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October 25, 2013     Post-Gazette
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POST-GAZETTE, OCTOBER 25, 2013 Page 13 Nanna 00Babb00nonno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance I have been a musician most of my life. I couldn't help it, Babbononno was a musi- cian, he raised three sons to be musicians (two played professionally all of their lives) and he raised a daugh- ter who married a musician. I was the first born male in an Italian family. Not only was I placed on a pedestal, I was looked at as the "sec- ond coming," and it was as- sumed that I would become a musician. At an early age, Babbo- nonno taught me how to read music Italian style. Dad approved as did Uncles Paul and Nick. They had all been taught by the same method called solfeggio. Solfeggio is the rhythmical articulation of the essence of music. This means that I sat next to my teacher (Babbononno) and read, beat out and sang the notes that were in front of me. An old fashion metro- nome was wound up and clicked away as I did my thing in syncopation. Babbo- nonno's methods worked, and before I was ten years old, I knew all of the musi- cal information that would be necessary for symphonic music and opera. The next step was to teach me an instrument. Babbo- nonno played guitar and drums. Uncles Paul and Nick played all of the saxes: so- prano, alto, tenor and bari- tone, as well as clarinet and flute. Dad played tuba, Sou- saphone and bass violin. I tried all of the instruments my grandfather and uncles played and rejected them all. A conference followed my dis- missal of what the family had to offer and Babbononno suggested a shot at accor- dion. I tried it and even at that young age, couldn't en- vision myself going through life playing Lady of Spain every day. By the time I was in jun- ior high school, I showed interest in the drum and bugle corps and decided to take bugle lessons. A man name d, Ralph Fuccillo, was the teacher. Dad and my uncles knew him well as he was a prominent Boston trumpeter. Babbononno was happy, Dad and my uncles were happy and Nanna and my mother were happy. I rep- resented the third genera- tion musician in my family. For the three years I was a student at the Barnes, I marched, playing the tunes I was taught to play for con- certs and parades. The next thing I knew, Ralph FucciIlo presented me with a trumpet, a loaner from the Boston Public Schools. He instructed me and I transferred my talents (or lack thereof) from the bugle to the 'trumpet. I liked the instrument, but by the time I started high school, I was working at the Seville Theater, was playing Ameri- can Legion and CYO baseball, was playing several sports at English High and hanging around a street corner, which was a manly obligation for a teenager in East Boston in the 1950s. As a result, the trumpet sat in my room col- lectiog dust. As I was graduating high school and heading to col- lege, Dad began to wonder if I would ever take up an instrument and stick to it. He must have had continued conversations with Babbo- nonno and my Godfather, Uncle Nick, because when- ever the chance arose, they told stories about the life of a musician. They convinced me that I could have a daytime profes- sion and play music at night, supplementing my income. It sounded great and I asked Dad to teach me how to play bass violin. Once I started college, the street corner had to go and my spare time was spent practicing the bass. About a year-and-a-half into my college career, I was do- ing rather well on the bass but never considered playing professionally. One day as my sophomore year was drawing to a close, I was sitting on the front steps of the house we lived in, 74 Eutaw Street in East Boston. Spring had arrived and it was warm and sunny, the weather I love. Just then, I saw a young man I knew who lived a few streets away. He was walking on the other side of the street with a bass violin over his shoul- der. I called out to him and asked what he was up to. He yelled back that he had just joined the Army and was selling his instrument to someone in the neighbor- hood. He also mentioned that the local band he had been playing in would have a va- cancy and if I was inter- ested, he would tell them that I could replace him as their bassist. Out of curiosity, I told him that I would make the next rehearsal. He gave me the necessary information and I showed up, ready to play. The -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 leader turned out to be a young man whose family lived on the corner of Eutaw and Marion Streets. His name was Bob Avola and he played guitar. For the next several months, I cut my teeth playing with him, trumpeter Jim Pastore, Alto sax player Ronny Hughes and drummer Billy Welch. As I advanced, my name became known to musicians outside of East Boston and I was offered jobs in other parts of the city and North Shore suburbs. This pro- posed a problem as I would have to ask the people who called if they could pick me up. This worked out for a while, but I knew that I would eventually need a car. It was 1958 and I bought a '54 Chevy for $550. It was completely done over, motor, transmission, front end and tires were either rebuilt or replaced. The car even had a new paint job and new upholstery. I was all set to make it on my own. At the beginning of my jun- ior year in college, I booked my first job as a bandleader. At college, I belonged to the Newman Club, a sort of col- lege-level CYO. At a Sunday night get together, the priest in charge told me that he knew I was a musician and asked if I had a band to- gether. I lied and said that I did. He booked me for the following Sunday. I called a childhood friend, John Alaimo. He was a pianist and had a Small band already working. It was my first job calling the tunes and watch- ing the dancers glide by due to my selections. Babbononno and Dad were hoping I would develop an interest in playing classical music as they had prepared me for this direction. At col- lege, Frank Zarba, today a well-known Boston band leader, put together an 18- piece dance band. He, today, plays bass. Back in college, he played trombone and I joined as the bass player. Dad was happy with this move, but Babbononno was hoping I would get involved with an amateur classical orchestra. This didn't hap- pen for quite a while as I joined forces with two other college students and began running college dances on weekends, but this is a story for another time. GOD BLESS AMERICA The Post-Gazette would like to wish John "Nanna & Babbononno" Christoforo a Speedy Recovery and a Happy Birthday! Socially Scene (Continued from Page 9) Halloween is that time of year to just be whomever it is you want to be but may not be appropriate in the office. Be sure to get out there Boston and join the costume fun. (Photo courtesy of partyearth.com) games, hear stories and sing- a-long to live music at the first annual Gore Farm Autumn Fest. They'll also see scarecrows. Kids and adults are welcome to wear their costumes, but as the event is recommended for children up through the age of ten, please nothing scary. Children must be accompa- nied by an adult. Gore Place is located at 52 Gore Street, Waltham, MA. For more information call 781-894-2798 or visit the museums web site at: www.goreplace.org. Halloween Events for Just the Big Kids .... Halloween is a time for trick or treating but that doesn't mean it has to stop there. Here are a few events for the adults to attend after the kids are safe, sound and stuffed with candy! Wednesday, October 29 th from 7:00-11:00 pm Grand- Ten Distilling is hosting The Boston Halloween Bash 2013, one of the best Hallow- een celebrations to hit Bos- ton! Come dressed in your best Halloween costume and get ready to mix, mingle and boogie. With admission you will receive access to Grand- Ten Distilling's bar and func- tion area, one free cocktail drink, free pizza and candy. Admission to GrandTen's bar area as well as one of the spookiest dances of the year, entry into a Costume Contest with some awesome prizes for: Funniest, Most Creative, and Spookiest. GrandTen Distilling is lo- cated at 383 Dorchester Av- enue, Boston, a 12-minute walk from Broadway Station on the Red Line, but there is also a lot of free parking space available both behind the distillery and on the main street. Halloween PubCrawl Bos- ton on Saturday, October 26 u beginning at 3:00 pm! No matter what you hear, there is no better bar scene than the one found in Boston. Pub crawls may have originated in England, but they're made for places like Boston. Hallow- een Pub Crawl has produced some of the biggest pub crawls known to man in this city. 2013 will be featuring some of the top watering holes in the city, thousands of costumed guests will be flocking to the streets in hop- ping from one bar to the other. While it's tough to or- ganize a pub crawl amongst your friends, they've done all of the work for you. All you need to worry about is your costume and your stamina. Not only will you have access to these fun, safe and social environments, but you'll also get to save some money while you're at it. Each participating pub has agreed to host special drink prices that can only be accessed by registered pub crawlers. Rather than opting for the stereotypical Hallow- een experience in Bean- town, we're giving you the option to shake things up and enjoy a little variety. Boston Pubcrawl is located and will start off at 131 State Street, Boston. This is only a little tad bit of what the city has to offer for Halloween fun. You can access more events or get tickets to the ones listed by visiting www.boston.com and typing in Halloween. A Tasty Treat to Compli- ment Your Time in the City .... With our beloved Red Sox taking another trip to the World Series I thought I would highlight a Fenway favorite! The Cask 'n Flagon is a restaurant/bar that has seen the good, the bad and the ugly of Boston baseball. The now World Famous Cask 'n Flagon began as a small neighborhood bar known as Olivers and has grown to what you see today. Many have said that the Cask 'n Flagon are as synonymous to Fenway Park as the infa- mous Green Monster and the CITGO sign. After 35 years, the Cask 'n Flagon still holds the heart of Boston. Its walls are filled with black and white photographs of old time baseball greats such as Bobby Doerr (#i), Joe Cronin (#4), Carl Yastrzemski (#8), Ted Williams (#9), Carlton Fisk (#27) and many others. Voted top baseball bar in the nation by ESPN there truly is no better place to post up and watch the Red Sox fight for another title. The Cask 'n Flagon is located at 62 Brookline Avenue and can be reached at 617-536- 4840 or you can visit www.casknflagon.com for more information. The Federal Trade Commission works for the consumer to prevent fraud and deception. Call 1-877-FTC-HELP (l-S77-382-4357) or log on to www.ftc.gov.