feel good and kind of strong.
Bill Favata (deceased)
Jim Thompson (deceased)
The group was formed in 1971 and consisted of Bill Favata (lead vocals/ guitar), Jim Yeager (lead guitar/ vocals), Jim Thompson (drums), and Al Thompson (bass guitar).
Members of the group grew up in Oswego, New York and since a very early age shared many of the same interest, playing music and attending the same schools.
Since forming the group in 1971, playing regularly in many different venues throughout the eastern US and having competed in several group competitions and successfully taking top honors. The largest being in April of 1973 (The Eastern States Country Music, Inc.) where the group took 1st place in the regionals and to go on to capture the finals. There they met Carl Strube Management and was introduced to the recording field and successfully recorded several songs.
Unfortunately in 1977, an accident took the life of Bill Favata. Trying to keep it together after many attempts we couldn't go on.
Back in the early days of Rock ‘n Roll, local radio stations did not play much of it, since it was considered raucous and too teen oriented. If you lived in Oswego, your only outlet to hear rock ’n roll was to tune to a Syracuse station, WNDR, at 1260 on the dial. That all changed in 1962, when a young would be disc jockey named John (‘Jack”) Sullivan, convinced the Manager of WOSC , 1300 AM radio, to allow him to play teen music on Saturday mornings. He was 14 years old at the time, and his program was named “The Live 25 in Hi Fi Jive”. It aired from 10-12 on Saturdaymornings. The top 25 record list was posted each week in the window of Fred’s Hi Fi on West Bridge St., near the theatre (since torn down).
He went on to become a regular disc jockey throughout his high school and college years, and in college ran a Saturday afternoon show called “On Campus”, with features about SUNY Oswego, and modern music. He interviewed local artists, and played local bands when available. He also emceed many local events featuring local rock ‘n roll bands, so he could fairly be called an Oswego Rock and Roll pioneer.
Sullivan went on to distinguish himself in other ways, including becoming an attorney, and Mayor of Oswego (1988-91), where he and his wife initiated Harborfest, and placed emphasis on the music of local artists. They even had a “Bring ‘em Home concert “ during the second year of Harborfest, which featured musicians from all over the country with Oswego roots, who came home to play and entertain the local crowds, enthusiastically. While music has always been an important part of his life, he didn’t stop there. He went on to build a successful law practice and a sideline political career which spanned four decades.
After serving as Mayor, Sullivan became Co-Chair of the NYS Democratic party in 1995, and later an Assistant Attorney General, and ultimately retired as Deputy Medicaid Inspector General in Albany. He later chaired the Upstate re-election effort of Governor Andrew Cuomo, and became affiliated with a government reform group called EffectiveNY.org. He began to write columns which were published in Albany and NYC newspapers, and also published a column about local Oswego leading lights, called “Forks in the Road”, for the Palladium Times. He has since authored two books, “Forks in the Road” (2015), and a new Memoir/autobiography “Pee Not your pants!-Memoirs of a small town Mayor with big time ideas”, published in May of 2017. He is being inducted into the Oswego Music Hall of Fame in October 2017.
The next time you hear the ceremonial trumpets at Torchlight or Commencement, you can thank Hugh Burritt.
Burritt, the former chair of the Music Department, is responsible for bringing music to SUNY Oswego ceremonies. The herald trumpets that play during public ceremonies are the original ones he bought 40 years ago.
Initially, the trumpets were only used for graduation. They were then added to Commencement Torchlight in May, and later used during Welcoming Torchlight in the fall.
“These ceremonial trumpets you don’t just go downtown and buy,” Burritt said. “I had a dealer I did business with. He was able to get a hold of these horns for me.”
Before Burritt spent 20 years with the music faculty at SUNY Oswego, he taught band to hundreds of children in the Oswego City School District. One of those students, Stan Gosek, would succeed Burritt as chair of the music department.
Burritt taught by day and played at night. Burritt’s talent with the trumpet led to acceptance to the elite Julliard School, and later to gigs with Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra.
Burritt had a love for jazz and played weekly gigs at the Three Rivers Inn in Phoenix, N.Y., during the 1950s and early ’60s. He also arranged for musicians to back up the top-shelf singers.
“We put together the band,” Burritt said. “They would tell us how many musicians they wanted. They all had their own books they carried around. We’d get the bands together and play these shows that would run for a week and a half.”
Burritt came to SUNY Oswego in 1968 to teach brass and basic music theory. He quickly brought his love for jazz to the department, creating the Jazz Lab Band, which the next year became Solid State.
Solid State performed popular shows downstairs at Hewitt Union in a venue called the Rathskeller. Designed and built by students, the Rathskeller included multiple seating levels, professional-grade stage and sound, murals and a bar.
Burritt also collaborated with the late Jim Soluri, who directed Oswego’s Statesingers. The two groups thrilled audiences for years by performing original arrangements of rock, jazz, gospel and show tunes.
Burritt made lifelong friendships at Oswego, perhaps most importantly his wife, Grace Mowatt, whom he met through working on the public ceremonies committee. Grace taught physical education and was the women’s swimming and diving coach.
Together, they endowed a scholarship. The Hugh and Grace Mowatt Burritt Scholarship goes to a student who is a member of a music performance organization on campus or to a wellness management major, a health science minor or a student involved in a campus organization or team, club or intramural sports.
The Burritts stay in touch with many former students, and their hope was that the scholarship would help future Oswego students to afford college. The relationships with people made the time at Oswego special, Hugh said.
“That’s my fondest memory,” Burritt said. “The students, the musicians, the concerts we put together. We had some pretty thrilling events.”
-Edwin Acevedo M’09
Permission granted by: Margaret Spillett
Hugh Burritt, City Band Concert @ City Hall
A New Set of Threads, Solid State
Trumpet solo, Hugh Burritt
1950-High School Years 16 yrs. old my first group: Mark Murphy (vocals), Richard “Fibber” Curtiss (drums) & myself (tenor sax)
1951 17 yrs. old played for Jazz clubs in Syracuse, NY
1952-U.S.A.F. in Reno NV 18 yrs. old while enlisted in the U.S.A.F in Reno, NV played in their band; a 15 pc band w/ a vocalist. Also played with a 5 pc band for small clubs in the Reno, NV area During this time also had opportunities to play with Big Bands; Count Basie, John Long & Charlie Spevak
1953-stationed in Korea during Korean War Landed in Korea on Christmas Day 1953 and there 10 months until war ended Played in the U.S.A.F band for the troops when not on duty guarding troops.
1970-for 30 yrs. played w/ a variety of groups;
*Eddie Goodness Quartet
*Mickey Vindette’s Goodtime Band (last 10 yrs.)
*Joe Cortini Sr.
*Joe Cortini Jr.
Including various local groups from: *Oswego (Dr. Boogie)
*Turning Stone w/ Jerry Coli
Newest Group 2017: Sweet Soul Project
Dave Rebeor, deceased (lead guitar)
Ray Smith (bass)
Billy Cook, deceased (lead vocalist/ guitar)
Kenny Germain, deceased (sax)
Jack Henderson (drums)
Gary Illingworth, deceased (piano)
Billy and The Barons were formed in 1960, featuring Billy Cook as lead singer and rhythm guitar. Gary Illingworth, piano and vocals, Dave Rebeor, lead guitar, Ray Smith, bass guitar and vocals, Ken Germain, tenor sax and Jack Henderson, drums. The band was fronted by, Ray Smith.
The band played in Oswego, for high school dances, at various venues, including Christ Church, St. Joseph’s Hall, OHS gymnasium and others. The band enjoyed a successful summer at Sylvan Beach and playing weekends at the Fishnet Inn.
One event Billy and The Barons played at was the “Hollywood Premiere”, a variety show staged at the Oswego Theatre sponsored by D.G. Sorority.
In 1960 or 61 radio station WSGO went on the air with a studio at Hotel Pontiac, Oswego. Owner, Clifford Harris, decided to have the band perform live on air, at a weekly dance party from the Christal Ballroom at Hotel Pontiac. Local teenagers were in attendance to dance. The program was sponsored by, Coca Cola. It ran for two or three weeks until union troubles forced it’s cancellation.
In 1961 the band participated in a “Battle of the Bands Contest”, hosted by WNDR DJ “Dandy Dan Leonard” at 3 Rivers Inn. The contest was judged by celebrities, Bobby Comstock, Connie Francis, and Stan Celest. It ended in a tie between Billy and The Baron’s, and a band from S.U.. Both bands were awarded a session at Ripposo Recording Studios, in Syracuse, and a KISS from Connie Francis. They chose two songs written by Billy “Thinkin Bout You” and “Return Romance”. They were issued 45 RPM demo discs.
Later that year, the band recorded a second demo at a Rochester studio. This time they chose two instrumentals. A bluesy rendition of the old standard, “I Love Paris” featuring Ken Germain on sax and “Twistin with Josh”. The demos were played on the air at WNDR and by John Sullivan, who had a DJ show at WSGO. Neither of the records were ever published.
The band broke up sometime in 1962. Billy Cook died tragically of heart problems, in September of 1970. Both Dave Rebeor and Ken Germain passed away in 1997. Gary Illingworth died in 2013.
Billy & The Barrons
When I was 6 or 7 years old, I remember getting in trouble a lot for touching my mom's guitar. By the time I was 10, I had learned some guitar from my Aunt Nancy, who played in a country band.
In 4th grade, I joined a chorus and band and made All- County chorus in 6th and 7th grade. In 8th grade, I decided to drop band and joined "The Black Knights", marching with them for five years.
During high school, I took some music theory classes and was in a couple of bands. I always set up and ran the PA systems. I picked up on the sound systems, I think, from my Uncle Redd. I helped him move equipment for his bands, "The InnKeepers" and "Equinox".
In 1979, I joined the Navy and found my way to the ship's rock band, again the PA system was my job.
I came back to Oswego in 1982 and worked as a Light Tech for Sneaker Star. I also learned more about the PA system.
By 1985, I had given up the thought of a music career, got a construction job, moved to Philadelphia, and was married in 1986. A friend found me a crew job and I worked for "Pink Floyd"! Wow, it was then that I knew what I wanted to do.
The recession brought us back home to Oswego, in November of 1990. Chris Ellerd called me in January of 1991 and asked if I wanted to help move the PA system gear and run it. Assuring me that he would teach me what I needed to know. That band was Frostbit Blue, and so it begins.
It's twenty- six years later and I look at all I've done. There's been 500 plus different bands, 1,000 plus shows. It's hard work and long hours but I wouldn't change a thing. It's the reason I'm here, I still get the same feeling I always got.
Thanks to all the bands, venues, and people I've met. I got to work with lots of great musicians, some, pretty well known. I've traveled up and down the East Coast and far into the Midwest with Toys in the Attic, Blind Man Sun, Beatlemania NOW, Hotel California, The Drifters, Joey Dee and the Starliters, Peter Frampton and locally with Frostbit Blue, Johnny Vegas, Doc Apple, Moe, Dr. Boogie, Off the Reservation, Pegasus, Critics. What fun I've had being a part of great music for almost three decades.
Let the music play!
Tom Ciappa was born at six foot two inches tall and 185 pounds. Over the years gravity and food have not been kind to his stature, Vertically or Horizontally. This has never prohibited from having a song running continuously in his life. From singing with numerous bands in Oswego from The Honeymooners , Fission, Live Lobsters, or The Cortini Brothers to singing Nationally with ACME VOCALS A Cappella group, singing has always been part of his life. When Tom isn’t singing he can usually be found speaking alone in his basement through a microphone and hoping someone on the other end will hear and hire him. Tom has been lucky to make his livelihood using his voice since 1991 doing voiceover work. If you listen hard you can hear him trying to get you buy One A Day Vitamins, Dominos Pizza and other products that will make your life better than you ever thought it could be. If you need your table cleared just let him know and he’ll get to it after he’s done singing.