Saratoga Springs

Capital Region Eddies Music Hall of Fame to induct its biggest class yet

Marty Wendell is pictured early in his career. Inset: Bob Eberly (top) and Ray Eberle. (photos provided)

Marty Wendell is pictured early in his career. Inset: Bob Eberly (top) and Ray Eberle. (photos provided)

A pair of Mechanicville brothers who led separate bands in the World War II era that repeatedly appeared on the music charts, and a North Country musician who has toured the U.S. and recorded numerous albums throughout a 56-year career, are among those in the third class to be inducted into the Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Hall of Fame at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 27, at Universal Preservation Hall.

The class includes the Big Band vocalists and brothers Bob Eberly and Ray Eberle; country musician Marty Wendell; the rock band The Figgs, radio disc jockey Jim Barrett, jazz band leader Skip Parsons, Cuban and African percussionist and educator Eddie Ade Knowles; and Old Songs founders Kay (Andy) and Bill Spence.

The ceremony will feature live musical performances and tributes to the inductees. Scheduled to perform are artists playing the inductees’ music: Dylan Perillo; Sean Wendell; Brown Liquor Social Club featuring Chris Dollard and J Yager; and Peter Pashoukos and Greg Greene (of the band Perennial). Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 day of show.

“This is our biggest class so far and it brings the total number of inductees to 15,” said Jim Murphy, co-founder and co-producer. “Judges have nominated nearly 100 individuals and groups since we started the process so there is no end in sight to celebrating our local music scene as more bands and individuals enter eligibility.”

The inductees are:

Bob Eberly — who changed the spelling of his last name Eberle when he began singing professionally — was hired by the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra after winning an amateur hour contest on Fred Allen’s radio show and shortly before Tommy Dorsey left the band to form his own group. He stayed with Jimmy Dorsey and in the early 1940s the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra scored a string of Billboard hits featuring Eberly and Helen O’Connell. He also recorded the original version of “I’m Glad There Is You” in 1942 for Dorsey’s orchestra that has become a jazz and pop standard. Bob’s younger brother, Ray Eberle, joined the Glen Miller orchestra in 1938, and recorded several hits and songs for that group until 1943. After a brief stint with Gene Krupa’s band, he began a long solo career. From 1940-43 he was a finalist on Billboard’s “College Poll” for male vocalist; he also appeared in several movies in the early 1940s and on several television variety shows in the 1950s and 1960s. The brothers are Mechanicville natives.
Jim Barrett’s local music show “Kaleidoscope” enters its 55th year on the air this fall. The show was founded in 1967 on Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s college station, WRPI, and later moved to Albany Broadcasting, and then to WVCR-FM and later WAIX-FM 106.1.
Originally known as The Sonic Undertones, The Figgs have recorded 13 studio albums and multiple EPs, live albums, compilations and singles. The Saratoga-based band served as the backing band for Graham Parker on and off since 1996 and also toured with Tommy Stinson of The Replacements. Founded in Saratoga Springs in 1987, the original lineup of Mike Gent (guitar), Pete Donnelly (bass), and Guy Lyons (drums/guitar) all went to high school together. Pete Hays (drums) later joined the band.
Eddie Ade Knowles was a pillar of African and Caribbean music in the Capital Region from when he joined Rensselaer Polytechnic institute in 1977 until his death in 2020; there he held positions as dean of students, vice president for student life and professor of practice in the Arts and Humanities. An accomplished musician with 50 years of performance, residency, workshop and recording credits as a percussionist, his artistic focus was on African, Afro-Cuban, and New World music and dance. He served many years as board officer and chair of the music program of Troy Music Hall. In 2004, he founded Ensemble Congeros, a group dedicated to the study and performance of Afro-Cuban, African, and New World percussion.
Albany native Skip Parsons and his Skip Parsons Riverboat Jazz Band have been staples on the Capital Region jazz scene since 1956 and played with a long list of notables. Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan issued an Official Proclamation declaring Sept. 7, 2019, as “Skip Parsons Riverboat Jazz Band Day.”
In 1977, Kay (Andy) Spence and the late Bill Spence and a few like-minded individuals organized and created Old Songs. Inc., a not-for-profit organization in Voorheesville dedicated to keeping traditional music and dance alive through the presentation of festivals, concerts, dances, and educational programs. Bill, who passed away in 2019, was a prolific photographer and musician, recording engineer and proprietor of the Front Hall music label. He formed a skiffle band while in high school in Iowa City, Iowa, and played for community organizations and dances. He later discovered the hammered dulcimer which soon led him to form a string band..
Ticonderoga native Marty Wendell, while in college, met a New York talent agent who introduced him to Johnny Cash. In the mid-1960s he ventured into New York’s Greenwich Village with his guitar and was discovered by a producer; a subsequent recording session resulted in his first record “Hey, Hey Mama,” which sold over 10,000 copies. In August 1968, on the strength of that song, he was booked as an opening act for Johnny Cash and his troupe that included The Carter Family, Carl Perkins, and the Statler Brothers. Marty has been touring and recording ever since.

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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