Roger’s Rave Reviews: Tony Orlando, Julius Bussey & CT Sun

by Roger Zotti

Tony Orlando

Twenty months ago Tony Orlando tipped the scales at 300-pounds and had a 50-inch waist. Entered NutriSystem. Now the veteran performer sports a 34-inch waist. He’s minus 105-pounds, too. Tony appeared on August 2-3 at Mohegan Sun Cabaret Theater. He put on an outstanding show which, if you had a chance to see him before, is no surprise.

After opening with several of his huge hits (“Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” “Candida,” “Knock Three Times”), Tony performed covers of hits by Jerry Butler, Willie Nelson, James Taylor, Del Shannon, The Beatles, Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Ben E. King, Paul Simon, Led Zeppelin, and Prince.

Highlights: Tony’s version of Ben E. King’s classic “Stand By Me” triggered memories of the superb 1986 film, which was adapted from the equally wonderful Stephen King novella, “The Body.” Tony performed the song, which illustrates how much we need each other, with authenticity and passion. The same for his rendition of James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.” Tony’s excellent seven-piece band included singer and keyboardist Toni Wine – with him for 48-years, and the hugely talented guitarist and keyboardist Kerry Cole. They brought the house to its feet with their cover of Willie Nelson’s “Always On My Mind” …If you’re wondering about Toni Wine, she wrote and performed such hits as “Sugar, Sugar” “A Groovy Kind of Love,” and “You Really Got a Hold On Me.”

Julius Bussey: Following His Dream

“I’ll be auditioning for ‘American Idol’ in East Rutherford, NJ, on August 19,” said singer-guitarist Julius Bussey, 23. Of course, we wish Julius good music and good luck.

Julius, whose influences are Stevie Wonder, Baby Face, and Michael Jackson, hails from Corpus Christi, TX, and is currently stationed at the Naval Submarine Base New London. “I’m just an average American who didn’t know anybody in the industry, but I decided to follow my dream,” he said. “My music is mainly mid-nineties R&B.” Julius’s main goal is to satisfy his fans: “In Texas we say, ‘Keep it one hundred’ and that’s what I try to do. You know, some of the stuff coming out today is good but we need old school music that makes you want to dance.”

What does Julius find most rewarding about performing? Answer: The fans. “When you do a song you know the fans love, and they’re screaming and yelling, that’s a great feeling,” he said. What’s most difficult? Answer: “I’d say that at first, when you get up there on stage, you don’t know how the people will react. You get those little butterflies. But the show goes on.”

Julius is grateful to his wife for her support. Grateful to his manager, David Mann, for his, too. Without them, Julius knows, he wouldn’t be where he is today. “Julius is a genuinely talented young man,” said David, head of Majestic Management. “I believe he’ll be successful.” (David is always looking for new clients and can be reached at 203.641.4193.)

Time to Evaluate

The CT Sun won’t be home until August 31, when they’ll battle Sue Bird and Seattle. It’s the Olympic break and a good time to evaluate the 2008 team.

Quaker Hill’s Nick Checker said, “I give the team an A minus, and the experience of attending the games an A plus.” According to another Quaker Hill resident, longtime fan Jim LaTourette: “They are basically a new team this year – maybe not as talented as last year’s but definitely more vibrant.”

This from Waterford’s Bill Maynard: “The Sun are performing far better than expected, though they have experienced some growing pains. More rookies than veterans and still in first place. Go, Sandrine!” Uncasville’s Phil Carney, whose favorite players are Sandrine Gruda, Amber Holt, and Ketia Swanier, sees CT as an interesting “mix of young, old, and in-betweens. I don’t think they have what it takes to go all the way, but who knows what they will bring to the table when the season resumes?”

There are times when good players become stale. That’s what happened with last year’s team. So changes were made, and what we now have is an exciting and entertaining team that works well together and provides many positive surprises.