Leon and the Forklifts

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Leon and the Forklifts is an American band playing in and around Western New York from 1998–present, best known for hits like "American Music" (2000), "BlueBird Street" (1999) and "New Jazz Fool" (2001).

Band members[edit]

  • Mike Bongiovanni – Lead vocals
  • Matt Schneider – Lead guitar
  • Jeff Cooke – Bass
  • Jeff Schaller – Percussion/drums
  • Justin Lackie – Saxophone

Rotating / previous members include:

  • Wild' Bill Wachowiak – Percussion/drums
  • Fritz the Kat – Harmonica
  • Jason 'Jay' Ditley – Bass
  • Eric Murray – Bass
  • Joshua Hill; Guest Keyboardist


  • Leon in the Basement: Album release – 1998
  • Where's Leon?: Album release – 2001


The group, initially located in Buffalo, New York, started as a four piece Blues band led by vocalist Mike Bongiovanni with Matt Schneider, Bill Wachowiak and Fritz The Kat. Fritz the Kat was currently playing with another Buffalo band named Schwannoma, when approached by Mike Bongiovanni to possibly put together the band and play some local gigs.

Leon and the Forklifts made their first appearance on October 23, 1998 at a local coffee shop on Main Street in Buffalo, New York on open mic night. The band was approached by a booking agent for Nietzsche's, [1], Buffalo's Music Hotspot, on Allen Street.

The band began to make a name for itself, so the articles were written, "Always fair dressed in suits,' "lovin the ironing board keyboard stand," "the spinning bass, jumpin from amp to amp..." - The Buffalo News - The Gusto, Artvoice Magazine...

Leon and The Forklifts became the regular booked house band for McGarrett's (formerly Heenans's - Elmwood Avenue and Bidwell) (2001), The Calumet and Big Shotz (Chippewa Street) (2003).

Leon and The Forklifts shares the stage with a great number of local and national acts - including, Michael Cisvca, Freddy "King" Cole, The Mighty Blue Kings, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Rhubarb, Bob Weir, The Rusty Nails - Thursday at the Square (1999), The Outer Circle Orchestra and The Benny Goodman Orchestra (Mayor's Ball, 2003).


In February 2009, the original members of the band came to a decision to start practicing again and return to the Buffalo music scene. Picking up right where they left off, Leon and the Forklifts began booking shows around Western New York including top local venues at Pearl Street Grill & Brewery, Sonoma Grille and The Lafayette Tap Room.

On Sunday, August 16, 2009, Leon and the Forklifts was a featured act at Carly's Crossing, showing their support for pediatric cancer research and patient care at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

With a consistent dedication to the Buffalo Music Scene, Leon and the Forklifts continues to entertain in and around Western New York.

External links[edit]