Rob Rio, Outrageous!

To aficionados of Swing music,
Three years ago Hilary Alexander came across one of the most impressive musicians ever, and last night, April 17, 2003 Hilary brought his quintet to the Suzy Q. And what an exciting night it turned out to be! I don't know why except that Rob is a very congenial person, but before he got set up on the bandstand, he took the time to shake my hand and introduce himself, asked me to dance with his girl Roxanne who was standing next to me but admonished me NOT to touch her in any sensuous places. I looked at his gorgeous lady and mused half to myself, "Any place I touch that lady is BAD!"
Ron started his hour and fifteen steady session with a slow number, always talking to the crowd. The dancers filled the floor. He introduced his second number, " If that last dance was too slow, let's try something a little faster." The floor still was crowded with dancers. For the third number, Rob cautioned, "Now we'll give you Balboa dances a break with New Orleans Boogie Woogie." And Rob started playing his keyboard like a virtuoso possessed, filling the room with the most tantalizing musical sounds that made my blood rush. But only Kyle and Nick Williams took up the challenge, while the other dancers stood in their places on the dance floor as though turned into stone. I cringed within myself thinking, "Oh! oh! Rob made a catastrophic move with this 200 beat per minute Boogie Woogie", but Rob kept up the frantic rhythm accompanied with his raucous vocalizing mixed in with encouraging challenges to the manikin-like dancers. With every new phrase of his Bookie Woogie, a new dancer began moving out of their stupor until everybody in the place was jumping to the melodic rhythms of the Rob Rio quintet. It was the most exciting, exhilarating dance experience I can recall in all my years of watching the great Las Vegas Lounge acts, from Louie Prima to the big show room acts with Stan Kenton.
And Rob Rio! His energy, his antics, his musicianship, his showmanship on the bandstand surpasses anything I have ever seen. He never let up for a minute. This man loved what he was doing and I felt he was somehow intimately tuned into his dancers, like a Maestro Ceppetto with his loving Pinocchios dancing to his musical strings. How he turned those dancers around with his ten minute New Orleans Boogie Wookie was miraculus. From that moment on, Rio played a variety of very danceable music from Cha Cha to dreamy ballads with every man and woman and neuter dancing. And I don't mean that in a bad way!
Before I left I asked Rob, "Where did you learn to play that keyboard, who taught you?" Rio told me he listened to records of all the old time musicians from the 1940's and taught himself by copying their riffs. And I'm sure by creating a few of his own!
Hilary assured me that she will bring Rob Rio back real soon.

See you at Suzy Q's the land of the great live bands.

Black Sheep

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