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January 2, 2009     Post-Gazette
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January 2, 2009

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POST-GAZETTE, JANUARY 2, 2009 Page13  r  00Babb00honno r Times have changed, as I've said many times. We never know the direction our lives are going to take, but hopefully, the changes are for the better. My re- membrances of New Year's Eves in the past differ from today. For weeks before Christmas, the conversa- tions between my father and uncles always included in- formation about that last night in December. It was the busiest night in the year for a musician, and my family was in the music business. On December 31. year af- ter year, I would see Dad. Uncle Nick and Uncle Paul, don their tuxedoes pack up their instruments and head out to their New Year's Eve jobS. From listening to their conversations. I knew that a musician could make double the salary for this one night. If a particular musi- cian was "that good." he or she could make a week's pay for that one night. As a child, I stayed home with my mother, Nanna and Babbononno. When the mu- sicians in the family would come home, they would ar- rive with a dozen bagels and maybe a dozen donuts, too. Everyone would have a late night snack and discuss the evening, who played with whom, who was happy with the job, who couldn't wait to finish, etc ... From expe- riencing all of this, I knew that my family was sort of special. I had heard stories from Babbononno about his musical experiences from when he was young. He now listened to his sons and son-in-law and reminisced about "his day" in the business. Time passed and I made it through school. From kin- dergarten through the 9 th grade, I went to school in East Boston. I attended the Chapman School on Eutaw Street, which was across the street from where I grew up. The next school was the O'Donnell on Tren- ton Street (just around the corner) and then I headed back' to the Chapman. When it was time for junior high, it was the Barnes on Marion Street (around the corner and down the hill a couple of blocks), but that was it for schools in East Boston. I chose Boston English High and began thinking about playing music when I began by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance i i i i my sophomore year there. First it was trumpet, be- cause I had played bugle in the drum and bugle corps at the Barnes. I liked the trumpet but hated practic- ing. There were too many other things for a kid to do than stay home to practice. I had been working at the Seville Theater since the 9 th grade and was more inter- ested in making money than staying home to practice. Babbononno had taught me how to read music when I was still in short pants. I think that growing up surrounded by music and musicians. I took every- thing for granted and gravi- tated from the trumpet to the sax, clarinet, accordion, piano, trombone, guitar and drums. I sort of let it all slide by until I became a fresh- man at Boston State College. At that point in time, I discovered Dad's bass violin. He taught me how to play it and by the time I finished that first year in college, I was playing with the neigh- borhood kids. When I be- came good enough, I joined the musicians' union and began working with some of the leaders that Dad and Uncle Nick knew. l was always the KID on the jobs, but I guess I held my own. Well, New Year's Eve. 1958 was approaching and Dad asked me if I would play with Ray Digg at the Sons of Italy in East Boston. I said I would and asked why he wasn't working with Ray's band, seeing they were usu- ally together at that point in time. It seems that Dad would be leading another of Ray's jobs for that night and another bass player was needed. The Sons was located on Trenton Street, a short walk from where we lived on Eutaw Street and I began to get ready for my first New Year's Eve as a musician. As a teen, [ had gone in town with the kids from the corner to celebrate the new year and didn't enjoy the confusion nor the overwhelming crowds. This job would be a new ex- perience that would con- tinue for many years to come. I had a new tuxedo, formal shirt and bow tie and was ready. Oh yeah, Dad had rented a bass violin for me to use. Just in case I de- cided to give up the instru- ment, renting one meant Molt60 GolIo Appraisals Sales & Rentals Real Estate 376 North Street * Boston, MA 021 t3 (617) 52&2100 Fax (617) 523-3530 i i that he wouldn't be stuck owning an extra one. Dad left early on that night as he was playing at a private club out of town. I dressed and was supervised by Babbononno who made sure I looked the part of a musician, tux pressed, shirt starched and shoes spit-shined. When it was time to go, I carried the bass around the corner to the Sons of Italy, climbed the stage and said hello to the musicians in the band. most of whom I already knew. Ray Digg (Ray DiGiovanni) told me where he wanted me to be located. The music stand I was to stand behind of held the arrangements we would play during the evening, and after I uncov- ered the bass and tuned it to the piano, checkout the parts I would be playing. I was the kid once again and was a little scared but made sure I didn't show it. We played from 9:00 to l 1 t00 straight, one tune after another. When we took a break, my fingers were sore and I had a couple of blisters to prove I was still a novice. By the time we brought in the New Year, those blisters were blood filled and a couple had broken. Anticipating the problem, I had a box of Band-aides which made things a little easier, but not much. The job was supposed to end at 12:30 A.M.. but at 12:15, the people asked us to play an hour overtime. Ray agreed. By I:00 A.M., my fingers were so sore, I was almost in tears. Just then, the cavalry came to the rescue. Dad came walking through the door. He climbed the stage, looked at me and without skipping a beat, took over the bass and fin- ished the evening. With help, I had survived my baptism of fire. I was a pro- fessional musician. Well. that was 50 years ago. I continued playing out on New Year's Eve until a few years ago when Dean Saluti and Margie Cahn got married on the New Year. After that point in time, we decided to have our own New Year's party at a private club in Boston and I will bring my bass guitar and join in with Sandi Hurley, General Bill Hurley's wife and we will play, off-and-on, for our friends. Well, it's time to go and I would like to wish you a very Happy New Year (Felice capo d'anno) from the Christoforo family and MAY GOD BLESS AMERICA. f DIAMONDS ROLEX ESTATE JEWELRY Bought & Sold Jewelers Exch. Bldg. Jim (617) 263-7766 J The Socially Set (Continued from Page 6) Matt and Diana Coldren smile for the camera at the "Moondance" soiree. The "Blue Suede" fun will be in full swing from 6 p.m. 'til the wee hours. Dick's is locat.ed in Quincy Market at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, For reservations, call 617- 267-8080. Filled with tons of "Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love," the mega-celebration will fea- ture Elvis impersonator DANA Z and his Band in a Hound Dog of a musical trib- ute to The King at 8 p.m. In addition, there's an Elvis-Look-A-Like, Sound-A- Like Karaoke Contest with a grand prize of $300; an au- dience sing-a-long; and a Jelly Donut Eating Contest. With everybody decked out in their best "Viva Las Ve- gas" duds, the featured Dish 'O The Night will be Chicky Fried Chicky with Mashed Taters, Jalapeno Gravy and your very own personal Jelly Donut. The featured Elvis Li- bation will be a Blue Hawai- ian. Yum ... yum! There'll also be "a tacky Elvi Shrine.  Discounted parking will be available at 75 State Street. Just make sure that you have your parking ticket validated at Dick's. ....... The power of the pho- tographic medium will be ex- plored at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), as it hosts a "Free Open House" on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 19, from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. The day, underwritten by the Citizens Bank Founda- tion, will feature free admis- sion to the Museum and ex- hibitions, music and poetry performances, short films, family activities, and gallery tours. The exhibitions "Karsh I00: A Biography in Images," featuring iconic portraits of the 20 th century by cel- ebrated photographer Yousuf Karsh, and *Photographic Figures," highlighting the (Photo by Roger Farrington) work of renowned photogra- phers working with the human form, will serve as inspiration for the day's theme, "Defining Images." Dr. William Banfield of Berklee College of Music and the Berklee faculty en- semble, BGKLS, will give a lecture-performance about the roots of music from the African Diaspora. The MFA Film Program will screen films about former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and singer/actor Paul Robeson (whose portrait hangs in the "Karsh I00" exhibit). Other events include a po- etry slam by artist Ayisha Knight-Shaw and Boston University's spoken-word poetry group, "Speak for Yourself'; and a presenta- tion about health disparities in Boston hosted by the MFA's Teen Arts Council -- a group of teenagers en- gaged in a year-long appren- ticeship at the Museum -- featuring the teen group Community Voices and weU- known Boston photographer Lou Jones. Guided gallery tours will be offered at select times throughout the day. General tours will be conducted in English and Spanish. A tour in American Sign Language is available to those who are hearing impaired, and a tac- tile sculpture tour will be of- fered to those who are vision impaired. For more information, please call 617-267-9300 or visit Enjoy! (Be sure to visit Hilda Morrill's gardening Web site, www.bostongardens.eom. In addition to events covered and reported by the columnist, "The Socially Set" is compiled from various other sources such as news and press re- leases, PRNewswire services, etc.) DIVORCE _* CRIMINAL * 230 MSGK O'BRIEN HIGHWAY LAW OFFICES OF J. CIANO GENERAL PRACTICE OF LA W WILLS * ESTATE PLANNING * TRUSTS PERSONAL INJURY * WORKERS COMP. 617-354-9400 ........ Si Parla Itatiano CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS 02141 ilT|Ijr-'|Lg""m-i"?[Hi1iiiHH;y|q1ri! |llr!lUW:ltnJttm,.m-'" . - o _ _ _