Lou Gramm of Foreigner will perform in Albion on June 23 at Pratt Theater

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 May 2024 at 4:16 pm

Famed singer will join former band mates in Black Sheep, including Michael Bonafede of Albion

Michael Bonafede, back left, is shown with the Black Sheep band in this photo from the mid 1970s. He is standing next to Lou Gramm, who would go on to be lead singer for Foreigner, which sold over 80 million albums. Gramm will reunite with Bonafede and Blacl Sheep for a performance June 23 in Albion at the Pratt Theater, which is owned by Bonafede and his wife Judith Koehler.

ALBION – A new inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will be performing in Albion during a 2 p.m. concert on June 23.

Lou Gramm, the front man of the band Foreigner, will highlight a concert that will include his bandmates from Black Sheep. Gramm was with that group in the mid 1970s before joining Foreigner.

Michael Bonafede of Albion, owner of the Pratt Theater, played drums for Black Sheep. The band wrote its second album at Bonafede’s farm on Gaines Basin Road in Albion. Bonafede recently spotted an etching in concrete at his farm, where he ran Sports ’N Graphics for many years: “Black Sheep rehearsed here 1975.”

Bonafede recently called Gramm to let him know some of the Black Sheep band members would be performing some of their old songs in Albion.

Gramm jumped in and wanted to be part of the fun, and a chance to share the stage with Bonafede on drums, Don Mancuso on guitar and Larry Crozier on keyboard. Alona Kuhns and Luke Crozier (Larry’s son) will both play bass during the June 23 concert. The Black Sheep bass player, Bruce Turgon, is in California.

Not long after that phone call, Gramm and Foreigner were announced on April 21 as inductees into the 2024 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Foreigner is shown in an announcement from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that the band will be inducted as part of the Class of 2024.

Bonafede thought Gramm’s schedule might change with the Hall of Fame announcement. Gramm also is touring and performing full sets. But he is committed to the concert in Albion.

“Lou is crazy busy,” Bonafede said. “This is about an enduring friendship. He wants to play with his Black Sheep bandmates.”

The June 23 concert is shaping up to be a big event for the Pratt Theater, a venue on the third floor of an opera house. Bonafede and his wife Judith Koehler have worked to bring the site back into a showcase for live music.

Before Black Sheep hit the big time and opened for KISS, the Rochester-based group performed in Orleans County about 50 years ago – at Oak Orchard Lanes in Albion and Medina High School.

Bonafede remembers the Oak Orchard concert. The band was on plywood on the alleys, and the bowling alley ran out of alcohol halfway through the concert.

“The place was mobbed,” Bonafede said.

Black Sheep recorded two albums for Capital Records and shared the stage with Kiss, Aerosmith, REO Speedwagon, and Hall and Oates, performing in front of tens of thousands of people. Black Sheep broke up in 1976.

Erin Moody in sunglasses and other members of the Pratt Pit Band and Choir had the old opera house venue rocking on April 14 for a concert attended by 300 people.

The June 23 event is capped at 300 tickets at $50 apiece. Eventbrite tickets available online beginning June 1. Check PrattEventCenter.com on June 1 for online sales.

Before June 1, tickets are available in Albion at Digital Ink Arts (585-200-2400), Pretty Sweet Bakery (585-590-4201) and Rise & Grind (585-746-0464).

Bonafede wanted to give local residents a shot at the tickets first. He expects they will go fast once available online.

Black Sheep is planning to perform six songs: “Halfway Home,” “Encouraging words,” “Payin’ Yer Dues,” “No worry no pain,” “Stick around” and “Chain on me.”

There will be a lengthy set to start the concert with the Pratt Pit Band which includes many local musicians.

“I’m super excited this is happening in Albion,” Bonafede said today. “The circumstances have led to a Hall of Famer performing out here.”

Bonafede said many of the leading local performers will be able to share the stage with Lou Gramm, who sold about 80 million albums with Foreigner.

“The pit band is an important part of the concert,” Bonafede said. “I try to get local people. That’s the idea of the venue. It’s a local performance venue that is a unique asset for the community.”