The Ottumwa Courier

November 7, 2012

An election of a different kind

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opens voting to the public; locals weigh in

MARK NEWMAN
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Here’s an “election” you might enjoy. You can now vote on who you want inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Musicians in Wapello County thought the announcement, made via Rolling Stone Magazine, was great news.

To choose among 15 nominees, the Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, only allows 600 ballots, with most coming from top music industry representatives. This year, one of the ballots will be the one cast by everyday people.

Even though that amounts to less than one percent of the total vote, “it’s kind of nice they’re asking the public,” said Adam Kulmatycki, a musician known locally for his work in the bands Mr. Fugly and Fast Henry.

Scott Hittner has been a musician for 30 years. His band, Pat Lanips, will be playing at Bridge View Center during an upcoming weekend, but Tuesday, he was checking out the instruments at West Music in Ottumwa.

When he saw the list of 15 nominees, he closed in on one right away.

“Rush. They’ve been playing stadiums all over the world, non-stop, since 1973. They’ve all received top honors as musicians — best drummer, best guitarist, best bass player.”

“And,” added  Kulmatycki, “it’s been the same three guys the whole time. And they’re continuously putting out new music.”

Hittner said he also respected the fact that Rush isn’t beholden to any one large, wealthy record company.

Music teacher Dennis Vasconez, the Ottumwa High School choir director, has led Ottumwa’s young people to multiple state championships. He may not love Rush’s vocals — but he says they definitely belong in the Hall.

“When it comes to musicianship, they’re one of the best,” he said. “Some people may joke [about] Rush. But I think they’ve been overlooked.”

As popular as Rush turned out to be in the unofficial Courier poll, former Wapello County oldies disc jockey Tom Rodgers named The Paul Butterfield Blues Band as his number-one pick.

“He’s a well-known blues artist, especially because of the blues revival of the ’60s. He represents that new wave of Chicago blues, bringing those sounds to a new generation.”

Rodgers, a member of the band Highland Storm, agreed with some of the other picks area musicians made. He said Randy Newman was influential as a songwriter, something Vasconez had said earlier in the day Tuesday. Newman has become popular for his work on Pixar films, like Toy Story.

Hittner said he might vote for Rush, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Deep Purple and Heart.

Kulmatycki agreed on Heart and Joan Jett.

“They were women pioneers. In fact, if you count Joan Jett with the Runaways, that was the first real notable all-female rock band,” he said.

Out of respect, he might vote for Albert King, too.

“I may not be a fan of his. [But] I know he’s been a big influence on a lot of guys I do like,” Kulmatycki said. “I think you want someone [in the Hall] who made a lasting impression.”

Between these musicians, some other names came up, too.

But the local money is on Rush being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“Even musicians who have ‘made it’ say they don’t understand why they’re not already in there,” Hittner said.

Recognize some of the band names? If you’re one of the readers who has an opinion on who should be inducted, head to the Ottumwa Courier Facebook page and share your thoughts. Want to vote? Click here to go to the ballot.