Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cape May Jazz Fest Spring 09 Preview

Cape May Jazz Fest 2009 Spring Preview

April is Officially Recognized as Jazz Appreciation Month, so appreciate it.

James Cotton, Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang, Andrew Jr. Boy Jones, Alan Weber and Juke Joint Central will certainly give this 31st edition of the Cape May Jazz Fest a blues tinge, a bend in the harp we are certainly looking forward to.

With the theme "Legends and More Blues," there certainly are legends here, and more blues than you can shake a harp at.

This time around the designated dead legends are Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan, with the tributes being performed by Steve Butler as Billy, and Sarah's part being sung by Sabrina Carten, Barbara King and DC Sharon Clark. They will satisfy the classic jazz buffs, while the younger, new wave will be supplied by guitarist Roni Ben Hur and Cuban percussionists Mayra Casales and Francois Zayas. The former will play jazz classics with the latter laying down some new notes you've never heard before, but will most certainly want more.

The blues end of it will be held down by Shaw's Gang, Boy Jones, Weber and Cotton.

Cotton. What a guy! I've seen him a half-dozen times, and he's always terrific, reaching down into his guts to the roots of the music that grew up with him.

I got pictures too, some of Cotton at the Bijou Cafe in Philadelphia in the 70s, and the Bubba Mac Shack a few summers ago. It's a shame, that both great live music cabaret venues like the Bijou and the Bubba Mack Shack no longer exist, a sad contemporary statement on current affairs.

There's also a photo of Cotton and Billy Muller posted above, taken upstairs in the dressing room at the Bijou, where me and Billy interviewed Cotton on tape that night (circa 1978), and oh, what a night that was. That was the night I met Hubert Sumlin, who Cotton introduced after we made Sumlin wait out in the hall while we talked on tape.

Cotton was on break between shows, and the acapella Persuasions were singing downstairs, as you can hear them on the tape I made of the interview, actually a three way conversation between Cotton, Muller and myself, and later Sumlin.

We were sitting there, with the tape recorder on the table running, and Muller, the guitar wizard (who collects Les Pauls) asking most of the questions. First he wanted to know about Cotton's early mentor Sonny Boy Williamson, whose role in the early history of rock & roll is illustrated in a photograph on page one of the Rolling Stone History of Rock & Roll. It shows Sonny Boy playing the harp outdoors with a drummer, whose drum read: KFAA - the King Biscuit Flower Hour, execept buscuit spelled wrong.

Cotton got all exicted when he talked about Sonny Boy, and told the story of how, when he was a kid, he hitch hiked to the studio where Sonny Boy's live radio show King Biscuit Time was broadcast in Helena, Arkansas, and how he talked Sonny Boy into letting him play on the show. Helena was also home to Levon Helm, the Band's drummer, whose back to the roots Dirt Farmer CD, recently won awards.

From the same Mississipi river delta region as many of the early blues greats, James Cotton's family were cotton farmers, though he was the youngest of eight and for the most part, kept the rest of the family supplied with water and music he played on the harp, while they worked. His mother taught him the only things she knew how to play on the harmonica - the sound of a train and young Cotton first heard a real song played on the harmonica on the radio, Sonny Boy Williamson radio show, King Biscuit Time, sponsored by the King Biscuit flour baking company.

The real radio roots of rock and roll is still going strong at KFFA:

"Sonny Boy told me to play his commercial theme for the King Biscuit flour, hell, I'll do it for you now," he said, and pulled out a harmonica and slapped it on his knee and sang, "I got King Biscuit on my table,...I got King Biscuit on my table,..." and then he wa, waaaed on his harp for a moment, and then sang the refrain.

When Cotton's parents died, while he was still young, before he was a teen, Sonny Boy practically adopted his young protege, and he stayed with him until he met Muddy Waters, who wrote the original "Like A Rolling Stone." Cotton joined up with Muddy, he replaced Junior Wells in Howlin' Wolf's band. So before he was out of his teens, James Cotton had played with Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, three of the most influencial blues acts who helped shape early rock and roll.

Billy asked Cotton about what it was like playing with Howlin' Wolf and his band every night, and the name of Wolf's guitarist Huber Sumlin came up.

"Wasn't Hubert from Philly?" Billy asked. "Is Hubert Sumlin still alive?"

"He's not only alive, and from Philly," Cotton said, "Hubert's right outside that door right now waiting for us to wrap this up so he can say hello," and with that, he ushered Hubert Sumlin into the room and introduced us.

Dressed impecably, as I learned, as always, Sumlin smiled, "I ain't dead yet," he deadpanned, when told Billy had asked if he was still alive.

Then, an hour later, we were downstairs, sitting ringside, when Cotton asked Sumlin to join them on stage and Hubert borrowed the guitar of a young upstart, and whaled with Cotton.

Now Cotton's headlining the Cape May Jazz Fest. Being used to playing dingy blues bars, he'll be a little out of his element in the Lower Township school theater, but it will be a unique opportunity for the audience to hear him play in the acoustically sound room.

And while Howlin' Wolf is no longer with us, the Wolf Gang is, and Eddie Shaw, the Wolf's saxman, will also be part of this fest, playing Cabanas, traditionally the blues bar at every fest. While you have to get up and move around some of the time, I usually find myself spending most of my Cape May Jazz Fests at Cabanas, where they usually feature the blues bands.

Cabanas has an interesting history too. When I first came to town in the 70s it was a really unique joint called Gloria's, and owned by an eccentric older hippie who brought in really good bands. One of the bands featured regularly at Gloria's was Pacific Orchestra, who became sort of the house band. And upstairs, a women named Maureen opened a restaurant that would make waves for decades.

Gloria's changed with the ownership, and has had many configerations, but it's maintained a comfort level as a cabaret with live music, and seems to have some permenant good vibes.

Andrew Jr. Boy Jones will set the blues tone for this fest at Cabanas on Friday night. This Dallas guitarist, from the same hood as Stevie Ray, played with Charlie Musselwhite, argueably the second best living blues harpest, after Cotton.

If there's something going on as a sidebar at this fest, it's got something to do with the saxes. Odean Pope is a living legend they may do tributes to after he's gone, but here he is, playing sax at Aleatheas, along with his ace quartet - Carl Grubbs, Lee Smith, George Burton and Craig McIver.

You don't think of the sax so much of a blues instrument as jazz, but Odean Pope and Eddie Shaw - the legends, and Alan Weber and Randolph Spencer, the local guys, may change that thinking around. Weber is a Cape May saxman, who plays the Boiler Room at Congress Hall and the Copperfsh Restaurant, and will be leading the Saturday afternoon blues jam at Cabanas. Look for Cotton to stop by and jam.

Then Saturday night, while Cotton is whaling his harp over at the Lower Twp. School Theater, Eddie Shaw and his Wolf Gang will hold down Cabanas. Shaw, on sax, and Cotton on harp, used to play in the same band with Howlin' Wolf, and since Cotton's gigs are scheduled for 6:30 and 8:30, he finishes early and could make it down to Cabanas for Eddie Shaw's last set. And I'm sure he won't be able to just sit there and watch.

And I would hope Woody and Carol spring for Cotton's hotel room, and kept him in town, because he's just the kind of guy who would drop in on Juke Joint Central at Cabanas Sunday afternoon and make things really interesting.

Randolph Spencer is the sax man with Juke Joint Central, which also includes Greg Lamont on organ, Percy Smith on drums, David Cole on guitar and Dick Smith on vocals.

If it comes down to a choice between tributes to dead legends and checking out these living blues greats, you'll find me with the blues all weekend.

For more info or to buy tickets visit:

Full Lineup

Friday, April 17, 2009

8:00PM - 9:00PM Tribute to Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughn Theatre at Lower Regional High School

8:30PM - 10:00PM Odean Pope Aleatheas Restaurant-Inn of Cape May

9:00PM - 1:00AM Barbara King Carney's Other Room

9:00PM - 1:00AM Andrew Jr. Boy Jones Blues Cabanas

9:00PM - 1:00AM Sylvia Cuenca Group Carney's Main Room

10:00PM - 11:00PM Tribute to Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughn Theatre at Lower Regional High School

11:00PM - 12:00PM Odean Pope Aleatheas Restaurant-Inn of Cape May

Saturday, April 18, 2009

10:00AM - 1:00PM Workshops Cape May Elementary School

12:00PM - 1:00PM Tom Zmuda and the Thursday Night Jazz Carney's Main Room

12:00PM - 1:00PM Divine Jazz Combo Carney's Other Room

12:00PM - 4:00PM Saturday Jams Carney's Main Room

12:00PM - 4:00PM Saturday Jams Carney's Other Room

1:00PM - 4:00PM Alan Weber and Frenz Blues Jam Cabanas

5:00PM - 6:00PM CD Signing Party Boiler Room at Congress Hall

6:30PM - 7:30PM James Cotton Blues Band Theatre at Lower Regional High School

8:30PM - 9:30PM James Cotton Blues Band Theatre at Lower Regional High School

8:30PM - 10:00PM Sharon Clark Aleatheas Restaurant-Inn of Cape May

9:00PM - 1:00AM Mayra Casales Group Carney's Main Room

9:00PM - 1:00AM Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang Cabanas

9:00PM - 1:00AM Roni Ben-Hur Carney's Other Room

9:00PM - 1:00AM Michael Thomas Quintet Boiler Room at Congress Hall

11:00PM - 12:00PM Sharon Clark Aleatheas Restaurant-Inn of Cape May

Sunday, April 19, 2009

12:00PM - 4:00PM Sunday Jams Carney's Main Room

12:00PM - 4:00PM Sunday Jams Carney's Other Room

12:00PM - 1:00PM Little Jazz Giants Carney's Main Room

12:00PM - 1:00PM Young Lions Jazz Quartet Carney's Other Room

1:00PM - 4:00PM Juke Joint Central Cabanas

Friday, March 20, 2009

Great Day in Harlem Pix

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Marian McPartland's Birthday!

Today is Marian McPartland's 91st Birthday.

I listen to her show Piano Jazz every 9am Saturday morning on WRTI Temple University Jazz out of Philly, and enjoy how she banters and quietly duets with some old classic jazz cats or some new upstart.

Born in England, she married an American jazz musician Jimmy McPartland, came to America and was living and performing in New York when Art Kane was given the assignment of providing the photos for a special Esquire Magazine jazz edition.

Art Kane, (born Arthur Kanofsky), the art director at Seventeen Mazazine and photographer of numerous famous 33 1/3 LP album covers (ie. Duke Ellington's A Train, Dylan, The Rolling Stones, the Who, et. al.), decided not to take photos of the jazz musicians in the clubs while they were playing, but to try to get them all together for a group shot.

He put the word out on the street at all the clubs for the musicians to come to a certain street corner in Harlem, not far from some of the top clubs and near a subway station for others to come from downtown, and they all met there one morning after they had all played their regular gigs into the wee hours.

Somebody had a 8mm film camera going that was used to help create the documentary film A Great Day in Harlem, which the Somers Point Jazz Society recently screened for their premier jazz film series.

Kane can be seen in the film directing the jazz greats up the steps of a nearby brownstone row house, some still carrying their instruments.

Marian, I think is the only, or if not the only, one of only a few women in the photo, and is featured as a talking head in the documentary, explaining how her husband, after playing all night at some club, went to bed, while she went over to see what the photo shoot was all about. She made the picture and he didn't.

In any case, Art Kane got the photo, and Esquire published it (January 1959), posters were made of it, and it is now one of the most popular photos of all time, sparking the Academy Award nominated documentary that I don't think actually won the award, though it mgiht have.

I mention all this because Art Kane lived in Cape May near the end of his life, having started a photography school that was housed in the building that used to be Rev. Carl MacIntyre's Shelton college, behind the Christian Admiral, before they tore that down.

When I realized that Art Kane was in Cape May and he's the guy who took the famous photo, as well as dozens of other famous jazz picures, I went looking for him to get an interview and write a feature story.

I had also heard he was part of the "Ghost Army" during World War II, which engaged photographers, film makers and magicians to try to fool the Germans as to Allied intentions before D-Day.

Since I lived at Cape May Point at the time, I didn't have to look far for him, but I kept missing him, as he was always out of town when I went calling to his school or apartment.

Then he committed suicide, shooting himself on the front lawn of his ex-wife's home, which really put a dent in my story idea.

Although I had never met the man, I went up to New York to his funeral, and was one of a few hundred people who attended a service for him at the school he attended in the East Village, which was conviently near one of my favorite pubs of all time, McSorley's Ale House.

I tape recorded some of the eulogies people delivered, including one by a guy who said he wrote a book about the travels of the soul after death, and other such stories. Art Kane was an interesting guy, with a lot of interesting friends, and I'm sorry that we lived in the same small town and never met each other.

But his photos and the Great Day in Harlem photo survive him. When the documentary film came out (1994) a few years after Kane's death, I got a video tape of it and gave it to Carol Stone and Woody, who really appreciated it.

And I caught Marian McPartland when she performed at the Ocean City Music Pier a few summers later, and went out of my way to shake her hand, but didn't get to ask her any questions or talk to her.

But I listen to her show every Saturday morning with the hope that she will talk about Art Kane and the photo, but so far, after years of listening, she hasn't even mentioned it.

I'm sure that she's probably done an entire show about it, but I'll have to go back through her on line archives to find it, and just might do that.

And then there's that corney Steven Spielberg movie The Terminal with Tom Hanks, about a guy from Europe who is stranded at Kennedy airport in New York for years, and takes up residence there, originally coming to America to complete his dead father's collection of autographs of all the musicians in the jazz photo.

In the meantime, I'll continue to listen to her show, which has already featured a few people I know, including Carlton Drinkard's protege, John Coliani, a former Margate guy who plays once a week with legendary guitarist Les Paul. Maybe one day they'll talk about Art Kane and his photo, or repeat the show that they did talk about it.

God Bless Art Kane.

Happy Birthday Marian!

Monday, March 16, 2009

St. Patrick's Day 2009

St. Patrick's Day 2009

Ah, yes, here we are, St. Patrick's Day Two Thousand and nine, with the bust of the Celtic Tiger Bubble, the renewal of bombings and assassinations in the north, and the beginnings of the demise of Western Civilization, at least as Yeats knew it.

My plan is not too much different as last year, when I donned my father's white Donnegal cardigan sweater and head out to visit a few friends in Somers Point or Williamstown, where Brian O'Keeney has the Libary IV on the Black Horse Pike, and where they behave like its St. Patrick's Day all the time.

Last year Sean Fleming came in late and played, just as he has on many other fine occassions, and I reminicesed about Sean's interesting career in one of my first blogs one year ago.

One St. Paddy's Day a few yeras ago I stopped in at Brian's Library on my home from somewhere, and the place was really hoppin, with live music in two different rooms, including an outdoor tent. Brian called me over and introduced me to some friends and customers, and one guy said, "Bill Kelly!, the mythological character I've heard about, as every time Brian starts a great story it usually begins with "When Kelly and I were..."

"Are they all true?" he wanted to know.

Of course, I hadn't heard Brian's side of the story, but on quick reflection, I would have to venture that they were true and that he would not have to exagerate.

In that regard I decided to write down some of Bill and Brian's Great Adventure(s) in another post.

I'm also writing articles on the Irish Pubs of Browns Mills and the Irish Pubs of New York, Boston and Washington D.C., as I get around to them.

As for Ireland, they never used to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, except as a holy day you went to mass and then had a big breakfast, but today, they really know how to party.

Drunken mayhem mars St. Patrick's in Ireland


DUBLIN (AP) — Cars torched, firefighters attacked, police bombarded
and neighbors terrified: It was another fine St.. Patrick's Day in
Ireland, where inebriated mobs annually turn districts of Dublin and
Belfast into a nightmare.Authorities were counting the cost Wednesday from trouble associated with dusk-to-dawn drinking on Ireland's national holiday.

Police in the Republic of Ireland said they were still adding up the number of
public-order arrests from Tuesday's festivities but said the total
would easily exceed 200, typical for recent years. Police in
Northern Ireland clashed with some of the British territory's most
privileged youth — hundreds of students at Queen's University, the
major college in Belfast — in what authorities called the worst public
drinking-related confrontation of any recent St. Patrick's Day.Nineteen
teenagers and 20-somethings, mostly Queen's students, were arrested
during several hours of clashes with riot police.. Belfast police
Superintendent Chris Noble said most were still sobering up Wednesday
in their cells, while five were arraigned in court on charges of
riotous behavior.Noble said police expected to arrest more students in coming days after analyzing their surveillance TV footage.

"We will not abandon an area to drunken thugs," he said.Officers
of the Police Service of Northern Ireland donned full riot gear,
including flame-retardant suits, to drive about 1,000 students back
into their rented red-brick homes in a neighborhood called the Holy
Land directly beside Queen's University.The area — so named
because it has streets named Jerusalem, Damascus and Cairo — has
suffered St. Patrick's riots for several years running, but older
residents and politicians agreed this year's was by far the worst.Leaders
from the British Protestant and Irish Catholic sides of Northern
Ireland's power-sharing government demanded that Queen's expel students
at the center of the trouble. Until now university authorities have
issued warnings or fines to students only.

"I toured the area myself last night and was absolutely disgusted. The place was like a war zone. It was an atmosphere of intimidation and mayhem," said
Protestant politician Reg Empey, minister for higher education in the
power-sharing government.

The Irish Republic's police commander, Commissioner Fachtna Murphy, said it suffered one of its most dangerous holiday periods on the roads amid increased levels of drunken driving. He said since Friday police had arrested 346 suspected drunk drivers and 72 for dangerous driving, while eight people died in crashes, compared
to three in the same period last year.

The Dublin Fire Brigade said its officers were pelted with stones, cans and bottles in several public housing projects overnight as they dealt with 46 fires, mostly
smashed-up cars that had been set ablaze.Ambulance crews dealing with more than 200 emergency calls — including a dozen stabbings involving knives or broken bottles — said they also suffered physical and verbal abuse as they responded to booze-fueled bloodshed.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bill & Brian's Great Adventure

Bill & Brian's Great Adventure (Con't)

Brian's Story

Brian is from Ireland, Northern Ireland, and came over to the USA in the 1970s to work with his friend John Hassen, both finding work as house painters at the Jersey Shore. Living in Somers Point, one day Brian was on his way to work in Ocean City on his motorcycle when a little old lady pulled out in front of him. He tried to swerve, but went down, his head hitting the curb and cracking his helment.

In Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point for months, they tried to save one badly damaged leg, but eventually had to amputate it, extending his stay. A good friend, Gregroy's bartender George McGonigle, who loves everything Irish, tried to get people to go visit the poor Mick, far from home, in the hospital, with one leg. I didn't go.

But one day I was sitting under the TV by the front door when in walks a one legged guy who must be Brian, and we sat at George McGonigle's bar for a few hours and got to know one another. I had been to Belfast, where Brian went to school, and I had even visted Kelly's Cellar, an 800 year old Belfast bar that he frequently patronized.

Brian, with one leg, could no longer paint houses, so he began to tend bar, and did so at Gregory's dining room bar, Zaberer's on the Black Horse Pike and later the Libary III in Cardiff, before managing and owning the Libary IV in Williamstown.

Eventually, John Hassen returned to Ireland, where he married his sweetheart Finvola, whose father owned a bar, McReynold's in Dungiven, in northwest Ireland, near the border, which John now runs with Fin and her seven sisters.

After John went back to Irleand, Brian lived, on occassion at my family's home, 819 Wesley, as did all our friends, and we shared a winter, off season appartment on the beach at 38th street in 1977, with Bill Potterton and Pete Pospich, both Mack & Manco guys. I know its hard to imagine today, but we actually paid about $300 a month for a four bedroom apartment on the beach in Ocean City from September until April, an apartment that otherwise rented for $2,000 a week in the summer. It was also one of a string of three really bad, freezing rain and snowy winters that we haven't seen since. That was also the year Brian finally got his insurance settlement for losing his leg, and after paying off his expenses, including laywers, he had enough left over to send some money home and buy a brand new, red TR7 sports car. It looked like a little wedge, but was souped up and fun to drive.

"Let's go!," he said. "California. Coast to Coast."

The plan was to go to the Long Beach Grand Prix auto race, which was being held that year through the streets of Long Beach, just like Monaco, where I had seen Brit Graham Hill win the 1970 Monte Carlo Grand Prix. It would be a cross country jaunt, from Ocean City to Long Beach, ocean to ocean, and in a sports car like the two guys in the Corvette on Route 66, or Then Came Bronson, the motorcycle reporter who meandered around the country on a whim.

"Let's go!"

Although I wasn't broke, I wasn't working steady, except some odd jobs on the side and collectiung unemployment from working the previous summer at Mack & Manco's. I only had a few hundred bucks, but Pete said he'd send along my undemployment check, and for a couple extra bucks, I sold my typewriter to Carolyn Nixon(who reminded me of this when I ran into her at a Tony Marts Reunion last summer).

My brother Leo gave us his CB radio, that we hooked up, and using the natural handle "Red 7," and we stopped by Gregory's to say goodbye to George McGonigle, the bartender, before heading west in a rain storm. Since Brian had unhooked the dashboard speedometer so it wouldn't register the miles, thinking about reselling the car later on, we had no idea how fast we were going or how much gas we had, and promptly ran out on the Pennsey Turnpike. It was the worst driving rain you could imagine, and since I had a Topsider raincoat, I hitched a few miles down the road, got gas and hitched back with it, all in the driving rain. An inauspicious start, that I later recalled when pirate entrepaneur Pat Croce set out from Ocean City on his motorcycle trip to San Diego and almost lost his foot in an accident before getting out of state.

Once we were on the road though, things went pretty smoothly. Arriving in Pittsburh, per the plan, we stopped in unexpectedly on my college roommate Mark Connelly, who had also spent many summers in Ocean City, painted 819 Wesley and was part of the crew of the summer of my group rental (circa 1973?).

Since we went to the University of Dayton, where Mark's sister Kathy also matriculated, Pittsburg was often a half-way pit stop when driving between Ocean City and Dayton for my four years at college.

Mark suggested we stop in Boulder, Colorado and visit his sister Mary, who has also spent summer time in Ocean City, and then cross the rockies and check in with his other sister Kathy, thus saving motel money as well as seeing good friends.

Mary, a firey red head (are there any other kind?) and her boyfriend, lived in a big apartment in big, corner house in the same hip neighborhood where Mork & Mindi were supposed to live. It was near the university, and was pretty neat. There was a news and coffee shop around the corner called Eight Days A Week, where I bought my Rock Mountain News (RIP this week, after a century of great newspapering), and plotted my day.

We must have stayed there a week or more because I remember visiting the Garden of the Gods (which I had seen ten years earlier on a summer road trip with Gary Pancoast and his parents), Pikes Peak and place with the girl on the barroom floor, a story that my father had once related.

Mary had some friends who were really interesting too, incluidng Dave and Jennifer, ski nuts, who I recently thought about out of the blue for some reason. One night Brian cooked a chinse sweet and sour dish and we all went into town to the Boulderado Hotel, where there was live jazz in the second floor lounge.

The Boulderado still has, at least it did then, an old west atmosphere. When you walk in the door you can just imagine how it was a hundred or more so years ago, with its front desk, winding staircases and second floor balcony. I forget who was playing, but we did meet beat poet Alan Ginsburgh, who I recognized, as I had seen him previously give a lecture at Stockton collge at the Jersey Shore. When I introduced myself, he invited us to sit down in these old upolustry chairs and antique coffee table.

When I told him I was from Camden, he asked if I ever visted Walt Whitman's grave, and I had, though nobody else is ever there when I was. I asked him to recount how he was related to Whitman, as detailed in some recent magazine article, and he elaborated on how there was a line of mutual homosexual lovers that link them. He said he was there to give a beat nick lecture at the William Burroughs? school.

Then we were off in the Red Seven (our CB handle) back on the highway west, over the hump to the other side of the alps, past Vail to Glenwood Springs, and then back east to Aspin. At least that's the way it looked on the map. But it didn't turn out that way.

There may have been a snowstorm, and the pass closed for the night, or some delay, but we got sidetracked to WinterPark, a small ski community just off the main highway between Denver and Vail. We were just driving around the rockies, listening to music (Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind" comes to mind), when Brian sees a sign "Handicap Ski Parking Only."

"That's us!" he said, pulling right into the slot, and picking up his plastic prothesis knee and walking in the door that read: "Handicap Ski Office - Hal O'Leary".

It didn't take long to meet Hal O'Leary, a jovial guy with an Irish smile, who asked one question: "AK or BK?"

Brian's an AK, above the knee amputee, which meant he would ski three track, rather than with his prothesis. Brian went into the locker room to put on a ski boot, and met a guy whose name I should never forget, but I do have a mental block. But he was a Vietnam vet who stepped on a mine and lost both legs below the knee, so he's a BK, and skis with his prothesis and two outriggers. Skiing with one leg and two outriggers, Brian would ski Three Track, a type of skiing reportedly invented by O'Leary, who really wrote the book on the concept, and had Brian skiing within an hour of meeting him.

The handicap ski program at Winterpark also taught blind people how to ski by following the cow bell of their guides, and they got me to ski, since how could I watch them ski and not do it.

We stayed at this rustic all wood lodge, in an almost dormatory style setting, but they had a fireplace, a little bar and had a great owner, host who made everybody feel at home, and served as our Winterpark HQ for a few other visits over the next few years.

They were going to have their annual Handicap Ski Tournament a few weeks later, and we tried to time ourselves to get to Aspin, hit the Long Beach Grand Prix, spend some time at the coast, and make it back to Winterpark for the Handicap Ski Tournament, which they promised would be a blast.

When we finally got to Aspin we found Kathy Connally driving a Mellow Yellow taxi cab, and glad to see us. She lived in a fairly modern apartment building on the slope of a hill on a road that emptied into town at the Jerome Hotel. We had sleeping bags and a couch, and took Kathy out to breakfast and lunch, and got to know the town pretty well.

Ajax mountain was steep, an all black trail, mogul strewn slope that I really didn't want to try to tackle, so while Brian and some new friends skied AJAX, I walked into town and poked around a bit.

The bar at the Hotel Jerome, of course, became our base of operations. Heading down the road to town I had to pass a foreign car repair shop, where there was this big bald guy with a beard who looked like a Viking, certainly a biker, tinkering with these exotic sports cars.

Martin was the name on his sign, but I learned his name was Martini, of Martini and Rossi fame and fortune, and we talked a few times and I told Brian about him. Just down the road from Martin's Garage was the Hotel Jerome, a fine establishment indeed.

I went down there the afternoon Brian was skiing and was sitting at the bar drinking a draft beer and reading the newpaper when I hear from behind my back, "My God, it's Bill Kelly!"

Now who could this be?

It was Maryanne, a cashier at Circle Liquor in Somers Point, and two of her friends from the Gregory's-Charle's-Anchorage crowd. They were on tour too, and it was a miracle we happened to cross paths. I walked them across town to the bar at the base of Ajax mountain where, low and behold, Nancy from Irenes's on the Ocean City boardwalk was there, working as a waitress. When Brian made it to the bottom of the hill, it was a real Jersey Shore reunion.

While skiing down Ajax Brian had met another one-legged Irish skier, Teddy Kennedy, Jr., then only 17 years old, and having recently lost his leg to cancer. It was great that he hooked up with Brian, as Brian showed him some ski moves, and taught him how to shift gears with one leg in the TR7.

Aspen has plenty of celebrities, including John Denver. There was a John Denver look-a-like who hung out at the Aspen bars, but the real John Denver would't be seen in town, as everybody hated him. Apparently he had some gasoline tanks installed at this ranch and was hoarding gas when it was scarce. Kathy's hair dresser, who came around and gave us all haircuts one night, gave us some inside dirt on Denver, since she also did his hair, but I forget the good parts now.

One day, riding around the country roads with Kathy in the Mellow Yellow cab, she gave me a book, John Kennedy Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces," and now, every once in awhile, I'll give the same book to somebody who I think will appreciate it.

Hunter Thompson was there too, but I never met him, and didn't make it to the little Creek Bar he hung out near his home. I did meet his wife Sandy, a beautiful lady who worked at the Aspen bookstore, which was owned by guy whose father was a big shot CIA officer. We all went out to breakfast together one Sunday morning, to a local's place where after a week in town, we knew most of the people there.

On Sunday afternoon, while everyone else went off into the mountains on a mission of some sort or other, I went to the bar at the Hotel Jerome to watch the ball games and read the papers. I was sitting next to the brass rail waitress station, and every once in awhile the waitress would come up and order some drinks and then say, "Jack wants to know what the score is," and after the third or fourth time she asked for the scores for Jack, I was wondering who the hell this Jack guy is. When she bent over to empty a tray into the trash while asking for the scores for Jack, I could see behind her, a guy sliding up low to the floor and pinch her on the ass hard enough to make her scream. I had a 35 mm camera with me at the time, right there in front of me, but didn't use it when Jack Nicholson looked right at me, and smiled, a smile just for me.

Then he went back to his drink and games, but I'll always have that face in my mind.

We had to get to Long Beach for the Grand Priz, and time was running out, so we reluctantly headed out again, west, across the desert, to California. One night, I was driving and Brian was sleeping, and Lew London't "Swingtime in Springtime" was playing on the radio. It was a college student station out of New Mexico and was beginning to fade out so I pulled over to hear it all, which woke Brian up, wondering why we're stopped on the side of the road in the middle of the desert.

It was a Sunday night, because I noted to Brian how Lew London was playing at that same time back by the fireplace at the Library III where some of our friends worked, including Lew.

We got a motel room when we got to Bakersfield, on the other side of Death Valley, and after a big breakfast with the truckers, we decided to head north to San Francisco because we still had a few days to kill before the Grand Prix. In San Fran we looked up my friend from Philly Bill Vitka, who we had heard on the radio on the drive up. Vidka went to Penn in Philly and was the news director at WMMR, where I worked with him on a couple of important stories (ie. Army dioxin studies), and he offered to put us up on the floor of his meager apartment. I also called Kathy Fletcher, a local teacher who I went to school with at Dayton, and we all met at a local bar. We also visited Fisherman's Warf, the Buena Vista, where Irish coffee is the house drink, and the beatnick poets bookstore around the corner.

We would come back to San Fran the following year, and stay longer while Brian took the competition driving school course, but we didn't know that at the time. Vitka took us to a seafood restaurant in Sausalito, on the bay, and the next morning, to a a cliff they jump off with the hang gliders, before we started heading south on the coast road. Past Big Sur, and Carmel, William Randolph Hursts' Zanadau castle, the TR7 really handled the coast road well, and we started playing tag with two chicks in a sports car heading in the same direction.

When we got to Los Angeles, we got the girls to go to a bar with us for a few drinks while I tried to call my friend Glenn Gebhard, a UCLA film student and cab driver. He was working at the time and I called the cab company he works for and they directed him to where we were with him thinking we were a fare. Was he surprised to see me, and I introduced him to Brian and the girls we had just met and he had us follow him to down the road to Venice, where he had an apartment near the beach.

Venice, home to the Doors and the hippies of LA, with its winding blacktop prominade that runs along the water, and bars right there on the beach, something you'd never see in Ocean City, "America's Greatest Family Resort," and dry Methodist blue law island.

But here, in Venice, California, it was natural. Glen took us out to eat at some Italian joint where Bob Newhart and his family sat at an ajoining table, and we observed Glen's instructions not to bother them. And it was quite funny to see Bob Newhart talking to his family like he was in character on his TV show, which itself is pretty dry but funny humor.

It turned out, as we discovered while all sleeping together on Glenn's hardwood floor, that the girls were lesbians, and the next morning they were gone. Later that week I did meet another neat girl, who had just joined the air force, and who I later met at the Philadelpia airport and drove to McGuire to fly to Greenland for a year. We hooked up with a lot of my old frinds, but also met people who we would remain friends with for a long time.

We got to Long Beach for race day, and didn't have any trouble picking up the press passes I had requested a few weeks earlier, and had the run of the place.

Watching a Formula One auto race is difficult because you have to get a good location, near a turn, where the cars slow down enough for you to get a look at them and keep them in order.

Like we did at the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glenn, we walked around the course to get a feel for it, and then went over to the pits, and low and behold, there in the Ferrari pit was Rip Martin, the guy from Aspin.

Of course Mario Andretti, the Nazareth, Pennsylvania, Italian born American was the favorite, and won the race, becoming the first American to win an American Grand Prix. After the race, while walking through the parking lot, we came across Mario's two sons, said hello and I took their picture. They were pretty young then, young teenagers, and Michael looked a like a chubby Italian, but he went on to be a good race driver like his father. And now his son, Marco, wants to be one of the USAFI drivers on next year's F1 circuit.

After the race, everyone went over to the Queen Mary, where the Victory party was to be held in the ball room. The press passes we had got us on the boat and in a party in the big bar, but we really wanted to get into the Victory party and hung out in the cocktail lounge seats by the banquet room door.

Things got exciting when Mario showed up, with photographers popping bulbs and TV and radio crews there broadcasting live, I got up and started taking photos in front of Mario and walked backwards into the room. I was in! Without even trying. The Mario, the man of the hour, in the room, they quickly sealed the door and I tried to act like I belonged there and walked over to the open bar for a drink.

This party was for the drivers, and sponsors and it seemed most of the people knew each other pretty well, so I tried to inconspiciously blend in.

I looked around the room for Rip Martin, who should have been there and could have gotten Brian in, and would have stood out a head and shoulders above everybody else, but I didn't see him anywhere.

There, I recognized the guy next to me but didn't quite know exactly who he was, so I chatted up a conversation with him and he was British, a clue, ah yet, Sterling Moss, the Great Sterling Moss, the world motorcycle champion, world Formula One champion, one of the greatest road race drivers ever. And he was drinking beer with me on the Queen Mary.

Not a snob, and with a beautiful babe hanging on to his arm, Moss appeared friendly enough, and he was interested in the fact that I had drove across country in new TR7, and started to question me about the car's handling, when I explained that my friend, who owned the car, Brian was just outside the door. Brian, I said, didn't have an invitation to get in, and was from Ireland, and had lost a leg in a motorcycle accident. With that, Moss handed his drink to the babe, and asked where this Brian was? Right outside the door, I said, and we went out and there was Brian, sitting back chatting it up with some other people.

"Hey Brian," I said, "I'd like you to meet my new friend, Strling Moss," and you could see Brian light up as he recognized the road racing hero of the century, who escourted us both back in to Mario Andretti's Victory Party on the Queen Mary, where a great time was had by all.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tony Marts Hard Rock March 27

Hey, it looks like Carmen and Nancy are going to have regular shows at the Hard Rock, maybe all summer, which sounds good to me.

After having one or two Tony Mart Reunions a year for the past few years, they've already had two this year and have another one coming up on Friday, March 27, featuring The Billy Walton Band, and that's not the basketball player.

That's Billy the guitarist from Asbury Park who has captured the heart of the South Jersey music scene, at least in Somers Point, where he's played the bars, Friday night beach concerts and Good Old Days Picnic, as well as previous Tony Mart Reunions.

Billy Walton's the best, well, maybe second best after the other Billy, Billy Hector, who has yet to really get the attention of those south of Tuckerton, but he will.

Now I don't think it's Billy Walton getting the Tony Marts Lifetime Achievement Award since he's not old enough, and never played there, but I will find out whose in this year's nominations and get back to you on it.

Also want to hear from somebody who caught Dr. Bobby Fingers and Danny Eyer at the Hard Rock last show? Thanks.


Ah, ha!, just as I suspected. There's more to this story still coming over the wires. Here's more details from Nancy.


Tony Mart’s will present another series of “Tony Mart Lifetime Achievement Awards” at their “Let the Good Times Roll for the Right Reasons” celebration at the Hard Rock Cafe on Friday, March 27th at 8PM.

Before the phenomenal Jersey Boy Rockers, The Billy Walton Band performs, awards will be presented to Joseph Fiore, Manager of Tony Mart’s in the early ‘70’s, Roger Evoy, 40 year Tony Mart Aficionado and contributing photographer; Steve Wright, a loyal, veteran bartender of the late 70’s and 80’s; and last, but not least, Jimmy Walker, the lovable Shakespearean character who served nobly as custodian during the final years of Tony Mart’s.

Please honor these recipients and support this charitable event. All proceeds from the minimal admission charge of $5 and the sale of Tony Mart t-shirts and “Hard Rock March on Stage” Pins will benefit a great cause, the Hard Rock’s “Musicians on Call” organization that brings live and recorded music to the bedsides of patients in healthcare facilities.

Help us honor people who made the legacy of Tony Mart’s great while we “Let the Good Times Roll for the Right Reasons!”

More to come on this one.

Tony Mart Presents

FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2009 8 PM

Tony Mart's Lifetime Contribution Awards

Featuring The Billy Walton Band


At the Hard Rock Cafe in Taj Mahal

Friday, March 27, 2009 8 PM

Both Shows only $5 At The Door

For more info call 609-653-6069

If anybody was at this show, I'd like a full report and some pix - BK

A Tribute to Three Decades of Rock n' Roll

Featuring the Music of

Ray Charles
The Beatles
Billy Joel

Performed by

Dr. Bobby Fingers & Danny Eyer


At the Hard Rock Cafe in Taj Mahal

With Very Special Guests

Bubba Mack & Richie Baker

Friday, March 6 2009 8 PM