EXCLUSIVE: Glass Prism and Joseph Wegleski to receive Lifetime Achievement Steamtown Music Awards in Scranton
From a press release:
The Steamtown Music Awards have announced the recipients of the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Awards exclusively on NEPA Scene. As part of the fifth annual Electric City Music Conference, this year’s ceremony will honor the Glass Prism and Joseph “Wiggy” Wegleski.
“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. He is not only respected, but loved by most in the NEPA music scene,” local musical Chris Hludzik explained.
Over the last 25 years, few people have singlehandedly shaped the sound of the Northeastern Pennsylvania music scene as Joseph “Wiggy” Wegleski has. Behind the scenes, Wegleski is the chief engineer at SI Studios in Old Forge, a guitar teacher, and a producer/composer.
He’s also a mainstay on local stages. His bands Vicious, Jugdish, and Jigsaw Johnny have had prolific careers and become household names among NEPA music lovers and casual fans alike.
“Wiggy has literally shaped the sound of NEPA music and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future,” added Electric City Music Conference co-organizer Ken Norton.
After signing with RCA Records in 1969, the Glass Prism became the first rock and roll band from NEPA to land a major label record deal. The group released two albums through RCA, “Poe Through the Glass Prism” and “On Joy and Sorrow.”
Local radio personality Freddie Fabbri noted, “What a great choice. The Glass Prism were the first to do it. They did it and made it. They’re a part of local music history and an important part of overall rock and roll history.”
The Glass Prism’s first single, “The Raven,” and its B-side, “El Dorado,” were the first original singles released nationally by a rock group from the Northeast United States. “Poe Through the Glass Prism” and “The Raven” spent several weeks on the Billboard, Cashbox, and Record World charts in 1969.
Rock historians have labeled “Poe Through the Glass Prism” the first-ever concept-based rock album or “rock opera.”
The band worked with the legendary Les Paul at his recording studio in Nyack, New York. Paul served as the engineer and producer on “Poe Through the Glass Prism.”
The band later became the subject of a documentary entitled “On Joy and Sorrow: The Glass Prism Story,” which aired on PBS, MetroCast, and other stations. The movie features the last filmed interview with Les Paul before his passing.
“I have to admit, I wasn’t familiar with the Glass Prism. But as I started my research, I was blown away by how influential they were. Once I was presented with all of the facts, this was really a no-brainer,” explained ECMC co-organizer Joe Caviston.
The band reunited in 2007 for their first performance in 40 years at the Edgar Allen Poe Historic Site and Museum in Philadelphia. They have since played multiple reunion shows in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Rock journalist Maxim W. Furek acknowledges the Glass Prism as forerunners of the goth movement and originators of “goth rock.” “The Raven” single was the first true expression of goth rock, predating Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” (Small Wonder Records, 1979) by some 10 years and The Alan Parsons Project LP “Tales of Mystery and Imagination” (1976) by a full seven years.
The nucleus of the band – Rick Richards, Tom Varano, and Lou Cossa – continues in full stride as Shenandoah. This name was established in 1971 when the band opened as Shenandoah for Three Dog Night at Bowman Field in Williamsport in front of a crowd of 20,000. Cossa was also a member of Ralph, Dakota, and The Box Tops.
The 2018 Steamtown Music Awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, Sept. 13 in Scranton. More details on performers, presenters, the location, and times will be released on NEPA Scene in the coming weeks.
Nominations are open now in over 35 categories, including new categories added this year. Nominate your favorite NEPA musicians, bands, and music industry professionals at electriccitymusicconference.com/awards before it closes on Sunday, June 17.
Read NEPA Scene’s 2016 interview with Glass Prism guitarist and vocalist Tom Varano here and a 2012 interview here.
See our photos from the 2017 Steamtown Music Awards here and the entire Electric City Music Conference here. Stream or download last year’s panel discussions as free podcasts here and listen to Caviston and Norton talk about the conference and the awards in depth in Episode 26 of the NEPA Scene Podcast: