Thursday, December 30, 2021

Carl Giammarese and Lisa McClowry Team Up for New Song in Time for 2022

One of the best things about being a creative artist is that the New Year is a time to look back at the preceding 365 days and assess where you’ve grown and stretched the preceding year. Asking yourself frankly, “So what did you do last year?” “Did you change any lives? “Did you tackle any new challenges?” you must answer honestly.

For an established musician or band, almost anytime you take a step away from “home base,” or the thing that audiences and fans know you for, you take a chance. What if, someone decides it’s a little different, or far afield, from what you’ve done before? What if, it showcases you in a brand new light? What happens to the original thing you’ve come to be known for? The answer is: You just made “great” become “greater.”

Simply put, it’s like the Grammy-winning Jim Peterik model of music. One day, he cowrites a new song with Brian Wilson for The Beach Boys (“That’s Why God Made the Radio”), or he presents his World Stage Project, or he does a video for his song “Prom Night in Pontiac” and then he’s off to perform with his fellow band members of 50+ years, The Ides of March, for a Cornerstones of Rock concert, and a few months before, he’s teamed up with fellow singer-songwriter Carl Giammarese in one of the shows they staged in Chicagoland in 2021: “Stories Behind the Songs.”

Bottom line: innovative performers need room (i.e., audience permission) to stretch, to grow, and to improve and to continue doing what they love best every day, without being confined to a singular musical framework under which we know them best. All this leads to our New Year’s Eve story of fortuitous happenstance and a new collaboration that has been part of a dynamic year of creativity for Carl Giammarese. As most worldwide music tours were on hold as the nation learned to adjust a little longer to the safety issues brought about by safety against COVID-19 variants, there was more “at home in the studio” time that Carl invested in building music projects he’d had on his desk to “do someday.”

Thanks to his having built his own recording studio at home, Giammarese’s ability to create new music extended beyond his guitar and a legal pad. His most recent solo project, “Living in the Moment” contained ten new love songs he wrote, while reflecting on his career up to 2016. His gratitude for being able to spend the past five decades doing what he loved every day of his life, performing with The Buckinghams, was enhanced by his newfound acceptance as a songwriter who really had something to say.

Fellow musician, Jim Peterik, iconic for multitasking creating new music, continuing hit songs with The Ides of March, producing and showcasing new artists to Chicagoland, some on his World Stage projects, and writing contemporary chart hits with other established hitmakers (e.g., The Beach Boys) are all part of his daily workweek.

It was Peterik who was among the first to encourage Carl to break out and continue as a songwriter, after having heard “Living in the Moment.” In the year 2020 Giammarese had the opportunity to put on his producer’s hat for two albums of originals and covers in the country-western genre from former Chicago resident and good friend, Ron Materick. Jim and Carl also performed together in 2021 for three sold-out audiences with their show, “Stories Behind the Songs” for appreciative audiences.

Carl then invited his cousin Gerald Elarde (original founder of The Centuries band) to sing on some tracks that he produced. The collaboration was dynamic and they’re on Spotify if you want to check them out.

Next, filmmaker Greg Bizarro (Jaffe Productions) suggested to Giammarese that he hear the work of singer Lisa McClowry, who calls Chicago home currently, as he thought there was a special potential blend to their voices. Without meeting in person, in this day of technical wizardry, a collaboration began. Lisa suggested a new arrangement for “Don’t You Care,” a signature hit for The Buckinghams (written by James Holvay and Gary Beisbier), a song Carl had been singing fulltime for over 40 years.

Willing to try something new, though, Giammarese and McClowry worked back and forth by phone and e-mail and their first song, “Don’t You Care” resulted. Buckinghams’ fans were enthusiastic and appreciative for the new music. McClowry is a respected singer and collaborator on many music projects among Chicago’s musicians. Following the debut of the song, a virtual official video was constructed and both singers liked the feedback they got.

A second collaboration on the Melody Gardot-Sting hit, “Little Something” proved successful for Giammarese and McClowry. The new collaboration had already been doubly productive and the two singers had still not met in person due to Lisa’s busy travel schedule as part of the highly respected Legends showcase, a tribute to the icon herself, Cher. Coincidentally, in the 1960s, Sonny & Cher were on tour on the same package shows with The Buckinghams for a time.

In the meantime, Carl had also been working on a driving dynamic duet with Chicago-based singer Dave Mikulskis. Of course, this is what you do if you’re a musician during a world pandemic, right? More on that later.

Carl had been reviewing songs he’d written recently and sent Lisa a track for review. She loved the song and suggested they rewrite some of the words to turn it into a duet vs. a solo song. Carl agreed and on January 1, 2022, their newly coauthored song, “I Will Love You Forever” drops across all digital streaming services. The duo could not be more excited for audiences to hear their collaboration.

The multitalented McClowry also designed the cover art as she called on other of her gifts and talents as an artist who studied at Chicago’s prestigious Art Institute.

Noted producer John Blasucci, keyboardist for the Dennis DeYoung band and gifted creator of the brilliant ensemble Luminare (currently based in Utah) added his skills to the track, and the result is your New Year’s Day gift from Giammarese and McClowry.

You’ll get to preview the track if you tune into the Steve King and Johnnie Putman show on WGN Radio (720 AM) starting at 3:00 p.m. Friday, December 30th. Both Carl and Lisa will be guests of Steve and Johnnie’s show at approximately 6:15 p.m. A few giveaways are promised, too.

Check out the debut of their new single, and then you can go to Facebook/YouTube/Spotify/Pandora/Apple Music or wherever you hear your digital streaming, starting on New Year’s Day 2022 and save the song to your Likes and your Library.

So much creativity in the air from 2021 bodes well for exciting new outcomes for 2022. The Buckinghams will be on Concerts at Sea later in January, plus they will be special guests of America (on their 50th Anniversary Tour) on Saturday, Feb. 12 at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan, IL. UPDATE! In case you missed hearing Steve and Johnnie's interview with Carl and Lisa on New Year's Eve, visit this link to hear the interview.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Cornerstones of Rock Concert Host Ron Onesti Inspires Record Donations for Dick Biondi Film Documentary

When you get a concert ticket to a show you're looking forward to, you’re not expecting anything out of the ordinary beyond a great performance.

For Chicago filmmaker Pamela Pulice, though, Saturday’s Cornerstones of Rock Concert was an unforgettable surprise, thanks to the generosity of Arcada Theatre owner Ron Onesti and the Cornerstones artists. [Photo by Jim Summaria.]

When Ron called Pam Pulice and Joseph Farina, Director of Marketing & Communications for the film, to the stage, they didn't realize that two music lovers were in the audience, both of whom were poised for maximum generosity, could change the film's future so quickly. Backstage, all the musicians of the Cornerstones bands had autographed a guitar for auction. Onesti went to work as auctioneer and funds for the Biondi documentary were secured. In fact, a second guitar was signed and auctioned to another winning bidder for the same amount.

This photo shows Ron Onesti, Pam Pulice, and Joe Farina, congratulating Greg Ellis and Lynn Steffen for the guitars they won, each with winning bids of $3,500. These funds, together with monies Onesti helped Pulice and Farina raise at the September Cornerstones concert were--at last--sufficient to pay for the remaining music licensing needed to take the documentary to the next level.

Yes, even more contributions are needed before fund-raising concludes, but this was a major hurdle that was achieved thanks to substantial generosity by all involved. They are “almost” to the finish line. Yes, you can ask how many more times can fans hear that and not be slightly frustrated, and you'd be right. Then, you just have to ask yourself how many people would be touched by the inexplicable desire to offer homage and respect to a man on the radio whose kindness to Chicagoland teens and up and coming bands would change their lives forever?

It's more than special that the two winners of the bidding on the guitars are Ellis and Steffan.

Saturday's Cornerstones event marked the 127th time in the past years that Greg Ellis has seen The Buckinghams perform in concert. That's in Chicagoland and regionally as well. Greg has traveled to support the music of the band he highly respects and he has the ticket stubs as well as some videos he posts on Facebook. That's a record number of concerts for any one fan to have attended.

Also, Lynn Steffen has been on board as a major sponsor of the Biondi film for at least two years. You can see a brief clip of Lynn with Joe Farina here:

Here’s a trailer of the film hopefully to appear commercially very soon:

If you listened to Dick Biondi during any of your teenage years, whether he was on air at WLS in Chicago, or in Los Angeles or on any other station where "the wild Itralian" was broadcasting, find out how to join this worthy endeavor here.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Reflection: Year-Long Planning Produces Spectacular Chicago Columbus Day Parade

To those in Chicago who look forward to attending the annual Columbus Day Parade, it is especially memorable for those of Italian heritage, thanks to Christopher Columbus, whom we celebrate for discovering America in 1492. Pride in family heritage runs strong, in Chicago and in every city across the country, but in the case of Chicago's Columbus Day annual celebration, one need only look to the JCCIA, which stands for the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans.

When JCCIA current president Ron Onesti, CEO of Onesti Entertainment (The Arcada, Des Plaines Theatre, and several other venues), was planning for the 2021 Columbus Day Parade, he reached out to the Sanfilippo family (Jasper’s widow Marian and their five children who are involved in the success of the business still today—John, Jim, Jeffrey, Lisa, and Jasper). Jasper B. Sanfilippo was one of Chicago’s most respected philanthropists, who founded a company built on nut and snack foods called John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc. Jasper instilled his personal pride and passion in working your hardest and best to help your community. His recent passing made it only right to honor the elder Sanfilippo at this year's parade.

Every parade needs a queen so, on August 1, 2021, this year’s festival parade held its contest for choosing their queen. Ron invited Carl Giammarese John Leanardi, Diva Montell, Ivana DiPiero, Miranda Fenzau, and Carole DiFrisco to be judges for Queen of the 2021 Columbus Day Parade.

John Leanardi captured this photo of the judges (Ron Onesti, JCCIA president in the back).

The Sanfilippo Estate was a lovely and historic site for the competition to take place. In some of the photos, you'll see where Jasper Sr. had a great love of music and a strong collection of music instruments at his home, called the “Place de la Musique” in Barrington, Illinois. He passed away in late January, 2020, and because the 2020 Columbus Day Parade was postponed due to COVID, it was most appropriate to celebrate Jasper’s legacy this year, in a way that matched all the philanthropy he and his family provided the city during his lifetime.

Attendee Lyn Scolaro took these photos of the judging round of very tough competition. Contestants’ names were: Nica A, Isabella F, Olimpia G, Olivia G, Mackenzie L, Francesca R, Abigail Rose T. Other photos from JCCIA members.

The winner was Isabella B.

The entire Sanfilippo family is very generous in permitting the use of their estate for special events for nonprofit organizations they support. What a beautiful place to judge a competition!

Here's Ron Onesti with the Columbus Day parade queen and her court:

The next story that follows will look behind the scenes of the actual Columbus Day Parade.

[Special thanks to Stephanie Johnson of Onesti Entertainment for contributing to this story.]

Thursday, December 2, 2021

People Who Make a Difference in Celebrating Chicago’s Rich Culture

“The activities that have been made possible for The Buckinghams as a band and me personally have been substantial this year. It’s a period of reflection for me as we’ve just celebrated Thanksgiving, we’re in the season of Hanukkah, and the Advent season where we await Christmas. At this time more than any other time of the year, I reflect on how fortunate I feel to be “from Chicago” and to have made this amazing city my home for my entire life.” Those are the words of Carl Giammarese from a recent phone interview.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of “getting ready for the holidays” and the busy-ness of business, planning for concert appearances, making travel plans for the upcoming concert dates and then maintaining proficiency at keeping the highest performing caliber that audiences have come to expect.

This weekend The Buckinghams will be performing in what has come to be one of the most popular shows each year—the Cornerstones of Rock show, that started in the creative mind of the extraordinary Jim Peterik and became a reality thanks to Chicago’s most prolific impresario, Ron Onesti.

The recently updated beautiful Arcada Theatre was the original setting for the popular ensemble show featuring the icons of 1960s pop rock acts, “American Garage,” each hailing from Chicago and typically originating as a band in someone’s childhood home garage. Over more than 50 years, the bands have had varying levels of success, some on a national basis, others on a regional basis, and still some the heartbeat of Chicago’s favorite music hangouts.

This coming weekend, the bands featured include: The Buckinghams, The Ides of March, New Colony Six, The Cryan’ Shames, and The Shadows of Knight. Each group had multiple hits during their prime performing and recording days Today The Cryan’ Shames and The Shadows of Knight still perform to appreciative fans in Chicago; The Ides of March have had multiple regional performances for the band, still together after all this time. The Buckinghams travel nationally and internationally (cruises) and have full-time since 1982.

But it was thanks to the hospitality of the original gifted empresario, Ron Onesti, who welcomed the bands and always made the Arcada a home base for the concerts, even when they travel regionally to stage the show. In 2022, the Cornerstones show will, once again, travel outside Chicago for appreciative audiences, thanks to the solid backing it has here.

Every day is a gift for all of us, and even since the time of the first concert, Gary Loizzo (American Breed) has passed away and others have recovered from health challenges, and it’s important to remember how much these performers love what they do and the audiences they perform for, that they want to bring their music to all at least “one more time.” And yet, the Cornerstones of Rock shows continue to sell out the Arcada.

Thanks to Ron Onesti (who’s even been known to prepare a feast for the bands to enjoy before the show) and his brother Rich, plus theatre photographer Luciano Bilotti, you’re coming home when you come to the Arcada and you’re coming home to Chicago for the Cornerstones of Rock concerts.

Photo from "Hanging with Carl Giammarese" interview with Ron Onesti (Source.)

A few Cornerstones of Rock tickets remain for Saturday's show here, but they won’t last long. Concert begins at 8pm so don't be late.

Here's the Cryan' Shames, with special guest Jim Peterik, singing "I Want to Meet You," with the Shames' classic harmony blend:

Note: In accordance with the statewide indoor mask mandate, masks are required at all properties – regardless of vaccination status.

See you Saturday night and if you see Ron Onesti (who’s always at his shows), tell him thanks for bringing us back!

Monday, November 22, 2021

The Buckinghams Remember the Life of Billy Hinsche

It came as a genuine shock to learn from Rolling Stone the news that musician Billy Hinsche, 70, died yesterday, Nov. 21, from an only recently discovered cancerous lung condition. The Buckinghams and Billy have had mutual respect and friendship for over 50 years. Hinsche, was part of the popular rock group, “Dino, Desi, and Billy” (DDB) just as The Buckinghams were just starting to become nationally known.[Photo from Best FM Fans site.]

As is the case with many young bands out of Los Angeles, the DDB guys went to school together. Bass guitarist Dino was Dean Paul Martin, Jr., son of Dean and Jeanne Martin and he was just 13 years old; Guitarist Billy Hinsche, whose family had relocated from the Philippines to Beverly Hills, was the oldest at 14 years. The son of bandleader and TV pioneer Desi Arnaz and entertainment legend wife, Lucille Ball, Arnaz Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha, IV otherwise known as Desi, Jr., was just 11 years old when he first played drums with the band. All three boys sang.

Here they are on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1965:

The Buckinghams were a little older than Dino, Desi, and Billy but during the 1960s music tours, no one was looking at driver’s licenses or bus passes among the crowds of teens who loved their sounds.

In 1971, Dino, Desi, and Billy appeared on The Dean Martin Show looking more mature. Dino was already married to Olivia Hussey by the time this song was released. On this song, “Lady Love,” Billy and Dino traded leads:

In total, the band released approximately 17 singles and six albums for Reprise records.

After the band went their separate ways, Billy remained as a music professional. Desi Jr. joined his sister in their Mother’s television shows and became involved in a different aspect of the business. Dean Paul Martin sadly lost his life at age 26, when his California Air National Guard plane crashed. He had also been married to Olympic champion skater Dorothy Hamill a few years prior following an early marriage to Olivia Hussey.

Just like The Buckinghams had toured and once served as an opening act for The Beach Boys, so also did Dino, Desi, and Billy.

In 1967, when The Buckinghams were on their way up on the Canadian music charts in Edmonton and Alberta, Canada, with The Buckinghams’ “Hey Baby” at the #18 spot, Dino, Desi, & Billy were at #3 with their song “Kitty Doyle,” which had spent 9 weeks in the Top 30 already.

In Chicago, for the week of June 30, 1967, Dino, Desi, & Billy had “Two in the Afternoon” at the #29 spot on the chart and The Buckinghams were at #13 with “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.”

Billy cowrote “Lady Love” with Beach Boy talent Brian Wilson. After Dino, Desi, and Billy broke up, Billy went back to school. He completed his BFA from UCLA in Theatre, Film and TV in 1974, having joined The Beach Boys on tour as well as in the recording studio from 1971–1977, and then once again from 1982–1996.

Another special family connection came about when the Beach Boys’ Carl Wilson first married Billy’s sister, Annie. They were married from 1966–1982 and if the show business circle isn’t small enough for you, Carl later married Gina Martin, daughter of Dean Martin, in 1987 and was still married to her when he passed away 11 years later in 1998. Billy Hinsche performed with Carl and with Brian beyond the Beach Boys for several years.

Billy has been friends with Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna (Nick lives in Las Vegas) all through the years. In the late 1980s and 1990s during tours that would pair The Buckinghams and The Beach Boys, Carl Wilson and Carl Giammarese also became good friends as well. In those days, there was not always a lot of time for socializing between bands (mostly they'd run into one another at the airport), but The Beach Boys were always gracious about visiting with The Buckinghams.

In the past 10 years, when The Buckinghams have performed at the Golden Nugget, the Suncoast Casino in Las Vegas and Green Valley Ranch Casino in Henderson, Billy Hinsche has frequently come to see their concerts and supporting their music.

Just as Carl and Nick reformed The Buckinghams fulltime in 1986, Desi and Billy reformed their ban, adding Dean Paul’s younger brother, Ricci, to the lineup, forming the band Ricci, Desi, and Billy. They performed together and even released new music from 1998–2010, per Extra. The story noted that Ricci Martin died in 2016 at age 62, and just three weeks later, his mother Jeanne died. The Hinsche-Wilson and Hinsche-Martin family connections drew even stronger.

Particularly during the season of COVID, for the past year and a half, Billy had been broadcasting a 90-minute weekly program, “Live from Billy’s Place” and posting it on YouTube. The entertainment included Billy playing keyboards and guitar as well as conducting phone interviews with longtime friends and music executives.

Poignantly, Billy shared how much he loved the music of The Buckinghams in Show #64, “Chicago Style,” right after he performed “Vehicle” by The Ides of March, Billy sang “Kind of a Drag” and “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” among selections from other Chicago bands he admired.

Billy also had a great phone interview that same broadcast with Ron Alexenburg, one of Columbia Records’ youngest vice presidents, who had a major role in propelling the career of The Buckinghams forward during their time with that label. So many coincidences it would seem and intersections in the lives of Billy Hinsche, The Beach Boys, and The Buckinghams.

One final coincidence, this one of special poignance, is that on the very same day that Billy died, November 20, his mother, Celia, also passed away at the age of 96 [Photo from Billy Hinsche fan page].

There’s no doubt that somewhere in Heaven, there’s a grand reunion of the Hinsche and Wilson and Martin families going on. What began 57 years ago as a musical act among three high school friends endures still today, another beautiful aspect of the connecting power of great music.

RIP Billy Hinsche, June 29, 1951 – November 20, 2021

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Nick Fortuna Rocks The Belfry Theatre

Hard to believe that Nick Fortuna was once quiet and shy, but that’s not been the case in a very long time. Our friends at The Belfry Theatre in Delavan, Wisconsin, livestreamed our shows for audiences who couldn’t get a ticket to this in-demand show recently. They were kind enough to share some special video of The Buckinghams' concert, which we now share with you.

We are considering officially changing his name to Nick (Mr. Entertainment) Fortuna…not that he knows we are considering this but it just seems appropriate—the man can dance! Plus, he does some “really big” impressions that are spot on.

Watch the video and see. It’s the next best thing to a live concert!

Video courtesy of The Belfry Theatre.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Buckinghams' Hit Songwriter James Holvay Releases Debut Music Video

“Sweet Soul Song,” is the title track from Holvay’s 2020 debut EP on his own MOB Town Records and his Official Video debuted today on YouTube.

Just a few fast decades ago, James Holvay, a preteen from Brookfield, Illinois, would get his first guitar. He assembled his first band, Jimmy and the Jesters, as a teenager. Swept up in his love of the early groove of R&B music, he would ultimately become a fulltime musician, songwriter, and band co-founder for the next 20 years of his life. What was at first a high school flirtation with music, saw Holvay through college and propelled him head-first into a burgeoning new Wild West known as the recording industry, and eventually, the music business.

But, if you’d have predicted in 1965, when he wrote “Kind of a Drag,” and made a rough demo recording of that song for Carl Bonafede to take back to his band, The Buckinghams, for consideration that James Holvay would be releasing his first solo music video in his career in 2021, after a lifetime of making music with a successful business career sandwiched in the middle, well, you should have picked some lotto numbers too, because indeed he has done just that.

Inside tips to check out in this brilliant video: authenticity is key in that the black and white TV retrocast of Holvay performing features the time-appropriate Continental tie you’d find on talented troubadours back in the day. Next, that gorgeous guitar is actually the one Holvay used to write his new music on—his Epiphone Joe Pass model.

Recall, in April this year, Holvay released five original songs he wrote recently, inspired by the “sweet soul sounds” of Gene Chandler, Curtis Mayfield, and Major Lance because he has loved their music so much through the years.

[Left: James Holvay with vintage concert poster.]

His EP included: “Still the Fool,” “Love Has Found a Way,” “Working on It,” “Talking About,” and of course, “Sweet Soul Song.” Fans of The Buckinghams, fans of iconic soul music, and fans of 60s Chicagoland bands alike embraced Holvay’s newest creations as being a refreshing visit to the best days of rock and soul. Since April, listeners and fans have embraced the new music on his YouTube channel and on Spotify.

Most Chicago and Midwest music fans from South Dakota to Indiana with California and Las Vegas in the mix know of Holvay’s most popular musical collective—the band, The MOB, a group of professional musicians whose live performances were their primary claim to fame more so than their recordings. This was primarily because, without video, recording the energy and stage presence (and antics) of The MOB is much like trying to capture lightning in a bottle.

Back in the days when Holvay was performing and playing a key role in The MOB, he gave three more songs he and fellow MOBster Gary Beisbier had written to The Buckinghams to launch their band's sound, which cemented their identity as they were arranged for a strong horn section, cementing their sound as a Chicago pop rock horn band. Therefore, Holvay has always had multiple pathways to success as a songwriter, both with The Buckinghams and several other Chicago acts. He and Beisbier wrote most of the hits for The MOB as well. It’s all a matter of being solid in music theory combined with a keen ear for what audiences love to hear and to dance to.

As evidence just check out the 2012 performance of most of the band as they traveled to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to be inducted in their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011:

Holvay’s sense of authenticity is as keen as his songwriting, so when it came time to take a photo for his 2021 EP cover, a light bulb went off over his head as he said, “I have an idea.” Standard Holvay stuff—pick a cover he liked of a favorite artist and recreate it as an homage to the work. Case in point, take a look at Gene Chandler’s “Just Be True” album cover and then Holvay’s “Sweet Soul Music.” Inside note—they still make those chairs! Excellent homage to the original soul man from the man known for decades as “Jimmy Soul,” his nickname in The MOB.

Sometimes bands take a break for 5, 10 or even 20 years before attempting a reunion. The early days of a band involve grueling road travel and lots of business decisions it's easy to overlook or ignore, but when you're young and naive, every day is a party. After all, like so many professional musicians, when you’re footloose and fancy free, you can live on tuna fish and Cheetos with a diet soda for balance and do what you love every day, and it's a big win because you're doing what you love.

Paydays, you order the steak. But when you have a family and responsibilities, music often takes a back seat to the priorities of a day job and career you enter as your primary occupation for the next several decades. Most people who leave never return; they just smile and reminisce over the grand ol’ days. Still the question lingers heavy in the air: can you ever go back? Holvay’s response: “Yes, you can.”

Holvay successfully mastered two “day job” careers over a 2.5-decade time span before retiring and re-entry into the music world he loved so much. Of all the accolades and positive outcomes resulting from the successful debut of new music after a hiatus of any length, Holvay continues to receive a very warm "Welcome Back."

One should remember, though, that before the release of his EP, "Sweet Soul Music," there was new music and lyrics by Holvay that helped make the performance of the sold-out show, "Eastside Heartbeats" possible--the 2016 production about the rise of the "East L.A. Music" sound. This production included the talents of author and director, S.E. Feinberg; book writer and cowriter of some of the songs' lyrics, Tom Waldman; and an amazing cast of talented musicians and actors.

In the period of time since, Holvay has continued with several creative projects but remained consistent writing and working on new material, following his muse and his heart, so devoted to the true sounds of the soul music he grew up on.

The result is now the debut of his very first official solo video, even though his music has been preserved in numerous group videos through the years. Rumor has it that there could be more Holvay originals in the works readied for a new recording session now. Stay tuned to find out what the writer of “Kind of a Drag” has coming next. Who knows? It could be a new song for The Buckinghams. Never say never!

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

SiriusXM ‘60s on 6’ Fans Prepare for Channel Change to Renamed ‘60s Gold’ on Channel 73

is now known as:

Ready for a channel change? Whether you are or not, a major channel lineup change is coming to SiriusXM radio on Wednesday, Nov. 3. One of the greatest mediums for keeping the music of The Buckinghams alive and thriving is undoubtedly the “60s on 6” channel, formerly found on the SiriusXM dial at the channel “6” spot. Only the channel number is changing—nothing else will change. Why mess with perfection? Never mind, the new channel for "60s Gold" is channel 73!

For 21 years now, you could say "60s on 6" anytime someone wanted to know where you listen to The Buckinghams on the radio. It's easy to remember when it started, August 21, 2000 ever since Phlash Phelps was part of the debut channel and XM radio programming that ushered in an entirely new way to enjoy the 1960s decade of classic rock favorites. That also just happens to be Carl Giammarese's birthday, so it's easy to remember. The (then) brand new radio medium was all new—outside of what’s best known now as “terrestrial radio” for the land-based stations in your hometowns across the country. Remember the days when “local” radio stations would sponsor concerts headlined by your favorite artists and performers? Oh well.

“Don’t You Care?” Last week, morning drive deejay and listener favorite Phlash Phelps, who’s served in many roles on the station through the years he has built up a supremely loyal following, noted that the station was moving to a new position on their dial—channel 73. He actually made it sound like a good idea although there is still the temptation to say, "Wait, what? Why?"

With the station number change, this of course means having to chunk all the catchy PAMS jingles that bring you the comfort of familiarity while listening, an integral part of music programming on this dynamic medium. You don't even think about them until they aren't there between songs on the commercial-free station on the subscription satellite network.

Sometimes we just take things for granted, that they will always be this way. Before Sirius and XM merged, we knew we could find the “decades” music by their first number. For example, it was the 40s on channel 4; 50s on channel 5, 60s on 6, 70s on 7, 80s on 8, and 90s on 9. Pretty simple, right?

“Kind of a Drag” Ah, well the changes started happening years ago, beginning with channel 4. The programming chiefs decided that 40s music was not as permanent an interest genre as others could be. One will recall that, in 2014, channel 4 went to “All Billy Joel” music, much to the chagrin of at least one song stylist, Bette Midler. Others quickly agreed with her. One can love “The Stranger,” but why change something that isn’t broken?

At the time programming chief Lou Simon and others were testing listener interest and whether or not a 24/7 channel devoted to the music of one artist who was not Elvis or Frank Sinatra (the two reigning kings of genre music) was worth testing.

“Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” Test results showed the changeup was effective, and 40s on 4 was no more on channel 4. Over the years, many special artists have held forth there with their nonstop music stations. Listeners could enjoy deep tracks by their favorites, as well as old radio interviews, as well as new timely interviews that allowed you to catch up on new music they were working on.

“Hey Baby, They’re Playing Our Song” The way to remember the new station location for what’s now known as “60s Gold” is that it’s on channel 73, which is ham radio shorthand for “best regards.” The code “73” originated as part of the Phillips Code, a shortcut for having to use longer times to get your message across.

In early journalism days, you might see -30- at the end of an article or story because it means “the end.” The number “22” meant “love and kisses,” but that number has now transitioned to “88” for “love and kisses,” just like “60s on 6” is now “60s Gold.” You have to keep up with the times. “73” means “best regards,” a nice message for the diverse music of the 1960s.

The best news is that the programming lineup remains the same for “60s Gold” beginning in the mornings with Phlash Phelps:

followed by Dave Hoeffel,

then afternoons with Pat St. John,

and then evenings with Mike Kelly.

Best news for listeners is that if you already have the 60s channel on your presets, tomorrow when you turn your radio on, the station will be right where you left it, with a new number on the setting.

As they say on TV, “Don’t adjust your dial,” because it’s already done for you. Should that not be the case when you start your car, simply call SiriusXM and get them to refresh your signal. You’ll be good to go on down the road.

“Susan” or What’s in a Name? Just so you’ll know, the multiple station lineup includes:

The Pulse (old channel 15, now channel 5)

The Coffee House (old channel 14, now channel 6)

Siriusly Sinatra (old channel 71, now channel 70)

40s Junction (old channel 73, now channel 71)

50s Gold (old channel 5, now channel 72)

60s Gold (old channel 6, now channel 73)

On Broadway (old channel 72, now channel 77)

Kidz Bop (old channel 77, now channel 79)

SiriusXM Love (streaming only now)

But wait! There's more. Not every channel will be changing:

Source The Radio and Broadcast Television Report notes:

"The “70s on 7” remains on Channel 7; corresponding decade-specific channels remain on Channels 8-11. You know, the 80s on 8, the 90s on 9, the 2000s on 10, and 2010s on 11?

60s Gold….where you will be able to hear The Buckinghams and all your other favorite 60s classic rock artists, beginning Wednesday morning, Nov. 3.

As Bob Dylan wrote and sang, “The Times They Are A-Changin’"


Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Chicagoland Music Fave, Mike Bruccoleri, to Set Sail with The Buckinghams for Concerts at Sea 2022 Cruise

Recently, The Buckinghams were invited to fill in an opening on one of their favorite cruises, the Concerts at Sea, coordinated by longtime fan favorite producer, Tammy Selee, for Harmon Travel. When invited, Carl and Nick were delighted to return to see longtime cruise fans and friends who make these journeys extra special.

However, as it turns out, guitarist Dave Zane had a conflict during that week at sea and would not be able to join the group for this event. Fortunately, music professional and friend well known to The Buckinghams, Mike Bruccoleri, was available and will be joining The Buckinghams for this event.

Many of you already know Mike from his tour days with Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone, or as the bass player for Sonny Geraci's band, The Outsiders, whose band Dave Zane also played with for five years. Mike is also longtime friends with Bruce Soboroff and Rocky Penn, so he’s no stranger to The Buckinghams or their music.

In addition, Mike and his wife, Traci, sing as a duo, plus they have their own Good Clean Fun Band, featuring music from decades you know and love.

In fact, if you check out this video, you’ll find Mike on vocals and look who else you know—Rocky Penn playing drums for the Good Clean Fun Band:

Mike is an outstanding musician in his own right, playing bass, mandolin, and guitar, and he's a vocalist.

Here he is singing Buddy Holly’s “Well, All Right”:

For Buckinghams fans who ask, rest assured you’ll be able to see Dave with the band again on Saturday, December 4, 2021, as the Arcada Theatre presents the super-popular Cornerstones of Rock show.

As you know The Cornerstones of Rock feature The Buckinghams, The Ides of March, The New Colony Six, The Cryan’ Shames, and The Shadows of Knight.

This concert always sells out, so check the website early to grab your seats before they are gone.

You can also find Dave playing regularly with Jay and the Americans as lead guitarist and vocalist as well as his own Zanesway and The Bigger Picture Bands. Coming up, he has a Halloween show with the band, Left Side of the Dial, at the Mishawaka VFW in Indiana.

Meantime, please help us welcome our friend Mike Bruccoleri and you’ll get to meet him and his wife Traci, onboard the beautiful Sky Princess. It’s not too early to mark your calendars, but you’re just in time to get the few cabins remaining for the exciting Concerts at Sea 2022 “Where the Action Is” Caribbean Cruise, setting sail Jan. 15–22, 2022, from Ft. Lauderdale.

For more details on the cruise and all the bands performing, visit and read the previous story about the fun you'll have on the cruise:

Where there is great music, there are always great musicians. And where there are great musicians, there is always fun and fellowship. Happy Sailing!

Friday, October 22, 2021

Set Sail for The Caribbean with The Buckinghams Concerts at Sea, January 15-22, 2022

It's official! Great news for all fans of The Buckinghams who love being part of Concerts at Sea!

In just 3 short months, the 2022 Concerts at Sea lineup is going to be nothing short of spectacular, with The Buckinghams now rejoining the “Where the Action Is” cruise lineup originated by Paul Revere in his lifetime. The traditions carry forward today by Paul Revere’s Raiders.

The cruise comes in the middle of winter, January 15-22, 2022, and it’s the perfect time to get out of your snow, sleet, and otherwise dull weather and get out to the best in Caribbean locales for a week of the best in unforgettable music, memories, and good times with your fellow cruisers.

The 5th Dimension, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, the amazing Brian Hyland, longtime favorite Peter Rivera (original drummer for Rare Earth/lead singer), with Jay Michaels as emcee, Jackson Haney, former member of Bill Haley’s Original Comets, and the fun house band, J.R. & The Stingrays. Original ports of call begin from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Roatan, and Cozumel, before back to Ft. Lauderdale. But, this time instead of Grand Cayman, the ship will dock in gorgeous Belize for the day.

One tour update was issued by Tour Producer Tammy Selee:

2022 Cruise Itinerary Update We’ve been informed that Grand Cayman will not be a port of call for cruise ships until further notice, so rather than include a day at sea, the Sky Princess will be calling on Belize on January 17, 2022 from 7am – 6pm. Your headliner show will start in the Princess theater at 3:30pm with doors opening at 3:00pm for our VIP guests and 3:10pm for general admission. Just like Grand Cayman, Belize is a port of call with tender service, so plan your day accordingly to be back on the ship by 3:30pm.

On January 18, 2022 we will be docking in Roatan at 10am and departing at 7:00pm. We will have a headliner show in the Princess Theater at 10am and the show will be over by 11:30am, so you can plan your day accordingly.

With only two full days at sea, and a port intensified itinerary, unfortunately it is unavoidable to arrange our headliner shows for any other time. But there will be ample time for sun, fun, beach time and excursions on all the islands.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Keep Rockin’

Tammy Selee (208) 388-3000 866 3OLDIES (365-3437)

If you’re still on the fence, here’s a video to enjoy that might help you make up your mind. It was also the final cruise that The Monkees’ Davy Jones performed on, for those who remember that voyage. It was an unforgettable experience. You are able to mix and mingle, safely, with musicians you’ve loved all your life, and they are there to entertain you and to hear how you appreciate what they’ve devoted their life to doing.

There is LIMITED SPACE, however, so don’t delay if you plan on going. Call 1-866-3OLDIES to reach out to Harmon Travel, who leads the Concerts at Sea tours.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Chicago Music Favorites Tapped to Celebrate Columbus Day

To those in Chicago who look forward to attending the annual Columbus Day Parade, it is especially memorable for those of Italian heritage, thanks to Christopher Columbus for discovering America. The year 2021 Parade marked the 69th annual parade, held on State Street.

[L to R: Carl Bonafede, Rocky Penn, Carl Giammarese, Carlo Isabelli, Nick Fortuna, Bruce Soboroff. Photo by Susan Rakis.]

Pride in one’s family heritage runs strong, in Chicago and in every city across the country, but in the case of the Columbus Day annual celebration, one need only look to the JCCIA, which stands for the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans. [Photo courtesy of San Filippo Foundation, Facebook page.]

When JCCIA current president Ron Onesti, CEO of Onesti Entertainment (The Arcada, Des Plaines Theatre, and several other venues), was planning for the 2021 Columbus Day Parade, he reached out to the Sanfilippo family (Jasper Sr.’s widow, Marian, and their five children continue to be involved in the success of the business today—John, Jim, Jeffrey, Lisa, and Jasper).

Jasper Sr. had instilled his personal pride and passion in his family and his employees to work your hardest and best to help your community. The family gave Onesti their permission to dedicate this year's parade to Jasper Sr., who died Jan. 28, 2020. COVID-19 safety precluded a 2020 Columbus Day Parade from taking place.

The 2021 parade took a little over an hour and was covered in its entirely on ABC7-TV with hosts Ryan Chiaverini, Val Warner, and Anthony Rago. The result was an unforgettable parade, which can be replayed in full (click here). Of greatest excitement to The Buckinghams’ fans, though, is the very end; click below to see The Buckinghams' specific segment of the parade:

Looking closely, you’ll spot Carl Bonafede, aka The Screamin’ Wildman, of Chicago radio fame in the 1960s and beyond.

Bonafede was also the first manager of The Buckinghams in the early 1960s before they broke out into either local or national prominence. The fans still love Bonafede, an icon in his own right, a contemporary of legendary radio DJ Dick Biondi.

Bonafede and The Buckinghams remain close today. As recently as this past summer, before a recent Chicago concert, Bonafede came to introduce The Buckinghams to a very appreciative crowd.

Carl and Nick always remember the hard-working enthusiast who brought them from the garage into the living rooms around the country in a friendship that has endured over 65 years now.

That’s just a little more Chicago history from the world of rock music and local civic pride of individuals who love living and being based in Chicago.

Thanks to the JCCIA, Chicago residents will long remember the Screamin' Wildman, Carl Bonafede, and of course the band they've loved for over 50 years, The Buckinghams.

As the end of 2021 approaches, and we look back on every kindness that has been shown to those we regard, it's really so uplifting to see, particularly in the case of Carl Bonafede, no matter how far you go in you career and how many accomplishments you have, remembering who brought you to national prominence in the beginning and keeping them close in your heart, is most important.

Carl Bonafede continues to be the vital and enthusiastic supporter of The Buckinghams that he was from Day One, the days of the Holiday Ballroom record hops.

If you are looking for a nice Christmas gift for your music lover, check out his biography, "The Screaming Wildman: Vibrations from the Dawn of Chicago Rock," by Carl Bonafede, edited by Joel Bierig.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Buckinghams Return to the Belfry Theatre!

Just about an hour’s drive from Chicago, this weekend you’ll have two chances to see The Buckinghams in concert at the historic Belfry Theatre, in the gorgeous Geneva Lakes area, October 1 and 2, 2021, starting at 7pm.

The theatre is filled with comfortable seats, it’s cozy yet the perfect way to come together for an evening of amazing music. Arrive early and enjoy one of the great restaurants in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. This is the fourth time The Buckinghams will appear here, one of their favorite venues to play.

Both Friday and Saturday Shows are almost sold out but as of this morning, for Friday, a choice few tickets remain, priced from $52 to $68. On Saturday, a few premier seats are available, as well as a few of the others. They’re expected to sell out before the weekend, so don’t procrastinate. Log on to their website for ticket info here.

The Belfry Music Theatre is located at 3601 State Hwy 67, Delavan, Wisconsin. It’s a historic theatre with a rich history. Recently restored, the theatre is now home to at least four shows a week that entertain audiences of all ages and music preferences. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy an evening with The Buckinghams this weekend! For directions or more info, click here.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Six Degrees of Separation--From The Buckinghams to Kevin Bacon

What are the chances that one Buckinghams concert in 1968 would find itself relevant again in 2017? Relevant, that is, if you find it on the path of the string of people connected to the films of actor Kevin Bacon? Remember that game that “assumed that anyone involved in the Hollywood film industry can be linked through their film roles to Bacon within six steps”?

On August 11, 1968, Dennis Tufano and Carl Giammarese (Bacon number of 6), two of the founding members of the band, The Buckinghams (Bacon number of 5), were in the heyday of their musical careers as a beloved national act. The previous year, Billboard Magazine had named them "The Most Listened to Band in America." Photo top: Carl, Jon-Jon; bottom: Nick, Marty, and Dennis.

Now, The Buckinghams were booked to perform for one week, August 5-11, as the stage band in performances of “Sweet Charity” (Bacon number 4), the play that actress Shirley Maclaine (Bacon number 3) made famous nationwide.

The performance was at the Starlight Theatre, in Kansas City, Missouri, and the actress in this particular stage production was Patti Carr, but just assume for the sake of Bacon’s continuity that we are dealing with Shirley Maclaine.

From the ad, you can see that their performance was a coming attraction amidst stars performing in other shows including Kaye Stevens, Ethel Merman, Arthur Godfrey, and Vikki Carr. And, The Buckinghams were accepted by parents and teens alike when they crossed over to a popular show. Even though they had Beatle haircuts, they were considered sufficiently moderate to be "those nice, clean-cut boys" who play that pop music so nicely.

Carl remembered, “I know we were all so excited to be performing in a play that everyone in the country was talking about. My dad even took a day off of work to take the train from Chicago to Kansas City to see us one night. That was one of my proudest moments back then. I was just about to turn 21 years old, and it meant so much that he would travel to see us in that play.”

As part of the pre-show publicity, Dennis Tufano made a visit to the Metcalf Merchants Mall in Overland Park, KS, for their first birthday celebration. They had a one-hour autograph party wher people could meet The Buckinghams and be encouraged to drive over to the Starlight Theatre the next evenings. Back in the day organizations preplanned events together for cross-promotion well in advance of the actual concerts.

The performance was at the Starlight Theatre, today quite an icon among venues for its amazing outdoor setting.

The booking represented a fresh start for The Buckinghams to showcase their talents and set them apart from all the other popular bands of the 1960s, another bright move by Columbia Records to promote their recording artists. In the August 3, 1968, edition of Billboard Magazine, the promotions team ran an ad with the following claim:

“Twenty years ago, when Columbia introduced the LP, records were a $200,000,000/yr business. Today, they’re a $1,000,000,000/yr industry….Music itself has changed. The significance of lyrics. The new instrumentation. The full range of creative expression. Audiences have changed too. More and more people are listening to a wider variety of music than ever before. Because society’s changed. And the question many people ask is ‘Which has worked more influence upon the other, society or music’?”

Columbia was always thinking ahead, and their promotions and A&R department were clearly the best in the business, and we really were fortunate to be signed with them at the time pop music was at its peak. Of course, times would change again, but The Buckinghams were able to keep pace for 18 months longer. Other factors intervened and the band would go in a different direction in 1969.

For this shining moment, the connections were linked. In 2017, the movie “The Last Word,” the plot stars Shirley Maclaine. Maclaine plays (perfect casting) a somewhat crusty businesswoman, Harrier Lauler, who has attended the funerals of so many of her contemporaries and reading their obituaries in the newspaper infuriates her, as they describe a litany of accomplishments that are (she feels) far less than what she has done in her life. Maclaine walks into the local newspaper’s office and finds obituary writer, Anne Sherman, played by Amanda Seyfried (Bacon number 2). The movie is solid gold, between acting, plot, and nuances that it’s worth renting on Amazon Prime or even owning.

Freeze frame for just a minute and find another reason this magical pathway has relevance. The movie “The Last Word” has a scene where Amanda Seyfried is going through Shirley Maclaine's vinyl collection to select an album to play on the stereo [music and vinyl records are an important subplot] and Seyfried takes an overly long pause in the collection, long enough for the camera to focus on one album of special interest to fans of The Buckinghams (Bacon number 5):

You might be asking, “How did that happen?” It’s all about product placement in movies and one possible explanation for the subliminal sighting of the very first album by The Buckinghams on Columbia, “Time and Charges,” is possibly there because one of the film’s producers might just have a copy around her house. In fact, odds are strong she does.

Anne-Marie Mackay, one of the film’s producers (with a Bacon number 2), who also developed the project to bring it to film, married Dennis Tufano (Bacon number 6), founding member and former lead vocalist for The Buckinghams, in 2015 after many years together.

And, the beauty of producing a film is the right to hide such “Easter eggs” in the program for audiences to spy at their delight. But to be fair, the 60s band that received the most attention and accolades in the film is undeniably The Kinks, "the most underrated band of all time."

In the film industry, Ms. Mackay is renowned for "creating and overseeing the successes of Palomar Pictures (of which she is a cofounder) and Propaganda Films ($40MM in annual revenues by 1990 in just the music division); she's represented directors to the record industry and they've produced "hundreds of videos and concerts for artists including The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Tina Turner, Janet Jackson, Tom Petty, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Michael Jackson" and more. She has been nominated for multiple Emmys and Grammys.

Anne-Marie and Dennis have a business together. And wouldn't they be very photogenic if they went in front of the cameras in a film project themselves? But that is still not the pathway to Kevin Bacon.

But wait, there's one more! In "The Last Word,” playing Ronald Odom, third generation heir of a family newspaper for whom Amanda Seyfried is the obituary editor. Scott, as most 60s fans will recall, played “Skitch,” the drummer in the Tom Hanks’ 1996 movie, “That Thing You Do,” that followed the path of the fictional band, The Oneders. In an interview years ago, Dennis Tufano said he heard The Buckinghams were one source of inspiration for Hanks creating the movie.

Really, it’s a generic “insert any successful 60s band here” format, except for the ease with which the band’s promoter, played by Hanks, inserts a new band member on “The Ed Sullivan Show” broadcast almost instantly, to make up for one who left the group virtually overnight to get married. That’s a little closer to home to The Oneders (pronounced Wonders) that The Buckinghams came than the others.

Before “The Ed Sullivan Show,” the original keyboardist (on all the USA Records, including “Kind of a Drag”) left the band to go to college and get married. Enter Marty Grebb (after one other brief substitution) and you had national success because of the formula. Someone would have to ask Tom Hanks, but that is still not the path to the final step, Kevin Bacon. Give up?

In 2020 Amanda Seyfried, aka (Bacon number 2), filmed “You Should Have Left,” described as a “psychological horror film,” together with…and here we are: (Bacon number 1) Kevin Bacon. It’s an interesting journey from Carl and Dennis to Kevin Bacon, but it appears as a "close enough to be correct" six-step pathway. And there you have it!

Now, maybe you can take a few minutes and see how you might connect to Kevin Bacon. You might very likely only six steps away! And....go!