Lo­cal Leg­ends

Ne­wark cou­ple aims to start Delaware Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JA­COB OWENS jowens@ches­pub.com

For Ge­orge and Paula Wolkind, mu­sic — and es­pe­cially lo­cal mu­sic — was more than a sound­track to their youth; it was the ties that bound it.

Ge­orge moved to Wilm­ing­ton from New York City when he was a teen, while Paula was born and raised in Ge­orge Read Vil­lage in Ne­wark.

“My hus­band was a pop­u­lar singer in Snakegrinder, and I was at ev­ery dance at ev­ery high school and fire hall,” Paula said. “We re­mem­ber those days fondly and want to hold onto those times.”

Yet as the years have gone by, they’ve come to re­al­ize

that those who share their pas­sion are grow­ing fewer and there is noth­ing in Delaware to pre­serve those mem­o­ries.

So the Ne­wark cou­ple set out to do some­thing about it.

About three years ago, the cou­ple started a Delaware Rock ‘ n’ Roll Hall of Fame page on Face­book, at first sim­ply look­ing to share their mem­o­ries and so­licit more info from other like­minded Delaware­ans. While their ex­pec­ta­tions were min­i­mal, they were pleas­antly sur­prised to find they weren’t alone in re­call­ing those younger days.

“We rec­og­nized from the re­sponses that ev­ery­one has these kinds of won­der­ful mem­o­ries. It just took off,” Paula said, not­ing nearly 900 peo­ple now fol­low the page and con­trib­ute to the con­ver­sa­tion. “It’s been a bur­geon­ing place since we started it with peo­ple shar­ing mem­o­ries, pho­tos and record­ings. We aim to keep the faith with the mu­sic, faces and mem­o­ries.”

Through their con­nec­tions, the Wolkinds met Steve Leech, a lo­cal his­to­rian with ex­pe­ri­ence in tech­nol­ogy, who helped them launch a web­site for their idea. He pro­vided a metic­u­lous his­tory of mu­sic in Delaware and its no­table con­nec­tions.

“When we met Steve, we knew we had our third,” she said. “When you talk to Steve it’s like read­ing the text­book on Delaware mu­sic.”

As their en­thu­si­asm grew for their pet project, there was just one glar­ing prob­lem to mov­ing it to its next step: they were liv­ing more than 1,400 miles away from the state they wanted to honor.

Nearly 25 years ago, the Wolkinds moved to Col­orado for work. While they en­joyed the nat­u­ral beauty of their adopted state, it wasn’t home and dreams of es­tab­lish­ing a phys­i­cal hall of fame meant that they were faced with a choice.

“We packed up and moved back to Delaware in or­der to pur­sue our dream,” Paula said.

She is of­ten asked by peo­ple as to why she would re­turn to Delaware from Col­orado, and Paula’s re­sponse was al­ways the same.

“In Col­orado, there’s no Bing’s Bak­ery and you can’t dance to the Larry Tucker Band,” she said. “Now I can do those things.”

The Wolkinds’ long-term goal is to se­cure a build­ing that would dou­ble as a mu­seum where the legacy of Delaware mu­si­cians could be re­tained and a school where up-and-com­ing mu­si­cians could learn from older mu­si­cians. While they have con­nec­tions to Ne­wark, Paula said the or­ga­niz­ers are open to lo­cat­ing the Hall of Fame to any­where in state that makes sense.

Among the bands and artists that may get hon­ored in the near fu­ture are Teddy and the Con­ti­nen­tals, a Wilm­ing­ton-based doo-wop band of the ‘50s; the Sin City Band, a coun­try-rock band that still plays weekly at Argilla Brew­ing Com­pany in Ne­wark; the Wat­son Broth­ers Band, a pop­u­lar blues rock band; Richie Im­me­di­ato and the Hur­ri­canes, a ‘50s band; and Rocket 88 with Mark Ken­neally, a ‘70s blues rock band, and more, ac­cord­ing to Paula.

“So much of what hap­pens in Delaware doesn’t get fea­tured in some way,” she said. “There’s just such an in­cred­i­ble amount of bands.”

While the Wolkinds have an in­sti­tu­tional knowl­edge about lo­cal rock ‘n’ roll his­tory from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, Paula said they want to rec­og­nize the var­ied mu­si­cal his­tory in the First State, not­ing south­ern Delaware fea­tures a large blues and blue­grass com­mu­nity, while Wilm­ing­ton has a sto­ried con­nec­tion to jazz through mu­si­cians like Robert “Boysie” Low­ery and Clif­ford Brown.

“Al­though pop­u­lar mu­sic that com­monly gets called rock ‘n’ roll is near and dear to our hearts, we want to honor other gen­res as well,” she said. “They of­ten helped in­flu­ence the sound of oth­ers.”

Nods will also likely be given to mu­si­cians like Ge­orge Thoro­good and Bob Mar­ley and bands like Tele­vi­sion that have con­nec­tions to Delaware, but made big im­pacts on Amer­ica’s mu­sic scene.

“Ev­ery­one has their fa­vorite lo­cal mu­si­cian, but we also cel­e­brate those who have left Delaware to make a big­ger im­pact on mu­sic,” Paula said.

If the Wolkinds were look­ing for a mea­sure of the ex­cite­ment for their idea, they only had to look at the in­ter­est in tick­ets to their in­au­gu­ral fundraiser: all 300 tick­ets were taken in two and half days. That event, set for Satur­day af­ter­noon at the Ne­wark Coun­try Club, will raise funds through do­na­tions and silent auc­tions.

What helped in­ter­est, how­ever, was the fact that they were able to se­cure a per­for­mance by Mark Farner, the for­mer lead singer for the chart-top­ping ‘70s band Grand Funk Rail­road, cour­tesy of Fred Daw­son, from the Ne­wark band Club Phred, which will also per­form Satur­day and back Farner in his per­for­mance.

“Fred has a con­nec­tion to Mark Farner and he said to us, ‘You know, what you guys need is a head­liner,’ and he made the call,” she said. “We’re enor­mously grate­ful to Fred and Mark, and ev­ery­one who came to help us get this event off the ground.”

For those who were un­able to get a ticket to Satur­day’s fundraiser, Paula said they are plan­ning a guest bar­tender night at the Deer Park Tav­ern in March. Those who would like to help in the or­ga­ni­za­tion or fundrais­ing for the hall of fame can email del­rockan­droll@gmail.com

While the na­tional Rock & Roll Hall of Fame typ­i­cally in­ducts a hand­ful of acts each year, Paula said Delaware or­ga­niz­ers hope to in­duct their first class of maybe 10 to 15 acts into their hall of fame in late April.

“A lot of this com­mu­nity is get­ting older, and we want them to be able to play,” she ex­plained. “And en­joy know­ing that their legacy will have a place.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

Ge­orge and Paula Wolkind are work­ing to es­tab­lish a Delaware Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Among those that could be rec­og­nized are (top to bot­tom) the Sin City Band, Teddy and the Con­ti­nen­tals and a group con­sist­ing of “Boysie” Low­ery on sax, Lue Caz on key­board and Jerome Jef­fer­son on gui­tar.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF SNAKEGRINDER

Delaware Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame or­ga­nizer Ge­orge Wolkind was a mem­ber of the ‘70s blues rock group Snakegrinder and the Shred­ded Field Mice.

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