Aug 05, 2010 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Big band traces its roots to Legion Post 188
On Saturday afternoon Sun Harbor resident Larry Luttinger relaxed for a few minutes during his busiest weekend of the year at the second annual Northeast Jazz & Wine Festival down city.
The festival director — who’s also executive director of the CNY Jazz Central and the drummer for the CNY Jazz Orchestra and percussionist for the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra — sat down backstage to reminisce about the origins of The Rhythm-Airs, the 16-piece big band which was added to the 2010 festival line-up at the last minute.
Just as bandleader Maureen Clum prepared to open The Rhythm-Airs main-stage set with “Leap Frog,” Larry remembered how her band got its start in the late-1970s at Liverpool’s American Legion Post 188.
“They were named The Legionnaires back then in honor of their rehearsal hall,” Larry said. “I remember they had a trumpet player by the name of Russ Stott. And then they changed the name I guess because of all the bad publicity about Legionnaires’ disease.”
The band began as The Legionnaires in 1977 when city school district music educator Theron Forbes organized the orchestra at Post 188.
In the mid-1980s, the band moved to Eddie Butler’s restaurant in Armory Square, before changing its name and relocating to Baldwinsville’s Fireside Inn and then to Le Moyne Manor on Old Liverpool Road.
Over the years the The Rhythm-Airs benefited from the leadership of Sal Phillips and Mike Zahn before Ms. Clum took over out front.
On Saturday, Maureen played a beautiful muted trumpet on Clyde McCoy’s “Sugar Blues,” while vocalist Augie Simonetta channeled Sinatra on “Night & Day” and Darin on “Mack the Knife.” Pianist Mimi Osmun sang a lachrymose “Boo Hoo” before the horn sections added their voices to the mix on “Pennsylvania 6-5000.”
Nowadays, the Rhythm-Airs play every Wednesday evening, from 7 to 9 p.m., at McNamara’s Pub, 5600 Newport Road, in Camillus; $3/per person, $5/per couple; food and drinks available; 672-8872.
Legion Field Days due
Speaking of American Legion Post 188, don’t forget that the group’s annual Field Days commence Thursday, Aug. 19, at Washington Park and continue through Saturday, Aug. 21.
Neighborhood Friends reunite
The free concerts hosted by Liverpool Is the Place twice weekly in Johnson Park continue with the ever-popular oldies band Smokin’ at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 9.
Then, on Wednesday, Aug. 11, the duo named Neighborhood Friends — guitarist Gary Sprague and bassist Mike Casale — will reunite at the park’s amphitheater. Neighborhood Friends used to pack ’em into places like the Ground Round back in the day until Sprague high-tailed it to Arizona where he’s now billed as The Singing Cowboy. Sprague and his horse, Dusty, perform regularly at Oldtown Scottsdale. Casale now plays bass for Bobby Green & A Cut Above.
Two political switcheroos
Last week I reported that state Assembly candidate Christina Fadden Fitch, who lives in Liverpool, would oppose John Sharon, a senior assistant county attorney, in the Sept. 19 Republican primary. After we went to print, however, Fadden Fitch changed her mind.
Instead she’ll run in November for Joan Christiansen’s open seat in the 119th District listed only on the Conservative Party line.
Similarly, in my July 14 column, I critiqued Democratic Congressman Dan Maffei for voicing anti-war views while continually voting for expensive military appropriations. Finally, on July 27, Maffei voted against the Obama Administration’s $33.5 billion troop surge in Afghanistan. Despite Maffei’s disapproval, the House easily passed the surge, 308-114.
Maffei’s challenger, Republican-Conservative candidate Ann Marie Buerkle, blasted the freshman congressman for failing to support American soldiers in the Afghani desert.
But Buerkle’s got it wrong. Despite his checkered voting record, Maffei says he wants to bring our troops home. What could possibly be more supportive?