"He could always turn nothing into something."

fred shapiro silver fox salvageFred Shapiro, the owner of Silver Fox Salvage in Albany, passed away late last week. Silver Fox is the architectural salvage business that has created woodwork, ironwork, and lighting out of reclaimed materials for a number of Capital Region businesses including City Beer Hall and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.

Shapiro worked as an oncologist for 17 years before starting the architectural salvage business back in 2007. His longtime friend and co-founder of the warehouse, Camille Gibeau, says Shapiro always had an interest in salvage -- possibly because he grew up with so little.

"He could always turn nothing into something," Gibeau says, "And he had many interests -- he played blues harp, was a motorcycle racer, had a huge book selling business for a while -- even played on a unicycle basketball team."

Gibeau says Silver Fox will remain open. Shapiro passed the business down to Jamie Walton, a friend and employee, who created some of Silver Fox's architectural artwork over the last few years. '

Update: Here's a nice Times Union article remembering Fred Shapiro.

photo via Silver Fox Salvage


Fred was my mother's oncologist. He guided our family through what was arguably the most difficult time of our lives and we are all very grateful for that. My mother went through a somewhat experimental tandem stem cell transplant under Dr. Shapiro's guidance. We spent a lot of time with this man, and shared many emotions in front of him. I was always touched by his kindness and demeanor.

One of the things that has stuck with me the most was a story the TU ran a few years ago about Fred's own battle with cancer - the experience gave him a unique perspective into the lives of his own patients - a perspective few doctors every truly gain.

To say I'm saddened about the loss is an understatement. In fact, I've been incredibly struck by just how upset this news had made me.

Fred lived more lifetimes in his life than most of us could possibly imagine. I'm thankful that one of those lifetimes was shared with my family.

I was in a blues band with Fred. We called ourselves Mojo Lightning. We played around Albany from 2003-2005. Fred was an excellent harmonica player and a generous, dynamic person. He wrote some good songs and was the heart of the band. I am glad to have made music with him. It was a great time in my life.

Here is the story of Mojo Lightning:
I had been in a few rock and roll bands, always pushing for my originals and a few blues songs. After years of rock, in 2002 I had a desire to go all blues. I had been going to the Blues Society open-mic nites at Bourbon Street out Central Ave. looking for guys to jam with. Unbeknownst to me so had Fred. There was a Capital District Musican website called CRUMBS where you could post if you were looking for a gig. The first time I looked at it, Fred had a posting. The gist of it was 'harmonica player songwriter looking to jam'. I called him and it turned out he lived only a few miles from me in Averill Park. I couldn't believe my luck - the first time I looked I hit on a guy that was looking to write original blues songs and nearby! We jammed in his basement a few times and he gave me some good lyrics. He kicked ass on harp. I worked up some chords and melodies and we had some good original blues songs in the bag. We decided that we were onto something and we should make a band to play them for people. We did some postings and auditions and got Mojo Lightning together. We used to rehearse at this warehouse in Rensselear where Fred had been running an ebay business 'tuggonyx' named after his dogs. It was full of all these architectural estate pieces he had and sounded awesome. We had some great gigs including the 2004 Blues Festival at the Empire State Plaza and the Egg, and the 2005 Festival at Revolution Hall.

God bless you Fred!

Here was Freds musical Bio he gave me:
Fred Shapiro – harp, songwriter

Fred has played harp sporadically since he was 17 years old and a resident of New York City. As a young man he often would play on the subway or in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. He began playing regularly and attending open mike nights in the area. After writing several original songs, he decided to start his first band at the age of 50. He is a prolific songwriter and continues to write at least two or three songs weekly. He has incredible energy on stage and is quite skilled at interacting with the audience.

Here are his lyrics to one of his songs, "Play Every Note". He dedicated this one to Steve Katz who ran the Blues Open Mics (and also passed away from cancer I believe).

Every Sunday night
At the Burbon Street Café
Musician’s lining up
To get a chance to play

Pay your three dollars
To get in at the door
Take a seat at the bar
Or a table on the floor

The jam man ran the show
I called him a friend
And I’ll never forget
these words he said

Play Every Note
As If It Were Your Last
Cause Life Goes By Way Too Fast

With his trademark beret
and a smile on his face
He played kick ass guitar
And back-up bass

Now he may have left us
But remembered in a song
Playing In The Sandbox
Always powerful and strong

The jam man ran the show
I called him a friend
And I’ll never forget
these words he said

Play Every Note
As If It Were Your Last
Cause Life Goes By Way Too Fast

Oh, how could I forget - you must hear him play. Here is an mp3 of Fred ripping it up on harmonica with Mojo Lightning on his original blues instrumental composition "Cuttin Loose" (takes a minute to load):


Just earlier this month Fred worked on a small project I commissioned at the Silver Fox, where I am a frequent visitor. I knew he was sick but was not aware of how grave his illness became so quickly until I went to pick it up and Camille let me know. I am happy knowing that he did what he loved up until the very end.

I want to buy it all and keep it going in his name
If you got time to talk

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