Feb 22, 2013 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Bob Rotella was a real man-about-town.
For more than 20 years I’d worked with Bob at WCNY-TV on Old Liverpool Road where I was a cameraman and he was engineer. Whenever something went wrong with my camera, Bob or one of his colleagues from Master Control would rush into the studio to fix it.
Back in the 1970s, I’d run into Bob after work at Erie Boulevard East nightspots like Soo-Lin or Casa di Lisa where he enjoyed listening to jazz and rhythm & blues. Years later he became a fixture at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que which was co-founded in 1988 by his son, Mike Rotella.
More recently, he’d sip a scotch and water at Liverpool bistros such as The Retreat and the Limp Lizard Lounge, but he still started his days with morning coffee at the Dinosaur.
Bob died last Wednesday after apparently suffering a heart attack while driving his car in the village. He was returning to Liverpool after his breakfast ritual down city. He was 77 years old.
‘Don’t Be Blue’
Born in Manhattan, Bob was raised in Fulton and lived most of his life here in the village and worked for many years out on Old Liverpool Road at Channel 24.
His co-workers at WCNY have fond memories of Bob, who was world-wise, street-savvy and refreshingly outspoken. Having served in the Air Force and Air National Guard and as a longtime boater, Bob knew his way around the sky and the sea as well as the streets.
“Bob was a great guy to work with,” remembered former WCNY-TV production manager Dick “Cato” Calagiovanni, who used to live in Liverpool. “Bob Rotella was always a lot of fun.”
Yes, Bob had a brilliant smile, a big heart and a spectacular head of golden-white hair.
At a celebration of his life on Friday evening, Feb. 15, upstairs at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Bob’s old pals, singer/keyboardist Ronnie Leigh and guitarist par excellence Marcus Curry, played some tasty R&B including the Michael Franks’ song, “Don’t Be Blue.”
Swingin’ dad and daughter
That same evening over at 201 S. Salina St., the Sammy-winning jazz band E.S.P. held forth at Wise Guys.
Bandleader and bassist Matt Vacanti, who lives just north of Liverpool on Gaskin Road, invited his daughter, violinist Cecelia Vacanti, to sit in with the band for a few Gypsy jazz tunes. With guitarists Joe Ferlo and John Magnante strumming the chords, Cecelia played joyous leads on tunes such as “Djangology,” “Jitterbug Waltz” and “Rosetta.”
They made “Minor Swing” special when father and daughter traded fours on bass and fiddle, respectively.
E.S.P. performs from 5 to 8 p.m. every Friday, at Wise Guys, at the corner of East Washington and South Salina streets, down city. Admission is free; 477-9898
Motivated by munchies
An energetic cast of six deliver a delightfully devilish parody of the old “Scooby Doo” cartoons as Rarely Done Productions presents “Spooky Dog and the Teen-Age Gang Mysteries,” through Feb. 23, at Jazz Central: 441 E. Washington St., down city.
Baldwinsville’s hyperkinetic thespian, Josh Taylor, appears as Scraggly, an amiable stoner motivated by the munchies. He and his fellow youth sleuths search for the singer Cher on the grounds of the Creepola County Fair.
The script by Boston-based satirists Eric Pilner and Amy Rhodes pays homage to “Scooby Doo” with its eye-winking references to recreational drugs and alternative sexual orientations.
Directed by Dan Tursi, the hour-long comedy also features Theresa Constantine, Robert Kovak, Gennaro Parlato, Derek Potocki and a titillating Rita Worlock. Shows continue at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22 and 23, at Jazz Central. Tickets cost $20 each; rarelydone.org; 546-3224.
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