Buffalo, New York has many cool people, and some of them have been around so long that you already know they’re cool, like Jim Kelly. However, Buffalo has a lot of other less famous but equally compelling cool people who are unabashedly working to make the city and its metropolitan region a better place to live, work, play and stay. Here’s the first edition posting of Beautiful Buffalo’s list of cool Buffalo people; if you know of someone you think should be on this list, leave a comment with their name and what they’ve done/do to improve the City, and we’ll consider them.
You’ve probably read his music reviews of concerts in the Buffalo News in the past. This thirtysomething guy is everywhere around Buffalo these days, doing positive things to help others as well as programming Larkin Square’s musical entertainment line-up. In his spare time, he promotes Buffalo with his website, The Good Neighborhood, showing us all what’s good locally.
Walk into a Wegmans some Friday night, or perhaps at an Italian food stand at the Erie County Fair, and you’re likely to hear a voice in the air that sounds so perfect you’ll assume it’s the radio. Wrong– it’s Sinatra & More crooner Nick Battistella. Dressed up in a sharp black tux, he commands an audience’s attention with his rich vocals on classics from Sinatra, Dean Martin, Louis Prima, Bobby Darin and more. He’s Buffalo’s best wedding singer– the kind of guy you want at your reception, singing classic love songs.
If Mother Teresa was still living, she’d probably like to meet her Buffalo counterpart: Anita Williams. A Christian evangelist with the power to pray for you as if Jesus was physically present in the room with you, Anita has faithfully preached the Gospel on Buffalo’s East Side through her “God’s Ministry of Deliverance.” She’s well-known for her encouraging words on local radio like WUFO, as well as the annual event at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park each August called “Taking It To The Streets.” Because of Anita’s hard work and dedication to helping people in need, thousands of Buffalonians have received school supplies, canned goods, clothing, health care, and more through her efforts and the many wonderful volunteers she gathers to go out and do good things for the community.
Known for wearing a bow tie around town, Steve Cichon used to deliver local news on WBEN radio. He served as a producer, reporter, and news director in local media, until he ventured on his own with his latest creation, Buffalo Stories. With a humorous approach to life, as well as an insatiable heart for Buffalo and its history, Steve knows more about Buffalo trivia than you or I. He can tell you pop culture facts about Buffalo, and share numerous stories of the many characters who lived–and live–in our one-of-a-kind city. As the author of three books, including one about the venerable WKBW anchor, Irv Weinstein, Steve is an in-demand guest speaker to liven up otherwise dull events. Steve and his wife Monica live in a 1909 E.B. Green-designed home they’ve been renovating since 2000.
Many people have said Newell Nussbaumer should run for Mayor of Buffalo. He has done more for the City than most people, politicians included. Through his popular website, BuffaloRising.com, Newell shines a light on many great things happening in the area, with an emphasis on the City, and its events, people, places and developments. His list of accomplishments is quite long– where do we even begin? He’s the co-founder of the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts; Powder Keg Festival that built the world’s largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records); instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina; co-creator of the Flurrious! winter festival; co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer; instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside; founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market; instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside; catalyst behind the Pierce-Arrow Film Arts Center; and he also offers package tours of Buffalo for groups or individuals. Maybe he should be Mayor?!
As a professional historical researcher, Dana Saylor likes discovering things about people and places. With an artistic bent, she’s also someone who enjoys sketching local buildings, and she has created sets of greeting cards for sale featuring watercolor paintings of Buffalo buildings, such as ones along Amherst Street on the West Side. On top of that, she is one of the organizers of City of Night, an artistic event held at Silo City (Buffalo’s old grain elevators), where a once-a-year, one-of-a-kind nighttime party takes place each summer.
Joe & Jeanenne Petri
Barnes & Noble is the Wal-Mart of books, but that doesn’t mean a small, locally-owned book store can’t thrive in today’s digital age. Husband and wife team Joe & Jeanenne Petri opened the cleverly named Westside Stories used book store on Grant Street, across the street from Prish Moran’s Sweetness7 Cafe, helping make that area of Buffalo’s West Side a destination for people who appreciate the written word, a good coffee shop, and the spirit of a lively neighborhood that’s very walkable and filled with people from all over the world. As a bonus, they sell records– remember those? You know, vinyl music discs from the 1960s/70s/80s and such? This cool couple with kids could have stayed in Brooklyn, but they chose to move to Buffalo and start something every cool city needs–a great used book store.
Kids today need someone to look up to, and Nate Salter is one of Buffalo’s outstanding guys who cares about the City’s kids and people in general. A music minister at Greater Refuge Temple on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, Nate also owns and runs Salter’s Christian Music, which not only teaches kids from all over Western New York how to play instruments like piano, drums and guitar, but also hosts an annual Summer Youth Music Camp in East Aurora. Nate is the author of the book 7 Things Singles Should Accomplish Before Marriage as well as a prolific, internationally-touring recording artist. His latest CD, No One Above You, reaches a diverse audience with rock elements, a little opera singing, and even some dance tracks. He’s passionate about seeing Buffalo thrive, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more optimistic guy in the City.
He’s originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but Drew Ludwig has become an important part of Buffalo since he took over Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (at Elmwood Avenue) in Buffalo several years ago as its Pastor. How does Drew describe himself? “Post-Evangelical, progressive, Jesus-loving, Bible quoting member of the PC(USA), with some anabaptist tendencies (and facial hair). Roman Catholic/Evangelical/Presbyterian roots, Lutheran/American Baptist Education. I’m an ecumenical mess.” His church is somewhat unconventional, serving people other churches might be intimidated by. Even more interesting is that Drew is part of ComedySportz, the local improv comedy troupe performing weekly, making stuff up and making audiences laugh.
He lives in the big old house next to Statler City with his wife Mary (a popular writer for The Buffalo News), has an appreciation for fixing up classic cars, and studies with lounge pianist Jackie Jocko to be the best lounge pianist he can be– he’s Howard Goldman, one of Buffalo’s most unique characters. He has his own web TV station! You can also see him in person, tickling the ivories inside Statler City, or (on occasion) playing piano at E.B. Green’s Steakhouse at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Buffalo.
As soon as she graduated college, Joanna Pasceri went right into TV news, working at an Elmira station for a couple years before coming home to the Buffalo area and working for WKBW, Channel 7. Working her way up in TV news over the years, she went from being a behind-the-scenes news writer to becoming co-anchor with Keith Radford, a job she faithfully does night after night so we all know what’s going on in Buffalo. Married with two daughters, Joanna’s a fine news reader, but it’s her personal interviews with people that touch people’s hearts in particular. Through Channel 7’s “Women In Leadership” website section, she talks with strong female leaders making a positive impact in Western New York and helps them share their stories– a very cool thing to do. Follow her on Twitter here.
Here’s a woman who did the unthinkable: she gave up her high-paying corporate job in Buffalo to become a…jazz singer. And you know what? Good for her and it worked out! Ever industrious, Mari (pronounced Mah-ree) books her own gigs, gets a band together, and is releasing her first CD this year. She’s doing what she loves– and doing it in Buffalo. Her blog is a fine example of how honest a typical Buffalonian is with the world– you can read about how she was told to get a nose job, but she realized that her nose has character and she’s fine the way she is. By the way, she’s a great entertainer!