Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Night Of Great Music For A Great Cause

Today we'll be talking with Robert Colletti, who organized the fund-raising event to be held at The Arcada Theatre on Sunday, April 19th, benefiting The Rhythmic Arts Project.  The show kicks off at 4:00 pm and good seats are still available.    

Headlining the concert will be Chicago's own New Colony Six ... support acts include Denny Diamond, a great Neil Diamond impersonator, and one of our local favorites, The Cadillac Casanovas.  Chicago Sports Broadcasting Legend Chet Coppock will act as Master of Ceremonies and other surprise acts are also expected, including former members of Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band, Local Wrestling Announcer Mr. Ricolo and Wrestlers Ruff Crossing and Yabo the Clown.   

The Rhythmic Arts Project is an organization dedicated to helping people of all ages with an assortment of intellectual and developmental disabilities, including downs syndrome and autism.  They are currently working to implement a program here in the west suburbs of Chicago ... and the purpose of this concert is to help raise money toward that cause.  

More can be learned about this organization ... and their cause ... here:  www.traponline.com.

kk / Forgotten Hits:  Robert, how did you become involved with The Rhythmic Arts Project?  And can you tell us a little bit more about the services they provide?

Robert Colletti:  I have known Eddie Tuduri since his days as drummer for Rick Nelson. He has been a member on my Facebook page for a few years and I noticed his involvement in The Rhythmic Arts Project and found out he was the creator. (Details on the organization can be found on the TRAP webpage and on YouTube.)
After investigating and learning what the program is, I took an interest for personal reasons. When Eddie mentioned that one of the areas that TRAP was not set up to help people was Chicago, I asked about it. 
While I am not qualified to provide the instructional and medical education that TRAP provides, I asked what it would take to put it in place here in Chicago … and Eddie said: qualified people to run the local branch and money to buy the equipment. 
Since it is a non-for-profit organization, all money must come from donations ... so I started making some calls to see about raising the needed funds. I approached Ron Onesti, President of the Arcada Theatre, and he suggested that we should put on a show.  
The best way to describe what TRAP provides can be found on the opening page of the website www.traponline.com.
The Rhythmic Arts Project was founded in 1997 by Eddie Tuduri and it educates individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Differences by embracing a curriculum that encompasses rhythm as a modality to address basic life and learning skills as well as reading, writing and arithmetic.
TRAP's ongoing efforts provide its students with the tools and confidence needed to succeed in the world, while teaching the world understanding and compassion. Group teaching occurs in an environment that is supportive and fun. Members naturally develop confidence and a positive self-image.
The Rhythmic Arts Project is a non-profit 501(C)(3) company. We honor and celebrate diversity, regardless of disability, religion, race, creed or ethnicity.
What we are not: The Rhythmic Arts Project is not a drum circle facilitation. We do not teach drums or percussion save the ability to integrate our methodology through this medium.   

kk:  How will the money raised by this concert be utilized within the organization?   

RC:  100% of all the proceeds from this show will go to purchase much needed equipment and training materials used by the students. 
You can learn a lot more about TRAP by looking at these videos:   
https://www.youtube.com/user/EddieTuduri https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSr0hS4JMHs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DrJrQd-npQ

kk:  Booking The New Colony Six as the headliners was a very timely move ... the band is currently enjoying their 50th Anniversary ... and were the first band to break into the charts here in Chicago and nationally way back when. 

RC:  I have always been a big fan of the New Colony Six and knew it was their 50th year. After their show last year with Paul Revere at the Arcada, I decided to contact Ray Graffia and see if he might be interested in helping us raise funds for our organization. It didn’t take a lot to get a response from him and we were on our way putting this together.
I decided that this would be the perfect blend ... use the show to raise money for The Rhythmic Arts Project and pay tribute to the band the genius behind the band, Ray Graffia. With all the great music the band has given the Chicago area, much of it written by Ray Graffia, I felt that they deserved a day and being in the spotlight. 

kk:  Their local hit list is quite impressive ... I Confess; I Lie Awake; Cadillac; Love You So Much; You're Gonna Be Mine; I'm Just Waitin' (Anticipatin' For Her To Show Up); Treat Her Groovy; I Will Always Think About You; Can't You See Me Cry; Things I'd Like To Say; I Could Never Lie To You; I Want You To Know; Barbara, I Love You; People And Me; Roll On; Long Time To Be Alone and Someone, Sometime all made The Chicagoland Top 40 ... that's more than any other local band during this era.  

RC:  All songs that bring back memories and music that should have made the top charts all over the USA and internationally. A bit better management and promotion by the record company and they would have accomplished this. I commute between the Chicago area and my home in Shenzhen China to be with my wife Iris and she has put a lot of the NC6 music all over Chinese websites including Youku, which is their version of YouTube. The New Colony Six does have a following in China and who knows, maybe there will be some shows in China soon. I am actually working on that with a friend in Shanghai.
kk:  Ray Graffia, Jr., was, of course a founding member of The New Colony Six back in 1965 when they first formed as The Patsmen at St. Patrick's High School.  (We did a month-long series on these guys a few years back ... and were fortunate enough to have been invited to their reunion a couple of years ago when they were inducted into The St. Patrick High School Hall Of Fame.)
In addition to Graffia, the current line-up of The New Colony Six features Bruce Mattey, Rick Barr, Gary (Beldar) Greenman, Bill Szostek and Greg Favata ... but, as an additional surprise for this special occasion, original bass player Wally Kemp WILL make an appearance ... and, I'm told, in full NC6 costume!   

RC:   Yes, I have met with Walt a few times over the last few months and he is very excited about being part of this show ... and his chance to enjoy playing with the man with whom he first helped create this great band, Ray Graffia. I am happy for Walt and glad he can be a part of this … he was there from the start and now will be here to commemorate this 50thAnniversary with Ray. 

kk:  Chet Coppock, who'll be acting as Master of Ceremonies for this event, worked as a roadie for The Colony back in his college days ... and has a real soft spot for these guys in his heart (along with some incredible memories).  He's the PERFECT choice to host this fund-raiser.  

RC:  Chet was the obvious choice in my eyes ... and if you ever needed someone who can “Lay It On the Line”, then Chet is the man! I also have been trying to get Dick Biondi but so far we do not have a firm commitment from him. As you know, he has been sick ... but I really hope he can make this show. I was told by his office that he is probably one of the biggest fans of the NC6 out there so I wish him well and hope he can join us for this worthy cause.  

kk:  That would be great ... and he and Ron Onesti are extremely tight, too ... so I really think he'll make every effort to be there.
Looking at the rest of the line-up, Denny Diamond has been appearing in the area of many years now and has a very loyal following ... and The Cadillac Casanovas have graced The Arcada stage numerous times in the recent past, including a couple of show with The Nelsons, Rick Nelson's twin sons Matthew and Gunnar.  It's kinda neat that you've booked members of Rick's Stone Canyon Band to also appear.  How did that come about?  

RS:  Well, as I mentioned earlier, Eddie Tuduri is the creator of The Rhythmic Arts Project ... and he was also a drummer for Rick Nelson for a few years and as I got involved with TRAP and this benefit, I wondered if we could get his former living bandmates up here for the show. I asked Denny Larden and Eddie talked to Jay DeWitt White and it was a done deal!
Denny, Jay and Eddie are also great song writers, having written many highly charted tunes over the years for other musicians. Denny was also the founding member of a one hit wonder band, Every Mother’s Son, who hit the top of the national charts with “Come On Down to My Boat Baby” back in 1967.
It is expected he might be playing that one with NC6 and will also probably join the Cadillac Casanovas with Jay and Eddie for a couple numbers when Carl does his Rick Nelson set.
I have seen over 100 shows at the Arcada and this is one I am really looking forward to and I hope we have a full house to support the cause of The Rhythmic Arts Project and also introduce people to some great rockabilly music, the smoothest of Denny Diamond’s tribute to Neil Diamond and I'm also hoping to attract a new younger crowd to introduce them to the music of the NC6.  Bruce Mattey tells me that the band has been working on some brand new, original material and may soon be recording again.  I don't know if they'll have anything ready in time to showcase at this benefit concert ... but it is exciting to know that the band is making new music again.
The bottom line of the show is to raise some much needed funds to purchase equipment The Rhythmic Arts Project to help people of all ages and cultures not only in the Chicago area but worldwide.   

kk:  Well, Robert, this sounds like a VERY exciting evening of music ... and all for a very good cause.  And let's not forget that cause ... we in the audience can celebrate our love of these artists and their music but there are many others less fortunate than us who battle any variety of disabilities every single day.  I am happy to report that music brings THEM joy, too ... but your donation dollars will go a long way in helping to fund this organization.  For the benefit of the people who cannot attend the show but would still like to make a donation, have you set up some type of a fund where interested parties can contribute?  

RC:  The Rhythmic Arts Project has a website up and there is a link by which donations can be made, either through mail or through Paypal ... or simply contact me. Checks are to be made out to The Rhythmic Arts Project. 
For more details on corporate donations please contact me at: travelinman@sbcglobal.net
The TRAP website for donations is: http://www.traponline.com/donate.htm
I also have some tickets available and can offer some special deals for businesses who make a donation through my email at travelinman@sbcglobal.net   

kk:  Thanks again for your time today, Robert ... we are looking forward to seeing this show next month.  
There are some seats still available so contact The Arcada Box Office for more details (or simply visit online at www.oshows.com.)  We'll see you again next month at The Arcada!    

RC: One last special note ... we will be having an auction between sets of the band to raise money! Some of the items include gift certificates to local restaurants, musical instruments ... I even heard an old tambourine from Ray Graffia ... and some other items to be presented at the show.
A great show is expected and we promise not to disappoint the fans!   This will be a great chance for music fans to enjoy the rare chance to meet Rick Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band, the Cadillac Casanovas, Denny Diamond and, of course, Chicago’s very own New Colony Six, with their special guest Walt Kemp.  Many members of all the bands and special guests will be available before and after the show for a picture, sign an autograph or to say hello! 
And Kent, I know what a big fan of the Cadillac Casanovas you are ... so I'd like to personally invite you to introduce the band that night.

kk:  Wow!  I would be honored ... as long as I don't have to wrestle any of your other special guests, I'm game for just about anything!
Again, this promises to be a GREAT night of music for a VERY good cause ... and I'm glad we can play a small part in helping you raise funds for your organization.  It'll be great to see Chet and The New Colony Six again ... and we hope to see a few Forgotten Hits readers out there, too!  
Thanks again, Robert ... see you at the show.