Bronx Wanderers span musical generations

Vinny Adinolfi, center, and his sons Nicky, left, and Vinny III, better known as The Bronx Wanderers, perform two area shows next week — Thursday at Dover’s Schwartz Center for the Arts and Sept. 4 at The Freeman Stage at Bayside in Selbyville.  (Submitted photo)

Vinny Adinolfi, center, and his sons Nicky, left, and Vinny III, better known as The Bronx Wanderers, perform two area shows next week — Thursday at Dover’s Schwartz Center for the Arts and Sept. 4 at The Freeman Stage at Bayside in Selbyville. (Submitted photo)

DOVER — While most fathers and sons make memories over a catch in the backyard, fishing trips or taking in a ballgame, Vinny Adinolfi and his two sons make them on stage in front of thousands of fans.

Mr. Adinolfi and his sons Vinny III and Nicky, better known as The Bronx Wanderers, have, for the better part of a decade, been performing songs from the ’50s right up to today all over the country and some parts of the world.

They are making two stops in Delaware next week, first Thursday at Dover’s Schwartz Center for the Arts and then the night after, on Sept. 4, at The Freeman Stage at Bayside in Selbyville.

Starting his musical career on the other end of the microphone working for music legend Dion Dimucci, Mr. Adinolfi later got a job as a record producer for at Lifesong Records for over 30 years, where he rose to the rank of vice president, working with other labels and artists under the bigger CBS Records umbrella

It’s those associations that he made with artists such as Jim Croce, Billy Joel, Neil Diamond, Frankie Valli, Paul McCartney and Dion himself that form the backbone of the show.

“Along with playing all of this great music, I also tell the audience stories of my career and the people that I’ve been lucky to come in contact with over the years, whether it’s as an executive or a musician. I think that really makes it a well-balanced and interesting show,” said Mr. Adinolfi, the lead vocalist, who kiddingly calls himself the band’s “ringmaster”.

Always with an interest in making music along with promoting other’s tunes, Mr. Adinolfi played keyboards and guitar as well as sung occasionally with Dion, whose album “Return of The Wanderer” he helped produce in 1978.

It was during one of those shows back in 2003 where he first got the idea of incorporating his sons in the act. It was an idea given to him by longtime friend and fellow Bronx, New York neighbor Chazz Palminteri.

“The kids came on stage to play with us for a song and Chazz said to me afterward, ‘You have got to form an act with them,’ ” said Mr. Adinolfi of the acclaimed actor and writer known for the play and later movie “A Bronx Tale.”

“They were 11 and 14 at the time and I thought there was no way I could make that work. Chazz thought I could I start a group and make it a tribute to the neighborhood. At the time I though they were just too young and inexperienced.”

Vinny played the guitar while Nicky played the drums back then.

As the years went on, they both learned many different instruments and all three trade off during the current show on vocals, keyboard, guitar and drums.

A few years of seasoning after that initial appearance and with more encouragement by Mr. Palminteri, this time while they were both making the movie “The Dukes” in 2006, got Mr. Adinolfi thinking perhaps the three could give it a go.

“I reached out to some music business friends, calling agents and Dion’s old manager and we got some shows together and people really seemed to get a kick out of it,” Mr. Adinolfi said.

“It turned into this good gimmick of me, this old guy, with these two little kids.”

It was even Mr. Palminteri who suggested the name The Wanderers. But after seeing that there were many bands called The Wanderers, the name was changed to The Bronx Wanderers as an homage to the old neighborhood.

The three initially were joined by three other musicians who had been members of famed bands throughout the years but when other commitments got in the way, Mr. Adinolfi got musicians to play whom he remembered watching grow up with his kids.

“These are guys that are not only great musicians but they grew up in the house so it makes it really cool,” he said.

These days, The Bronx Wanderers, who have been favorites at Harrington Casino, can be found playing all across the country and in such far-flung places as Abu Dhabi.

Mr. Adinolfi says it’s the chemistry of the band that is one of the keys to its success.

“I always used to say I have to carry these kids but now they carry me,” he joked.

“I think audiences love to see these kids that are now in their 20s sing songs that are 50 years old. They torture me with their music like Radiohead and I torture them with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.”

Lest audiences think the band is strictly oldies, Mr. Adinolfi says he allows his sons to get into some new stuff.

“I remember when we first started doing that and we were in Las Vegas. We were going to play Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” at a hotel there. I looked in the crowd and saw a bunch of 60- and 70-year-olds in the audience and I panicked,” he said.

“A guy who worked there asked me what was wrong. I told him and he said ‘Don’t worry. That song is the number one favorite in our seniors’ Zumba class.’ Sure enough, we had old ladies jumping out of their seats and loving it.”

Audiences also are often treated to Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

“Good music is good music. It doesn’t matter if it’s from my era or theirs. People are going to like it if they are killer tunes done well. And I think that’s what we offer.

“This whole thing was an accident and certainly nothing that I was looking for. But now that we’ve been given this opportunity, we’re taking full advantage of it.”

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. Schwartz show are $35. They can be obtained by visiting the box office from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, calling 678-5152 or visiting www.schwartzcenter.com.

The Schwartz Center for the Arts is at 226 S. State St. in Dover.

Tickets for the 7 p.m. Freeman Stage show are $25 and can be obtained by calling (302) 436-3015 or visiting www.freemanstage.org.

The Freeman Stage at Bayside is at 31750 Lake View Drive in Selbyville, four miles west of Fenwick Island at the intersection of Del. routes 54 and 20.

 

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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