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Amp The Ramp – A tribute to Rick James and the Buffalo music community

Back in April, Buffalo Rising put out a call to action, to drum up some artistic ideas for a parking ramp on Elmwood Avenue. The idea was to bring some exposure to the ramp, so that people would know that there were plenty of public parking spaces available in the Elmwood Village.

These days, people don’t mind parking in a ramp at the mall, and then walking to their destinations. But when it comes to Elmwood Avenue, for some reason they feel as if they need a parking spot right outside the store/restaurant. As with anything else, by artistically spotlighting The Gallagher Ramp, hopefully people will identify the parking site as an opportunity to ‘park and walk’ just as they do at the malls. By creating a fun and inviting entrance to the ramp, shoppers would rethink their need to park on the street, thus reprogramming the collective brain to recognize the ramp as an added shopping and dining convenience.

The winning proposal submission came in from FourthIdea, a local advertising agency/marketing firm located in the 500 Seneca Building in the Hydraulics/Larkinville.

The proposal for the site is to create a larger than life dedication to one of this city’s all time iconic musicians, Rick James. Another part of the proposal is to transition the park-like space at the entrance of the ramp into a dedication to all of the Buffalo musicians who have made significant contributions to this city’s music scene. For the most part, the renderings that you see here, will be brought to full living cover if/when the community signs off on the project, which is the final step to seeing this project come to fruition.

The project at hand includes an 18′ Rick James LED figure/sign, with a “two stage” guitar that points to the parking amenity. Then, there’s tribute mural, featuring nods to Rick James’ legacy, including concert tickets, quotes, concert posters, etc.

A design modification is underway, that will see the tribute wall as a stand-alone feature, instead of being adhered directly to the wall (see above)

Further down the entranceway is an “installation tribute wall”. On one side of the wall, there will be album covers depicting famous musicians who made it to the big time. On the other side of the ramp (to the left), there will be a wall of cassette tapes, featuring lesser known musicians, but who still made significant strides in the music industry. The middle of the parking ramp will resemble a stack of stereo components, which will have illuminated dials and levers, similar to what would be seen on a throwback stereo system. There could also be a video component broadcasting the history of music, and a sound component, playing (softly) the sounds of Buffalo musicians, from Harold Arlen (The Wizard of Oz) to Passion Pit (Michael Angelakos). The entire entranceway and parking ramp will be dedicated to the sounds of Buffalo.

“We saw this as a fantastic opportunity, to memorialize the life work of Rick James,” said Thomas Mooney, CEO/Chief Creative Officer of FourthIdea. “When you stop to think about tributes to Rick James in Buffalo, there’s only his grave. We saw the call to action on Buffalo Rising, and immediately realized that there was an opportunity to honor this superstar that continues to put Buffalo on the map as a Rock Star city. We also felt that this was a huge opportunity to recognize the other wide-ranging talents that have made their marks on the record and radio industry. Since we started going down this road we have learned so much about this city’s music history, and now we want to share it with everyone through this tribute installation. We believe that the LED Rick James sign will come to be synonymous with Buffalo, and will appear in media far and wide. We feel that this has the potential to be a viral sensation on social media, bringing attention to the Elmwood area as well. There will never be another Rick James, which is why we felt that we needed to memorialize the rock legend for the whole community/world to appreciate.”

The last step of this process is to host a community meeting. The meeting, to share additional information and to field questions,  will be held on the second floor of Thin Man (across from the site) on Monday, September 18, 2017, starting at 7pm. This Man is located at 492 Elmwood Avenue.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer |

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