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March 19, 2010     Post-Gazette
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POST-GAZETTE, MARCH 19, 2010 Page 13 00anna 00Babb00]nonno by John Christoforo ,i i i i i Last week, I ended with an audition at the Charter House Hotel on the Lynnway, at the Revere-Lynn bound- ary line. When we were to open, it was the same trio I had used in college that con- sisted of Tony Poto on piano, Rocky Freni on drums and myself on bass. That open- ing night, which was on a Friday, the management had invited several people in the hotel industry to be their guests. I had personally put ads in the East Boston Times and the Post-Gazette. The hotel advertised in news- papers north of Boston. As a result, opening night was "SRO" standing room only. We began playing at 9:00pm. The schedule was 9:00pm to 1:00am on Friday night and 8:00pm to 1:00am on Saturdays, forty and twenty. This means that we would play for forty min- utes and break for twenty, a standard with night club bands back in the day. Well, as I said, we began playing at 9:00 on that opening Fri- day, and we began with sel- ections from the pens of Cole Porter, Gershwin and Ellington. Tony, the pianist sang a couple of songs dur- ing that first set and that helped put us over the top, because when I looked up, the house was full and they applauded loudly. Just as we finished that first set, I spot- ted people in the crowd from my old neighborhood in East Boston and several friends from the North End. Just then, my eyes stopped at a table to the front left of the make-shift stage. There sat my folks and Babbononno. Was I surprised. Dad was sit- ting there in his tux and I knew that he was supposed to be playing somewhere. When we took that first break, he told me that he had a friend playing the fh-st half of his job, but he had to leave soon, head to Boston and finish the night. This meant that I would have to drive Mom and Babbononno home. This was going to be a bit complicated as I would have my bass vio- lin to bring with me and all of us would have to travel in my Thunderbird. Fortu- nately, the T-bird was a four- seater and Mom and Babbo- nonno were on the small side. We eventually worked out the logistics and there would be no problem. Dad had to leave and con- gratulated us on a great first set. I couldn't spend much time with my family as the A Nostalgic Remembrance hotel owner, Mr. Mazzeri, called me over to his table and introduced me to sev- eral people who were in man- agement positions in the Charter House Hotel chain. They began talking about us touring the circuit and play- ing a month or two here or there. I smiled and nodded in approval, all the while knowing that no one in the group could travel. Rocky worked for his father who owned a garment factory; Tony had a day job, I believe in banking, and I was teach- ing at Hyde Park High School. I let them talk about us touring and just kept nod- ding in the affirmative, all the while knowing that we couldn't travel. I figured that I would cross that bridge when I came to it. The second set included a lot of standards and jazz clas- sics done in our style, and when it was over, I went table hopping, thanking the friends and neighbors who stopped by to help get us started. After I had made the rounds, one of the bartend- ers brought me to several tables and introduced me to groups of people from Re- vere, Medford, Malden and Lynn who came in for open- ing night. I shook so many hands, I felt like a politician. On the way back to the stage, Babbononno grabbed me by the wrist and said, "Jenny, yon take-a me home-a peedy soona, I'ma get lilla stanco (tired)" I whis- pered back, "Babbononno, you'll have to wait until we finish, but don't worry, I'll buy you your next drink. That did it. I told the wait- ress that he was my grand- father and not to charge him for his drinks. I would take care of them. I knew that it wouldn't be too expensive. Mom only drank ginger ale and I received a discount on everything because I worked for the hotel. As I was ready to head back to the stage, Babbononno grabbed my wrist and said, "Jenny, you play foh me, una nyzza canzone italiana (a nice Italian song)" I said, "Sure, Babbononno, I have just the song for you." I had no idea what to play and searched my books once back on the stage. I finally found an Italian standard called Anema Core and an- nounced that it was a spe- cial request that came from my grandfather. Everyone applauded as I pointed to where he and Mom were sit- ting, and after the first cho- 1 rus, we added in a jazz feel- ing. Everyone was hapIpy. When the evening cache to an end, I thanked eve:ryone for coming, introduceqd the members of the group and welcomed them all bac:k. As I was packing up, the head waitress came over to me and said that the owner had a room where we could leave our instruments and any- thing else that could remain in the hotel. This made it easier for me when it came to bringing Mom and Babbo- nonno home. In spite of their diminutive sizes (Morn five feet tall and Babbononno at 4'11"), they would have been uncomfortable with the lack of leg room in back of the T-bird. The next night, many of the people having dinner in the hotel's dining room had reserved tables in the lounge, and by the end of the first set, it was a sell out, once again. A few were friends from in town who made the trek north to hear what the group sounded like. At one table was a couple about my age and the man was smirking at me nodding his head when I looked in his direction. It was soneone whom I hadn't seen since we both attended the Barnes School many years earlier. I approached the table and we shook hands and hugged each other. My former class- mate introduced me to his date and then said, "When you were a kid going to the Barnes, you were so (Dung Ho, all the kids thought you would carve out a career in the military." I laughed and said, "Well things happen in life and wearing a tuxedo for work is as close as I've come to anything that resembles a uniform. We laughed and I went back to work. The weeks passed and we did rather well. Word got out about the new group at the Charter House and the lounge was packed on weekend nights. We even had people dancing to many of our selections. This was not my first steady job as a musician, but it was one of the best I had had up to that point. The hotel was fashionable, it was clean, we were paid well and the owner treated us like royalty. After work on that Saturday of the first week at the hotel, I looked back at the entrance to the place, smiled and said to the guys in the band, "Not bad for three kids from the streets of East Boston." GOD BLESS AMERICA DIVORCE * CRIMINAL * LAW OFFICES OF FRANK J CIANO 230 MSGtL O'BRIEN HIGHWAY GENERAL PRACTICE OF LA W WILLS * ESTATE PLANNING * TRUSTS PERSONAL INJURY * WORKERSCOMP. 617-354-9400 Si Parla Italiano CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETFS 02141 Ad Go information advertising in the Post-Gazette, call 617-227-8929. The Socially Set (Continued from Page 7) art created in the Terezin camp. TMF preserves the legacy of the Terezin artists and commissions new works by emerg- ing and acclaimed composers (a com- mission by Andr6 Previn will grace TMF's program in Prague this spring); these are premiered in the U.S. and Eu- rope by such musical luminaries as so- prano Dawn Upshaw, cellist Alisa Weiler- stein, and pianist Garrick Ohlsson. TMF commissions form a lasting contribution to the chamber music rep- ertoire and offer inspiration and healing for all survivors of war and genocide through- out the generations. For further information, visit www.terezinmusic.org. ....... Don't forget that the new Boston Flower & Garden Show takes place at the Seaport World Trade Center, Boston, from Wed- nesday, March 24 to Sun- day, March 28. For complete DongWon Kim, NEC's first "Artist Diploma in Opera" candidate, sings Escamillo's "Toreador Song" from Bizet's "Carmen" during dinner at the Fairmont Copley Plaza. (Photo by Andrew Hurlbut) details, please log on to www. thebostonJlowershow.co See you therel Enjoy! (Be sure to visit Hilda MorriU's gardening Web site, www.bostongardens.com. 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.) THE ORIGINAL * H00RLE00i *'-' -= ..... '--- 00OBEIRm00TERB00 , ticketmaster Wtif|. lAB LEH |Lli| EIRiiII[B$.ON ****************