Thursday, April 8, 2010

McVan's Nite Club, Buffalo, New York




Another of the many night club souvenir photo folders from the collection. (Click on night club in the label section at the end of the post to pull up the others.) Sometimes it almost impossible to come up with information on these old venues, sometimes far easier. The earliest references to McVan's that I was able to find are from the 1940's. An article in Billboard Magazine from 1946 lists Lillian McVan as the owner manager of the club, seeking dance bands and floor shows. I've found reference to an ownership change on April 17, 1963 when the club was purchased by former Buffalo mayor, Steven Pankow who converted McVan's from a night club to a supper club. No info on whether Lillian McVan was still the owner or not. In McVan's latter years, it was a rock venue and eventually a hard core punk showcase. Among acts that I've been able to verify played McVan's, Art Tatum, The Ink Spots, Gypsy Rose Lee, Jimi Hendrix, and Alex Chilton. Printed on the back of the folder, "Dine Dance and Fun. TOPS IN ENTERTAINMENT 3-FLOOR SHOWS NIGHTLY-3 9-12-2:30 McVAN'S NITE CLUB Date January 28, 1950 SOUVENIR PHOTO $1.00"

45 comments:

  1. 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 dlafoo7@aol.com

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  2. I was doing sound for a band out of Rochester
    called Cappy and the Frenchmen in early 1980
    and we played at McVan's opening up for a
    Buffalo band called The Toys. (I bought one
    of their singles!)
    I seem to recall part of the club had a low ceiling.
    Dave Turner

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  3. The lower level "basement" (actually ground floor) had a very low ceiling. The main room where all the legends played in the 40's etc were upstairs. By the 70's only the basement was in operation

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  4. John Cale played there in the late 70s. The story I heard is that he was so annoyed at the flashbulbs he had a hissy fit and busted every lightbulb he could find with the neck of his bass.

    Lou Gramm of Foreigner played there as frontman for the Rochester-based band Black Sheep.

    Alex Chilton played there in June of 1979.

    Jimi played there as a member of Joey Dee and the Starliters in November of 1965. (A Hendrix tribute band called "Voodoo Child" played there in late 1981. The newspaper ad spelled it as "Jimmy Hendricks.")

    I've heard Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope played there, back in the day. Ella Fitzgerald played there for a couple weeks in 1946.

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    1. HA! Yep I was at that show. He kept geeing shocked by the mike. Got pissed off and broke the lights out with the mike stand. The campy continued the song. Two nights before the Jumpers opened for the B 52s.

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  5. My ex used to play there in the late 70s in a band called the Tourists (later name changed to The 3rd Floor Strangers). I remember the place well. There was a wall covered in signatures of all of the "greats" of the 40s and 50s who played there. By the late 70s the place was so bad - I remember sitting at the bar chatting with the women who ran the place, and HUGE rats were climbing in and out of the trash cans in the bar space. The upstairs was only open for using rest rooms (at your own risk) - the rest was dark. The downstairs/main floor at the time did have a low ceiling and a punk band who played the same bill as my ex's had a following who would smash their fists into the ceiling tiles as they "moshed". I actually had to help clean up cat crap from the band stand - cats were "rented" to try and keep the rat population under control, but the rats usually won, cats went missing. But, it was a great scene!!

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  6. I have so many memories oj Mcvans I could go on for days....Bands Like Pegasus, Rodan, Black Sheep, ...only to name a few. Mcvans was where I began my underage drinking experience at around 16/1973....with the NYS drinking age being 18, Mcvans was one of the few places that didn't require a "sheriffs card/photo ID....no, the pictureless drivers license sufficed. For me, Mcvans was the gateway for promiscuous behaviour without fear of death.Recreational drug use without fear of death. Meeting "diffrent" people without fear of death...No, Mcvans was a place to enjoy. It was the place where kids from the suburbs could let loose and party with the Buffalo "dogs" on their porch...then came the 1st Mighty Taco not too far away ....the rest is now nothing more than a memory. Sometimes I treasure growing up in the seventies....and sometimes I think it's nothing more than selective recall...at any rate, the days of Mcvans, He & Shes, Uncle Sams, After Dark, the Outside Inn....are gone and will never return! Unfortunately, peoples attitudes have changed for the worse. There are but a few good live music clubs around....and they struggle to keep the mob mentality/violence at bay....it's a goddamn shame///RIP Mcvans and the rest....your appearance and demise made a lasting impression on the generation to which you were party..especially to me=the author.

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    1. I share the same history and sentiments.

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    2. I agree the music died with disco and the cutie hair bands that were horrable I think the 70s were and allways will be the best of rock & roll

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  7. Best Show ever at McVans was Larry Luxury and The Now, 1978

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  8. Does anyone remember a young man who played McVan's in the late 1940's named jimmy ray? Played the piano and sang and did impressions? Any photos out there?

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    1. Did he have an Jamaican acccent?

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  9. My ex-girlfriend's mother has a photo similar to the high-fashion one shown on your site of her and her husband (then-fiance) stepping out at McVans in the 40's. The Buffalo Courier-Express used to snap photos of club attendees for the society pages. Of course, then there was the 70's. The owner was Joe Rose and my ex was a waitress there. Rodan, Pegasus and a lot of great rock acts used to fill the two stages. My ex hustled pool and we'd hang with the band members till 4 in the morning then go to Panos (a hole-in-the-wall) for 'slavaki' breakfast. Sleep it off Sunday and you had an epic weekend.

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  10. I played guitar in a band there in the late 1970s. It was a dream of mine to play there after seeing all the bands playing there like the Toys, Electroman, Rodan, Pegasus. The lower level had very low ceilings, everything was painted black including the "dressing rooms" which were pretty disgusting looking and lined with graffiti. RIP Joe Terose.

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  11. Use to frequent there in the mid 70's, enjoyed the band Rasputin, they would dress up as Kiss and played mostly Kiss music, I thought they were actually pretty good.

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    1. what ever happened to the drummer, Mick Walker.? My sister used to be married to his brother.

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    2. Yeah! I used to party there on Wednesday nights when Rasputin played there. An old friend of mune, Guy Olson worked the lights. What a blast it was!

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    3. We used to see Rasputin there all the time in the late 70s. Loved them.

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    4. Lead guitarist John “Boo” Schmidt and drummer Paul Steinbruckner play together in the Stonehouse Rock’n Blues Band. See them Saturday May 4th 2015 at Abbey Square in Amherst. John also plays with Mic Walker in NY to LA. Sadly singer Doug Kalosza and rhythm guitarist David Yax both passed away in 1999.

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    5. Rasputin was the best!John Daily was the lead guitarist. I worked alongside of him at M&T Rug Cleaners. That was Joe Terose main business. Joe would take us to the nite club on Friday and have us stock the coolers. I was 15 and living the dream. When we finished stocking and cleaning up, Joe would give us a beer. Great memories! My life has changed dramatically since then, but those years working for Joe T were priceless. I thank God for all of life's experiences.

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    6. Rasputin was the best!John Daily was the lead guitarist. I worked alongside of him at M&T Rug Cleaners. That was Joe Terose main business. Joe would take us to the nite club on Friday and have us stock the coolers. I was 15 and living the dream. When we finished stocking and cleaning up, Joe would give us a beer. Great memories! My life has changed dramatically since then, but those years working for Joe T were priceless. I thank God for all of life's experiences.

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  12. The Page Boys (my brother's group) sang there in the late 50's. Mame (lillian) McVan told us that the basement was used by bootleggers from across the river in Canada during Prohibition. The Page Boys toured with The Poni Tails.

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    1. True. I also danced there in 50-51-52-53.Tony and I. I am now 84. Lots of memories.

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  13. 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.

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  14. i worked there in the early 80"s when i was 17. we named some of the rats. joe terose was a good guy and would hire musicians and give new bands a place to play. now it's a 7-11 store but if you look next to the store there is still a big chunk of concrete that used to be part of the backstage steps.

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  15. mick married my wifes cousin

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  16. Oh man, it's so good to hear from others who used to hang out at McVans. I've been out of state now for many years. But, I used to hang out there 3–4 nights a week in the early to mid 70's. I definitely remember Rodan, Pegasus, Rasputin, and others. I don't remember which band was which anymore. But I especially remember one band (might haven been Pegasus) that played a lot of early Genesis type stuff. They were freakin' good. We'd stay till closing time, then head over to mighty taco. McVan's is a 7-11 now?? Man, that's a shame. A lot of great memories there.

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    1. It was probably Rodan playing Genesis. The also did Crimson and others. I remember Pegasus at the Buena Vista. I recall the only safe drinks were bottled beer. They used tiny shot glasses. I stole and measured one. 1/2oz. If you wanted a whole oz. You could get that outside under the bridge!

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    2. Rodan was Sunday nights. Ted Reinhardt (drums), his brother Tom (vocals) Rick McGirr (keyboards), Jim Wynn (I think)(bass) and the late Bruce Brucato (guitar). They covered Genesis, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, ELP, Yes, Peter Gabriel, Greenslade, etc and wrote their own material as well.

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    3. Bass was Bill Ludweg
      if I am spelling that correcrly.
      he could nail Stanlet Clarkes solo in Vulcan Worlds and keep up nicely with some of the most sophisticated rock and jazz of the seventies

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    4. Bass was Bill Ludweg
      if I am spelling that correcrly.
      he could nail Stanlet Clarkes solo in Vulcan Worlds and keep up nicely with some of the most sophisticated rock and jazz of the seventies

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  17. I remember McVANS in the 50's when I was a child I was one of the neighborhood kids ,who miss McVan would let us in to watch the shows . We thought they were movie stars (the dancing girls) we loved Tony Oddy .we had many pictures taken by the photographer, and we all got copies.such good memories.

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    1. I have many photos from the 50s. My mother performed with Tony Oddy. Lots of memories from that era.

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    2. Do you have any of the old photos from 1958-1961?

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  18. Rasputin, Black Sheep, Rodan, Vic Marwin??? Back to 1972 and 73 before disco! Anywho, so many bands with 1 or 2 talented players and Talas Rocked the Barrelhead! Ezekials' drummer Paul died down by Caz Creek around the 1978 era and every other band just kept the names and changed members! It was a rat race and the rats were winning! Billy got out, Lou, too! Some of the best were never heard because no one had the right equipment to make anything happen! Todays boys just make noise but we kicked back sober and watched as the guys getting drunk while their girls just walked away with the sober men! I had a good laugh looking back and owned Black Sheeps Album and ASB ELP with Peter who hated his last name so it went to Davis! This is going back when he just got married and bought the house in Lackawanna practicing in the basement! The guitar was sweet but the vocals sucked! Lou made it because he wanted out of McVans Bad! We sucked down to kill ya until the sun came up after a gig & poof a couple years later he's in the stadium with Foreigner! Cock Robin play Dirty Dicks almost twice a month and until Talas came into play they were about the best! I could go on and on but I was just laying back watching every band fall flat on their faces! Either someone died, was using, alcoholics, and they though by getting high their music would sky rocket! Jambo too, he could take up half the stage but play a guitar is what he did best of all! The Salty Dog, Melanies. Poor House E & W..... Mickey Rats kicked up some great summer nights and everyone know what I am talking about! God Bless Everyone who tried and those who made money from their music! I think Allan S. & Michael Cebula from Lackawanna were the best guitar players I met and all the rest were doing cover band stuff which turned me away! Once a decent band could do cover tunes the crowds just wanted them to play them over and over again and bands made NOTHING back in 1970-73, so I checked out and split this scene! Great Memories with allot of decent down to earth people but Billy had been tall enough until he added 4 more inches with his shoes so his ego was the highest in any bar room! Just telling it as I saw it going down but Lou was down to earth as was Victor Marwin from Rasputin! Growing up together we met at Dirty Dicks while he was living above it & we had a few fun nights just hanging with the women and Lou! Take Care You Crazy Beautiful People! You are why Buffalo was so popular with big named bands rolling into War Memorial Aud Starting with Humble Pie & Grand Funk Railroad! A great time in 1970 at the aud!

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  19. McVan's...my favorite place from '76 to '79/80. Rasputin, Cock Robin, Pegasus, Nosferatu, Secret Saviour, The Factor....and one night there were two guys that called themselves "Two Guys" who sang a song about Love Canal...I still remember it after 34 years! Joe and Bambi were great....and when I fell down those goddamn stairs with my drink in my hand, Joe stood there yelling "I tell you girls not to take your drinks up there! Jesus Christ!..you almost broke your neck!" ...loved it! RIP Joe....there will NEVER be another McVan's.

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  20. I performed there. The Act: Starr and Mueller Comedy Team". We performed after Tony Oddy and Bambi opened the show with "Me and My Shadow" routine.
    Around 1966-67

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  21. Wow, all of these band names and no mention of a band called The Conqueroos? (Spelling?) We used to hear them in the early 70s. Probably a short-lived band, but one of the greatest Buffalo blues bands ever. Bass player was named Nick...he played with Big Wheelie later, I think. Nick always played with a lit cigarette in the corner of his mouth and the smoke would go right into his eye; finally he couldn't squint any harder and he'd spit the cigarette onto the floor, resulting in a bit of fireworks on stage. Guitarist was named Sal. GREAT PLAYER! So fluid and CONFIDENT! And I think the rhythm guitar might have been named Bob? Not sure about the drummer. Can't recall if they had keyboards, but they did a lot of early ABB, so they might have had an organist, too. Miss those days. Thanks for this site!

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  22. I remember seeing the Ramones at McVans aound 1979. First time seeing punk and all the crazy dancing. It was fun.

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  23. I saw The King Cole Trio at McVans niteclub in the summer of 1941 (it may have been 1940). This was before Cole became so famous, and, as I remember it, the cost for two of us may have been around two dollars. He had one show every evening at 7 o'clock (?), and a second at around 9 or 10. I got to McVan's on the street car, no. 23 on Hertel Avenue. Those were the days.

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  24. we caught a Canadian bands 1st gig it was at mcvans 3 piece hard rock had decent carrer in the states cant remember the name of the group it was 1977

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  25. seen Pegasus a lot heard the lead singer passed away a few years back think his name was mark we yoused to go out back for a smoke inbetween sets ,did he pass?

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  26. the Canadian band was triumph

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  27. Anyone at the Enemies - Clam Digger show? They brought a ton of sand in and covered the dance floor. I think is was in 1979?

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