Mark Freeland’s 1st Annual “A+” Buffalo Music Awards at McVans Feb 2, 1979

Parousia 1979

Parousia 1979; left to right: Patt Connolly (kneeling), Kim Watts, Dave Maltbie, Bob Lowden (in chair), Barry Cannizzaro, Gerry Cannizzaro, Garth Huels (kneeling).

This awards show was so cool.  Mark Freeland put it together at McVan’s.  Even though it was truly the “1st Annual Buffalo Music Awards,” I knew it as the “A+” awards, because Mark gave all the members of the honored bands an “A+” button.  I still have mine somewhere, I’ll have to dig it out and photograph it.  It is a treasured artifact.

McVans 02.02.79 1st annual Buffalo Music Awards by Mark Freeland

McVan’s 02.02.79 1st annual Buffalo Music Awards by Mark Freeland. Can’t ANYONE spell our name right?

It was an honor to me to be invited to be a part of this event, because I really respected Mark for his musical and artistic creativeness, and as a the front man for Pegasus, a group overflowing with awesome talent, dedication and showmanship.

Mark Freeland - Electroman

Mark Freeland – Electroman

Unlike the later Buffalo Backstage Annual Music Awards, which chose winners in various categories to honor the most “popular” and profitable bands in the region, most of which were cover bands, Mark’s A+ Awards were geared towards acknowledging the lesser known, all original Buffalo bands, and when I say original, I mean truly original, sometimes to the point of experimental.  Since the trend at the time was moving towards punk rock, most of the bands were more or less punk, though somehow Parousia managed to be recognized by Mark, along with Billy Sheehan’s new Light Years project.

Mark somehow managed to take the competitiveness out of an awards show, and instead the night had a feeling of mutual respect and appreciation between the musicians.

Freeland Buffalo Music Awards 1979

McVan's Rock castle

8 comments for “Mark Freeland’s 1st Annual “A+” Buffalo Music Awards at McVans Feb 2, 1979

  1. Gerry North
    July 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Mark Freeland was a friend of ours and an admired talent. We were very excited to be a part of his first annual A+ music awards show. We were fans of both Pegasus and Electroman and Mark was the eclectic front man in both of those groups.

    This awards show had tons of diverse acts, many were frequent performers at McVans at a time when new wave/punk bands were very popular and for that reason, Parousia was a real stand-out act at this show. I remember when we took the stage and just before we played our first note Patt said quietly in the microphone, “Thanks for inviting us; we really don’t deserve to be here.” Thinking back, our appearance at this show may have started the rumor, “Parousia is a punk band”… Guilty by association perhaps?

    We played one of our original songs this night, Cotton Holiday. It was a heavy progressive rock tune
    that sounded something like Jethro Tull meets Yes. When Patt wailed out with those tasty flute licks, it was like gold. We had everyone’s attention and in a good way.

    While hanging out backstage, I remember many diverse acts warming up to play, it was like a side show at a carnival. I met “FiFi La Poo Poo” a guitarist who used only three strings on her six-string guitar… and the drummer for “the Indians” who the first in Buffalo to use a Simmons electronic drum kit live on stage. Some of the bands we played with that night would later share a rehearsal space with us at an old factory building on Rano Street in the Riverside/Black Rock area. We rehearsed there with local punk bands the Vores and the Scooters.

  2. Anonymous
    July 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    The Page Boys (my brother’s group) sang there in the late 50’s. The Page Boys toured with The Poni Tails.

    Mame (Lillian) McVan told us that the basement was used by bootleggers from across the river in Canada during Prohibition.

  3. Anonymous
    August 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Does anyone remember a singer, dancer by the stage name of Betty West -real name Elizabeth Schreiner. This would have been in the late 50’s and early 60’s. She worked at McVan’s.

  4. Donna
    November 16, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    We recently discovered a photo taken from McVan on Halloween, there is a ghost of a little girl in the photo, she is dressed like 1930-1940’s era. I remember the place was haunted I just don’t remember the details, I am trying to find out info on this little girl. Please contact me with any information [email protected]

  5. GerryNorth
    November 23, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Donna, My brother Barry remembers hearing a story about the ‘Ghost of McVan’s’. Supposedly the little girl in the picture is Lillian McVan.

  6. Kelly Sheehan
    April 10, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    BBack in the late 70s & early 80s we used to go see Pegasus do “the lamb lies down on broadway” and Electroman do “sex pistols ” (?) EVERYTIME they played at McVans. Marks brother Jimbo was a good friend of my boyfriend and we would go see the Factor too – once thet even played at a party in my basement for “Dude’s” birthday….and Jim Couch too ! And The drummer was such a sweetie – we had SO much fun at that place… The birth of punk rock in Buffalo. This was such a great website to find. I am very curious, WHAT happened to all these guys ? I know about Jimbo, a very sad loss to his family and friends, but have been wondering for quite awhile. There is a Facebook page for “Growing up in Kenmore & one that is “alumni of Kenmore west (both are pretty interesting because they don’t cover any specific time period you you hear from all sorts of people) ANYHOW there was a photo of McVans back in the 50s when it was a fancy dinner club with dancing … That got me a a few others asking about Mark Freeland’s band and did anybody know whatever happened with them ….
    S yes, I am a real human and would love to know !

  7. Olive
    January 30, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    Thank you for documenting Mark Freeland for the history books. I heard the stories first hand and now see the “proof”.
    Love, Love, Love

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