Arts & Entertainment

Video of Sinatra interview, audio available online

February 9, 2012 // 0 Comments

Mark Randisi, the star of the upcoming “Sound of Sinatra” fundraiser for the new Rockford Area Museum (RAM), was in town on Tuesday, Jan. 24 to spend the day promoting the show, which will be presented on Saturday, Feb. 18 at Rockford High School (RHS). Randisi’s visit started with dinner on Monday evening with several members of the Rockford Historical Society, including the Society’s president, Terry Konkle. Tuesday was busy, starting with an appearance on Channel 13’s “Take Five and Company,” where he sang a song from the show and was interviewed by Catherine Behrendt. His love and respect for Frank Sinatra’s music was apparent as he talked about the show and the incredible Johnny Trudell Big Band that will be accompanying him at RHS. He also mentioned the scheduled appearance by the Rockford Community Children’s Choir that will join him onstage to perform Rockford’s version of a famous Frank Sinatra scene in which he sang the song “High Hopes” with a group of youngsters. You can see that television appearance by going to and clicking on the Take 5 page. His next stop was at the studios of WJRW AM, where he was interviewed by John Gonzalez, the entertainment editor of the Grand Rapids Press and host of “Going Gonzo,” his WJRW entertainment show. That interview also displayed Randisi’s love for the music he performs, as well as talking about his singing career which started when he was “discovered” about 14 years ago singing Sinatra songs at karaoke bars in the Detroit area. Gonzalez learned that Randisi was working in his family’s commercial painting business when the owner of a chain of Detroit area restaurants and clubs heard him and hired him immediately. That was the end of Randisi’s involvement in the family business and the start of a singing career that has literally taken him throughout the U.S. and to Europe where he has performed with big bands and symphony orchestras. After lunch, Randisi visited RHS, where plans for the show were discussed. To say that he was impressed with the facility and the staff at the school would be an understatement. Randisi said he has performed shows in many facilities that did not compare with what we have right here at […]

American Legion annual ‘Cabin Fever’ party to feature The Outer Vibe

February 2, 2012 // 0 Comments

Depending on whether or not you’re a cold weather enthusiast, winters in Michigan can become a bit stifling. That’s when cabin fever sets in. By definition, cabin fever is a term for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated and/or shut in a small space, with nothing to do, for an extended period—ahh, winter in Michigan. Pencil Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 onto your calendar, because the Rockford American Legion has just the antidote. Cabin Fever 2012, the annual “put on your favorite beachwear, get out of your house, dance and party all night” party is shaping up to be the best one yet. In its third year, Cabin Fever is this year featuring one of Grand Rapids’ most talented, innovative and high-energy bands, The Outer Vibe. Winners of numerous band contests, a headlining act around the state and having played with the likes of REO Speedwagon, Starship, Brian Vander Ark, and Mustard Plug, The Outer Vibe is sure to give Old Man Winter a swift kick aside and make sure your winter blues are chased away—at least for this one night. “We’re so fortunate that The Outer Vibe was able to fit us into their busy schedule,” said Terri Kettelhut, club manager for the Rockford American Legion. “This is their second appearance here. They played at our annual Halloween party in 2010 and packed the place!” Kettelhut emphasized that the Rockford American Legion will be open to the public, doors will open at 7 p.m., and it is an “over 21” event lasting until midnight. As is always the case with this event, proceeds will be used to promote ongoing veterans’ activities. Tickets are $15, and are available in the Legion lounge, by phone with a credit card and, if there are any remaining, at the door the night of the party. There are only 250 tickets available, so get yours today. The Rockford American legion is located at 330 Rockford Park Drive, on Northland Drive between 11 Mile and 12 Mile roads. You can reach the Rockford American Legion at (616) 866-2001.

Rockford jazz band to perform at museum fundraiser

February 2, 2012 // 0 Comments

Audiences will be treated to a double barreled musical treat on February 18 when Mark Randisi presents his Big Band “Sound of Sinatra” tribute for the benefit of the new Rockford Area Museum. It has been confirmed that the Rockford High School jazz band will be performing prior to the main show. Beginning at approximately 7:15 p.m. and continuing throughout the audience seating, this group of outstanding young musicians will display the talent that always makes the Rockford jazz band an audience favorite. This band is just one of the many talented groups that contribute to the Rockford band program’s reputation for excellence. Under the direction of Cullen McCarthy, the jazz band can be seen throughout the year performing at community events including performing as the house band for the Annual Chamber of Commerce Dinner/Meeting every January. The group, which is comprised of 19 student musicians from the ninth to 12th grades, will be playing a wide variety of music. Selections will include traditional swing music, Latin jazz and contemporary selections with an emphasis placed on traditional swing music. The jazz band is the second local group participating in the show. The Rockford Community Children’s Choir will join Randisi to recreate a famous Sinatra scene in which “Old Blue Eyes” sang the song “High Hopes” with a group of youngsters. The combination of Randisi’s natural voice and the nationally recognized Johnny Trudell Big Band could make audience members think they are listening to some of Frank Sinatra’s original recordings. Trudell is currently the musical director of Detroit’s Fox Theater. He was also the lead trumpet player for Motown Records, when he recorded with greats such as The Supremes, Smoky Robinson, Marvin Gaye, and many others. Randisi has appeared throughout the U.S. and in Europe thrilling audiences with his natural, authentic and respectful presentation of Sinatra’s greatest hits. This promises to be a rare opportunity to enjoy world class entertainment in the comfortable atmosphere of the Rockford High School auditorium, while helping to create a new Rockford Area Museum that will benefit the entire community. Tickets, starting at just $35, are available online at or at the following Rockford area locations: The Rockford Squire, Double Take, Antor Travel, Creative Concepts, Rockford Ambulance, Dish Network on Plainfield […]

2012 REF Benefit Concert scores twice the laughs

January 26, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL The Second City National Laugh Out Loud Touring Group returned to Rockford last Friday and Saturday night after a two-year absence. Squire readers will recall their single sold-out Rockford Education Foundation (REF) benefit performance in January 2010. Two is better than one, right? And that’s just what the REF ended up with, a win-win with two sold-out performances that will provide resources for the REF to continue providing educational opportunities for people of all ages in the Rockford community. Chicago’s legendary improvisational theater group provided two evenings of hilarious and cutting edge sketches, songs, and improvisations to the delight of everyone present both nights. No topic of subject matter was off limits and an early sketch found two cast members seated in a doctor’s office. The doctor entered saying, “The last time you were in my office I found a lump in your breast.” There was an uncomfortable moment of strained silence as the couple absorbed the news. Abruptly the husband broke the silence saying, “But Doctor, you’re a dentist!” The lights then faded to hilarious laughter and thus began an evening of Second City’s trademark humor. There was also a third winner both evenings, that being RPS Freshman Center Technology Technician Chris Schneider. Schneider had been judged The Funniest Person in Rockford in a contest put on by the REF that took place in front of a sold-out crowd at the Corner Bar on January 12. As the winner, Chris was given the opportunity to perform with the Second City Comedy Troupe. Schneider appeared at the Rockford High School Fine Arts Auditorium in both evening’s encore sketches with the entire 5-member Second City ensemble. Schneider’s comedic talent was barely scratched in one sketch called “Dr. Know-it-all”, where he linked arms with four troupe members while the fifth fielded questions for “Dr. Know-it-all” from the audience. “Dr. Know-it-all” had five heads so he must have been five times as smart. Each head was allowed to utter only one word at a time as they answered the audience queries. It was improv at its finest as each of the heads had to add a word, almost instantly, to construct a coherent sentence that resulted in a laughable answer. There was no […]

Inaugural Ice Festival Ball was a ball

January 19, 2012 // 0 Comments

“Let the Magic Begin” was the theme for the 2012 Ice Festival, and begin it did on Friday night with the first ever Ice Festival Ball. The Rockford Area Arts Commission (RAAC) hosted the event at Blythefield Country Club (BCC). Ninety people gathered for a delicious three-course meal by the BCC culinary artists. After dinner, guests were treated to the musical talents of Blue Star Pilot, a band of four top-shelf musicians, two of whom are Rockford graduates. The wizardry of Russ Niedzwiecki got the magic flowing. He teamed up with ice guru Randy Finch to perform a trick that had jaws dropping. A giant deck of cards was frozen in the ice. Niedzwiecki had the crowd help select a card and, sure enough, that was the card facing the wrong way in the frozen deck. He continued to amaze guests throughout the evening, going table to table, making cards appear, disappear, change colors—all to the common refrain of “How did he do that?” And the treats kept coming. While the band took a break, the audience was once again astounded at the talent the Rockford community has to offer. Under the direction of Rockford grad Rachel Siegel, a dance troupe from Western Michigan University delighted guests with its fresh choreography and style. A silent auction of art, set up by art teacher Barb Kent from the Rockford High School art department, was available for guests to bid on during the evening. All proceeds from the silent auction were returned to the art department to support their efforts. Throughout it all, people danced, dined, laughed, talked and were generally transformed, in part, by the indoor winter wonderland created through the decorating talents of Kathy Levin. “We were very pleased with the way things turned out,” said the planning committee from RAAC. “Many thanks to our sponsors and our wonderful Rockford community for making this a special evening!” Sponsors for the event included Blythefield Country Club, the Wolverine World Wide YMCA, who made babysitting available, the Alpine Meijer Store, Blakeslee Rop PLC and Fluis Inc. Guest Janell VanDine summed it all up by saying, “I can’t wait for next year!” To catch a glimpse of what you missed, visit or find the Rockford Area Arts […]

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