BUFFALO MUSIC HALL OF FAME WELCOMES THE DOOLEYS TO THE CLASS OF 2022
2022 BUFFALO MUSIC HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES, THE DOOLEYS
(L to R) Glenn Colton, Paul Weisenburger, Paul Swisher, Gregory Opalinski, Timothy Wright, Joe Mombrea
Founded by Paul Swisher and Greg Opalinski in 1982 and defined by distinctive three-part vocal harmonies, mellow instrumentation, and a strong social conscience, The Dooleys became one of the most popular and influential acoustic acts on the Buffalo music scene.
Paul and Greg met as ten-year-old students at Meadow Elementary School in North Tonawanda, NY. By the time they were in college, the pair had developed musically as singer-songwriters and had formed a duo playfully named after a green “Dooleys” pin that Greg found on the ground.
The original Dooleys featured Greg’s lyrics and Paul’s melodies, bolstered by the pair’s harmony singing. From the beginning, their songs were politically flavored. In 1985, they recorded a debut cassette, “It’s Only Matters of Times” produced by Buffalo Music Hall of Famer Frank Pusateri.
A second cassette release, 1988’s “Ring In” marked the beginning of a long enduring association with guitar master / producer Dick Bauerle. Dick worked with Frank Pusateri and lifted The Dooleys’ sound to new heights. Dick also introduced Paul and Greg to many of Buffalo’s A-list musicians including Ted Reinhardt, Bob Volkman, Bobby Jones, Jerry Livingston and Eli Knockoff. All of these Buffalo Music Hall of Fame musicians appeared on the “Ring In” project. The completed cassette caught the ear of singer-songwriter (and future Buffalo Music Hall of Famer) Glenn Colton, who joined The Dooleys as a permanent third member.
Colton’s arrival allowed The Dooleys to build originals (and covers) around a three-voice, two-guitar foundation that established a long-term successful sound for the group. Among the results was a third album, 1990’s “God Bless America”, which was one of the earliest Western New York album projects released on Compact Disc. Dick Bauerle and Frank Pusateri played major roles in this recording as well.
The Dooleys’ continuing social consciousness led to an invitation to perform at No Greater Love’s Tribute to American and British Hostages Held in Lebanon, which was staged in Washington DC in 1991 and broadcast live to a worldwide audience on CNN. Other instances of community service included benefit performances for Musicians for Kids, Kids Escaping Drugs and a decades-long association with Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Carly’s Club.
After Greg Opalinski left the group to pursue a voice degree at Bowling Green, The Dooleys reached out to Musicians for Kids founder Tim Wright to become their new vocalist and third guitarist. The revamped trio continued to perform and recorded a fourth album of original material, “Livin’ In America”. Live performances flourished under the influence of Tim’s effervescent stage persona.
When Glenn Colton stepped away from the group to pursue a career as a children’s entertainer, he was replaced by talented singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Paul Weisenburger. As The Dooleys began to focus even more on recording, their next release, “The Green Album” featured contributions from all five members, past and present. Swisher and Weisenburger also spearheaded two charitable projects featuring The Dooleys and a plethora of special guests, “Songs From the Heart” and “Prayers and Reflections”. These projects were recorded primarily at Paul’s home studio, the Pickle Patch in Cheektowaga, NY and at Mitch Metzler’s Image Recording Studio in Olcott, NY.
1995’s “Second to Nun” was a collection of songs that included solo recordings and collaborations between various Dooleys combinations. The late Donnie Roy, a long time friend and early band mate of Paul and Greg contributed several recordings on this project. At this point, co-founder Paul Swisher had become the constant presence within the group. The album included “The Miracle is Real,” co-written by Swisher from a poem composed by former Lebanon hostage Terry Anderson as a tribute to another hostage, Father Lawrence Martin Jenco. The next album, “Retro Acoustic Gems” was a Roswell Park benefit that would be the last group project until 2011.
After a decade of semi-dormancy, Swisher and Opalinski came together again after the former was inspired by stumbling upon a copy of their initial cassette release, “It’s Only Matters of Times”. This new project would be named MPP (Major Progress Program), after the North Tonawanda academic branch where the two had met at Meadow Elementary decades before. MPP’s material was edgier, more eclectic and more electric.
The MPP project featured a bevy of Buffalo Music Hall of Famers: drummer Ted Reinhardt, bassist Tom Reinhardt, guitarist George Puleo (all of Gamalon), keyboardist David Kane of Them Jazzbeards, and guest musicians Bob Volkman and Jack Prybylski. The recording sessions took place at Select Sound Recording Studio in Kenmore, NY.
Tragedy struck in 2015 when Ted Reinhardt was killed in a plane crash before the release of the triple vinyl concept album “Life and Death in Pandora’s Box” which was then dedicated to establishing a scholarship fund in memory of Ted and another Gamalon member, the late Hall of Fame guitarist and Ted’s best friend, Bruce Brucato. The Ted/Bruce scholarship continues to be awarded annually to students at Ted and Bruce’s alma mater, Kenmore East High School.
In 2017, Greg and Paul reunited with Glenn Colton as the opening act of an MPP benefit concert at Sportsmen’s Tavern.
After that gig, the group expanded into The Dooley Brothers Band, adding Joe Mombrea (JJ Swing), drummer Shannon Sweet (Dive House Union), George Puleo, David Kane, and bassist Jack Kulp (Damone Jackson Outcome).
The Dooleys continued to perform and record, releasing a vinyl LP, “Peace, Love & Kindness” in 2020. Future plans for The Dooleys include continuing to write, record and perform original music and to use use their collective talents and abilities to (hopefully) inspire listeners to focus on positivity and good will and to actively help those who are less fortunate than themselves.
For more information on the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, visit the BMHOF website: https://www.bmhof.org