Music lovers are ready and waiting this Tuesday, September 20, 2022 at Holmdel, NJ’s PNC Bank Arts Center for an afternoon concert by legendary singer and producer, Jay Siegel, and his Tokens, as well as Staten Island entertainer , NY Vinnie Medugno.
A free event presented by the Garden State Arts Foundation, Vice President Ron Gravino greets the audience, joking, “Today is ‘Staten Island Day’ at the PNC Bank Arts Center!” Cheers emanated from the crowd of mostly elderly people as well as a group of students seated at the front of the outdoor amphitheater.
After thanking the sponsors of today’s show, Gravino introduces Vinnie Medugno, who takes the stage with The Coda Band featuring saxophonist Mary Beth Ryan-Mastropaolo, keyboardist Dennis DiBrizzi, guitarist Joe DeAngelis, bassist Paul Page and drummer Pete Mastropaulo.
Leading the crowd to cheers for Andy Williams’ “More,” the Medugno croons, “More than the greatest love the world has ever known,” his warm baritone and charming demeanor bewitch the audience before he asks: ” Are you ready for a big show today?”
The crowd responds in the affirmative and Medugo exclaims: “PNC, make some noise! as it features The Chiclettes – Deanna Caroll, Susan Marten and Sarah Tracey – a trio of backing vocals who add three-part harmonies to Medugo’s dynamic rendition of Lou Christie’s “I’m Gonna Make You Mine”.
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Medugno – who, in addition to being a singer and radio DJ, is also a high school media studies teacher – exclaims, “My school is here today!” before embarking on the arrangement of “Silhouettes” by Herman’s Hermits.
Handing out the mic to audience members to sing along to the catchy lyrics to the tune “Took a walk and past your house/Late last night,” Medugno engages his students who are here to learn, first-hand, about the live entertainment and musical performance.
Medugno addresses his students, telling them that today they will hear “good music”, describing it as “music that was cool back when most of today’s audience was at high school”.
After “Volare”, his tribute to singer Bobby Rydell, Medugno launches into one of the key numbers of his set, his interpretation of “Town Without Pity” by Gene Pitney, which he recently performed on the PBS television show by TJ Lubinsky Doo Wop, Pop and Soul generations.
Mary Beth Ryan-Mastropaolo’s sax moans and the Chiclettes sing haunting backlines before Medugno continues with a soulful performance of Gene Pitney’s ballad, “I’m Gonna Be Strong,” which elicits cheers from music lovers. in the crowd.
After her rendition of Paul Anka’s “Tonight, My Love Tonight” and a vocal duet with The Chiclettes’ Deanna Caroll on Anka’s “I Believe There’s Nothing Stronger Than Our Love”, Medugno sings in English and Italian on her upcoming selection. , “Il Mondo. Dedicating the song to a couple in the audience celebrating their 53rd wedding anniversary, Medugo serenades the couple as they dance down the aisle to the music.
Dedicating his next selection, Buddy Holly’s “True Love Ways,” to GSAF Vice President Ron Gravino, Medugno performs his mother’s favorite song, the Rodgers and Hart classic, “Falling in Love with Love.”
A powerful and moving rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Hurt” gets the audience on their feet, and a sparkling performance of the Archies’ “Sugar Sugar” has the audience cheering and singing as Medugno steps into the audience to sing, dance, and hug. the hands of the fans in the crowd.
Music lovers happily sing along with Medugno to Dion’s “Runaround Sue” as he continues to stroll through the PNC Bank Amphitheater waving to fans and greeting them. Back on stage, he dances with saxophonist Mary Beth Ryan-Mastropaolo.
Music lovers cheer as Medugno sings her signature song, “Cara Mia,” a number originally recorded by Jay and the Americans. Using her full voice with her falsetto, her powerful performance drew a standing ovation from the crowd.
Medugno concludes his set with a rhythmic rendition of Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’ the Night Away”, which has audiences of all ages on their feet and having a great time.
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“Ditch it for The Coda Band and The Chiclettes!” announces Medugno as he leaves the stage to enthusiastic cheers and applause.
During a short intermission, we chat with several Medugno students about their teacher’s performance this afternoon.
Staten Island’s Gabriella said of Medugno, “As always, her singing was amazing!” revealing, “He’s still walking around singing through the school halls.” Staten Island’s Alexa agrees, divulging, “He dances all the time in school too,” before noting, “His stage personality is exactly the same as he was in school when he teaches us TV and the media.”
Frank from Staten Island remarks about Medugno, “He really inspires all of his students. He teaches us that we can go anywhere with hard work,” before admitting, “I was really surprised by his singing today. I’ve never really heard him sing like that before!
Finally, we chat with Brandon from Staten Island who calls Medugno “the best teacher in the world”, exclaiming, “He was excellent today – I was blown away!” Continuing, “I had seen clips of him performing on video, but a live experience is on a whole other level,” Brandon concludes noting, “He has a real passion for music and performing – plus, I thought all the instrumentalists and backing up vocalists were great too.
After intermission, Medugo returns to the stage to introduce Jay Siegel’s Tokens – Jay Siegel, Kurt “Frenchy” Yahian and Gabe Dassa – who take the stage accompanied by the Coda Band.
The audience applauds the Tokens’ 1961 hit, “Tonight I Fell in Love”. Music lovers sing along to the chorus “Dom, doobie dom, woo-ooh, doobie, doobie” before Jay Siegels’ signature falsetto sounds on the lyrics “Tonight, tonight I fall in love”.
Crooning with style and ease, Siegel, 82, melts away the years for many viewers who fall back in love with the music of their youth.
Siegel talks about the “B-side” of “Tonight I Fell in Love” before he and the band perform “I’ll Always Love You.” On this number, the rich, lush harmonies of his stage mates float over the audience as they accompany Siegel’s clear falsetto voice.
After joking, “We’re going to do a new song – which we recorded in 1967!” Siegel is preparing to sing one of the Tokens’ most beloved recordings of the era when his musical director, Dennis DeBrizzi, comes down from the stage with his iPad to remind Siegel of the name of the Tokens’ song, “Portrait of My Love. “.
Singing “There Could Never Be/A Portrait of My Love/For Nobody Can Paint a Dream,” Siegel and his Tokens provide a record-breaking rendition of the band’s 1967 Top 40 hit that elicits cheers and applause. avid audience.
Kurt “Frenchy” Yahian is featured on the trio’s rendition of “My Girl” from The Temptations. Her soulful vocals wowed onlookers, and Siegel had everyone singing along to the song’s “Hey, hey, hey” lyrics. The band followed up with two hits that Jay Siegel worked on as record producer – “See You in September” by The Happenings and “One Fine Day” by The Chiffons.
Siegel introduces new band member Gabe Dassa as The Tokens launch into a medley of ’50s love songs, including The Rays’ “Silhouettes,” The Penguins’ “Earth Angel,” Sam’s “You Send Me.” Cooke, “Robert and Johnny’s “We Belong Together”, and Johnnie and Joe’s “Over the Mountain, Across the Sea”. Concluding with “What’s Your Name” by Don and Juan, the crowd responds with eager cheers and applause.
As the band sings Dion’s “The Wanderer,” Mary Beth Ryan-Mastropaolo plays a playful sax solo.
Siegel introduces the rest of the Coda Band – Dennis DiBrizzi on keyboards, Joe DeAngelis on guitar, Paul Page on bass and Pete Mastropaulo on drums – before launching into “Please Write”, a Tokens song that Siegel dedicates to all veterans and their families.
After Siegel talks about growing up in Brooklyn and singing on the beach with his high school friends, he and the Tokens delight audiences with their timeless rendition of the band’s biggest hit, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” Their extended live version of the song has music lovers all over the PNC Bank Arts Center standing, clapping and singing before Siegel and the Tokens bid farewell and leave the stage to The Coda Band.
As the audience exits the amphitheater, we chat with several music lovers in the crowd who share their thoughts on today’s show. Exclaims Caroline from Manalapan, “Jay Siegel’s chips were superb – they put on a phenomenal show!” Her husband, Bob – who is originally from Brooklyn – reveals, “I was in the same class as Jay Siegel in high school,” before noting, “I loved his performance and I loved Vinnie Medugno too!”
Marlboro’s Sharon said, “Today’s show was amazing – this kind of music uplifts everyone!” Grateful, “Jay Siegel is a great performer. He has a wonderful voice and personality, and I loved hearing ‘Portrait of My Love’, which was my wedding song!” Sharon adds, “And Vinnie Medugno has a special gift too! He’s a great singer and performer who really knows how to make a crowd work.
As Judy from Mullica Hill calls today’s event, “One of the best shows I’ve seen here – such amazing vocals!” Ross from Mullica Hill says: ‘I was happy to see the Vinnie Medugno High School students here today’, explaining: ‘I went to that same high school myself and I think the kids need to see some performances like this, which can really broaden their exposure.”
Stephen from Rockland County, NY calls Jay Siegel’s performance this afternoon, “Amazing!” adding, “The crowd just loved it!” His young son, Ben, reveals: ‘I liked all the songs today, but ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ was my favourite”, explaining: “I liked it when he sang high – it was exciting !”
Finally, as we walk out of the PNC Bank Arts Center, we chat with Jay Siegel himself who, when asked if he enjoyed performing here today, replies, “I hope you can see that when we are on stage, we have as much fun as the audience! Continuing, “You can’t explain the feeling we get from the crowd,” concludes Siegel, stating, “We love what we do!
For more information on Jay Siegel tokens, please click on jaysiegelstokens.com. To learn more about Vinnie Medugno, visit vincentmedugno.com. For information on future Garden State Arts Foundation concerts at the PNC Bank Arts Center, please Musinavigate at gsafoundation.org.
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