Goodnight everyone, and have an Ireland is calling weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

Milwaukee Irish Fest is a week away and the Journal Sentinel has a preview. THIS weekend it’s La Crosse Irish Fest on the west side of Wisconsin with plenty of great musicians. To get you in the mood for Milwaukee’s event, the largest Irish festival in the world, some of the La Crosse acts highlight this week’s feature one night early.

We open with a group from County Mayo on the West coast of Ireland. Boxing Banjo has four accomplished Irish musicians: brothers Dara (accordion) and Mick Healy (banjo) along with Joseph McNulty (fiddle) and Seán O’Meara (guitar).

Boxing Banjo will be performing all four days at Milwaukee Irish Fest. Miller Lite Stage on Thursday, Coors Light Stage Friday – Sunday.

This next super Irish band has been around for two decades and has performed in more than 2,000 shows.  

“You have to see us live. We are the true working-mans’ band,” says Ryan Lacey, who joined the lineup in 2003. “We still, and most likely always will, tour most of the year, and that’s how we constantly hone our craft.”

Alas, Gaelic Storm will not be in Milwaukee next week. But they’re in La Crosse Friday and in Appleton September 16-17.

Another crowd favorite: We Banjo 3 from Galway. Many websites have posted this review:

One of the best live acts to come out of Ireland in recent years, the multi-award winning We Banjo 3 combine supergroup credentials with a breath-taking command of the emotive power of fiddle, guitar, mandolin and banjo. Any single member of this group could a electrify a venue with a solo performance, but together, in the joyous musical alchemy of We Banjo 3, their passionate lead vocalist like a young Springsteen adopted by the Chieftans, the result is truly unforgettable. Simply put, the gold standard of Irish and American roots music.

We Banjo 3 performs in Milwaukee on the Coors Light Stage Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

These young women will NOT be in Milwaukee next weekend, but they should be.

Camille and Kennerly Kitt are identical twin harpists known as the Harp Twins. They’ve represented the United States at four different World Harp Festivals, have attracted  more than  2.5 million fans across their social media sites and have received  130 million views on their YouTube music videos.

“Elegant, wistful, excellent!”
 CBS News

“Some things in the world are so beautiful and pure attempting to describe them in words would be futile. Such is the case with electric harpists and identical twins, Camille and Kennerly.”
The Huffington Post

“We have spent a LOT of time playing and performing classical music and we still love the classical genre. However, even while we were harp performance majors, we always felt like the harp could be so much more. Harp has been relegated to a background or orchestral instrument for basically all of its history. The only harpists that seem to have ever broken that barrier are singers – which means that the harp still is a background instrument because the vocals carry the melody and the harp part becomes simplified and not as significant. We wanted to play the kind of music that we wanted to play without being confined to the same music that harpists have been playing for centuries. We wanted to wear what we wanted to wear and not be relegated to the long skirts and sensible heels of the classical harpist. We wanted to break barriers, cross genres, and take the harp to where it has never been before – in every way! We never expected that there would be a niche for harps playing rock music, but we seemed to have created one! We don’t want the harp to define us. We want to define the harp.”
The Harp Twins

That’s it for this week’s normally Friday feature.

Have a great weekend!

Our family has become good friends with this family band. We met them backstage at La Crosse last August.

Kyla dances with the Glencastle Irish Dancers who will be performing in La Crosse this weekend and Milwaukee next week. Sadly our friends won’t be in Milwaukee, but can’t wait to see them in La Crosse!

Goodnight everyone, and have a ‘life is a gift’ weekend

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

A long, long time ago, my mother, in a group of people that included my father, said with a big grin that a certain celebrity could place his shoes under her bed anytime. She was referring to Tony Bennett. Everyone was laughing. Dad looked like he swallowed a mouse.

On Wednesday of this week Bennett turned 96. If that sounds old it’s because it is. But in the world of entertainment it’s safe to say to everybody loves Tony Bennett. The legendary pop and jazz singer has fans of all ages. This week, a tribute.

Bennett grew up in a poor family of Italian immigrants, but his uncle was a vaudeville tap dancer, giving him an early window into show business, singing in restaurants for money at the age of 13.

Drafted by the U.S. Army in November 1944, Bennett served as an infantryman in Europe, moving across France, and later into Germany.

“The Germans were frightened,” said Bennett. “We were frightened. Nobody wanted to kill anybody when we were on the line, but the weapons were so strong that it overcame us and everybody else.”

Bennett credited the Army with allowing him to study singing under the GI Bill. He also admitted that his two years of service gave him enough time to witness the horrors of war.

“The first time I saw a dead German, that’s when I became a pacifist,” he said. The sight of death “was a nightmare that’s permanent. I just said, ‘This is not life. This is not life.’”

After leaving the service he worked on his vocal technique, signed with Columbia records, and had his first #1 record in 1951.

More hits followed like “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Rags to Riches,” and in 1962 his signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” But Bennett’s commercial popularity and career would start to fade due to a crooner’s nightmare: rock and roll.

AARP.com reported:

By the late 1970s, Bennett’s career was ailing. He had no record label, no manager, and he was performing almost exclusively in Vegas. Living in Los Angeles, he had a drug habit, a disintegrating marriage, and mounting debts. When the IRS started proceedings to take away his home, he nearly overdosed, and had a near-death experience. “A golden light enveloped me in a warm glow,” he wrote in his autobiography. “I had the sense that I was about to embark on a very compelling journey. But suddenly I was jolted out of the vision…. I knew I had to make major changes in my life.”

He reached out to his sons, Danny and Daegal. Then living in New Jersey, they played in a rock band together. Danny managed the group, setting up rehearsals and booking shows. They recall flying in for an emergency meeting at their father’s art studio. “He said, ‘Look, I’m lost here,’ ” says Danny. ” ‘It seems like people don’t want to hear the music I make.’ “

Danny suggested that his father curb his spending and jump-start his career by appealing to a younger audience. Bennett hired Danny as his manager. The son put the father on a strict budget (Tony moved to a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan), took him out of Vegas (right money, wrong image), scheduled concerts at colleges and small theaters, and got him re-signed to Columbia Records in the mid-1980s. At the time, Bennett hadn’t recorded an album in 11 years. Danny also got him on hip shows like The Simpsons, and when Tony wanted to be on MTV, Danny made it happen. Bennett recorded one of the network’s Unplugged segments in 1994, and his Unplugged disk won a Grammy. “We didn’t make it cool to like Tony Bennett,” says Danny. “We just put him in places that were cool to be.”

Over the years Bennett has done duets with all kinds of singers, some you wouldn’t expect.

This next song was released for the first time in 1947 and means “Life in rosy hues.” French singer Edith Piaf made it her signature song, with joyful lyrics about finding true love.

A Wonderful World was an album recorded by Bennett and k.d. lang (36 years younger than Tony) released in 2002.

The album won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.

Oh, this gentleman paints, too.

Tony Bennett with his artwork. Courtesy of Benedetto.
Image: In his New York art studio, Tony Bennett finishes a painting while sitting among several of his completed works.

He had been painting every day, even while touring internationally. He has exhibited his work in galleries around the world and was chosen to be the official artist of the 2001 Kentucky Derby, creating two original paintings celebrating this historic event.

As previously mentioned the MTV generation first took Bennett to heart during his appearance with the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the 1993 MTV Video Awards ceremony.

“Tony Bennett has not just bridged the generation gap,” pointed out The New York Times, “he has demolished it. He has solidly connected with a younger crowd weaned on rock. And there have been no compromises.”

In 2006 Bennett recorded his “Duets” album to coincide with his 80th birthday and so popular there had to be a “Duets II” that came five years later for another milestone Bennett birthday, #85, and featured Amy Winehouse’s last recording she made before her death. This pop and jazz standard was written in 1930.

The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 making Bennett the oldest living artist to reach that top spot, as well as marking the first time he had reached it himself.

Following the deaths of Winehouse and Whitney Houston Bennett called for the legalization of all drugs.

“In Amsterdam they legalized drugs and it calmed everybody down. It stopped a lot of gangsters who sneak around and get people to take drugs. Everybody gets wounded that way. By legalizing it, you won’t have that problem. It’s called the elimination of ignorance. If you do something that makes things better, why not do it immediately, whatever it is.”

At the end of 2014 the 88-year old Bennett and 28-year old Lady Gaga kicked off their “Cheek to Cheek” tour that followed their album of the same name a few months earlier.

Bennett’s final album “Love For Sale,” again a collaboration with Lady Gaga, was released on September 30, 2021. From the album…

That’s it for this week.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

Bennett, whose awards and accolades are simply much too numerous to mention, revealed this past February that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016, but it’s been progressing slowly.

“Touring keeps him on his toes and also stimulates his brain in a significant way,” said his doctor.

But he’s now retired from performing.

This summer Bennett in a wheelchair was seen in a rare appearance in Central Park.

It sounds so simple, but if you just be yourself, you’re different than anyone else. To me, life is a gift, and it’s a blessing to just be alive. And each person should learn what a gift it is to be alive no matter how tough things get.
Tony Bennett

God bless him.

Goodnight everyone, and have a weekend that’s out of this world!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

This month we commemorated the anniversary of one of the greatest achievements in American history.

Or did we?

You say you didn’t read much about it, hear or see stories on the radio or TV?

That’s because the historic achievement took place on July 20, 1969.

Do the math.

The news media has an odd habit of not showering attention on special events unless the anniversary falls in years of fives and tens. Tens are the best, like the 10th, 20th, etc.

So no big hoop-dee-doo in 2022 like there was in 2019.

It’s a Flashback Friday. Enjoy!

Goodnight everyone, and have a Christmassy weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

Christmas in July reportedly began on July 24th and 25th in 1933 at a girl’s camp called Keystone Camp in Brevard, North Carolina.  There was a Christmas tree, snow made from cotton, laundry bags used as makeshift stockings, and even Santa Claus.

Or did the tradition start at Yellowstone Park when a stagecoach ran into a freak summer blizzard. Stranded in the Rocky Mountains at the Old Faithful Inn, the riders refused to be distraught, and celebrated Christmas.

No one knows for sure, but it’s a thing now.

This week, we’ve got Christmas music that seems to fit even though Independence Day was more than two weeks ago.

We get rolling with Mindi Abair who’s been recording and performing for the past 21 years. Known primarily for her work on the saxophone here she vocalizes about her December 25th anticipation.

Great way to open.

Abair mentioned Nat King Cole in that tune. When November rolls around we’ll hear why so many people start thinking Christmas in July as FM stations start playing tracks from your parents’ albums that suddenly are cool.

Like bandleader Percy Faith (“A Summer Place”) who created the so-called “easy listening” sound.

Lots of good reasons to long for Christmas.

That album was released in 1966.

Faith was a child piano prodigy, but his hands were burned in a fire at the age of 18. So he switched to conducting and arranging. That move cemented a successful career. He died died in 1976, just a few months before his disco version of “A Summer Place” became a Top 20 hit on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Finding it difficult to think about Christmas when the calendar says July? Imagine hot spots like Honolulu, Acapulco, or Rio. Last year on Christmas Day the high temperature in Rio de Janeiro was 77.

Piano duo Arthur Ferrante & Louis Teicher were one of the best-selling easy listening acts of the 1960s, offering light arrangements of easily recognizable classical pieces, movie soundtrack themes, and show tunes.

Ferrante’s manager Scott Smith said “They made beautiful music, but they were not easy listening. They were very dynamic.”

Ferrante died in 2009. He was 88. Teicher died the year before at 83.The duo recorded 150 albums, racking up 22 gold and platinum records and selling 90 million records worldwide. They performed 5,200 concerts before retiring in 1989.

More Mindi Abair. This time she joins with trumpet/flugelhorn player Rick Braun and guitarist Peter White on a Jingle Bells twist.

Forget Christmas in July. How about “Thanksgiving” in July?

Of course it’s quite clear there is no mention of Christmas or any other holiday in “Jingle Bells. According to the History Channel the song may have been first performed for a Thanksgiving church service. May have. Some lyrics may not have been appropriate. The less-known verses of the song describe picking up girls, drag-racing on snow and a high-speed crash. The lyrics “go it while you’re young” in the final verse of the secular standard definitely do not describe a holy or silent night.

For nearly 60 years “A Charlie Brown Christmas” has been broadcast annually on television. It almost didn’t make it into production.

From New Yorker Magazine:

For the music, the team (producer Lee Mendelson, animator Bill Melendez, Peanuts creator Bill Schulz) had courted up-and-coming jazz musician Vince Guaraldi, whose “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” seemed to strike the same balance of somber enlightenment and childlike buoyancy that Schulz achieved in his comic. But when they played the introduction song as the children skated on the frozen pond, Mendelson realized it was way too slow and solemn. It was missing something. He sat down at his kitchen table and wrote out the words to “Christmas Time Is here” on an envelope. Guaraldi enlisted the children’s choir of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in San Rafael, California, to sing the lyrics.

Lyrics or not, the CBS executives didn’t think jazz belonged in a cartoon. They also challenged Schulz’s decision to use untrained children instead of professional adult voice actors. They especially couldn’t understand why children would use such big words. (Lucy: “We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big Eastern syndicate, you know.” Charlie Brown: “Don’t think of it as dust. Think of it as maybe the soil of some great past civilization. Maybe the soil of ancient Babylon. It staggers the imagination. Maybe carrying soil that was trod upon by Solomon, or even Nebuchadnezzar.”)

Schulz even got pushback from his own team. Mendelson suggested a laugh track would save the show and Schulz responded by standing up and walking out of the room. When Schulz, a Sunday school teacher, said Linus should recite from the Gospel of Luke, Mendelson and Melendez protested. “We looked at each other and said, ‘Well, there goes our careers right down the drain,’” Mendelson recalls. “Nobody had ever animated anything from the Bible before, and we knew it probably wouldn’t work. We were flabbergasted by it.”

When A Charlie Brown Christmas aired at 7:30 p.m. ET on December 9, 1965, half of American TV viewers tuned in. The reviews were outstanding. Washington Post TV critic Lawrence Laurent wrote, “Good old Charlie Brown, a natural born loser … finally turned up a winner.”

That’s it for this week.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a jolly weekend! The most wonderful time of the year is coming sooner than you think.

Brian Setzer & his Orchestra used to put on a helluva Christmas concert. But Setzer isn’t touring these days. In November of 2019, under doctor’s orders, Setzer was forced to cancel his 16th annual “Christmas Rocks! Tour” by THE BRIAN SETZER ORCHESTRA due to a severe case of tinnitus. we still have his rockin’ blow the roof off recordings to enjoy.

The Glencastle Irish Dancers including daughter Kyla, based where I live in Franklin, WI, at this past Sunday’s feis (dance competition. The theme was, you guessed it.

Goodnight everyone, and have a Vive la France weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

Bastille Days, the largest French themed outdoor festival in North America, returned to Milwaukee Thursday.

On July 14, 1789, a state prison on the east side of Paris, known as the Bastille, was attacked by an angry and aggressive mob. The prison had become a symbol of the monarchy’s dictatorial rule, and the event became one of the defining moments in the Revolution that followed.

This week, music from the 1951 movie “An American in Paris” starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron.

Jerry Mulligan is an ex-serviceman who stayed on in Paris after the war. He’s now a struggling artist trying to sell his paintings on the sidewalk. He’s had little luck until the rich Milo Roberts sees him. She offers to help him with his career but is clearly more interested in Jerry than his work. She rents a studio for him and plans his first exhibition. For his part, Jerry falls for a lovely young French woman he sees in a nightclub, Lise Bouvier. She however is being pursued by Jerry’s friend, entertainer Henri Baurel. When Baurel gets the opportunity to tour in the US, he wants Lise to marry him so they can go together. She is in love with Jerry but feels she can’t abandon Henri who saved her during the war. She has only a short time to decide.

No, they don’t make ’em like they used to, films or music. George Gershwin composed the music. His brother Ira did the lyrics.

In 2012 a musical debuted on Broadway featuring Gershwin tunes. Here’s Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara.

“The only work that really brings enjoyment
Is the kind that is for girl and boyment”

Nice.

In “An American In Paris” the main character (Jerry) and a friend (Henri) discuss the girl each loves, neither realizing it’s the same gal (Lise). The scene is set to this song, performed and recorded in 2008 in Rio de Janeiro by the lovely Dianna Krall.

The New York Times said of the Grammy-winning, multi-platinum jazz singer that Krall possesses “a voice at once cool and sultry, wielded with a rhythmic sophistication.”

Krall will be at Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater on October 8, 2022.

In this week’s featured movie Milo Roberts, a lonely heiress notices, purchases two of Jerry’s paintings, then brings Jerry to her apartment to pay him. Jerry accepts and on the way home breaks into song, not knowing he will be Milo’s only dinner guest.

Check out Paige O’Hara and prepare to be impressed with how long she holds a particular note.

In 1991, O’Hara made her motion picture debut in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast where she was the voice of Belle. She longer sings as Belle but does paintings of the character for Disney, like “Tale as Old as Time,” featuring “Beauty and the Beast’s” title characters — and more than $10,000 worth of precious gems.

Back to our movie. The main female character, Lise Bouvier dances with Jerry Mulligan along the Seine River before she rushes off to meet singer Henri “Hank” Baurel do this number. Nancy Sinatra included her version on a 2013 album of previously unreleased tracks.

Last month Sinatra celebrated her 82nd birthday.

That’s it for this week.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a great weekend!

“An American in Paris” was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won six, including Best Picture.

The film climaxed ended with a 17-minute ballet sequence, considered a Gershwin masterpiece.

From the-take.com:

Imagine if a modern filmmaker put a seventeen minute-long dance sequence into a movie. Even if that movie is about dance itself, seventeen minutes would be a long time for a single choreographed sequence without any dialogue or character interruption. It would almost surely be an audience killer.

It wasn’t. “An American in Paris” was a huge box office smash.

Here’s a clip of the finale music, from the Boston Pops.


Goodnight everyone, and have a velvety smooth weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

No special theme this week. Back to more relatively new music, and this week’s assortment is perfect for some summer backyard cocktailing and lounging. Let’s get started.

Percussionist Edgardo Cintron is a second-generation Puerto Rican and a second generation musician. He  attributes his musical influences to his father, Pablo Cintron, who played guitar in the U.S. military band,  and also to Charlie Parker, Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana and Tito Puente.

By the age of five he was studying French horn and guitar, then moved on to percussion, all under his father’s direction. 

Moving the family to the East Coast in 1962, the elder Cintron formed his own band, Los Tropicales. By age twelve, Edgardo had won the percussion chair. He traveled up and down the coast with the band, playing at hotels and Latin dances.

After serving in the army (1975-1977), Edgardo began studying music again, and formed  his own twelve-piece band that played numerous jazz festivals and concerts.

From his new CD, a remake of an O’Jays hit released 50 years ago.

Cintron has worked with the Average White Band, Jeff Lorber, Grover Washington Jr., Billy Davis, and Marilyn McCoo.

Before vibraphonist Steve Raybine passed away last December after a year-long battle with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis his ‘Best Of’ album was released as a tribute.

Born in Oshkosh, WI, Raybine was an accomplished recording artist and solo performer and worked with numerous jazz legends. He received degrees from the prestigious Eastman School of Music, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Iowa.

Raybine was nicknamed “master of the Mallets” and you’ll hear why in this instrumental version of a 1978 song by American singer-songwriter Bobby Caldwell.

On the vibraphone Raybine said, “I’m grateful that so many people love this instrument and am excited for people to hear it and make it a compelling  new ‘vibe’ within the smooth jazz idiom.”

Raybine died at the age of 67.

Why do some songs last and last and last for decades? That’s easy. Because they’re so damn good.

They’re now called standards, like this one that debuted 68 years ago, sung first by Frank Sinatra.

Who knows how many artists have recorded this classic but one of them is an Italian born and American raised singer, a Grammy nominated international recording performer and songwriter who has performed at Presidential Inaugurations and opened for such renowned artists as Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller, Jackie Mason, Dizzy Gillespie, Barry Gibb and David Brenner. Discovered by the legendary Lionel Hampton, she has charmed audiences with her sultry and seductive blend of jazz and pop.

Bennett loves to perform in front of live audiences where she can sing in English, Spanish, and French.

Next up, Birmingham, Alabama based flutist Kim Scott. One reviewer wrote, “Kim plays the flute like a jubilant field lark with a perfection that sets new standards.”

From her most recent album out this year comes a rendition of “Butterfly,” a track from Herbie Hancock’s groundbreaking 1974 jazz fusion album “Thrust.” And since this is a Hancock remake you not only get Scott’s flute but some nice electric piano.

Ronald Jackson, journalist for The Smooth Jazz Ride, states “Artists like Kim Scott bring an exuberance to an art form long prophesied to be a thing of the past in short order by critics. When you listen to the Pied Piper-like allure and magic of her style, you come to the conclusion that those critics couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

I had no idea there is a bit of a teen wave starting in jazz. A great example is J3.

Justin-Lee Schultz on piano is 15.

Justin’s sister Jamie is 18. She plays drums, bass, and guitar.

Jaden Baker is 16 and says, “I play the drums, bass guitar, piano, guitar, cello, tenor trombone, bass trombone, and I’ve just started messing with trumpet and accordion. I was raised to never have a favorite.”

From their debut album, originally recorded by Michael Jackson…

Jaden Baker: “It is important for myself and J3 to ride the positive train because the majority of the negative music that trends nowadays is directed towards teens and young people. I think it’s important for us to always be positive and to make music that spreads positivity. Music definitely has the power to bring people together and I hope J3 can do that.”

That’s it for this week.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

We close with Jeff Golkin and his large 13-piece band, Forever Love. Golkin was a former local politician in Warren Township, NJ. He also was an active volunteer firefighter for 8 years, served as Chief of the Mount Horeb Volunteer Fire Company, and was a Member of the Board of Health and Liaison to the Police and Rescue Squads.

Producer, drummer and pianist Golkin has released his first album that includes a remake of a hit by the Blackbyrds.

Goodnight everyone, and have an American Band weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language.

These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available.

Come along and enjoy.

Rock and Roll originated in the good ol’ United States and was created by the mixture of country music, western music, rhythm and the blues. The genre revolutionized music tastes in America (especially with teenagers) and ever since then the music world changed.

This week we highlight some American bands in advance of Independence Day.

Let’s get started with the group that is second on the list of American bands with the most record sales.

Chicago was formed in 1967 in Chicago, Illinois. They have recorded 37 albums, sold over 100,000,000 records, and continue to tour.

A few months ago Chicago released a new single titled “If This Is Goodbye,” their first new music in eight years.

This summer Chicago is on tour co-headlining with Brian Wilson.

The current Chicago lineup includes three active original members: singer and keyboardist Robert Lamm, trumpeter Lee Loughnane and trombonist James Pankow. Original member Walter Parazaider, who plays saxophone, flute and clarinet, is still a member but retired from touring in 2017.

Overshadowed by their contemporaries such as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and the Beach Boys, The Byrds are regarded as being just as influential. While the group began as a folk-rock band, over time, they transitioned to have a more psychedelic sound.

This song reached #1 in December of 1965, composed by Pete Seeger after he responded to a letter from his publisher that read, “Pete Seeger composed “Turn! Turn! Turn!” in 1959 in response to a letter from his publisher. “Pete, can’t you write another song like ‘Goodnight, Irene’? I can’t sell or promote these protest songs.”

Seeger was reluctant.

“You better find another songwriter. This is the only kind of song I know how to write.”

But Seeger gave it a shot, turning to the Bible and words from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

“A time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap; a time to kill, a time to heal” Seeger chose the words almost verbatim and added his own lyrics referencing the war: “A time of peace; I swear it’s not too late.”

His publisher’s reaction? He didn’t catch on, paving the way for a huge hit.

“Wonderful,” he wrote back, “just what I’d hoped for.”

And yes, that was legendary rocker David Crosby on the far left.

From Rolling Stone:

On September 20, the group will release The Byrds: 1964-1967, which crams 500 photos (some previously unseen), into 400 pages,  all documenting the legendary L.A. band that created folk-rock, country-rock, and arguably psychedelic rock too. Focusing on the original lineup of Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, Gene Clark and Michael Clarke, the tome includes in-studio photos, alternate takes of album covers, backstage and tour-bus glimpses, goofy group publicity photos (including one of them in bathing suits with a beauty-pageant winner), and many shots of a startlingly cherubic-looking Crosby.

The book also features new, running commentary from surviving members McGuinn, Crosby and Hillman and ends with a final section devoted to photos from the sessions for their ill-fated but underrated 1973 reunion album. Of that project and the way he lorded over it, Crosby admits, in his comments, “I tried to be nice, but I’m pretty sure I was a dick.”

These memories will cost you. A so-called “standard edition” of the book will be priced at $125. A deluxe edition signed by McGuinn and Hillman will go for $350; another limited edition, signed by McGuinn, Hillman and Crosby, can be had for $475. If you really want to make a dent in your savings account, another autographed “Super Deluxe” edition, which comes with a fine-art print of one of the book’s photos and will be limited to 75 copies, will set you back $1,700.

Among the many aspects of Byrds history that are rekindled by the book is the Beatlemania level of fan worship that greeted the band the year after “Mr. Tambourine Man” put them on the charts. Photos show fans grabbing at the band or swarming around Crosby as he exits a limo. “America’s answer to the Beatles,” chuckles McGuinn, who will turn 80 next month. “It was like being in A Hard Day’s Night. It was exciting, but a bit dangerous. Sometimes our limo would be parked on the street and we had to run from the car to the venue and the girls would tackle you and say, ‘I got ’em!’ They didn’t have good security back then.” McGuinn also recalls one loyal fan stealing his trademark Byrds granny glasses in Chicago: “We were doing an in-store and coming down the escalator and some girl grabbed them. They were gone.”

Next…

Duane and Gregg Allman are the sound of Southern Rock. They provided fans with a two-guitar attack and music that ranged from hard blues to feel-good road trip songs.

This clip is from ABC-TV’s “In Concert,” a Friday night music show a la NBC’s “The Midnight Special,” on November 2, 1972.

Gregg Allman married Cher in 1975, a year after Cher and Sonny Bono split. Allman and Cher separated just over a week after their marriage, then reconciled. They were on the verge of divorce when he learned she was pregnant with their son Elijah, but the marriage eventually did end. 

Gregg Allman died in 2017 at the age of 69.

Duane Allman, the leader and driving force behind the band, died in November 1971 from massive injuries received in a motorcycle crash in Macon, Georgia. He was 24.

These next rockers could boast about their five-part vocal harmony. Not to mention five number-one singles and six number-one albums, six Grammy Awards and five American Music Awards.

Formed in Los Angeles in 1971 the Eagles became one of the most successful acts in America during in the 1970’s and are still going strong today. In October 2020 the Eagles released their concert album “Live From the Forum MMXVIII.”  Vince Gill sings the lead vocals on a few tracks, one of them was originally sung by late Eagle Glenn Frey who died on Jan. 18, 2016, at the age of 67 from complications of rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia. In 2017, Gill and Glenn’s son Deacon Frey were hired by the Eagles in place of Glenn.

The concert from the Forum in LA premiered on ESPN over the Fourth of July weekend in 2020.

“In my mind, I always thought I’d have made a good Eagle,” Gill said. “But in a million years, I never would have seen this coming. It’s pretty surreal. I turned 60 recently, and to get to be a part of this amazing legacy of songs, that’s the greatest part of all this for me.

Several people were seen throwing punches during the Eagles’ BST concert in Hyde Park in London this week. The Eagles were the headliners for the BST festival on Sunday where the 70s band played a 23-song set. 

What song was being performed when the fights broke out? “Take It Easy.”

We opened with Chicago and noted they’re 2nd on the list of record sales among American groups, measured by the Billboard 200 albums chart and the Billboard 100 singles chart.

Who’s #1?

With apologies to fans of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, ZZ Top, Aerosmith, The Doors, The Grateful Dead, The Doobie Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Steely Dan, and many others, just couldn’t fit them all in.

That’s it for this week.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

And Happy Birthday America!

Saw these guys when I moonlighted working security at the Main Stage at the WI State Fair in the 1990’s. Drummer Don Brewer would come offstage late in the show to don a special flag top hat and vest that I had to keep an eye on.

Goodnight everyone, and have a real deal weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

Knowing that I’m a huge Elvis fan a friend of mine several weeks ago asked if I was going to see the Elvis biopic starring Austin Butler that premiered today. I honestly couldn’t give a definitive answer.

I’m no fan of Elvis impersonators. With the exception of Kurt Russell who I believe gave a credible performance in a late 1970’s TV movie and the late Tom Green of Milwaukee I harbor a great distaste for impostors of the King. To me they only give, even unintentionally, a tremendous disservice to Elvis’ image and legacy. Not to mention they just simply aren’t all that good.

If I would see the biopic (I passed it on it today) I’d undoubtedly sit there and criticize over and over.

‘That’s not right.’

‘That didn’t happen.’

‘Elvis wouldn’t say or do that.’

‘The vocals are awful.’


And I could be wrong. The movie might be terrific.

Even so, there will be never be anything like the real deal, and that’s my focus this week.

A rap on Elvis is that he couldn’t act. Those critics probably never saw 1958’s “King Creole,” considered by fans and critics as his very best film.

Having flunked graduation for a second time and needing cash to support his unemployed father, Danny Fisher (played by Elvis) takes a job as a busboy in New Orleans nightclub, run by mobster Maxie Fields (Walter Matthau). There he encounters Fields’ kept mistress – fading singer Ronnie (Carolyn Jones).

“He [Elvis] was an instinctive actor,” said Matthau. “He was quite bright…he was very intelligent…He was not a punk. He was very elegant, sedate, and refined, and sophisticated.”

“As the lad himself might say, cut my legs off and call me Shorty! Elvis Presley can act…Acting is his assignment in this shrewdly upholstered showcase, and he does it.” 
Howard Thompson, Review of “King Creole,” New York Times, 1958 

“A Presley picture is the only sure thing in Hollywood.” 
Hal Wallis, Producer of nine of Elvis’ films

When Elvis came out of the Army one of his subsequent films was the immensely popular “Blue Hawaii.” The soundtrack album was on the Billboard Pop Albums chart for 79 weeks, where it spent 20 weeks at #1. It has been certified by the RIAA for sales of three million copies in the U.S.

“Blue Hawaii” and the previously released “G.I. Blues” were so big that they set the stage for a formula for future Elvis films with familiar elements:

A fight scene, usually ending with Elvis winning and fleeing the scene

Elvis singing in a car or while riding a motorcycle

“Silly” plots or insignificant plots that usually involve Elvis in romancing a female with songs

Beautiful young women

Elvis as a man trying to succeed on his own talents and merits

A soundtrack that sold a ton of records


From cheatsheet.com:

The Viva Las Vegas choreographer, David Winters, followed the co-stars into Ann-Margret’s dressing room one day to discuss the song (“Cheek to Cheek” sung by The Jubilee Four). But when he put on the music, all they could see was each other.

“He put on the tape,” Ann-Margret remembered. “We listened to it once, watching each other from across the room, staring into each other’s eyes and thinking. We didn’t say a word. We didn’t have to.”

After their silent bond was forged, Elvis asked the choreographer to play “Cheek to Cheek” again. Their connection came alive and developed into a full-on dance, right there in Ann-Margret’s dressing room.

“The moment the music started, Elvis and I just started to move,” Ann-Margret wrote in Ann-Margret: My Story. “Nothing had been rehearsed, but to watch you wouldn’t have known that. We covered the entire room, bumping into the furniture, shoving it aside, circling each other like a couple of caged animals.”

It was in that “spontaneous burst of creativity,” Ann-Margret revealed, that most of the choreography for “Cheek to Cheek” was set. A stunned Winters simply told them, “Great. Just do that.”


In Ann-Margret’s memoir, she wrote, “Once the music started, neither of us could stand still. We experienced music in the same visceral way. Music ignited a fiery pent-up passion inside Elvis and inside me…We look at each other move and saw virtual mirror images.”

As Elvis gradually lost popularity to other entertainers during the 60’s he gained it backed thanks to a monumental 1968 NBC-TV special.

Rolling Stone wrote:

“The King reclaimed his crown with one of the greatest performances of all time. The hour-long broadcast, then dubbed Elvis and now known as the “’68 Comeback Special,” proved that the then–33-year-old still had swagger. For years, he’d been exiled in Hollywood – making movies instead of touring, as the Beatles blew up and rock got bigger than ever – so the show was a long-overdue return to pure performing for the singer. 
 
Although Presley began work on his next movie, a Western called Charro, a week after shooting, the special transformed his career. When it aired on December 3rd, it was seen by 42 percent of the viewing audience, making it the number-one show of the season. Moreover, the show’s soundtrack album made it into the Top 10 and was later certified platinum, and the single, “If I Can Dream,” made it up to Number 12 and went gold; both were his highest-charting releases since 1965. 

Elvis’ movie contracts ended, removing the chains that prevented him from doing live concerts. He hit Las Vegas, and eventually all of America. No, the movies of the 50’s and 60’s never won any awards, but his documentary chronicling his shows on the road captured a Golden Globe.


That’s it for this week.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

This week the LA Times ran a column wondering if Elvis mattered anymore. Here’s a portion.

Chris Isaak, a singer who has kept the fire of early rock ’n’ roll alive throughout his career and who appears on the “Elvis” soundtrack as well as providing the vocals for country star Hank Snow in the movie, has seen how Presley’s peers are being forgotten.

“I was talking to a young girl, and she’s a successful singer, so she knows music,” Isaak recounted. “I said, ‘Are you putting harmonies like the Everly Brothers on this?’ And there was a blank look in her eye. I said, ‘Are you acquainted with the Everly Brothers?’ She had no clue. That was kind of shocking to me. I think a new generation will see this movie and go, ‘Wow. I love this music. Who is this guy?’”

Elvis’ amazing special, “Aloha from Hawaii,” aired on January 14, 1973, and it was the first entertainment special by a solo artist to be broadcast live around the world.

There was no set ticket price for the concert; instead, donations were given. The more the donation, the better the seat. Elvis actually purchased a ticket for himself and his entourage at $100 each (which, with inflation, would be over $575 in today’s money).

He asked that donations and merchandise sales go to the Kui Lee Cancer Fund, which had been established following the songwriter’s death in 1966. Lee wrote “I’ll Remember You,” which Elvis covered in many of his concerts, including in the “Aloha” special. The goal was to raise $25,000. A total of $75,000 was raised for the fund.

Elvis’ “Aloha from Hawaii” aired in more than 40 countries across Asia and Europe. The special didn’t air in the United States on January 14, though. There was another major TV moment happening on U.S. televisions on January 14 – Super Bowl VII – so “Aloha from Hawaii” aired on April 4. It is estimated, though, that between 1 and 1.5 billion viewers watched the king’s special.

Goodnight everyone, and have a super guy weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

From history.com:

The nation’s first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in the state of Washington. However, it was not until 1972, 58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day official, that the day honoring fathers became a nationwide holiday in the United States.

Many men, however, continued to disdain the day. As one historian writes, they “scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself.”

During the 1920s and 1930s, a movement arose to scrap Mother’s Day and Father’s Day altogether in favor of a single holiday, Parents’ Day.

However, the Great Depression derailed this effort to combine and de-commercialize the holidays. Struggling retailers and advertisers redoubled their efforts to make Father’s Day a “second Christmas” for men, promoting goods such as neckties, hats, socks, pipes and tobacco, golf clubs and other sporting goods, and greeting cards.

In 1972, in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday at last.

Let’s be real. There are no ‘knock your socks off’ Father’s Day songs.

That does not deter the creativity of yours truly with developing an appropriate assortment of tunes that still fit. Especially when the list is all about really good guys. So let’s get started.

When the group Stray Cats led by Brian Setzer split in 1984, Setzer chose to abandon for the most part his rockabilly focus. After forming his own big band Setzer helped usher in the swing revival of the 1990’s.

The song “Good Rockin’ Daddy” was written by Richard Berry and Joe Josea and was first recorded and released by Etta James with Maxwell Davis & his Orchestra in 1955.

We like to begin with a rousing opener as often as possible.

Remember. Dads are cool.

In 2019, after a successful summer reunion tour with ’80s hitmakers Stray Cats, tinnitus, a constant ringing in his ears, forced Setzer to cancel his annual holiday shows with the Brian Setzer Orchestra.

“I needed to put the brakes on. Forty years on the road,” Setzer said. “This [pandemic] made me slow down because I probably wouldn’t have. So it was good timing.”

So Setzer recorded a solo album, in isolation, remotely, his first solo album in seven years.

What’s tinnitus like?

“Dealing with tinnitus — picture a tea kettle going off in your head all the time — it was maddening. It never goes away. You deal with it. I felt despondent that I wouldn’t be able to use my nice big Fender amp again.”

We can usually find a way to weave Elvis into any theme.

In late 1967/early 1968, Elvis was still under contract to crank out some movies for a couple of years, and desperately was craving some quality recording material. Guitarist and songwriter Jerry Reed came to the rescue. Some critics said this Reed composition smacked of chauvinism. Others said it was just typical Southern male braggadocio.

“U.S. Male” was no “Jailhouse Rock” but it was a minor hit. Recorded just prior to Elvis’ highly- acclaimed leather clad 1968 Comeback Special Reed’s song paved the way for that slice of TV history. In reality for Elvis the time period was a comeback before the comeback. Before “U.S. Males” Elvis made some waves with the singles “Big Boss Man” and “Guitar Man.” Both would be featured in the TV special.

Elvisthemuisc.com wrote:

Sales of (U.S. Male) were encouraging (close to half a million copies), chart position improved a little, but, more important, a new generation of Elvis fans was listening. As the Boston Phoenix, one of the first in the wave of underground weeklies just beginning to emerge, was moved to note: “In the past six months Elvis has put out three singles which in their vitality rival anything in pop music today…”

To repeat, there just aren’t all that many great, or even very good Father’s Day songs.

Oh Mein Papa – Eddie Fisher

Butterfly Kisses – Bob Carlisle

Daddy Sang Bass – Johnny Cash

Here’s one that fits into our theme this week, from 1969.

The Winstons firmly are entrenched into that “one-hit wonder” category. They were an inter-racial group that got their start in Washington D.C. The lead singer, Richard Spencer was inspired to write a song about a stepfather that treated his stepchildren as if they were his own. Spencer’s “real” dad left town and his family on a Greyhound bus and was not “killed in the war” as he wrote in the song.

What an interesting twist. This successful record about a father is really a song about a stepfather.

An image of The Winstons taken from a 1969 edition of Billboard magazine.

“Color Him Father” reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1969. It also won an R & B Grammy Award.

Our next selection is a bona fide Father’s Day song, written and recorded by country artist Holly Dunn as a gift for her dad in 1986. At the time she wrote it her parents had been married for more than 40 years. Her mother was a painter, and her father a Church Of Christ minister.

“I could see every time I did ‘Daddy’s Hands,’ people were weeping,” Dunn said about the reaction the song received from her audiences.

“It was like: ‘What is going on here?’ I was looking around at the band: ‘Now, what the heck? Something’s really happening when I do this song.’ So, when it came time to try to figure out what (my) fourth single was going to be, I brought up to the record label guys and I said: ‘Look, something’s happening out here. I don’t know what’s happening but something’s really happening with this song. I think we should consider putting this out because it really seems to be touching people.'”

Dunn earned two Grammy nominations for “Daddy’s Hands”: Best Country Vocal Performance and Best Country & Western Song.

In 2016 Dunn died of ovarian cancer at the age of 59.

Before our close this brief clip.

Think of the great television dads.

Ben Cartwright, Bonanza.

Howard Cunningham, Happy Days.

Ward Cleaver, Leave it to Beaver.

Mike Brady, The Brady Bunch.

Andy Taylor, Andy Griffith Show.

How about Tom Corbett, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father?

Bill Bixby played Tom and Brandon Cruz played his son Eddie. Tom is a widower and magazine publisher raising his young mischievous son who wants a new mom so bad he does all he can to manipulate his dad’s relationships. Harry Nilsson wrote and sang the theme song over the credits, played after Tom and Eddie had a weekly cute chat.

The program aired from 1969-1972.

That’s it for this week.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

“I’ve jumped out of helicopters and done some daring stunts and played baseball in a professional stadium, but none of it means anything compared to being somebody’s daddy.”
Chris Pratt

“A father’s smile has been known to light up a child’s entire day.”
Susan Gale

“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”
Billy Graham

“To the world, you are a dad. But to our family, you are the world.”
Unknown

From 1978…





Goodnight everyone, and have a Polskie weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

Polish Fest opened today on the Summerest Grounds on Milwaukee’s fabulous lakefront. This week, music with a Polish flavor. Let’s get started.

Operating since 1982, Polish Fest is run by a parent organization, the Polish Heritage Alliance, Inc., that owns its own building at 6941 S. 68th St. in Franklin. According to the website Urban Milwaukee the organization had an annual budget of nearly $1.1 million in 2019, with a net asset balance of $1.5 million, including some $184,000 in cash and a building and land with a value of nearly $1.4 million. The group has a small annual net income, but primarily from a banquet hall at its headquarters in Franklin and Polish oriented programs, including art exhibits, music performances, lectures, historical exhibits, Polish language classes and cooking demonstrations.

For sure entertainers at Polish Fest will be playing polkas. Ah, the polka. Corny? Of course. But also fun, lively, and free-wheeling.

We open with a twin spin, two Milwaukee celebrities.

Liberace died in 1987. Bob Kames died in 2008.

Notice Kames called his hit “Dance Little Bird.” Yes, that’s the official title, not The Chicken Dance.

By the way, Wisconsin designated the polka as the official state dance in 1993 as a symbol of the state’s rich German heritage. 

According to Wisconsin Blue Book; “Legislation was introduced at the request of a second grade class from Charles Lindbergh Elementary School in Madison and supported by several groups, including the Wisconsin Polka Boosters, Inc., and the Wisconsin Folk Museum. Supporters documented the polka heritage of Wisconsin and provided evidence that the polka is deeply ingrained in Wisconsin cultural traditions.”

Who says my blog isn’t educational!

One of the more recent musical stars from Poland is Basia Trzetrzelewska, but the music world knows her as Basia.

Basia loved American music, especially jazz. After failing to catch on as a singer in the Chicago area, she moved to London in 1981 and joined the group, Matt Bianco. The band’s first album was a big success, and Basia and keyboardist Danny White left to perform under the name, Basia and immediately hit it big with popular-selling albums until 1995. About that time, Basia cut back on her recording, saying her mother’s death and wars throughout the world made it difficult for her to sing upbeat material.

Danny White persuaded her to return with him to the Matt Bianco band that got back together again. A world tour emerged, and then Basia and White left Matt Bianco again.

Basia is part New Age, part jazz.

From her debut album in 1987, with shots taken in the Philippines.

Basia’s favorite singers are Brazilian bossa nova queen Astrud Gilberto and the late Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin.

Now some entertainers who will be at Polish Fest this weekend. One of them is Stas Venglevski. From his website:

His artistry, dazzling technical command, and sensitivity have brought Stanislav, “Stas,” Venglevski, a native of the Republic of Moldova, part of the former Soviet Union, increasing acclaim as a virtuoso of the Bayan. A two-time first prize winner of Bayan competition in the Republic of Moldova, Stas is a graduate of the Russian Academy of Music in Moscow where he received his Masters Degree in Music under the tutelage of the famed Russian Bayanist, Friedrich Lips. In 1992 he immigrated to the United States.

Stas is an Accordionist, a Musician, an Arranger, an Entertainer and a Teacher. Stas’ repertoire includes his original compositions, a broad range of classical, contemporary and ethnic music. He has toured extensively as a soloist throughout the former Soviet Union, Canada, Europe, and the United States, including numerous performances with Doc Severinsen, Steve Allen and with Garrison Keillor on the Prairie Home Companion Show. Additionally, he has performed with symphony orchestras throughout the United States. He is a regular participant the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s Arts in Community Education Program (ACE).

The Bayan is an accordion that was developed in Russia in the very late eighteen hundreds. It differs from most accordions developed in western Europe primarily in the detail of its construction. These details make the Bayan a richer sounding instrument with a wider range of notes. It shines its best in the classic repertoire, often sounding like a cathedral pipe organ.

Sunday at Polish Fest: Sobieski Cultural Stage
2:00      Stas Venglevski, Jon Proniewski

Also at Polish Fest this weekend, SqueezeBox With Mollie B & Ted Lange.

Mollie B, the multi-instrumentalist, award-winning vocalist, and host of the Mollie B Polka Party TV show, has been performing music all her life. Not only has Mollie performed on over 40 recordings, she has shared her many God-given talents with fans in over 30 states and eleven countries.  

The personification of bubbly energy, Mollie has won the title of the “Favorite Female Vocalist” award numerous times, both from the United States Polka Association and the International Polka Association.  She has also won multiple awards from the Polka America Corporation for her polka recordings with Ted Lange.

A two-time GRAMMY nominee, International Polka Association “Hall of Fame” member, and the 2019, 2020, and 2021 IPA Best International Male Vocalist, Lange co-leads and co-manages SqueezeBox  with Mollie B.  While on stage, he is featured on accordion, midi bass, button box and vocals. Lange is not just an award winning-musician, but DJ, promoter, engineer, song writer, arranger and producer.

During COVID the pair continued spreading the gospel of polka.

Now I saw the movie “Amadeus” and there was no polka in there.

Speaking of movies a famous Hollywood star loves the polka and actually requested that Mollie B. have a part in his 2018 film about a 90-year-old horticulturist and Korean War veteran who turns drug mule for a Mexican cartel.


Saturday and Sunday at Polish Fest
Miller Stage

1:30     SqueezeBox With Mollie B & Ted Lange
3:30     SqueezeBox With Mollie B & Ted Lange


That’s it for this week.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

We absolutely must highlight the “Polish Prince.”

Bobby Vinton had 30 Top 40 songs in the 1960s and 1970s, and 24 of his albums made the Billboard Top 200. Vinton’s love songs appealed to not only young fans, but their parents as well.

Stanley Robert Vinton was born in 1935 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. The gifted child  played clarinet, then the trumpet in a band he put together in high school. Some of the band members told Vinton he should sing, but Vinton was interested in band music. His ensemble played at college events and dances in the Pittsburgh area while he attended Duquesne University.

A local disc jockey, Dick Lawrence liked Vinton’s vocalizing and made some demo tapes that found their way to the Epic label where Vinton was offered a  contract.

At first Vinton recorded two band music albums that didn’t do so well. Epic wanted to dump Vinton who realized his contract gave him the opportunity to record two more songs.

Vinton made it clear to Epic he wanted to sing. Epic wasn’t thrilled about the idea but eventually agreed.

Epic’s new singer went to #1 with “Roses Are Red” in 1962 and hit #1 again in 1963 with  “Blue Velvet,” and “There! I Said It Again.” The following year Vinton hit the top of the charts again with “Mr. Lonely.”

No more band music for Vinton. He left the group to go solo.

Then came the British Invasion. Like other American acts Vinton suffered, but stuck around, parting ways with Epic to go to ABC records where in 1974 he proudly wore his Polish heritage on his sleeve, thanks to his mother.

“I came home from a tour in Italy and I made a record in Italian,” Vinton said. “My mom was in the audience and I sang it, but she seemed upset. She was pouting.

“I said, ‘Mom, what’s wrong?’

“She said, ‘How come you can make a record in Italian but you can’t make a Polish record?’

“I said, ‘Mom, they don’t make Polish hit records.’

“Well, why don’t you try and make one?’”

His single “My Melody of Love,” made the Top Ten and struck gold, spending two weeks at number three on the Hot 100 chart in November 1974 and one week at number one on the Billboard easy listening chart.

Vinton’s career was rejuvenated. He got his own syndicated television series, The Bobby Vinton Show, which remained on the air from 1975 to 1978.

Now 87, Vinton retired from active performing in 2014.

From The Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, 1981.

BONUS