By Sandi Durell
It’s especially comforting to know that there are young performers who care so passionately about the past history of American music and the iconic artists who changed the profile of musical eras. These great names forever remain as beacons to whole new generations who understand their obligation of keeping them alive.
Let me introduce Charlie Romo . . . in his 20s and exuding the confidence and intelligence of a vocal stylist who’s been in the industry and on stage for many years. Charlie brought his love and admiration for Bobby Darin to life in Roman Candle: The Life of Bobby Darin (based on a biography by David Evanier) at The Green Room 42 for only one night . . . one spectacular night of entertainment history with an amazing 7 piece band led by Jeff Harris on piano, with Jon Burr – bass, Howie Gordon – drums, Jack Cavari – guitar, Steven Frieder – tenor sax/alto sax/flute, Tony Gorruso – trumpet, Malec Heermans – trombone.
Romo carries the spirit of Darin in his soul as well as the torch, which is why he’s able to trigger all the emotional buttons regardless of what song he’s singing. He’s smooth as silk with a professionalism that staggers. He’s also researched everything he could get his hands on as he delivers so many of the songs made famous in Darin’s short life (he died at the age of 37) . . . ” “Mack the Knife,” “Beyond the Sea” and a litany of self-penned or co-written tunes that catapulted him to fame, i.e. “Splish Splash” (with DJ Murray Kaufman), followed by his solo hit “Dream Lover” winning countless awards.
Darin was a smart kid with a lot of talent as a youngster (playing several instruments) but was saddled with a rheumatic heart condition that eventually resulted in an all too young loss of life but didn’t prevent him from achieving legendary status – including his first marriage to Sandra Dee. More than anything, however, Darin wanted to succeed in performing at the Copacabana and outdo Sinatra. . . which he accomplished. He then went on to not only write songs for film, but put another notch in his belt as an actor which was extremely important to him. He wrote in numerous styles: rock n’ roll, jazz, pop, and eventually folk and country music. Becoming more politically active in his later years, he wrote “Simple Song of Freedom” – an anthem. But you can read all that history in Wikipedia!
More importantly is how Charlie Romo, comfortable in his own skin, doesn’t copy Darin but uses him as a vehicle for his own talents of perfect pitch and presentation of all the songs sung and more, and if it were the bobby soxers in the audience, they’d surely be swooning to Romo’s moves and grooves that scream “I’m here!”
Closing the all-encompassing show was appropriately Sol Weinstein’s “The Curtain Falls” and encore “Once In a Lifetime.”
Keep a sharp eye on this up and comer because Charlie Romo is here to stay as he offers up more of the Great American Songbook!
Photos: Stephen Sorokoff