NFMHOF Inducts First Class

On October 15 the newly formed Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame held their inaugural induction ceremonies at the LaSalle Yacht Club in Niagara Falls, New York.


The afternoon’s festivities began with a reception. Seventeen year old Michael Sanders provided the entertainment as the guests arrived.


In a standing room only event, Mark Dixon served as the master of ceremonies. NFMHOF President Peter Paonessa welcomed the crowd and got the events started.

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Wishing to honour those musicians who have paved the way for generations to come, Peter Paonessa and NFMHOF Vice President Lew Custode presented the posthumous inductees…

World War II veteran,Army Air Force band leader, and saxophone player John Barbera.

Entertainer and multi instrumentalist Joe Campese

Band leader and drummer Samuel Cassano.

Army National Guard veteran, Army Band member, and woodwind player Ray Corsaro.

Music store owner and multi instrumentalist Jerry D’Amico. D’Amico also owned a recording studio where award winning artists Spyro Gyra and Shelia E. recorded some of their music.

Trombone player and backup singer John Davies

Drummer Donald Duffy was also the first resident of Niagara Falls to receive a heart transplant.

Guitar virtuoso and performer Rick Fiore.

Army veteran, restaurateur, and concert promoter Ed Ghougasian.

Guitar player and Las Vegas entertainer Emilio. Giandomenico. The Italian born performer portrayed a Venetian singer in the film “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Dangerous”.

World War II Army veteran and trumpet player Joseph A. Leo. While in the Army, Leo performed in the U.S. Air Force Band under the direction of Glen Miller.

Big Band leader and trumpet player Joe Mangione

Army veteran and guitar player George “Big Man” McCray.

Piano and organ player and teacher Clarence Way

Banjo and string player John Morell. He was also a restaurateur.

Saxophone player and multi instrumentalist Charles “Chu” Nero. Also a deeply religious man, Nero shared his love of God with every note he played.

Playing the trumpet since he was four years old, Sal Paonessa was a part of the band who played for Elvis Presley when the King made his Buffalo debut in 1956

Guitar player, teacher, and songwriter Angelo Pilato

World War II Army veteran, guitar player, drummer, and band leader Harold “Hal” Palumbo.

Percussionist, substitute Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra percussionist, and liquor store owner Eli Saks

Violinist, orchestra member, and conductor Harold Schatz.

Patriarch of a musical family and bass player Anthony Scibilia.

Grocery store owner and piano player Anthony Surace. He also shared the stage with Bob Seger when the rocker performed at the Convention center in Niagara Falls.

String player and guitar virtuoso Tommy Tedesco is credited with having appeared on thousands of recordings and soundtracks.

And Singer, drummer, and band leader Chuck Toarmino.

Niagara Falls entertainer and Grammy Award nominated artist Christina Custode performed music from her newest album “From Here”.

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Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster spoke to the crowd on his pride for the new Hall of Fame and the musicians who have been inducted. The Mayor had proclamations for each Hall of Fame inductee.


The first of the current Hall of Fame inductees was keyboard player Bobby Jones who is also a member of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. Throughout his career, Jones has worked with dozens of top artists including Sammy Davis Jr, Doc Severenson, and Paul Anka. Jones played a piece by Thelonius Monk and The Beatles.


Bass player and band creator Willie Favero currently makes his home in Houston and send a video message of thanks.


Tom Gariano formed his first band when he was only 12 years old and the guitar player has been playing with one band or another ever since. Gariano performed the Looking Glass Hit “Brandy” and the Eddie Money song “Two Tickets to Paradise”.


Guitarist Jamie Holka picked up his first guitar at age 14 and joined his first band at 16. He has been playing ever since including the rock band Captain Beyond. In his acceptance speech, Holka said that he shouldn’t be a part of the class. Forhis performance, Holka played “Time After Time” and “One”.


Since playing in his first band at 16, Bruce Wojick has been entertaining audience all over the country including sharing the stage with fellow western New York natives the Goo Goo Dolls, Alice Cooper, Heart, and the Marshall Tucker Band. Currently Bruce performs solo, with mate Jamie Holka, and as a part of the Tragically Hip tribute band Strictly Hip. Jamie Holka joined Wojick on stage for a performance of “A Day in the Life” and “What if God Was One of Us”.

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Guitarist Frank Grizanti is also a member of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. He performed an original song to finish out the inaugural Hall of Fame ceremonies.

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All photos by Sherrill Fulghum

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