Raves & Reviews
Sure enjoyed your performance last night! You held the audience in the palm of your hand. It’s great how you always educate your audience. I read more about Harry Warren (Salvatore Antonio Guaragna) cool he was a pro drummer at 14! And composer of over 800 songs as you said. It was a terrific evening…. (we) enjoyed it very much . Thanks again for making “Culture of Course” shine with culture. Great job!
– Stacey Brown – Attendee at “An Affair to Remember” – Fundraiser Benefit for LCCC – Lincoln City, OR
The show was just terrific, and you were constantly a highlight. Great voice, presence, and styling. And boy can you find your light!!!! Hard to isolate stand-out moments as the whole piece sizzled. Your “I’ll Be Seeing You” brought new depth to a familiar standard. I also enjoyed your casual but infectious interaction with the other singers – bringing such a variety of experiences to the material. I guess we’re both still enjoying the memories of the moments from last night’s performance.
p.s. “One for My Baby”, was absolutely A+. Your intimate story-telling and using your pianist as the bartender was inspired. It turned a routine standard into a contemporary reflection on loss.
– Tom Blank – Former Theatre Critic Anaheim Bulletin – Professor of Theatre & Film, Ohlone College & Fullerton College – SAG/AEA
There is nothing more fun than a revue of well known music when it hits the mark! And, there is no doubt that a strong ensemble is a key ingredient. But through the lens of a director, it is the leadership, energy and style that make revue magic happen … that elevate the experience, lifting it off the charts and into the hearts of an eager crowd. Rocky, the producers of this little gem were lucky to find that leader in you: a pro with such great energy who needs no roadmap around this material, knows his way around a song and can still “dish the dirt” with the rest of the company. Thank you for such a delightful,memorable evening – ol’ blue eyes would tip his fedora to you for this awesome salute to his songbook!
– Mary Bettini – Director/Choreographer, New York – Retired Bay Area Theatre Educator
‘My Way’ is “Sultry” and “Charismatic” – Step into an era of glamour, sultry romance and electrifying glances from across the room… The ensemble plays off each other with glorious harmony and a moving rendition of “It Was a Very Good Year” passing verses back and forth with elegant transitions, moving into a toe-tapping gospel style chorus for “That’s Life.” Infused with poetic passion, Cinnabar’s production is, as Sinatra would say, “the good life, full of fun.”
– Alexia Chipman – Argus Courier
We are still smiling about the truly wonderful, talented show yesterday. Rocky, you are our rock star!! We enjoyed every moment of it – your solo talent, the arrangements, the harmonies.
– Elaine Wang Meyerhoffer – Independent Music Professional
The first act includes more lesser-known songs, and they’re a lot of fun, and then ends with a nice nod to Sinatra’s later career. Act two packs a wallop with more of the big blockbuster hits, given great arrangements appropriate to the numbers. Oddly enough, as you hear these contemporary performers knocking out a song, you feel somehow transported, as if hearing Sinatra’s voice simultaneously in your head– being reminded of what a great song it was when Sinatra recorded it for posterity and not feeling in the least cheated. It’s a strange kind of stereo magic, and totally works. No review of the show would be complete without mentioning the trio of musicians playing backup– Cesar Cancino, who is also the show’s music director, does a mean jazz piano; teamed with Jan Martinelli on bass and Randy Hood on drums. Seamless, unobtrusive and yet standout.
– Jeanie Smith – TBA Critic at Large
After SO many years, I finally had the opportunity to see you perform live. And what a fun show it was! Rocky, when you spoke of the memory work and harmonies involved in the Sinatra show I had no idea. Wow! You weren’t kidding! It was such a treat, an ear-tickling joy to hear the complexity of the arrangements and the absolutely stunning 4-part voicing. Every note hit with precision. So much so that several times during the performance I caught myself grinning from ear to ear in sheer delight at the aural yumminess and looking around to see others tickled in the same way.
Rocky, your solos and duets were wonderful. The warmth of your voice, the light of your presence on stage, and your generosity of spirit as part of the greater group – you were terrific! I had so much fun. Thank you! I loved how, as an ensemble, you were all tight and in sync – and as individuals you each owned the stage in turn. Everyone involved in the show – cast, musicians, crew, and musical and stage directors – your combined talents took the show to delightful heights. Bravo! And what a great space in which to perform – quite a gem that Cinnabar Theater. Congratulations too on your sold-out run. Way to do Frank proud! – SE Bayles – San Jose, CA
Super! LOVE the narrative arc. Excellently crafted. Fabulous trio and vocal quartet – you guys are nailing those complex harmonies and it is a pleasure to the ear! I especially like how the chemistry between the four of you is developing through the show. You’re in great voice and those dance moves work well!!
– Rebecca Schumacher – Sotheby’s International Realty
Ellen and I saw the show tonight and your singing was sensational. I loved the swinging arrangements and the way you crafted the medleys. Your acting was terrific. We can’t thank you enough for alerting us to your show By the way, when I was about three years old my father took me back stage during a Sinatra performance (a friend was pianist). According to family legend I began to run toward the stage and Sinatra grabbed me and put me in his lap. One final thought – I love your Cole Porter CD. Have played it dozens of times crossing the Golden Gate bridge from home to the UCSF Mission Bay campus!
– Nelson B. Schiller, MD – Cardiologist, UCSF
Yesterday’s performance was simply stunning, enjoyable, heart-warming and lovely. Jeff and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves… Charlie Creasy’s arrangements are brilliant. The Irving Berlin Songbook contains some real memorable, beautiful pieces. Thanks for stirring our hearts with the group sing-along of God Bless America. I do hope you all get to perform this again. I know this was quite the undertaking for you along with production. My personal thank-you and big hugs for a beautiful, memorable evening. – Christine & Jeff
Rocky, THANK YOU. What a show! One donor while handing me a check said, “My wife and I would spend $400.00 in New York for a show like this, please keep bringing us this quality entertainment and we will continue supporting Siletz Bay Music Festival.” The details, the precision, the vocals, the floor show, the entertainers. WOW. THANK YOU. – Chuck Feist – Executive Director, Siletz Bay Music Festival
….. it was stunning, my friend! You did Cole real justice. Your up-tempos bounced and your ballads flowed. I particularly liked the introspective slower motions of several songs – nothing unhurried, everything thoughtful. I also was taken with your immediate and easy rapport with the audience. Most important, the audience was given complete honesty both in your singing and in your talking… – Denis Moreen – Pianist, Music Director
Your Cole Porter CD arrived but a week or so ago and it was worth the wait. The love and appreciation of his genius shines through in your arrangements and interpretation of his tmeless work. Your voice to me incorporates the best of Anthony Newly and Michael Feinstein. the cover art reflects the taste and sophistication of the composer you honor. Well done my friend and thanks for sending it along! – Noah Griffin – The Cole Porter Society
Let’s talk about that performance! There are not enough !!! on my computer to describe our appreciation and enjoyment of your Gershwin Showcase for the Siletz Bay Music Festival. We laughed, we cried, and you even let us sing with you. Such high quality – you and Susannah are a high-powered, dynamic duo – flawless transitions – each number beautifully performed. Thank you for bringing the Festival to closure on such a high note! – Christine Tell – Board of Directors, Siletz Bay Music Festival
It was so wonderful to hear your beautiful voice and to watch you perform – I was mesmerized by how present you were, and how you sang from the depths of your soul. – Colleen
Rocky’s performance of An Evening of Cole Porter with the Walla Walla Symphony was fun, polished and simply delightful. Our near sold-out audience loved it and his performance brought them to their feet. – Leah Wilson-Velasco – CEO, Walla Walla Symphony
Can’t thank you enough for inviting us to share in that incredible evening. We enjoyed ourselves immensely — it was truly a feast for the senses and for the soul. I’m looking forward to more opportunities to hear you perform — yes, I AM a fan! – Rachel Kayhan
You best submit this (Easy to Love CD) for a Grammy because you will win and I will vote for you! There are no words to describe the level of talent you show on this album. Everything from your performance to the band, the arrangement, the musicians, the engineer – All are SUPERB! It does not get better than this, ever! BRAVO! – Grant Taylor
Thank you SOOO much for calling our attention to this! We had just a fantastic time. It was marvelous to get to hear you perform, Both of us were so impressed at how you can adjust your style and work the audience — Whether in a huge auditorium or an intimate setting like tonight’s space. You are such a pro! – Lisa Lapin – Communications Director, Stanford
Rocky you sang BEAUTIFULLY!! So wonderful to hear you again! – Karin
“Easy to Love” arrived today. And from the first notes of the first track, we were captivated. Remarkable! “Sinatra Sings the Select Cole Porter” is no longer my favorite collection. Thanks so much for brightening a busy day! – David Gomberg
Wow! Your CD is on my computer, car stereo, home stereo, and iPod and all I can say is “Wow!” All those years ago when I first heard you sing, I thought you couldn’t be better. I was wrong. Your range, energy, and emotion, together with Ron’s fabulous arrangements, combine to create a collection that could top any chart. You ARE the BEST! – Franki Keefe
You are an amazing man and talent. I was swirling my bourbon and coke to your music. Made for a nice evening. – Stephan Smith
How dare you, Rocky. With mountains of work to do this morning, I was pulled away by your amazing CD. What a welcome diversion, indeed. I actually want to thank you for this incredible journey back to my childhood… Mom and Dad with the first stereo in the neighborhood, melodious Cole Porter tunes echoing throughout our living room. Thank you, Rocky. I knew there was an extraordinary person in you from the moment we met. Encore! – Pamela Roberts
Your CD is awesome! I listened to it on the way to LC yesterday. There were two tracks left after I arrived, so I had to sit in the car just to hear the last two. Great job! I hope you submit this CD for Grammy considerations! – Brett Paschal
The release of “Easy to Love” brings smiles and emotion as Rocky’s voice and the wonderful arrangements bring new life to the music and expose the beauty of the songs with fresh voice and great energy. – Dave Numme
Rocky’s evening of Cole Porter hit songs was polished, classy and heartfelt. His singing brought back an era of musical delights when popular songs were truly works of art. What a fun concert it was! – Ed Dixon – Manager, WW Symphony
This CD is a masterpiece. The selection of songs, sung by “The Crooner Extraordinaire” will keep your ears glued to the speakers, your fingers and toes tapping to the beat and your heart craving more and more. This is entertainment personified with powerhouse arrangements, extremely well produced but above all, vocals that give you a lift to the heights of pleasure and satisfaction. I highly recommend it as a must add to your collection of favorite CDs. – Arnold Capitanelli – Gold and Platinum Award winning composer, Author, Publisher and Producer
I have to tell you, I shared your web site with a first friend – she was reminded of all her favorites – her dad was an opera singer in Yugoslavia and in Cole Porter’s era. Of course, we share Bocelli, Frangoulis and Blumhagen… All rich, sensual voices! – Jan Robinson
It’s “easy to love” this CD! Blumhagen renders these classic tunes with tenderness & contemporary sass. Listen to it in the car: you’ll feel the luscious arrangements wrap around you like a mink stole, and go to straight to your head like a martini without the alcohol! – Rachel Kayhan
Your CD… It is absolutely a gem. When it first started, my perfect pitch ears went a little crazy with what I thought was dissonance in the track but then I realized the genius of Ron Abel in using the straining of the melody to create improvisation and attract attention. All I can say is I loved the entire CD, especially, “Let’s Fall In Love.” As a lyricist, I pay special attention to any deviation to the original. I hate it when someone changes or adds to my lyrics. But this was so well crafted that I did not feel offended or sympathetic to the writer. Congratulations and best of luck on it’s success. I plan to order a few for Christmas gifts. – A Happy Listener
CD Review by Don Martin – Easy to Love
I’ve always enjoyed the unique sound of your baritone. Not only are you a quality singer and performer, but your voice has an identifiable sound; which is always a plus in this genre of music. In pop music they want to clone everyone for sales prospects to the un-washed teen market, but in the GASB standards genre, it’s a plus to have a “sound.” You’ve never sounded better.
On the quality of the recording… You have achieved near perfection with the audio quality of this recording. I guess the only national-level album I’ve heard lately was the Barbra Streisand release this year (2010), but yours is absolutely the equal in orchestral quality, audio clarity, instrumental pan, etc. Wow.
After spending weeks on it, I’m sure there are still things you’d like to change – we artists are never satisfied – but I would put this product up against anything I’ve heard on that level.
The consonants are all clearly there for anyone who cares. The snare accents are gentle but clearly audible behind the orchestra. The trumpet solo (and others) sounds to me as if I was in the auditorium listening to an acoustic instrument. And this is being heard on my computer’s external speakers!
On Ron Abel’s arrangements… They are more than just beautiful orchestral stylings; they are artistically imaginative and use the available instrumentation to best advantage, while adding enough musical whimsy to delight the ear (e.g. the horse whinny on the end of “Don’t Fence Me In”). This recording shows him to be among the top rank in his end of the business. Bravo, Ron Abel!
On the subject of musicality… my favorite “lick” of yours is the minor 3rd to 9th melody line to close “Begin The Beguine”! Diana Krall would’ve given you a Standing O on that one. And while we’re talking about musical twists, you’ve got to tell me what the time sig was for the transitions between verses on “Just One of Those Things!”
Bravo to you Rocky!