BMHOF Class of 2017
Dave Schmeidler has played just about every kind of guitar form: prog, Celtic, blues, experimental.
But he’d like to think there’s one thread that has run through all of his music: a sense of wit. Maybe even a twist of sarcasm. As it says in his online bio, “no style of music is safe from him.”
“Since I started playing, I’ve always felt kind of an identity and I’ve always tried to inject that into any kind of music that I’ve played,” he said in a recent interview. “I mean, I love blues and I love playing blues, but it’s sometimes hard to stay between the lines because I hear things beyond it. But I have respect and knowledge for the idiom, because I’ve always listened to everything.”
Schmeidler, like most of America, fell in love with the Beatles when he first heard them, which led to him getting his first guitar at age 10. Within a couple of years the Kenmore native was playing in bands.
Along the way he fell in love with the music of Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck, from whom he learned ways to create moods and atmospheres with music.
His biggest local music influence was the late guitarist John Weitz, the Buffalo Music Hall of Famer and member of the Rising Sons and Raven.
“He had the ability and he had such a great sense of humor about how he did it,” Schmeidler said. “I used to go to the Beef & Ale all the time to see him play, and he would do these silly guitar lessons. They were hilarious. I’ve never forgotten that stuff.”
The guitarist also recalls being surrounded by great musicians while growing up in Kenmore with the likes of Bruce Brucato, Stuart Ziff, Ted Reinhardt, Billy Sheehan, Mike Migliore (Maynard Ferguson).
“I learned a huge amount from them,” Schmeidler said.
So here’s the rundown on some of the things Schmeidler has done so far:
One of the starting points was the Small Appliance Orchestra. Schmeidler collaborated with filmmaker Ken Rowe to score a short sci-fi film. Because they had no money for synthesizers, they settled on the sounds of can openers, blenders, hair dryers and electric shavers to make their music. The group, which eventually included Hall of Famer Joe Rozler for several years, became a mainstay of the experimental scene in Buffalo.
He attended the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, Calif., where his teachers included Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, Scott Henderson, Joe Pass, Jennifer Batten and Frank Gambale in 1986 and 1987, sharpening his skills.
When he returned to Buffalo, he started a 20-year career at Top Shelf Music as a teacher, sales rep and technician, building client relationships with Ani DiFranco, Rick James Band, the Goo Goo Dolls, moe. and G. E. Smith.
He soon found himself playing with some of the best musicians in Buffalo, at one point becoming a member of Gamalon, the Hall of Fame jazz group.
He also started playing with Hall of Famer Mark Freeland in Electroman, playing blues with the Kate Engler Band, the Pipe Creek Blues Band and with Hoagie & the Blues Bombers, in Maya with Noa Bursie and Scott Freilich, in Blue Steel and with Celtic band Stone Row.
Schmeidler has moved into technology over the years, working in computers during his day job and with technology in his music.
In 2001, he released “Skyrats-Scraps,” his first solo release. The progressive rock CD received positive reviews both nationally and internationally.
More recently Schmeidler helped formed the Blues Daddios, performed in a Small Appliance Orchestra reunion show and he is working on his second solo CD.
Along the way, he’s won Nightlife Music and Club Awards and Buffalo Music Awards for “Best Original Guitarist,” and a bevy of nominations for blues and rock.
Schmeidler’s considerable chops are still evident when he plays, and he says he’s glad he gets the opportunity.
“Whenever I play, I think I have joy and an appreciation of the fact that at my age I’m still able to go out and play,” he said, “And people listen to me and they respond positively. I don’t think there’s anything better in the world.
“And I’ve really enjoyed the fact that I get paid for people to entertain me because I love to watch the audiences, observing interactions between people.”
It’s about the fun. The joy of great playing that you’ll get when you see Schmeidler play, but also – maybe – with a bit of humor as well.