Here’s a rich blend of Buffalo’s architectural and jazz history. On September 18, 2013, Wednesday evening from 6-9pm Becky Davis, veteran jazz singer in Buffalo, along with her trio – Jimmy Calabrese on piano; Greg Piontek on bass and Tommy Kasparek on drums, will honor her mentor and friend Peggy Farrell. Peggy, Becky and a few select others will perform.
Becky: I’ve been performing in Buffalo for the past 20 years. In 1993 I was singing at the historic Colored Musicians Club on Michigan and Broadway when Peggy and her partner, the legendary pianist Al Tinney (lead image), were listening at the bar. Although I’d been a singer for years, I was new to the jazz scene. Peggy called me over and said: “Hey – you need to be singing girl. No-one else in Buffalo sounds like you. We all sound the same but you, you have your own voice.”
Peg invited me to sit in at her gigs and told me where to get my own gigs. She saw something in me that I didn’t see. She coached me on how to put a set list together, when to sing, when to only have the band play and how to get over the jitters. One evening Al, Peg and I were sitting at the Adam’s Mark hotel when Al said: “The two best singers in Buffalo are sitting right here at the table with me.” Wow! That really boosted my confidence and since then I’ve been singing and singing.
Peggy is a Buffalo jazz icon. A vocalist for years — As a young girl, Peg won a local talent contest. Later while working at the Statler Hotel Peg met Anne Fadale who insisted she try out for a talent show, which she won. With her $5 prize money, she promptly went out and bought a black taffeta dress for her gig which Anne helped her to land. She got an agent – and gigged. San Francisco, Greenwich Village. After a 20 year hiatus while raising her children and supporting herself (deceased husband) – she met Al Tinney at the Cloister one night. Her life changed. Music, gigs, an 18 year love affair. Peg and Al were everywhere – with a 5 year run at Fanny’s Supper Club in Amherst.
“Performing in front of a crowd is pretty damn fabulous” says Peggy. The first tune she recalls performing really well: Lullaby of Birdland. She describes her voice as a bit husky and June Christy influenced. Growing up in a musical family with radio playing – song books – and her mother constantly singing in the household – Peg was destined to become a singer. Her brother sang in a barbershop quartet and all her sisters sang as well. A member of the choir at St. Louis Cathedral on Main and Goodell, where Frank Scinta, the director, has taught her a great deal about music.
Although Peg is not a reader, Frank via tapes and rehearsals and ten years together – has taught her to sing the charts of the likes of Mozart. A dream come true would be to sing with the Duke Ellington Orchestra with Ella Fitzgerald in the audience! Lyrics are the story – and Peggy sings tunes where the lyrics are personal and intimate – coming through in her performances.
While in the 8th decade of life – Peg still works four days a week, nursing for one quadriplegic and one Alzheimer’s patient. Her garden was included in the Buffalo Garden walk – She still gigs, and finds great joy in her family and friends.
By the way, the Irish name Farrell means: Singer of the song – teller of tales. Come listen and celebrate with us as we honor Ms. Peggy Farrell.
Peggy Farrell Tribute
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 @ 6:00pm
Dress to Impress. Prepare yourself for a soulful evening of Jazz with some of buffalo’s finest.
Hotel Lafayette | 391 Washington St, Buffalo, New York 14203-2167