Fond memories of Al Jolson

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“For a guy like Jolson to get as big as he was meant that he had to have had to have an amazing impact. His personality was able to shine through and when he would sing he was able to convey many emotions with a simple song. And when he appeared in the first talking movie [The Jazz Singer], he pretty much cemented his place in the entertainment world. He’s been gone for 63 years and his movies are still played on TV. That tells you something. All you have to do is see and hear Al Jolson sing and dance “Toot Toot Tootsie” in the “The Jazz Singer” and you’ll realize that he had all the moves and charisma of Elvis Presley. His energy and talent really captivated people.”
And it still does, judging by those who come to honor the entertainer’s musical legacy — at this festival here and at others throughout the nation, and even internationally, year after year. Memories and reminiscences of the entertainer compel attendees from throughout the tri-state area to share the Jolson “vibe.”
Many of the event’s regulars have returned, including Jolson authorities Ed Greenbaum and Joe Ciolino, who will give some insight into Jolson’s performing style, examining how Jolson varied his interpretations of songs with each performance, in their multi-media presentation. Brian Gari, grandson of Jolson’s friend and showbiz contemporary Eddie Cantor, also participates. “Jolson’s relationship with Cantor was very meaningful and this remains an important link to the past that we want to share with everyone,” said Hernstat.
Radio personality Joe Franklin joins in this year, with a look back at Joplin and Cantor in their heyday, both of whom Franklin has often referred to as his idols.
As always, the day’s highlight is the performance by vocalist extraordinaire Tony Babino — aka Tony B. He returns each year with a Jolson revue. This time around, Babino opens his entire 90-minute show to audience requests in a new twist on his annual show, which he calls “Jolson by Request.”
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