Tag Archives: CT Sun

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.

Rogers Rave Reviews: CT Sun, Australian Bee Gees, and Susan James

by Roger Zotti

CT Rebounds

After the Indiana Fever embarrassed the Sun, May 27, CT’s Barbara Turner said, “It’s something that we watch and correct…Our response to this is on Friday [May 30].” So, what happened Friday against the New York Liberty? A nail-biting 89-85 victory, that’s what.

At the end of the first quarter, CT was up, 27-15, but then came the turnovers, nineteen in all. Make no mistake, New York capitalized. After the game, Sun Head Coach Mike Thibault, said: “We were good for a long stretch, then all of a sudden… I don’t have an answer [for those turnovers].” Point guard Lindsay Whalen added, “[We have] to take care of the ball…There are some really disappointing things to take away from the night. We need to work on those things.”

Sun point guard Jamie Carey sank three clutch three-pointers and scored a season-high 11 points. One reason for her strong offensive showing was that Coach T. told her to shoot more often. “…he told me [that] right before the ball went up,” Jamie said. “When I came here, I was very liberated by how free you are as a shooter. If you can shoot the ball, shoot the ball…”

Fast forward to June 1. An away game against the Chicago Sky. A 75-73 CT win. Tamika Whitmore and Lindsay Whalen each had 19 points, while rookie Amber Holt scored 11 and snagged 5 rebounds. Key was the Sun’s 16 for 20 foul shooting.

The Austalian Bee Gees

June 1 was a busy day for Mike Weltman of North Hampton, MA. First, there was baseball: An Eastern League/Double A game in New Britain between the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees’ affiliate, and the New Britain Rock Cats, the Minnesota Twins’ farm club. Trenton’s Austin Jackson belted in seven runs, in a 9-3 victory. Then Mike traveled to the Mohegan Sun Casino for the Australian Bee Gees: Stayin’ Alive concert.

If you’re wondering about the Australian Bee Gees, they’re Michael Clift (as Barry Gibb), David Scott (as Robin Gibb), and Wayne Hosking (as Maurice Gibb). On bass guitar is Tony Richards; on drums and vocals, Mike Mitchell. What a show they put on! In Mike’s words, “No frills. Just that great Bee Gees’ harmony and all their hits. And on the big screen, the videos of the guys in concert worldwide and, near the end, clips of Barry, Robin, and Maurice. Tribute bands don’t get any better.”

Highlights: A medley – which included “Heartbreak,” “Run to Me,” and “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” – with vocals from Michael (on guitar, too), Wayne, and David. (Drummer Tony and bass guitarist Mike took a break)…My favorite Bee Gees’ tunes are “Massachusetts” and “I Started a Joke,” performed by the guys from Australia. Check the latter’s lyrics: “I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes/ I fell out of bed, hurting my head from things that I said./ Till I finally died, which started the whole world living,/ Oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me.” (On one hand, maybe Mel Brooks wrote them; on the other, Albert Camus.)

A few facts about the “English Bee Gees”: 974 top forty hits in worldwide charts. Twenty U.S. number one hits. 13 U.K. number one hits. Two hundred number one chart positions worldwide. Enough said!

Susan Jones

Susan Jones, author of the poignant “Until We Meet Again,” is one of the three finalists for the 2008 Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in the Children’s Picture Book category. The ceremony took place at the Wilshire Grand Hotel, Los Angeles, CA, May 29. Susan, a Norwich resident, was interviewed in these pages several months ago.

Roger’s Rave Reviews: Jay Black, Nick Checker, and CT Sun

by Roger Zotti

Jay Black

With sixties’ icon Jay Black, you get two shows. There are his big hits from the sixties. There’s also his comedy. The man is genuinely funny. Accompanied by an eleven-piece band, Jay performed on May 25 at the Mohegan Sun Casino Wolf Den.

He opened with a vigorous cover of “Pretty Woman,” Roy Orbison’s huge sixties’ hit. In the music business, Jay said, “Orbison [who died in 1988 at 52] was one of my closest friends. So I open all my shows with that song. It’s a tribute to him.”

Jay told the audience he will be seventy in November. “Look at me,” he said, “because this is what happens.” Later, after mentioning Neil Diamond’s stage fright, he said, “There’s always that fright. I’ve been at it forty-six years. I mean, take Barbara Streisand.” Pause. Then: “You take her. I can’t stand her.” He told the audience that he loves performing for senior citizens and recently did a show in Florida, “where I was the youngest person there. They thought I was hot.” His best remark came when he talked about one of his three wives who, he noted, had a lot in common with Marilyn Monroe: “She looked like Joe DiMaggio.”

Highlights: For most of the crowd “Cara Mia” was the biggie. “I sang it when I was 25, then 40, then 50, and now at almost seventy, and I can still do it in the same key.” Well, with “Cara Mia” Jay proved why he’s called “The Voice.” The number earned him a well deserved standing ovation, proving that Jay, like Roy Orbison, is a pop singer with an operatic voice.

The concert’s highlight for me was Jay’s cover of a song, he said, his mother loved: Dean Martin’s “Sway.” Then too, he was on the money with “Magic Moment,” and “Some Enchanted Evening.”

Nick Checker and Firesite Films

When Quaker Hill’s Nick Checker screened “The Curse of Micah Rood” for 35 senior citizens – all members of the Lifelong Learning program – at Three Rivers Community College, May 24, he was asked about the vines that play such a crucial role in the film. Credit goes to the film’s “greens” person, Erica Angello of Stonington. “I watched her make those things,” Nick said. “They’re so authentic-looking that Bob Whittle, owner of Whittles Farm, where some of the film was shot, thought they were real bittersweet vines.”

“I was very much into the special effects and absolutely enjoyed the work,” said Erica, a floral designer. “I was pulled in by the crew for my expertise. I took the dead pieces and made them kind of come alive.”

Speaking of “come alive,” veteran stage actor Joe Gramm, one of the key supporting actors in “Micah Rood,” certainly gives life to his character, Sheriff Blaine. Joe told me about his role: “I caught the small boy who has stolen Micah’s apples and I bring him to apologize. In the course of the scene, Micah is acting so strangely I know something’s wrong.” The longer Blaine watches and listens to Micah the more he’s convinced Micah is hiding something.

Joe added that “Nick’s screenplay was wonderful,” and Alec Asten, who directed “Micah Rood,” is “a terrific director.”

“The Curse of Micah Rood” will be one of the films screened, August 15, at the Garde Arts Center’s Independent Film Festival. Stay tuned.

CT Sun

As of May 27, the CT Sun’s fans, opponents, and reporters were surprised with a 3-1 record.

The first game I saw this season was against the Sacramento Monarchs on May 24, and after a shaky fifteen minutes, the Sun put it all together. Final score: Sun 84, Sacramento 64. The Sun’s top scorers were Lindsay Whalen (a game-high 21 points) and Barbara Turner (17 points, including five three pointers). CT won the rebounding battle, too: 35-30.

But then there’s the May 27 contest against the Indiana Fever. Final: 75-46, Indiana. A drubbing!

Embarrassing! Sun guard Lindsay Whalen put it this way, “…where it’s a 30 point game [on national TV], it is unfortunate from a market stand point but it happens in sports…you just move on.” Sun forward Asjha Jones said, “…right from the beginning they came out and they just made shots, and we didn’t have an answer for their defense…We are going to look at it the only way we can [and] not lose our confidence.”

The game marked the return of former Sun star Katie Douglas, and she certainly let everyone know she was back: 23 points. It also featured the debut of highly touted Sun rookie Sandrine Gruda. Make no mistake, Sandrine is the real deal. She played 14 minutes, scored two points, and hauled in six rebounds.