Electric City Music Conference announces Lifetime Achievement Award recipients
Organizers of the Electric City Music Conference have announced that two Lifetime Achievement Awards will be presented at this year’s Steamtown Music Awards ceremony.
The Glass Prism — a Northeastern Pennsylvania psychedelic rock group that came to prominence in the 1960s and experienced commercial success — and Joseph “Wiggy” Wegleski — a local guitarist, teacher and chief engineer at Old Forge’s SI Studios — will both receive the honor.
The Glass Prism signed with RCA records in 1969, which, according to a press release from the ECMC, made them the “fist rock ‘n’ roll band from Northeastern Pennsylvania to land a major record deal.”
The group’s first record with RCA, “Poe Through the Glass Prism,” was a concept album that set the poetic lyrics of Edgar Allan Poe against a backdrop of original psychedelic rock. The album was produced by electric guitar pioneer and legendary producer Les Paul and yielded Billboard charting single “The Raven.”
Following the release of “Poe Through the Glass Prism,” the band was hampered by the sudden disappearance of their manager and rock-lore mystery man Mort Lewis. RCA pulled promotion for “Poe” and refused to support a tour with Blood, Sweat and Tears in reaction to Lewis’ abrupt abandonment of the band, but The Glass Prism still recorded and produced a second record, “On Joy and Sorrow” under the label.
The band pushed on despite the setback, establishing itself as “Shenandoah” during an opening gig for Three Dog Night in Williamsport in 1971, and recording “Sessions ‘73” in 1973.
After a long hiatus, the group reunited in 2007, celebrated the release of the documentary, “On Joy and Sorrow: The Glass Prism Story,” in 2008, and has played shows regionally in recent years including a performance at the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains Township in 2016 and several in the Scranton area.
“What a great choice,” said local radio personality Freddie Fabbri in the ECMC release. “The Glass Prism were the first to do it. They did it and made it. They’re part of local music history and an important part of overall rock ‘n’ roll history.”
“I have to admit, I wasn’t familiar with The Glass Prism,” conference co-organizer Joe Caviston added. “But, as I started my research, I was blown away by how influential they were. Once I was presented with all the facts, this was really a no-brainer.”
The trio that is still at the heart of The Glass Prism/Shenandoah today is comprised of Rick Richards, Tom Varano and Lou Cossa, who also played with Ralph, Dakota and The Box Tops.
Wegleski is familiar in the local music community because his professional touch in studio is on a multitude of records produced in NEPA.
“Many musicians and bands have worked with Wiggy, both on the stage and in the studio, and I’ve never heard one bad word about him,” local musician Chris Hludzik said in the ECMC release. “He is not only respected but loved by most in the NEPA music scene.”
Wegleski’s 25 years of relevance in the industry also includes tenures in bands Vicious, Jugdish, Jigsaw Johnny and Big King Moose, and he’s affected aspiring artists in his role as a teacher as well as in his roles as musician, composer and producer.
“Wiggy has literally shaped the sound of NEPA music and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future,” ECMC co-organizer Ken Norton said in the release.
The fifth annual Steamtown Music Awards ceremony will take place on Sept. 13 in Scranton, and more details will be announced by the ECMC in coming weeks.
Nominations are still open for over 35 categories, and interested music fans can nominate their favorite bands and music industry professionals at electriccitymusicconference.com/awards. Nominations close on June 17.