The Hilton Garden Inn Staten Island owners Lois and Richard Nicotra have announced the schedule for the upcoming cabaret season at Lorenzo's Bar and Cabaret featuring performances by: Vincent Pastore and his band on November 20; Christmas in Tuscany with Micheal Castaldo on December 11; The New York Rat Pack on January 22, 2016; Natalie Douglas and a Salute to Black History Month on February 26, 2016; The Duprees on March 11, 2016; Vito Picone and the Elegants on May 13, 2016.
The Hilton Garden Inn in Staten Island, New York opened its doors 15 years ago and five years later, hoteliers Lois and Richard Nicotra Created an upscale restaurant within their hotel lobby so that guests would have a proper place to dine. Named Loren-zo's after their now 16-year-old Maltese, beautifully appointed with soft lighting and filled with artwork, the chic dining area quickly became more than just a quick bite for business men on the go.Read More
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Danny Aiello has a 320-page memoir out with an epic title: "I Only Know Who I am When I am Somebody Else: My Life on the Street, On the Stage, and in the Movies" (Gallery Books).
Lotta words for a lotta life.
Thought you already knew this Oscar-nominated actor? Well, turns out he just "backed" into a four-decade career in Hollywood and on Broadway.
"It must be something I was more or less destined to do," the 81-year-old first-time author told me recently. "The reason being, I didn't voluntarily leave one life for another; it just so happened to be that way."
Oh, and don't expect a tawdry tell-all: "My book is not 'Daddy Dearest.' I didn't know him well enough to dislike him, and my mother never once talked badly about him. I've seen so many people killing their relatives in books, but I love most everybody. There's a little bit of stuff in there about Scorsese and Lauren Bacall in there (chuckles), but not too much."
The main takeaway from his compelling tale: This veteran entertainer is, well, a lot of people. A family man — and tough guy. An elected official — and a pool hustler. An every man — and a unique talent.
"It was out of necessity — I wasn't Walter Mitty or Zelig," Aiello said, in his smoky, soft-spoken voice. "I was just a guy that something happened to, so I couldn't do one thing anymore and I had to find something else to do."
The proud Italian-American recently shared a few stories about who he was — and who he is now:
HE WAS A NERD-JOCK: I was a skinny little kid with eczema. I was gouging myself and saw other kids staring at me with a disgusted look. I felt less than human and was hospitalized often so I lost two years of school. I was older than a lot of kids, which made me even more inward. My only salvation was playing ball: Stickball, baseball. It was a wonderful distraction and it stuck with me throughout my life.
HE WAS A REAL-LIFE NEWSIE: As a child in New York City, I was like a mini-corporation unto myself. At age 9,I was shining shoes, then later — from 13 to 15 — I was selling newspapers, as well. I was a real newsie for a time. Mind you, I didn't keep the money; it was going into a pot. I didn't have a dad at home: I loved him but he was nomadic. Whatever I made was my contribution to the family.
HE WAS A NUMBERS RUNNER: I was so young, I didn't know what the hell I was doing. The people were very poor in our neighborhood. If they hit a number, there was a 25-to-1 payoff. This was their dream — to hit a number. So we justified it as this heroic thing, which is bull****.
HE'S AN ARMY VETERAN: I couldn't stay in the Bronx. I was in trouble badly with police, so at 17 I enlisted for three years. Again, I didn't plan it, it just happened. I ended up playing baseball in Germany. American teams played each other to entertain the troops. It made my life a lot easier. It didn't hit me then, but when I was older I did think, 'My dad never saw me play.' I wish he could've seen me.
HE'S A POOL HUSTLER: When I was discharged, I became a pool hustler to make money: $50, $75, maybe a $100. I had a backer who had money and knew I could play: If I lost I didn't owe anything, if I won I got 50 percent. I never lost: You know why? You never lose when you play with someone else's money. There's no pressure! If I were playing with my own money I probably would have been terrified and wouldn't win.
HE'S A FAMILY MAN: When I met my wife, Sandy, I had no job whatsoever. I was earning what I could. We would go on dates in the Bronx; out for pizza and to the RKO Theater
(At this point Sandy calls to make sure he picked something up at the store.) Alright honey, yes I got your medicine. Oh, no, I forgot that. I'll get it in a little bit.
Anyway, where was I? She was Jewish and I was Catholic — that was rare in those days. We knew her mom wouldn't approve: She tried talking us out of it by saying, 'You have no idea how much it's gonna cost you. She needs hay fever shots' (chuckles).
Sandy said, 'Can't we just go steady?' I told her, 'I'm a man; I don't go steady. Let's get married.' ... We've been married 60 years and had difficulties many, many times. She joked [on "CBS Sunday Morning"] that we've lasted because we don't talk to each other. That was a joke!
But I realize sometimes people can't cut it together. The main reason I love my father is he taught me what not to do. I would never, ever leave my kids or wife. Because I saw what my mom did. She was my hero. I always used to say, "If she were a man should could've been the Pope." Now this great religious man comes along and calls himself Pope Francis. He's Francis with an I, my mom's Frances with an E. That's crazy to me.
HE WAS A UNION BOSS: After failing at factory work ("I was so embarrassed by my idiocy I fired myself'), Aiello settled down: "My wife's Uncle George got me the job at Greyhound. I spent 10 years there; started out as a baggage man, then was a shop steward and eventually became president of the union. I was very successful but got fired after a wildcat strike. I was floundering around trying to find employment. It was difficult for me to an agency — I was an ex-union president. They don't give out those jobs, you have to get elected. They had nothing for me."
HE WAS A PART-TIME THIEF: I've been so many damn things. I hate to admit it but I became a part-time thief. Never from people; it was always going into places with vending machines, cigarette machines. We were supporting ourselves with nickels and dimes and quarters. Unfortunately, that's how I paid my rent at the time. I was married with a family to feed.
HE WAS A BOUNCER: There was this legendary place called the Improvisation in New York. The greatest came through there: Rodney Dangerfield, David Brenner, Richard Pryor. One day I walked by there — I knew the owner, Budd Friedman, with two Ds — and he knew I had three with another one coming. He made me a bouncer and a part-time emcee when he wasn't available.
That was the beginning of acting, but I sort of backed into it. Acting is just another thing I had to do to do something. I never studied — and for me, actors came from another world. But I always loved movies. I had an absentee father, so I would develop fathers on screen.
HE'S NOT HIS ONSCREEN PERSONA: Yes, people are shocked when they meet me. They expect me to start throwing punches. I can be an imposing guy. I'm 228 lbs., I'm 6'3," I can throw a punch.
In "Moonstruck" I was such a wimp. In "Do The Right Thing" I was a cantankerous bastard. "Purple Rose of Cairo," I was a lousy husband. I guess in "Jacob's Ladder" I was the only possibly palatable character — because every one else was a demon.
But in every movie, I try to inject an ounce of vulnerability so even if people say, 'I hate this bastard,' something still slips through and they can see a human being.
HE'S NOT A SOCIAL MEDIA WHORE: I don't do Twitter or Facebook. I am social but not that social. I'm social in private with people I adore, not out there for the world to see. But my publicist tweeted after I was on the ["CBS Sunday Morning"] show talking about the book, and there were about 200 tweets. I was shocked how much love they showed me. I'm putting myself out there and they are really reacting. I couldn't believe it.
HE IS AN HONORARY STATEN ISLANDER: Aiello has appeared several times at Lorenzo's Cabaret in Bloomfield, but his S.I. roots are tied to his friendship with film producer Jules Nasso.
Oh, and the movie studio he tried to get built in Stapleton: "I only did it because Mayor Giuliani asked me. He came to me and said 'Danny, I'm thinking of putting a studio on Staten Island. Could you be my liason?'
I'm no expert but I could this space was magnificent: 39 acres on the water, so sets could be delivered by sea, cutting costs. It would have meant 10,000 skilled labor jobs for people from the Staten Island area. It would have benefitted tax payers and the local people of Stapleton.
The reason it didn't work: Giuliani set our meeting for September; it was to be his last meeting before leaving office. I'd spent six months in Stapleton when 9/11 happened and we lost our meeting with the mayor.
We inherited a new mayor who point-blankly refused to work with us and vilified us in every way. The 'New York Times' wrote about us like we were criminals. We asked to meet Mayor Bloomberg and the Economic Development Corporation several times, only to have those meetings postponed. The night of the final postponed meeting he had dinner with (the cast) of 'The Sopranos' — when I'm talking about something that's going to benefit all of these people on Staten Island?
We ended up being thrown off the property after building the studio and a lot of people had invested a lot of money. I took no salary for three years.
Reluctantly, very reluctantly, I sued the city. It was written that we lost the case — we did not. We were awarded $2 million, which in no way could pay back our investors.
So, I resent him and in my book you will see a chapter about this.Read More
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Even the casual television watcher would know him by his nickname: Big Pussy.
His real name is Vincent Pastore and he's the veteran actor who played Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero on HBO's "The Sopranos."
But he's no one-show-guy.
After singing stints in Woody Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway" and "Chicago" on the Great White Way, the veteran character is looking to flex his musical chops even more.
On Friday, Nov. 20, Pastore's Gangster Squad Band headlines Lorenzo's Cabaretwith some "rousing rock 'n' roll, blues and swingin' Sinatra tunes." (See show details at the bottom of this page.)
We caught up with Pastore before his S.I. show to find out which came first: singing or acting, and why he needs both in his life.
So, this isn't your first time in Staten Island, I take it?
I've spent a lot of time in Staten Island — I was in the Lorne Michaels' produced film "Staten Island Summer" last year (Ed. Note: Pastore played the mobbed-up father of the protagonist's love interest) We had a good time, we shot all summer two years ago and then came back the second summer to reshoot. We were up at the Great Kills Swim Club and then over at Jules Nasso's estate. Years ago, I was in a movie called Two Family House, and we shot underneath the Bayonne bridge. Staten Island is a world of its own. You could live on Staten Island and never have to leave it.
Why was the show at Lorenzo's something you wanted to do?
I'm anxious to do this show at Lorenzo's. The guy who owns the place was an investor in a play I did, "Queen for a Day." He liked it and he asked me to do a show at Lorenzo's. We wanted to play in Staten Island so people here don't have to go into the city. They don't have to travel far to see us. We're coming to them.
What kind of musical influences can we expect to hear from the show?
We're a rock and roll band — Rolling Stones, Van Morrison ... We're an energy band. And my band, the Gangster Squad, we do some oldies but basically our music is from the end of the '60s till the beginning of the '80s, songs like "Brown Sugar," "Road House Blues," "Pride and Joy."
Obviously, we all know you from your work with the 'Sopranos,' but which came first for you: music or acting?
"It's gonna be a fun night. It's a dinner show. So we're going to be kind of like a bar band," Pastore says.
I was a club owner before I became an actor. I ran a rock 'n' roll club and the guys I play with now played with me back then. Then I got into the acting, and when I started doing musical theater, I started to think about doing the music again and got the band back together. We've been playing every weekend. We do a lot of work but this is going to be a first time in Staten Island.
Why was performing music something you wanted to get back into?
Keeps me young. All that singing and dancing, I got my guys, I got a lot of energy. I mean, I get up and I do my walk every day, but when you get on stage — especially Broadway shows — it's good exercise.
Were your fans surprised that you had this hidden talent?
I did "Chicago," but when I did "Bullets Over Broadway," Woody [Allen], he looked at me, said "I didn't know you could sing." I said, "Why not?" We all have our different ranges, but I have a voice and I know what I'm capable of doing. Singing is another means of expression with your craft, and you need to be versatile with this business. If you're just gonna act, you'll work three or four times a year. I do a Sirius XM radio show one day a week and I do my show. It gives the people who saw you on television a chance to see you up close and personal, which helps your fan base. It's a part of what we do as entertainers. A lot of actors are also singers, look at Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
Would you consider Sinatra and Dean Martin among your influences as a musician?
Dean was a major influence in my life. I'm still friends with his daughter, Dina, and I loved Frank Sinatra. But I grew up with Springsteen, Van Morrison, Joe Cocker, those are the guys whose music I really dug — that's what I really love to play.
A lot of your most famous work has you playing a certain, specific type of character — do you enjoy playing the part of a mafioso or are there other characters you'd like to be better known for?
That's not true. People know me for that, I worked on a play last week as a bartender, I'm working on a play now about a screenwriter who is losing his vision. People know me from doing that stuff, too. But I'm no different from Danny Aiello, Armand Assante — Al Pacino is famous for the "Godfather," Robert DeNiro for "Goodfellas," but they do other stuff, too. DeNiro was in that movie with Anne Hathaway, "The Intern," but does "The Intern" sell as much tickets as "Goodfellas"? That's what the public wants to see. But I'm happy and fortunate that I'm able to do what I do.
You're a cancer survivor, which you battled during "Bullets Over Broadway." Do you think it changed you?
It did. I'm gonna tell you something: There is a remarkable group of people in the theater community who were very supportive. When I was diagnosed, I told my doctor, "I gotta do this play! It's Woody Allen!" and my doctor said "I'm gonna get you there." And he did. During rehearsals, I was talking to (choreographer) Susan Stroman and she said "What's the matter?" And I hadn't told her about the cancer, but I told her then. She grabbed my hand, and she told me: "You're not leaving us. You're gonna be with us on opening night, at the Tonys, all the shows." And I didn't miss a show. I did all 189 performances. By opening night, me and Woody were walking down the hall, and I told him I was fighting cancer, and he asked what kind. I said prostate. And he said: "If you're gonna get cancer, get prostate cancer." That's Woody for you.
Yeah that's some dark humor. So what do you want people to know about this show you have coming up on Staten Island?
It's gonna be a fun night. It's a dinner show. So we're going to be kind of like a bar band. I've done some concerts for fundraisers, but this is a dinner show and it's like old school. It's going to be a lot of fun.
— Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m. dinner and 9:30 p.m. showtime Lorenzo's Cabaret in the Hilton Garden Inn, 1100 South Ave., Bloomfield; 718-477-2700, ext. 5;LorenzosDining.com. Admission is $40 plus the cost of dinner per head (premium seating is 55 bucks).Read More
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Any cabaret aficionado can tell you — it's all about the room.
If the act has the optimal venue, the audience can be led on a dazzling emotional journey that leaves everyone wanting more.
Maybe that's why so many first-rate acts are returning to the Lorenzo's Cabaret stage — some for the fourth and fifth time — for the first half of the venue's 2015 season:
JAN. 23: NEW YORK RAT PACK — Frank, Dino and Sammy never could resist the ladies. Expect no less when Sinatra, Martin and Davis Jr. swing back into town again for a gig at Lorenzo's Cabaret.
OK, not in the flesh, but the next best thing: The New York Rat Pack, a top-notch tribute to the iconic entertainers that's no stranger to S.I. audiences.
"They don't sing better than any other Rat Pack (tribute act). What they do is interact with an audience better than anyone else," show producer Barry Brown told AWE before a previous date with Lorenzo. "They are entertainers — fabulous entertainers. They lay in your lap. They do a lot of humor. They do a lot of schtick the way the Rat Pack did."
Among the featured classic tunes: "Lady is a Tramp," "New York, New York," "Summer Wind," "You're Nobody Until Somebody Loves You" and "That's Life."
In pure Dino fashion, Joe Perce strolls the stage with a martini glass glued to his hand: "I really worked on his voice," said the Manhattan school teacher who's channeled the King of Cool for more than two decades. "Then I just tried to develop his swagger and his styling."
Jesse Posa, a graduate of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, who studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Institute, brings the Chairman of the Board back (he also played Frank in off-Broadway's "Sinatra & Friends).
Finally, Larry Hinds revives Sammy Davis Jr. and his "Mr. Bojangles" dance moves. He's also appeared on "Showtime at the Apollo" and "Chappelle's Show."
Working solid together since 2004, this Rat Pack does about 50 dates a year, ranging from shows at B.B. King's in Times Square to corporate dates in Pennsylvania to surprise 80th birthday parties in the United Arab Emirates' Dubai.
Perce said the act thrives on improvisation, "because that's what these guys did at the Sands in Las Vegas. The reason they were such a draw was you would never see the same show. Anything could happen."
FEB. 27 & 28: MICHAEL AMANTE — This suave song stylist — often dubbed "The People's Tenor" and "Prince of the High Cs — with leading man looks recently told the Advance the last few years were tough for himself and his kids (ages 9, 10 and 11) after the untimely death of his wife.
However, he's marking a fresh start: He's proud to share share news that he's remarried and beginning a new life — on and off stage. Amante says he's especially excited to be playing for S.I. audiences.
This consummate entertainer — whose approach to opera is light and easy and who's been on the show biz circuit since age 6 — was once dubbed "the next Mario Lanza" by legendary singer Tony Bennett.
MARCH 27: THE DUPREES — Don't miss the chance to witness the unmistakable, floating vocal harmonies ("You Belong To Me" and "Have You Heard," among other classics) from this classic doo-wop group.
"The name of the group has survived, the music has survived and the fans have exponentially gone up in population," said lead singer Tony Testa. "We are just astounded how it carries on. A main part of that, I think, is that I make a concerted effort to honor the past members of the group who came before us. I relate it to a family, with wonderful memories and some unfortunate tragedies. We're honored to keep the tradition alive."
A Jersey City group of Italian-American street-corner crooners, The Duprees charted in the early 1960s with updated versions of successful recordings by Dean Martin and various motion picture soundtrack cuts.
The quartet's home turf was an important part of their identity, but current group leader Tony Testa first hooked up with the band in South Beach.
"The very first place I worked with The Duprees, back around 1965, was on Sand Lane at a night club called Crocitto," said Testa, 66, who started out as a guitar player with the group. "It was a popular night club with a full-course menu of a show, an exotic dancer and a couple of acts. At the time I had my own group and we were, I guess, the house band. We backed up a lot of the featured acts performing, including The Duprees. We became friendly, one thing led to another and the rest is history."
APRIL 17: JOE PISCOPO'S 'SONG, SHTICK & SINATRA' — This actor/comedian/vocalist hit the stand-up comedy circuit in the late 1970s — and was a household name as a cast member on "Saturday Night Live" in the '80s.
An impressionist and star of stage and screen, who has imitated a slew of actors, politicos and crooners, is perhaps best known for his impressions of Frank Sinatra.
He has recorded several singles, been seen in popular commercials, made voice- overs, and has appeared in more than 10 films.
The versatile performer, who has played to fans in several back-by-popular-demand shows at Lorenzo's, describes his latest act as a retro-style Las Vegas-type show filled with music and comedy.
"The show is for folks of all ages, the 20 something's in the crowd, and for older folks and children as well," he says. "If you can make it there (in New York) you can make it any where."
Born in Newark, Piscopo says he loves the East Coast: "It's just the best."
MAY 17: VITO PICONE & THE ELEGANTS — Picone and company hail from the community of South Beach — as does his opening act, The Expressions — and often performed under the Boardwalk near their homes as young men.
The Elegants, still based on Staten Island, were formed in 1956 by lead singer Picone. The group also features Jimmy Moschello, baritone; Nino Amato, first tenor; and Bruce "Sonny" Copp, second tenor and rhythm guitarist.
The band's Lorenzo's date coincides with the 57th anniversary of the Elegants' song, "Little Star," a tune that soared to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. It spent 19 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100, earning gold disc status. Their song has been immortalized in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.
The record sold more than 2.5 million copies worldwide in 1958 on ABC Paramount's subsidiary label, "APT." The group was named the No. 1 R&B and the No. 1 pop artists of the year and adorned cover of Cashbox Magazine receiving their gold record.
Aside from doubling their original record sales since 1958, the group received the Million-Aires award for "Little Star" after it aired 1 million times on the radio. It also was featured in numerous movies, and in HBO's blockbuster series, "The Sopranos."
Picone & The Elegants have appeared in Radio City Music Hall (eight times), Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Plus, Vito had a cameo in the Oscar-winning "GoodFellas."
JUNE 5: JAY AND THE AMERICANS — From 1962 to 1971, this crew charted a dozen Top 10 hits.
"In my head, we competed with The Four Seasons — and I have to say, they won," laughed founding member Sandy Yaguda, from his home in Long Island. "But to be Hertz to their Avis? That's great! We did really well. We also had to compete with the Beatles; the British Invasion. Only three bands survived that: The Beach Boys, The Four Seasons and Jay and the Americans."
Show up at Lorenzo's for the timeless Jay jams "This Magic Moment," "Come a Little Bit Closer," "Cara Mia" & "She Cried."
JULY 24: LOUIS PRIMA JR. — Every time Louis comes to Lorenzo's Cabaret at The Hilton Garden Inn, the Las Vegas trumpet player and son of swing and boogie-woogie legend Louis Prima packs the joint and blows audiences away with his nine-piece band.
"For that one hour or hour-and-a-half, forget the world exists — come and enjoy the music," added Prima Jr.
This energetic showman will once again do his papa's legacy proud on July 24 with rowdy renditions of classics like "Just a Gigolo," "Jump, Jive 'n' Wail," "Buono Sera" and "That Old Black Magic."
"I'm trying to do it the way my father did it, so it's more than the music, it'sputting on an energetic show," Prima Jr. told AWE before a previous visit to Staten Island. "... It's the happiest music on earth, and my band and I are not just up there posing. We try to get the crowd just as excited about the entertainment as we are."Read More
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Few things are more satisfying than a night of good food paired with good music. Especially music that triggers nostalgia, as so many great band's classic catalogs do.
Lorenzo's Cabaret at the Hilton Garden Inn continues its run of top-notch tribute artists — they've hosted homages to Elton John, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, John Denver, The Eagles, The Rat Pack and Billy Joel — with a performance by the eight-man band Beginnings on Friday, Nov. 14.
Tell me these song titles don't bring back memories: "You're the Inspiration," "Hard to Say I'm Sorry," "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?," "If You Leave Me Now," "Baby, What A Big Surprise," "Hard Habit to Break" and many others.
You guessed it, Beginnings pays tribute to the that put brass in Top 40 pop-rock: Chicago, one of the most successful bands in history.
Second only to the Beach Boys in Billboard singles and albums chart success among American bands, Chicago is one of the longest-running and most successful rock groups, and one of the world's best-selling groups of all time, having sold more than 100 million records
Those are some pretty big musical shoes to fill.
"Because Chicago has hit in the '60s, '70s and '80s we make an effort to play songs from each era," says Mason Swearingen, singer bassist for Beginnings.
Beginnings travels all over the United States, bringing the iconic hits from Chicago from their mouths to your ears. This will mark the band's first gig on Staten Island.
"We've heard great things about Lorenzo's, so we're definitely looking forward to it," Swearingen says. "We've been playing in New York for a while now so it's about time we came out to Staten Island."
MORE INFORMATION: Lorenzo's Cabaret is located in the Hilton Garden Inn, 1100 South Ave., Bloomfield. Admission to the show is $40 for plus the cost of dinner per person. Premium seating is available for $55. Dinner is at 7:30p.m. and the show begins at 9:30p.m. The Hilton Garden Inn also offers a "See the Show and Stay the Night" package that starts at $185 per couple. For more information, visit LorenzosDining.com or call 718-477-2400, ext. 5.Read More
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Lorenzo's Cabaret will provide the perfect setting for your trip down memory lane on Oct. 17, when the doo-wop and R&B group Charlie Thomas' The Drifters will take the stage to perform hits such as their legendary 'Under the Boardwalk'.
"I've been blessed to have come along way and still be performing," said Charlie. "I remember coming to Staten Island when the bridge was just $1.25. I've been coming here since I was around 18 years old. Staten Island is beautiful, it's a beautiful place with beautiful people...the sweetest place. Lots of good memories [here] so it's nice to come back and perform."
The Drifters first release was in 1959 titled ' "There Goes My Baby," and from there they went on to become one of the biggest selling bands of all time. Charlie Thomas' The Drifters then went on to release classics like "On Broadway," "Up on the Roof," "Come On Over to My Place," "This Magic Moment" and possibly their best known 'Under the Boardwalk', including numerous others.
Thomas told the Advance that "Staten Island has always been in my heart and my thoughts and I'm looking forward to seeing the fans. I've been around the world and seen so many places but I've always loved New York."
Lorenzo's Cabaret Room provides the perfect intimate setting for the event. Dinner will be served at 7:30 p.m. and show time is at 9:30 p.m.. Regular seating is $40 while premium seating is $50 (plus the cost of dinner per person).
Tickets can be reserved at 718-477-2400, ext. 5. For more information, check out LorenzosDining.com.Read More
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — It'll be like stepping back in time when the folk-rock group The Association entertains in the intimate setting of Lorenzo's cabaret room next month — and it's a journey the band is looking forward to taking.
"It's our favorite kind of crowd,'' said Jim Yester, singer and guitarist for the band, which has rocked major concert halls and football stadiums all over the country during more than 40 years of touring. "It's very nice to be back in a small venue. That's how we stared out — playing in coffee houses. We love that intimacy — People right at your feet. It's so cool. You get an energy from the audience.''
The Association is one of the most popular and successful bands to have come out of the 1960s and their No. 1 hits, "Never My Love,'' "Windy,'' and "Cherish,'' continue to receive nearly as much radio airplay today as they ever have.
They got their start in California in 1965, and have sold more than 80 million records, tapes, CDs and DVD, earning six gold records and two platinum. Their album, "The Association Greatest Hits" continues to be one of the longest best-selling albums in the history of the Warner Brothers record label.
Tickets for the Friday, Sept. 19, performance may be purchased by calling Lorenzo's at 718-477-2400, ext. 5, or vising LorenzosDining.com. Dinner seating is 7:30 p.m. The show begins at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 or $55 for premium seats. The dinner cost is additional. Overnight packages start at $185 per couple.
Carefully crafted vocals and intricately woven instrumentation are the signatures of The Association, which was nominated for seven Grammy Awards. Current band members include originals Yester and Jules Alexander. Bruce Pictor on drums, Jordan Cole on keyboards and guitar and Del Ramos on bass Guitar round out today's band. Together, they've been working on the band's sound lately and are thrilled with the results.
"It sounds like it did back in the '60s,'' Yester said. "People who've seen us through the years, they saw us in this incarnation and were blown away.'' A few changes to the performance promise something new, he added. "We're really bringing personalities out and everyone is out front now. And the sound is just incredible.''
Hilton Garden Inn owner Richard Nicotra can't wait to experience the show in Lorenzo's, a bar, restaurant and cabaret room that seats 225 people and of which he is clearly proud.
"We're keeping an art form alive that is dying all over the U.S. — even in Manhattan, said Nicotra, referring to the cozy cabaret setting that keeps performances up close and personal. "We're keeping the art form of live music in a small venue accessible.''
It's an art form Nicotra has a special connection to. "My wife (Lois) and I used to be regulars at the Algonquin (in Manhattan), which had the famous Oak Room. We just loved that intimate setting, where you can come and see an act up close. Unfortunately, a lot of these places are gone.''
And he's made it his mission to recreate that experience for Staten Islanders.
"Whenever you can go see live music in a Copacabana kind of setting — where you can sit at a table that's large enough to have dinner in a chair that's comfortable — it's special. ''
The Association has the perfect sound and appeal to fill the venue, Nicotra said. "They take people back to a time in their lives when things were simpler,'' he said. "When they had fewer responsibilities, fewer worries.''
So what's the secret to their songs' long-standing popularity among two generations of listeners?
"They can understand the words, for one thing,'' Yester mused. "And the music does take you back. It was a kinder, gentler time during the '60s and '70s, even though there was a lot of upheaval socially. People say, 'I can remember where I was when I first heard this song. Well, we're the same way.''
Nicotra couldn't help but boast about the room, and how perfect it'll be for this performance.
"It's the best room in New York City and people like Rita Moreno and Lucie Arnaz have confirmed that,'' he said, noting that the steel construction of the ceilings allowed the room to be built with no support columns blocking patrons' views of the act.
Yester said he and the band will definitely enjoy it. "It's kind of like returning to our roots,'' said the singer and songwriter. "(Lately) we mostly play to 2,500 people, so two to three hundred is just wonderful.''Read More
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — It's nice to ask a question and get a irreverent answer.
Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra impersonators Sharon Owens and Sebastian Anzaldo had been driving around on a big East Coast tour for several weeks when we spoke to them before their S.I. debut a few years back.
When asked how they get revved up for a show, the road weary Owens exclaimed: "Booze! Frank says booze."
Then she amended: "Well, we just love what we do. It's our own creation, and we enjoy giving any audience, anywhere, our own creation."
That creation, "Barbra and Frank — The Concert That Never Was," returns to Lorenzo's Cabaret at the Hilton Garden Inn on June 6 (see box below for full show details).
It's a strange combination, granted, but if any popular Vegas show was destined to play New York, it's this one. In Anticipation of the event, we spoke with "Barbra" and "Frank" about their show.
SILIVE: Sharon, were you a huge Barbra fan growing up? How did you get into this?
OWENS: I'm a little younger than that Barbra generation in the 1970s. But people would consistently tell me I sounded like her because I was a musical theater singer. They didn't tell me I looked like her until I put the wig on, and then anything came together. I was in L.A. doing cabaret and I was spoofing Barbra, doing the cross-eyed routine, I'd made my nails really long, I was going around touching the bald heads in the audience and singing "He Touched Me." A very dear friend in the cast, a drag queen, said 'Sharon, you should do this for real. You need to take this seriously.'
SILIVE: And that's what got you taking this thing on the road?
OWENS: Sure enough, there is a little circle of us who really try and do these characters justice. We're not a circus act although sometimes we feel like it. Our musical director sometimes calls us inmates. We just kind of have some natural things that fit — unfortunately mine's my nose. We really both did fall into this. I was planning on doing musical theater my whole life, Sebastian is a drummer and musician. Here we wrote this show that was a quirky concept and it's completely taken flight.
SILIVE: Are you constantly studying the people you're impersonating, or did you do a bunch in the beginning and now it's kind of a "set it and forget it" thing?
OWENS: I think that comes in levels. We'd both been honing our craft individually and then after we met it took us a couple of years to decide what Barbra and Frank actually sing together on stage. And then from that step we took it a little further, and a little further. Now it comes extremely naturally. We've done medleys, put together jokes and stories, spaghetti and matzo balls. We're off the cuff, if we have an audience, such as in New York, where people are vocal. People yell out songs and we do 'em all the time. We've really become extremely comfortable in these six years on stage. Somebody's going to throw us a loop one of these days.
SILIVE: Sebastian, what about you?
ANZALDO: I learn small little things all the time. It never fails, somebody will come out of the show almost every night with their own little Sinatra story. And it's not just stuff that everybody knows. But his life was such an open book at the same time. Playing the character — and there's so much out on DVD right now, performances and movies, you can see almost everything — it's always a learning process.
SILIVE: What's the hardest part for you about doing this show?
ANZALDO: Honestly, I'm a singer and I started out that way. But he was such an excellent singer and performer. To try and get to that level can be really frustrating. I like doing "One For My Baby" which was one of his "saloon songs" that's just vocal and piano. I love doing it in part because I think I really perform as him well in that setup.
SILIVE: I know the show involves a performance from each of you and then some stuff together. Do you include some surprises or is it hits-only?
ANZALDO: There are a lot of songs of his that I love that we just don't do in the show, so-called rarities and stuff. You gotta do "My Way," "Fly Me To The Moon," stuff like that, and sometimes I wish we had more time to do more than just the hits. Songs like "All The Way," "Street of Dreams," "Please Be Kind," those songs of his that I really like I'd love to squeeze in one day. We'll see.
Barbra and Frank — The Concert That Never Was
When: Friday, June 6, dinner 7:30 p.m., show 9:30 p.m.
Where: Lorenzo's Cabaret at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1100 South Ave. at Lois Lane, Bloomfield.
Admission: $35 show charge, ($50 premium seating) plus the cost of dinner per person. Overnight cabaret packages start at $175 per couple.Read More
STATEN ISLAND, NY -- Billed as "The Ultimate Billy Joel Experience," the tribute act Big Shot is fueled by the vocals and piano of Long Islander Mike DelGuidice.
Don't believe us? Take it from the "Piano Man" himself.
"It's an homage to me; Just to think that they can sustain a lot of appearances based on my music is great," Billy Joel told the New York Times in 2002. "A friend called me and told me to listen to this band that was playing on local TV and I said, 'That's me.' They said, 'No, it's this band,' and they had a hard time convincing me it wasn't me. It's uncanny."
A decade later, DelGuidice is racking up more than 120 live dates per year, backed by a band of seasoned pros who have worked with Joel himself, Roger Daltrey of The Who, Donna Summer, Richie Blackmore, Tower of Power, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and many more.
Up next: Big Shot and DelGuidice perform May 17 at Lorenzo's Cabaret in the Hilton Garden Inn, 1100 South Ave. at Lois Lane. Dinner: 7:30 p.m. Showtime: 9:30 p.m. Admission: $35 show charge plus the cost of dinner per patron. Reservations: 718-477-2400, ext. 5. Visit LorenzosDining.com for more information.Read More