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DeSantis celebrates Sunday in Johnson Park

— When Mario DeSantis debuted his orchestra back in 1947, the Number One hit in the nation was “Heartache” by the Ted Weems Orchestra, with Elmo Tanner whistling. Now, as Mario celebrates his big band’s 65th anniversary, the nation’s top pop tune is “Payphone” by Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa.

Over the intervening decades, Mario and his musicians have rolled with rock’n’roll, bounced to the Beatles, and reveled in rhythm & blues. The versatile 12-piece ensemble prides itself on its ability to entertain every audience whether they dance the Turkey Trot, the Twist or the Macarena.

Ames, Gentile & E.S.P.

The Mario DeSantis Orchestra hosts its third annual Salt City Sunday Music & Art Festival from 2 to 8 p.m., Sunday, July 15, at Johnson Park in Liverpool. Admission is free.

The opening act will be the Christopher Ames Trio playing tracks from its recent disc, “Journeyman” along with plenty of tasty rock’n’roll tunes. Ames et al will be followed at 3:30 p.m. by Lisa Gentile and Tommy Scott. Gentile, a gifted songwriter with a powerful and passionate singing voice, bills herself as “an urban cowgirl with soul.”

At 5 p.m. Syracuse Area Music Awards winners E.S.P. will play smooth jazz from the quartet’s 2011 CD, “Reach.” The disc includes a number named “Salina Street,” bassist Matt Vacanti’s paean to downtown Syracuse’s Wise Guys Comedy Club.

The DeSantis Orchestra takes the stage at 6:30 p.m. and will feature several new arrangements including traditional big band tunes, neo-swing and dance-craze numbers from the 1960s to today.  Several of the band’s new arrangements were written by saxophonist Joe Riposo, who lives in Liverpool. 

Liverpool’s own !

Speaking of musicians who live in Liverpool, on Sunday the DeSantis combo will spotlight singer Keith Condon who grew up in the village.

Condon has been singing with the DeSantis group for 35 years, often dueting with Maria DeSantis, daughter of the piano-playing conductor, Mario DeSantis.

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