Tag Cloud
"Flagler's Folly" "Good Lovin" "It's a beautiful morning" "Lilies of the Field" "Living in the Moment" "Lonely Too Long" "The Bells are Ringing" "The Eighth Wonder of the World" Academy Awards Actors Equity Association Alice's Restaurant all in the family American Federation of Television and Radio Artists Ann Corio Archie Bunker Arsenic and Old Lace Assignment Desk banana split Basin Street Blues Bill Cosby Bill Putch Boston University Buddy Hackett Carol Burnett Cary Grant Casa Portagioia CBS Colin Firth convertible Coral Sky Amphitheatre Cortona Cortona Mix Festival Frances Mayes Dean Martin Diahann Carroll Dingbat Dixie Cups Dixieland Dr. Herman Einstein Drunken Porter Eddie Brigati Edith Bunker Esther Cohen Flagler Museum flea market Fred Astaire Ginger Rogers Glen Campbell Gloria Leroy Gypsy Rose Lee Hamlet Hard Rock Hardy Mintzer Harvey Edelman Harvey Korman Henry Flagler hollywood Jason Mraz jazz Jean Stapleton Jeremy Irons Jim Nabors Joey Bishop John Ritter Judy Holiday Key West Kim Zimmer Kravis Center Las Vegas Latin Casino Lena Prima Lenny Kravitz London Louis Prima Lucille Ball MacBeth Martha Raye Milton Berle music Neil Fishman new orleans News Anchor No Strings Once Upon A Dream Othello Over-Sea Railroad Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival Peter Lorre Phyllis Diller Phyllis McGuire Pincus Zuckerman Republic Airport Richard Burton Rod Stewart Roxie Roker sam butera Sammy Davis Jr. Sandy Hackett School for Scandal Screen Actors Guild Shady Grove Music Fair Shakespeare Sidney Poitier Sinead Cusack Sir John Gielgud Sir Toby Belch sitcom Smothers Brothers soap opera Solara Sonja Henie Storrowton Music Fair streaming Surprise Susan Lovell-Brigati Sy Kravitz Television City The Beaux' Strategem The Doctors The Rascals This Was Burlesque Tim Conway To Bed A Fortune Totem Pole Playhouse toussaint Toyota Trudy Styler Tuscan Sun Festival Twelfth Night Vacation Valley Forge Music Fair Vietnam walk of fame Wedding youtube
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 Sinead Cusack (1)



Anyone who has read my book “SWING” knows that I am Italian by birth.  Perhaps that can (somewhat) explain my fascination and adoration for the Tuscan town of Cortona.  Cortona was made famous by author Frances Mayes who wrote “Under the Tuscan Sun” and by the movie of the same name.

My family and I came across Cortona quite by accident a few years ago.  We were going to Italy for a family vacation that began in London.  I went to the TripAdvisor website to find a Bed and Breakfast in Tuscany and came across Casa Portagioia, the highest-rated B and B in the Tuscan region.

Casa Portagioia is nestled in a Tuscan valley miles off the beaten path.  During our stay there, we made the 25-minute trek to Cortona on the advice of our proprietors, Terry and Marcello.  Cortona is near the top of a Tuscan hillside and overlooks a beautiful valley below.  Warm and inviting, it welcomes tourists but is not on the list of most popular tourist destinations.  We fell in love.

The following year, I learned of the Tuscan Sun Festival, which was celebrating its 9th year in Cortona.  It was an 8-day event that featured classical music performances each night in the charming Teatro Signorelli, an ornate 160-year-old theatre.  I made reservations for the performances and for another stay at Casa Portagioia… this time just for my wife Ronni and me.

There is much to be said about being a “tourist” and experiencing new places.  But we found it even more satisfying to find a place like Cortona and immersing ourselves in the culture, the food, the drink and the people… not to mention the wonderful music.

The festival’s schedule included an Italian cooking class… winery tours… tours of Cortona’s museums… and even a yoga class with Sting's wife, Trudy Styler.  (By the way, Ronni was most impressed that I could last and hour and a half of twists and contortions in that class.)

The evenings were heavenly! Pincus Zuckerman and his quartet performed one evening.  Another night was devoted to the composer Frederic Chopin.  While a brilliant pianist played Chopin compositions, Jeremy Irons (taking on the role of Chopin) and his wife, Sinead Cusack (playing the writer George Sand) read their character's love letters to each other with Chopin’s music filling the 350-seat theatre..  It was magical.

Of course, Frances Mayes was in the audience as was Colin Firth and Neve Campbell, who could enjoy the program far from the glare of the paparazzi.

Ronni and I vowed to return for the 10th anniversary of the Tuscan Sun Festival the next year only to find that a rift had developed between the festival and the town of Cortona.  The Tuscan Sun Festival chose to move its venue to Florence (about an hour north of Cortona) rather than remain in Cortona for its 10th anniversary.

Florence is one of Italy’s treasures.  It is home to some of the greatest artists of the Renaissance.  It is also a city bustling with tourists, and so it’s not a venue for relaxation and bonding with the locals.

We love Cortona so much that we were devastated at the turn of events.

Fortunately, Cortona fired back with the Cortona Mix Festival.  It doesn’t rely as heavily on music but includes art, photography, and literature along with musical performances AND that Italian cooking class!   So Ronni and I are hoping to return this summer and we hope, once again, to experience the charm of Cortona and its people.  But please don’t spread this story around too liberally.  We don’t want to see hordes of tourists descending on Cortona and turning our beloved Tuscan hillside town into a proverbial tourist trap.