Nov 21, 2010 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
My friend, Mimi Drake Osmun, is a longtime member of the Liverpool Community Concert Band, which rehearses every Monday at Liverpool’s American Legion Post 188 on Cypress Street. Mimi’s an amazingly versatile musician who can play piano, trombone, ukulele … and she sings!
I’m particularly partial to her light-blue parodies of jazz standards. For instance, she takes Leo Wood’s 1918 hit, “Somebody Stole My Gal,” and turns it into “Somebody Stole My Pants.”
Besides performing with the Liverpool Band, Mimi plays keyboard for The Rhythm-Airs, the big band that previously entertained Wednesday’s at Le Moyne Manor on Old Liverpool Road before moving west to McNamara’s Pub in Camillus last year.
Some four decades ago, Mimi led a small combo which held forth weekly at a small rural roadhouse on Route 57 in Clay.
“From 1966 to 1973 one of the most interesting places where I’ve ever played was Provo’s Little Country Club on Route 57, almost to Moyers’ Corners,” Mimi recalls. “It was run by Estelle Provo, whose dad had owned a construction company on the premises, so there was old equipment in evidence. There was a winding, ruddy driveway to the place and Christmas lights year-round on a tiny tree near the entrance.”
A sign on Route 57 advertised “Provo’s Driving Range,” which was situated behind the club.
“Miss Provo played piano, and musicians came and sat in with us,” Mimi remembers. “My hours were Saturdays from 11:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m., so I’d often catch a show at Three Rivers Inn first. I saw the likes of Louis Armstrong, the McGuire Sisters plus the Bobbies — Rydell, Vinton and Darin. I also invited some musicians to stop in at Provo’s when they were through at Three Rivers at 1 a.m., when bars in Oswego County closed. Provo’s was in Onondaga County, where bars were open ’til 3 a.m. Some fine players such as Bill Harris, Frank Shetron, Fred Hickey and Bruce Fairbanks would join our jam sessions.”
The spirited sessions sometimes carried on after hours.
“Because of ‘Stelle’s’ ruddy driveway, the police never did bother us, so we sometimes played after 3 a.m.,” Mimi admits. “I remember Jazz Appreciation Society of Syracuse President Jack Gates bringing his fakebook and playing ‘Stelle’s grand piano ’til the wee hours. He also sat in on washtub bass. What a fun place!”
After Estelle died, Mimi says, Provo’s was torn down, and now $125,000 homes are built on Provo Drive.
But not all of Mimi’s gigs were quite so idyllic.
“During that era I got together an all-girl group to play Friday nights at the Valley American Legion in the city, ” she says. “We were Mimi’s Mamas, a quartet. Our drummer previously worked as a stripper at the Club Candee. One night at the Valley Legion we inadvertently began playing her old strip tune, ‘Someday You’ll Want Me to Want You.'”
Sure enough, the drummer took it as her cue to dance and she slowly, sensually started removing her clothes!
Jerry Crowley, the club manager, called Mimi over to the bar and said, “Mimi, make her stop. This is a family party.”
Of course the drummer was fired, and when Mimi couldn’t find another female drummer, she was replaced by a fellow, and the band became known as “Mimi’s Mamas and Papa.”
Sammy Hall of Famers here
Several Syracuse Area Music Awards Hall of Famers will help celebrate the first anniversary of Caf at 407, at Ophelia’s Place, next week in the village.
The six-day concert series sponsored by Dot Foods kicks off at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 29 with blue-eyed soul singer Joe Whiting. Tuesday features jazz vocalist Ronnie Leigh and Wednesday Dec. 1, Mario and Maria DeSantis will entertain.
Bob Halligan Jr. plays Dec. 2, followed by Oregon Trail Dec. 3.
The anniversary shows conclude with a noon performance on Dec. 4 by caf -favorite The Christopher Ames Band. Who’s opening for Chris Ames that morning? An outta town act named Santa Claus.
For info, call the caf at 451-5855, or visit opheliasplace.org.