As a young lad, I picked up the guitar at age 11, and a whole new world opened up to me. It was then, that I first saw vocalist Jessie Galante perform with her group Actor, at the 97 Rock sponsored Rally in the Alley on Virginia Place. I’ll tell you, she had this kid’s full attention, and it wasn’t just the looks. She was the real deal. But there was more…
At the same time, another local group called Talas was making a lot of noise as well, and before you knew it, they were touring with the mighty Van Halen. In a time when lead guitar was king, Talas bassist Billy Sheehan was able to shred like a lead guitarist and literally blew the competition away with his prowess. He would go on to grace guitar magazine covers, and tour the world with some of the biggest names in the business, as he also, was the real deal.
Also at around that time, the night John Lennon was assassinated to be exact, guitarist Bobby Lebel relocated to Buffalo from Connecticut to join with recording artist The Road. Though he would not reach the heights that Billy or Jessie have achieved, Bobby surely has had his share of touring and recording spanning decades, cities, studios, and musicians. The man paid his dues, and certainly belongs with the best of Buffalo.
The trio, all members of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, have remained close since the early days. They find themselves home for the holidays for their annual Musicians of Buffalo (MOB) Christmas Concert.
I recently chatted with Bobby and Jessie, (Billy was traveling at the time of the interview), to discuss the event and its mission. “Its the 4th year, and the 5th show,” Bobby says. “It started at The Sportsmens, and the second year, we sold out and added a second show.”
The idea started in January of 2015 in Los Angeles at the NAMM show, where Billy bumped into Jessie after a number of years apart due to touring schedules. “It was the first time I saw him in years and years. He talked about coming home and doing something to connect with friends, and do something that will give back to the community,” Jessie stated. The following October, Billy contacted Bobby about doing this Christmas show back home, and so MOB was born.
The purpose of MOB is to support musical charities, and this year they have partnered with Music is Art. They feel very strongly about music education for the next generation coming up. Bobby tells me, “I think we need to urge kids to play organic instruments in a world where there is a lot if inorganic stuff being peddled to children. It’s a huge goal for me.”
This year’s show will take place this Saturday at The Tralf. McCarthyizm will open the show, and MOB will feature a horn section, and a special appearance by Music is Art founder Robbie Takac.
During this chat, I couldn’t help being channeled back to that wide eyed 11 year old again, and being parked in front of that stage watching, and learning from these pros from Buffalo. Jessie says, “You have to do your homework. You have to work hard. It’s a 24/7 job. You may have to work on holidays, you have to accept the fact that your life is not gonna be ‘normal’, and that’s okay.”
And then Jessie’s thoughts on the show, “We all have history, Bobby, me, Billy, we all have history in Buffalo, and we have history together in Buffalo. We’ve remained friends all these years. That’s the inspiration for the show, to get together and share each other’s accomplishments together and share it onstage together, share it with friends, see friends, raise money, feel good. It’s just an amazing night.”