Fond memories of Al Jolson
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“The audience has an opportunity to tell Tony what they want him to sing that day,” Hernstat explained. This could be one of the many Jolson standards that are always part of the show, among them “Mammy,” “California Here I Come,” “Avalon,” “You Made Me Love You,” and “Swanee,” or as Hernstat put it, “something Jolson never sang but that his fans would have wanted him to sing.”
“Tony B has an amazing ability to perform as Jolson. It really is special and he only does it for us,” Hernstat said. “If you close your eyes as you hear him sing, you’ll think Jolson has came back to life.”
Babino’s interpretation of Jolson is preceded this year by a lead-in with Richard Halpern, “Mr. Tin Pan Alley,” and special guest bandleader Vince Giordano. Halpern will sing from the “young Jolson” era of the 1920s and ‘30s. “These are the more obscure pieces that many people don’t know,” said Hernstat, “from his pre-Jolson Story days.”
The day also includes an auction of Jolson memorabilia, featuring such items as records, sheet music, photos, and CDs. It’s always a popular part of the festival and guests are encouraged to bring their treasures. “We have one-of-a-kind items,” said Hernstat. “It always changes from year to year.”
As always, Hernstat encourages anyone who has interest or a curiosity about Jolson to take part; membership in the Al Jolson Society is not required. “We welcome any and all Jolson fans out there,” Hernstat said. “Come hear an incredible impersonator with a remarkable voice give an outstanding performance.”
“A Tribute To Al Jolson”
The 2013 Long Island Jolson Festival
Saturday, Aug. 17, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. $40.95 per person, including meals and entertainment. Show tickets only are $23. “Jolson by Request” performance begins at 1 p.m. Seating is limited.
Oceanside Knights of Columbus, 2985 Kenneth Place, Oceanside.
For more information, call Jan Hernstat, President, International Al Jolson Society, at (516) 678-3524.