Fresno Beehive

Fresno musicians consider a hall of fame. Who should be in the inaugural class?

Fresno native Audra McDonald seems like a shoo-in for a possible Fresno Music Hall of Fame.
Fresno native Audra McDonald seems like a shoo-in for a possible Fresno Music Hall of Fame. Associated Press file

Musicians love to philosophize on the state of their local scenes.

It’s a long-established pastime that can play well on social media.

For instance, violinist Patrick Contreras has called for Fresno musicians to establish an annual awards show and a local hall of fame, which he issued in a Facebook post last week.

“Why we don’t have a Hall of Fame is beyond me,” Contreras wrote.

“This is not only good for proper historical recognition, but for future generations to learn about the sounds that came before. We have too many great musicians just forgotten about. Also, it’s just the right thing to do.”

The post attracted a quick response from other musicians and fans. Most agreed with Contreras’ assessment of the need, though a few wondered whether Fresno had a stable of noteworthy musicians worthy of hall-of-fame status.

It certainly does, and the fact it’s even being questioned is more reason for a hall of fame to exist, Contreras wrote in a reply on the post.

“Audra McDonald is the most famous person in Broadway … she’s won four Tony Awards for lead actress (a record). She’s starred in major TV roles and headlined Carnegie Hall. Yet, I’d say less than one in Fresnans have heard of her.”

ray camacho
Ray Camacho stands in August 2006 before a wall full of photographs that have memories from four decades of The Ray Camacho Band. Daniel Casarez Vida en el Valle file

Indeed, the potential list for an inaugural class is impressive. Along with McDonald, there’s Ray Camacho, Bob Wills, Redbone and Dick Contino.

dick contino
Dick Contino headlined the Las Vegas strip for about 50 years.

Timmy T. (aka Timothy Torres) wrote and sang “One More Try,” a song that was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart back in 1991, when that really meant something.

Lou Pardini plays keys for Chicago and has worked with Stevie Wonder, Santana and Elton John, among others.

Joe Lizama has played with Johnny Mathis for more than 30 years.

There also are any number of smaller contemporary acts like Let’s Go Bowling, Fashawn, Beastmaker and the Clifton brothers – all mentioned in comments on Contreras’ post.

Paring down the list would be hard.

Fresno could use Bakersfield as a model. The Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame started in 2015 with a first round of inductees that included Buck and Bonnie Owens, Merle Haggard, Billy Mize and Red Simpson. The heavy lean toward country music caused some controversy, according to the local newspaper, The Californian.

Its latest induction, which happened in August, included musicians from across genres like Lawrence Tibbett, who sang baritone at the Metropolitan Opera during the 1930s and ’40s; jazz guitarist Mary Osborne; and nu metal band Korn. They were chosen by the Hall of Fame board after a considerable amount of research and recommendation, according to the Californian.

Violinist Patrick Contreras has called for starting a Fresno Music Hall of Fame, but made clear he wouldn’t be the one to head the charge. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA

Contreras is passionate about the idea, but made clear he wouldn’t be the one to head the charge for a Fresno Hall of Fame.

“My performance schedule is insane (heading to my third booking of the day in about 15) … I think this is for a group of individuals,” he wrote. Several commenters seemed interested.

The actual work of bringing a music hall of fame to Fresno is likely years off, but it is worth noting there was a time when Fresno didn’t have a music festival, either.

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee