Oct 24, 2013 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
We lost two prominent players in the local entertainment scene recently.
Liverpool musician, teacher and concert coordinator George Miller, who lived in Liverpool his entire life, died Oct. 6. He was 76 years old. And comedian Big Mike Goss died Oct. 3. He was 60 years old.
‘Music in his soul’
I’ll never forget the first time I met George Miller. My phone rang at my apartment on First Street, and it was George explaining that he had some Wednesday-evening dates open for concerts at Johnson Park. Would my jug band be willing to entertain?
George had a distinctive, gravelly voice heavy on the nasal head-tones. Over the telephone line, he sounded like a male version of Lily Tomlin’s Ernestine, but in person his voice took on a sing-song quality that complemented the twinkle in his eye.
“His life was marked not only by music but also by service and community,” noted the Rev. Diane Wheatley at George’s memorial service on Oct. 13 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on Hazel Street.
“He certainly had music in his soul,” Rev. Wheatly said. “And he was committed to this village.”
Concerts times two
That commitment showed in the 15 years he and his wife, Jane, served on the Liverpool Is The Place Committee. Together, they expanded the summer concert series to two free shows each week, adding Wednesday performances along with the Monday concerts that began in 1985.
Along the way, George taught music at elementary schools, served as organist at St. Paul’s
for seven years and at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Baldwinsville for 20 years. He and Jane danced for 17 years with the Pairs & Squares group and he tutored at House of Prayer down city.
I enjoyed reminiscing with George about growing up in the village in the 1940s and ’50s. He vividly recalled the varied vendors who regularly rolled along village streets. He recalled knife-sharpeners, ragmen, and ice cream trucks all ringing bells to draw business. George himself had run that racket. As a child he sold vegetables from a wagon he pulled along the sidewalks.
His green thumb served him well throughout his life. Enjoying an iced tea on George’s and Jane’s patio behind their Second Street home was like visiting paradise. Their flower beds bloomed boldly, and their shrubs stood tall and trim.
‘Show must go on’
Weighing in at some 500 pounds, Mike Goss had stage presence to spare. He often entertained — either snapping off one-liners or crooning Sinatra standards — at venues in Liverpool and North Syracuse. After he died, the family conducted a wake conducted at Pirro’s Funeral Home on Buckley Road.
The last time I saw Mike was at a Syracuse Chiefs game in 2012. He sat in his wheelchair in the handicapped section along the first base concourse, and we talked about his trips to the Olympics, his brother’s rock band, Masters of Reality, and about my dad’s old beer-and-burger joint, Tarbe’s, here in the village.
Mike was a serious gourmand. He was especially appreciated diners, and could often be found on weekend mornings in Liverpool at Reggie’s Diner or the Garden View, Dee’s Diner in Mattydale or at the Rise Shine, the diner decked out in rock and roll memorabilia over on Thompson Road in Syracuse.
Mike lived to make people laugh. He took an old show-biz saw and applied it to his life and family: “The show must go on!”
Swing This, featuring guitarist Mark Hoffman and fiddler Diamond Joe Davoli, will host a swingin’ Halloween Party at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, at Café at 407 at Ophelia’s Place, 407 Tulip St., in Liverpool. Come in costume if you’d like. Admission is free, but don’t forget to drop a little something in the musicians’ tip jar; 451-5544.
Barking Gull bash
Latest word from village restaurateur Adam Gormel: “We’re looking at January” to open the Barking Gull to the public. For many years, the corner bar at 116 S. Willow St. has hosted private parties only.
But if you can’t wait any longer, you can sample slices of the wood-fired pizza that will become the Gull’s main menu item this Saturday, Oct. 26, when Brett Liedka hosts a big Halloween Party. The semi-private affair is from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday. If you’d like to attend the Barking Gull bash, call Brett at 481-5162. He’ll fill you in about admission policies and prices. “And we’ve got some great prizes for best costumes,” Brett hinted.
Meanwhile, the Cobblestone Tavern celebrates All Hallow’s Eve after dark on Friday Oct. 25.