SARATOGA SPRINGS — In recent years, the Capital District music scene has been recognized as among the most talented and vibrant communities in the country. But it was molded over decades of work by individuals, many of whom the Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Hall of Fame will recognize next month.
The Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Hall of Fame announced its 2022 class featuring eight legends of the local music scene — ambient music artist Sara Ayers; music promoter Greg Bell; the late Brooks Brown, founder of independent radio station WEQX; Michael Eck, a solo artist, member of several musical acts, a producer and music critic; the late Greg Haymes, founder of the publication Nippertown and lead vocalist of the Eddies Music Hall of Fame band Blotto; Grammy- and Academy Award-winning music producer Joel Moss; solo artist Rich Ortiz; and the Troy rock trio Super 400 — to be inducted during an induction ceremony at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 7 at Universal Preservation Hall.
“This class truly represents the breadth of the region’s music scene,” said Eddies Music Hall of Fame founder Jim Murphy. “In artists, we have everything from roots to rock to ambient music and on the industry side, a much-heralded music producer, two journalists, a radio station founder, and a promoter. Several of these individuals plied more than one trade within the music business.”
The Eddies Music Hall of Fame honors Capital District residents who have made outstanding contributions to, or significant impact on the evolution, development, and perpetuation of the music industry. These contributions can be national, regional, or local. Nominees must have been born in the Capital Region and/or have lived here and/or worked here professionally. As a rule, nominees must have been active in the music industry for a minimum of 20 years.
The 2022 Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Hall of Fame nominees:
Vocalist-composer Sara Ayers’ richly textured songs and sonic atmospheres ebb and flow from delicate and luminous lullabies to wall-of-sound banshee wails. “The songs I write are my way of examining and making sense of the world,” she says. The ambient artist has released eight works, appeared on more than a dozen compilations, and collaborated on more than a dozen recordings with other artists. Ayers husband Greg Haymes launched the online publication Nippertown in 2009.
With a partner, Greg Bell organized two Albany shows in the spring of 1992, kicking off a music promotion career that continues today. The Long Island native joined forces with Jeff Guthrie in 1993, forming Guthrie/Bell Productions; Guthrie left within a few years, but Bell continued with the name with “a nice ring to it.” His impact on Albany’s music scene is considerable; he has produced more than 2,500 shows and established the city as a major jam band tour stop. Music promotion was one of two careers; he also taught special education for 26 years.
Houston-native Brooks Brown moved to Manchester, VT in the late 1970s and began planning a station when he discovered the city lacked one. The 50,000-watt signal emanating from Equinox Mountain has broadcast new music to southern Vermont, New Hampshire, western Massachusetts and New York’s Capital Region since WEQX launched in November 1984. Brooks passed away in August 2013.
Albany’s Michael Eck has led many musical lives—performing songwriter; roots scholar; multi-instrumentalist working with Aimee Mann, Pete Seeger, Patti Smith and 10,000 Maniacs; serial band member, from the punk of The Plague to the folk of Ramblin Jug Stompers and Lost Radio Rounders; nationally recognized cultural critic and guitar brand editor; concert/radio/album producer; Caffe Lena board member; publicist; painter; bouncer; roadie; record store clerk and more.
A record producer, sound engineer and mixer, Joel Moss has been behind the boards on works by Little Richard, Ray Charles, The Beach Boys, Elton John, Johnny Cash and Tony Bennett, among many others. He engineered sound for over 200 movies and helped produce many Broadway cast albums. He is the recipient of an Academy Award, seven Grammys and two Emmy nominations. A 12-year-old Detroit folk prodigy in the late 1950s, he led the Hebrew folk quintet The Hi-Liters that played Caffe Lena in the early ’60s. He moved to Saratoga in 2002 and today is a broadcast sound and camera technician at Lena.
Greg Haymes was the front man and percussionist in 2020 Eddies Music Hall of Fame inductee Blotto and was a member of The Star Spangled Washboard Band and the Ramblin Jug Stompers. He also covered music extensively as a newspaper journalist, and with his wife Sara Ayers launched the online publication Nippertown in 2009. The Buffalo native was also an accomplished visual artist. He passed away in April 2019.
Rich Ortiz comes from a musical family; his father, Steve Jr. signed a record contract at age 21; other musicians in the extended family were featured in a 1971 PBS documentary. His is an acoustic solo act, playing six- and twelve-string guitar, harmonica, and pedal bass, while turning heads with dynamic vocals. He has released two albums and opened for Chicago, REO Speedwagon, Jeffrey Gaines, and others. When not performing, Ortiz is competing professionally in fishing tournaments.
Drummer Joe Daley, guitarist Kenny Hohman and bassist Lori Friday formed the Troy-based trio in 1996. Their self-titled debut was released on Island Records two years later and the band has since released five albums independently. They have widely toured in the U.S. and overseas; Troy’s mayor declared February 25 as ’Super 400 Day’. Hohman and Friday are married; they opened Troy Music Academy in 2011 and have scored music for many TV shows.