14 Crooners Compete for Title at Sinatra Park, Hoboken
By Sally Deering
For those of you who know Frank Sinatra Drive as the long and winding road on Hoboken’s waterfront, well, kids, its time you knew some Hoboken history. Let’s just say Ol’ Blue Eyes grew up in Hoboken back when almost every corner had a gin joint and if you could carry a tune, some music-lover on a barstool bought you a drink.
Those were the days when Hoboken native son Frankie Sinatra walked the Mile Square City dreaming of someday making it big. And make it he did! Superstar, legend, and boy, what a voice. It’s been said that back in the 1990s, while Sinatra was in Manhattan, he would tell the limo driver to take him to Hoboken where his black limo could be seen cruising up and down the old neighborhoods.
If you want to see just how much impact Sinatra has had on fans of his music, then you might want to head over to Frank Sinatra Park on Thursday, June 14, at 6:30 pm for the Sinatra Idol contest where 14 contestants from as far as London, and Mexico will hit the stage and channel the swinging vocal style of Ol’ Blue Eyes as they compete for prizes and bragging rights to the title, Sinatra Idol.
Sinatra Idol hosts are Gary Simpson and Geri Fallo, the director of Hoboken’s Cultural Affairs department who will introduce the contestants. Judges are Bob Foster, director of the Hoboken Historical Museum; Dave Post, bandleader for the Swingadelic Big Band; Jack Silbert, music writer and editor (The New York Times, New Jersey Monthly, Weird NJ); Joyce Flinn, owner of Elysian Cafe & Schnackenberg’s Luncheonette in Hoboken; and Jay Lustig, founder/editor NJARTS.net. Jerry Pearce, the 2017 Sinatra Idol winner will perform.
Contestant Barry Oliver Lawton,
Sponsored by Hoboken’s Cultural Affairs office, Sinatra Idol will require contestants to sing a Sinatra tune, and although the contestants don’t have to sound like Sinatra, they must convey Sinatra’s swingin’, finger-snapping cool. Contestants this year are James Beckman, Elizabeth, NJ; John Busalschi, Wilmington, NC; Peter Cannella, Gloucester City NJ; Paul Capello, St. Augustine, FL; Joe Cracco, Massapequa, NY; Gabriel Diaz, Mexico City, Mexico; Frank Gamrus, Madison, IN; Dylan Kaplan, Hoboken, NJ; Dan Lauzon, Burlington, Ontario, Canada; Barry Oliver Lawton, Dorchester, MA; David Martinez, Elmont, NY; Jerry Padula, Esq, Waterbury, CT; Humphrey Uddoh, Jersey City, NJ; and, Stanley Volk, London, England.
Contestant Frank Gamrus,
A garment industry retiree, Stanley Volk will be visiting Hoboken for the first time for the Sinatra Idol contest. Hailing from London, England, Volk used to sing in Barber Shop Quartets. He has competed on TVs The X Factor and made it to the third round several times. He’s been a huge fan of Sinatra’s ever since the 60s, he says.
“Though I grew up with the pop scene, The Beatles, etc., I never really took to that sort of music,” Volk says from London. “Modern Jazz was my thing, particularly Big Bands. We had a lot in London at that time. I saw Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Sara Vaughan, Buddy Rich, et. al. at the Ronny Scott club where it all happened.”
For Sinatra Idol, Volk plans to sing a Sinatra tune from the 1958 album “Only the Lonely” although his favorite Sinatra tune is Angel Eyes, he says.
“There is so much feeling and emotion in his interpretation of that song,” Volk says.
Sinatra Idol contestant James Beckham of Elizabeth also grew up listening to Big Band music and got turned on to Sinatra when he won a contest in college with Sinatra’s rendition of the Cole Porter classic and Sinatra signature song, I’ve Got You Under My Skin.
“From that day on, I continued learning the music of Sinatra and other Big Band Swing artists,” Beckham says. “I eventually built my own show, James’s Big Band Classics that I perform at local coffee shops, restaurants and assisted living communities.”
Contestant Humphrey Uddoh of Jersey City is an attorney who works for New York City Transit. Back in the day, Uddoh’s mom knew Sammy Davis Jr.’s wife, Mae Britt, and Uddoh had the opportunity to watch the great singer Sammy Davis, Jr. rehearse and perform Those special times inspired Uddoh to sing during his college years at Vassar College. During college, however, Uddoh started smoking cigarettes and gave up on singing. Smoke free for the past five years, Uddoh takes his singing seriously and studies with a former singer with the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Singing “My Way”, Uddoh competed in Sinatra Idol last year and came in 3rd Place. This year he plans to step up his game with Fly Me To The Moon, he says, and even though his singing may be inspired by Sinatra, he’s not trying to sound like Sinatra.
“I sing in a crooner style,” Uddoh says.
Contestant Humphrey Uddoh,
“When asked if he’s channeling Sinatra when he performs on stage, Uddoh says, “yes!”
I feel his energy,” Uddoh says.
If you go
Thurs, June 14, 6:30 pm
Sinatra Park on Frank Sinatra Drive, HOB
For more info: www.hobokennj.gov