July 4, 1826 Happy Birthday to the Father of American Music, Stephen Foster!
Happy 4th of July to everyone. Loved having my son Casey home for a week. We sang. We ate. We napped. We chatted. We napped. And sadly, we just dropped him off at Newark airport and Claudia’s very tearful. He’s a good dude, my son. Both my sons grew up really good. Thank god for their mother.
Tonight’s the Macy’s fireworks but it’s too hot to go out and watch. I like to watch fireworks but am always a little freaked out about lighting them myself, what with me being a pianist and the whole blowing up the hands thing and all. I hated watching my kids light them too. Our old dog Emmet, who we inherited from Claudia’s cousin Diane (we miss you, Diane) hated this time of year and would hide in the closet with every boom.
My 1st cousin Johnny is the Firework King and has quite a show going on tonight. He’s in Milford, PA not far from the Brevis country house. In Pennsylvania fireworks are legal. They sell them in every supermarket.
When I was a kid we had ash cans, cherry bombs, mats of firecrackers, roman candles, bottle rockets and my favorite, sparklers. I know, I’m a wuss. One afternoon when I was about twelve years old, me and the Amico boys, Joey and Philip and Chris, were all hanging out, climbing garages and fences a couple blocks away from my house.
We never used sidewalks. We would cut between houses through everyone’s driveways and we loved climbing on top of the garages. So, one day we’re on this garage and Philip Amico has an ash can, the most powerful of the fireworks, and he lobs it into the neighbor’s backyard and it lands on the guy’s hammock and blows the whole thing up. We scatter and run like hell in every direction. I make it home safely, and think, “Phew. All good.”
I sit down to dinner with my family and all of a sudden the doorbell rings. I don’t think anything of it and my mom yells SKIP GET OUT HERE and at the front door is this guy now holding Philip Amico by the collar and Philip’s sobbing cause he got caught and when the guy asked him who did it he blamed me so the guy wouldn’t take him to his mother’s house. Philip I’m still pissed at you for that! Not really!!
Today’s song is Beautiful Dreamer, written by Stephen Foster who is called the Father of American Music and July 4th is his birthday. How perfect is that?
Whenever I hear Beautiful Dreamer I think of my buddy Kenny Kirkland and his nickname, Utica Dreamer.
At the intersection of Utica Avenue and Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn is a diner that every musician ends up in at 2 in the morning after their gigs, and in high school, after gigs with my band TIGHT (with Angel Fernandez, Kenny Kirkland and Frank Bisignano) we’d end up in this diner, too. But Kenny had a long Utica Avenue bus ride back to his house, so sometime’s he’d pass on the diner.
So, one night we go in to the diner and Kenny goes to the bus stop. We’re in the diner for over an hour and when we came out Kenny is sound asleep on the bus stop bench – he probably missed like three or four buses and Frank Bisignano starts singing to him, “UTICA DREAMER DREAM UNTO ME” and that’s how Kenny got that nickname. You sort of had to be there.
But, happy 4th yall!