Concert Review: Butch Barbella's "Streets of the Bronx" Christmas Show

It was a terrific night of good Italian Food & Bronx oldies music on Arthur Avenue, New Yorks real Little Italy. It all happened at Ann & Tony's Restaurant- Annual Christmas Party featuring Butch Barbella's Streets of the Bronx Band.
Butch is a long time veteran in the Bronx / New York music scene, having played (as well as being musical director) with Larry Chance & The Earls & The Dupree's. He has also worked with another Belmont/ Arthur Ave. native; Dion Dimucci in the early 2000's. He was also musical director for Robert DeNiro & Chaz Palminteri's cult Italian / American Bronx classic film-"A Bronx Tale" back in 1993.

Who could forget the great musical overlaps in that film, including my personal & most other people's favorite- the Beatles "Come Together" during the biker scene.

Rumor has it, that it was almost unheard of at the time, to use a Beatles song in a small budget film. But Robert DeNiro liked the scene Butch had put together so much, that a personal call was made to Paul McCartney himself.

Once (Macca) Paul knew it was "Bob" DeNiro on the line, he got right on the phone & slashed the price down almost a third, some where in the range of 150,000.(rumor has it of course).

Butch is also a good long time family friend dating back to my parents & his childhood. So are the Napolitano Family who have operated Ann & Tony's Restaurant since 1927.

Again, It was a great night of fun, food & music, Bronx Italian style. Butch Barbella is the groups musical director, keyboard player & vocalist. Jerry Brown is a fantastic singer & handles the lead vocals & percussion. The drummer is the steady Bobby Rustici who also does backing vocals. By the way these are a heck of a bunch of nice guys too.

Songs included classics like The Wanderer, You Belong To Me, Ruby Baby, Barbara Ann, I Saw Her Standing There, Good Lovin',  Whiter Shade of Pale,  There Goes My Baby, Your Love is Lifting Me Higher,& originals like The Streets of the Bronx. Also included were Run Run Rudolph for Christmas & special dedication of Frank Sinatra's That's Life for my dad, "the best dressed guy in the joint!"

There was a special birthday celebrated for family owner Vera & her grandson, as well as Santa Ralph's reading of "T'was the Night Before Christmas on Arthur Avenue".

As usual the staff was on the ball & chef Anthony cooked up all the good food behind the scenes in the kitchen. Anthony & I are Met fans from the Tom Seaver days when we played Little League together.
You can catch the Streets of the Bronx every month performing at Ann & Tony's & check their website for other gigs as well.


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