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Reviews and News

The latest review of SWING is by Yahoo! Contributor Mary Beth Magee.

If you have Amazon Prime you can now 'borrow' the Kindle version of SWING for FREE!

Here's another book review, by Scott Eyman of the Palm Beach Post.  

The list of positive reviews for SWING continues:

I highly recommend this book. I usually listen to audio books, but this is one book in print that I couldn't put down. Don't even think about it. Just read it! This is a good one.  

"SWING" is a great read, and a more than impressive, heartfelt, first novel from this author. Bravo!  

A great read about perseverance and acceptance and a trip to the world of Swing.

Here is my recommendation...buy it for your IPad or eReader, download some Louis Prima songs, put your earphones in, turn up the volume and enjoy it.

Alan Gerstel's Blog
headshot of Alan Gerstel, author


Click here to buy the book on Amazon.

It is also available as an ebook.


Entries in music (3)


The Jive Aces

I was introduced to The Jive Aces by a friend who knows that I am the illegitimate son of Louis Prima.  He encouraged me to watch a YouTube video of the band performing "Bring Me Sunshine."

The Jive Aces is a British "Swing" band that performs many of the songs that my birth father did... and they liberally pay tribute to the man who was a "Swing" legend in the last century.  One of my birth father's signature musical moves was to start a song slowly (He would encourage his band to "play pretty for the people") and then break into a wild up-tempo rhythm with his sidekick, Sam Butera, wailing on the saxophone.

When I first saw the "Bring Me Sunshine" video, I was amazed at how faithfully The Jive Aces seemed to capture the "Louis Prima sound." But the homage doesn't end there.  One shot focuses on an outdoor sign for an ice cream shop that features "Banana Splits."  One of my birth father's hits was "Banana Split for my Baby" ("and a glass of plain water for me.")

I watched the YouTube video roll through the credits with the last shot being of a pair of black and white "Swing" shoes (that had been featured throughout the music video).  The camera panned from the shoes a few feet down the sidewalk to reveal Louis Prima's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (That final homage took me by such surprise that I wound up sobbing.)

 See it for yourself.....


Berkeley Square... a romantic fantasy

I admit that I am a hopeless romantic.  So it should come as no surprise that I would plan an anniversary gift for my wife that would be "over the top."  And I did.

Ronni and I had been married for 34 years at the time and hadn't worn our wedding rings in decades.  They were clunky rings that were in fashion when we married, but proved to be unwieldy for my puppeteer wife (who would put her hands inside foam creatures to manipulate them... and for me, a TV News Anchor who fiddled with it while on the air).

Ronni and I both loved Rod Stewart's version of "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" and we were headed to London on a business trip with our adult sons in tow.  But months before our trip, I went to a local jewelry store and picked out new wedding bands.  Ronni's friend, who was making costume jewelry, had her "try on" one of her rings (so that we could determine Ronni's finger size.)  I even withdrew money to pay for the rings slowly from the ATM so that Ronni wouldn't notice.  I did everything so stealthily that she didn't have a clue. 

I also downloaded "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" to my cell phone.  My vision was to take Ronni (and our sons) to Berkeley Square where I would play the song on my phone and Ronni and I would dance romantically before I presented her with the rings and ask if she would marry me again.

But it was not to be.

When we arrived in London, our hotel was not far from Berkeley Square (pronounced: Barkeley) and we had the cab driver drop us off.  It was evening by this time and we had to walk past rows of parked cars to get to the gate leading to the Square.  As we approached the gate, we could see that it was locked with a chain.  A sign proclaimed:  "Closed for renovations."

Months of stealthy preparation passed before my eyes.  "Closed for renovations?"  I spent months planning every detail, however this was one detail I had no control over.  But I salvaged what I could of the moment.  I played Rod Stewart on my phone and gave Ronni her new ring, with our sons (who were in on the surprise) applauding in the background.  Not quite what I had wanted, but a warm, romantic moment nonetheless. 



Youtube streaming New Orleans Jazz Festival 2012.

Kudos to YouTube for live streaming the sounds of the New Orleans Jazz Festival the past few weekends.  I knew nothing about the streaming until I went on YouTube to check out a video and stumbled upon it and became mesmerized.

I was thrilled to watch Allen Toussaint and his band!!  I couldn’t turn it off, and in fact, I ordered one of his CDs.  I’d rather have been there in person, particularly since that Festival honored my birth father, Louis Prima, two years ago.  I have the large poster from the Festival painted by Tony Bennett hanging upstairs.

I had thought of attending the Festival in the past, but was worried that the crowds would be overwhelming. (I am a claustrophobe.)  But everyone seemed to have space to move around and the weather looked very comfortable.  So maybe next year!

I should also mention that my sister, Lena, is singing at the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone in the heart of the Big Easy.  I’m looking for a way to get there just to see her perform again.  She has golden pipes and the talent to go along with them.  She obviously inherited the singing talent from our shared father that I wish I had.  Oh well, I’ll have to settle for being an actor rather than a singer.

The festival is over, but more info on the acts and streaming is detailed on the Youtube Global blog.