Tony Butala is making new music with The Lettermen, but he's just as interested in preserving music's past.
Plans still are in the works to reopen the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in Sharon, Pa., and possibly spread its reach to other locations nationwide.
The museum dedicated to harmony singing in all musical genres opened in downtown Sharon in 1998. It was a long-time dream of Butala's, and he wanted to make that dream come true in his hometown.
The original hall closed in 2004 following a dispute with the building's owner, and Butala has been trying to relocate the hall and its collection of memorabilia to the city's Columbia Theatre.
The state of Pennsylvania has pledged grants to help with the needed renovations, Butala said.
But while the money has been approved, it hasn't been released, leaving the project in limbo.
"We think with the economy picking up the way it is, the state of Pennsylvania will get back to it," he said. "We still have all of the memorabilia."
The theater, which seats 1,740 people, would house the Vocal Hall's collection and be used for concerts, but it also could serve as an entertainment center for other events in the city, he said.
Another possibility would be lending out some of the memorabilia for Soft Rock Cafes in the vein on the Hard Rock Cafe restaurants worldwide.
Those venues also would help publicize the main museum / hall of fame in Sharon, and Butala believes the diversity of the Vocal Group Hall of Fame's inductees would make it a popular concept.
"Rock is only one genre," he said. "We cover big band, folk, jazz, country, barbershop. We go from Peter Paul & Mary to Earth Wind & Fire to the Crosby Stills & Nash to the Association to Alabama and the Oak Ridge Boys. You can't say that about the Rock Hall."