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December 28, 2012     Post-Gazette
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December 28, 2012
 

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"PO'ST:GAZETTE; DECEMBER 2 Page 13 ffal na Babb' onno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance II New Year's Eve has tradi- tionally been a night for mer- riment throughout the world. Most people celebrate in one way or another depending on the culture. We Americans head to parties, nightclubs, restaurants or, in the case in Boston to First Night. For those of us who played mu- sic, New Year's Eve meant something different. We didn't wear funny hats or revel the night away with noisemakers and lots of dancing; we worked. That was the one night of the year when all musicians found work with one band or an- other. The pay was always at least 50% higher than a usual night's salary. Many of the best players received double, triple or multiples of a night's pay, depending on their instrument and talent. If you could sing you were worth your weight in gold. The last time I celebrated New Year's Eve as a "civilian" was when I was sixteen years old. A few of the ushers that worked at the Seville The- ater in East Boston headed for Chinatown and a party at one of the restaurants. Be- ginning the following year and continuing for the next first time since the mid 1950s that I am a civilian on December 31st. I remember my first New Year's Eve playing with a band. My small trio or quar- tet played every other Friday (sometimes once a month) at the Sons of Italy in East Boston. It was 1957 and we were told that the Sons were going to hire a big band for the 31st celebration and we were off the hook. That meant that we weren't work- ing. Dad at that time was in partners with Ray Digg. Ray DiGiovanni had studied sax with Uncle Nick and now had a ballroom style big band that often played at the Ocean View Ballroom that was located at the beginning of Revere Beach (remember that place???). Ray had booked in the Sons of Italy for New Year's Eve as one of the many jobs his office had for that night. Dad was going to lead one of the jobs, Uncle Nick another and Uncle Paul a third. As a result, I was asked to play for Ray at the Sons of Italy instead of my father. When I arrived at the lodge hall it was early. I lived around the corner from where it was located and 50 years or so, I worked on walked New Year's Eve. The concept was nothing new for me. As a chlid~ I saw Dad, UnCle Nick and Uncle Paul ready them- selves for that special night. They were among the best in Boston and would have booked in with: one of the top bands months ahead of time. This was the legacy that was left to me and I followed the tradition to the hilt. Things changed for me af- ter my partner passed away. Marly Goldman and I worked as a duo for several years in the recent past and always expanded the group on New Year's Eve. I would send Loretta with Dean Saluti, his wife Margie Cahn and a group of close friends to a pri- vate club to celebrate and I would show up for "last call," playing my job and heading later to our own party. After Marly passed away, not be- ing able to find a pianist that equaled him, I stopped play- ing out on New Year's Eve. Instead, I brought Loretta to the annual party I mentioned and entertained my friends along with the pianist wife of one of the members of our inner circle. This year we have other plans for the en- tertainment at our annual bash and that means for me, that if I don't touch my bass or bass guitar, it will be the to work. Ray was already there and as I looked around the stage, there were music stands for about a dozen musicians. As they arrived, I recognized all of them having met most at the union hall when I, as a kid, accompanied my father there on Mondays, which was the traditional meeting day for musicians. Many were surprised to see me, now in my late teens, dressed in a new tuxedo and ready to sub- stitute for my father. Once we were all there, Ray Digg passed out the mu- sic, went over much of it and then told us to review the individual parts on our own. Most of the arrangements were songs made famous by the big bands during the '30s and during WWII, what today might be called the Great American Songbook. Well, after looking over my parts, I assured myself that I wouldn't have a problem playing them. The only problem was that I was subbing for my fa- ther, who was considered one of the best in Boston. Just before we started, Ray, who always treated me like a Dutch uncle, pulled me aside saying, "Christie Junior, don't let some of these old timers scare you. You are your father's son and you can handle the rhythm end of ACCEPTING Advertisements -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST-- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 things with no problem. The pep talk helped but I did feel a little intimidated but hoped I could hold my own. When some of the guests arrived, they stared quizzi- cally as they recognized me from the Friday night dances. When they asked Ray what the story was, he came up with answers that seemed to satisfy their curiosity. Well, around 8:30 we began to play. Ray operated on a three to four song medley. His arrangements were similar to the big bands of old. He had songs made pop- ular by Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Duke Ellington, the Dorsey Brothers and Count Basic and they were all danceable. Back then, basses weren't amplified and we used strings made of cat gut. Today, we use steel strings and we play amplified. The combination of the two makes it a lot easier on one's fingers. Let me include at this point that one of the realities of play- ing bass was callused fingers and driving a big band with- out amplification meant that those calluses were going to be tested to the ultimate ex- treme. I had calluses on my finger tips, but the calluses of a novice, not someone with many years of experi- ence. The volume I had to maintain with a big band meant that I had to play harder, which in turn meant, that by the time midnight rolled around some of those calluses were just the covers for blood blisters, and to top it all off, my fingers were sore. At the stroke of mid- night, we played Auld Lang Syne and while the people were dancing and kissing in the New Year, Ray was ap- proached by the president of the lodge and listened to what the man had to say and then nodded in the affirmative. When we finished the set, Ray announced that were going to play for another hour, we were going into overtime. The musicians all nodded and smiled as the overtime rate on New Year's Eve was quite good. The only musi- cian not smiling was the bass player, me. By this time, my fingers were bleeding and I was in pain. I did have a roll of adhesive tape and when we stopped to catch our breath, I taped my bleeding fingers. In spite of the tape, they still hurt when I played. Just then, Dad came waltz- ing through the front door as the job he was playing didn't go into overtime. He climbed the stairs to the stage, said hello to everyone and then looked at my hands and took over my spot as the bass player. I was saved, or at least the future of my fingers was saved. I had passed my bap- tism of fire playing with the big dogs and was well on my way. From the Christoforo family, may you have a pros- perous and Happy New Year. GOD BLESS AMERICA Yhe Financial Corner (Continued from Page 6) number of heath events. These can encompass a heart attack, cancer, stroke, Lou Gehrig's disease, blind- ness, organ transplant and kidney failure to name a few. This particular benefit has special meaning to me because a colleague of mine qualified due to a cancer di- agnosis and so I personally have seen this work. Again, the amount of the payment to the insured can vary by insurance company, but the more robust ones will pay as much as 90% of the death benefit value. When used properly, these benefits within life insur- ance can be a big cost saver over time. The reason for this is that the need for pur- chasing expensive stand alone critical care and long term care insurance poli- cies may not be necessary anymore. The other nice fea- ture of this design is that these multiple use policies have a much higher likely hood that the owner will ben- efit. This is due to the fact that it pays for so many com- mon ailments and not just death. For more infotmation on these benefits or to see if you can add these to your current policy contact Joe Vita at Tril- ogy Financial. 781-933-6533. Inspection Ordinance (Continued from Page 1) Property ,wners who dem- onstrate that tla~ir ffnits exceed standards, provide an acceptable management plan and have a good his- tory of compliance will be granted the ability to re- quest an alternative com- pliance plan. Additionally, owners of newly-acquired housing units will be able to request a grace period for compliance, provided they submit an acceptable com- pliance plan. The previous Rental In- spection Ordinance relied on property owners reporting turnovers to the city and re- questing inspections within 45 clays of turnover of a non- exempt unit The o~dinance lackett a--proactive trigger to ensure that long-term ten- ants have safe and healthy housing. As a result, 98 percent of the more than 20,000 annual ISD housing inspections are currently in response to complaints. The revised ordinance will allow the ISD to work with property owners to meet code requirements and ensure safe, healthy rental units for Boston's residents. Under the Ordinance, in- spection fees remain the same and filing fees have been reduced for large and small rental property owners. EAST BOSTON SATELLITE OFFICE =s NOW OPEN MARIE MATARESE 35 Bennington Street, East Boston 617.227.8929 TUES. 10:00 A.M. - 3.00 P.M. THURS. 11:00 A.M.- 2:00 P.M. General Advertisements . Sales and Rentals Memorials Legals ADVERTISING WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE Leave the "LI 'EI to Us! With a Gift Subscription to the J7 x5\ Post-Gazette, your generosity will be remembered every week of the year. We'll send the recipient an announcement of your gift. Their subscription will begin with the current issue and continue for one year. 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