NEW YORK’S CATSKILL MOUNTAINS
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York; a good location for getting started in the music field; near Manhattan, and not far from the legendary Catskill Mountains. With the support and talent of my parents and brother Danny, some great music teachers, and the records played by Alan Freed and Symphony Sid on the radio, I had all the help I would need.
At the age of 12, I had my first paid engagement (the boss gave me a surprise $5 bill at the end of the first week)- sitting in with my brother’s band at the Bar-Lau Hotel in South Fallsburg, upstate in the Catskills. I went on to work in that area for many summers to follow. Here is a list of hotels, for those who may remember. If you weren’t there, see the movie “Dirty Dancing”; it will give you an idea of what it was like.
- 1959- 14 year old band leader at Goldblatt’s Hotel in Monticello
- 1960- New Beerkill Hotel (formerly the Beerkill Lodge) in Greenfield Park.
- 1961- SalHara Hotel (named for the owners- Sally and Harry) in Woodbourne. Band leader Sid Shankman; my cousin Marty Roth played trumpet.
- 1962- Laurels Hotel in Sackett Lake (near Monticello). Band leader Tony Stevens.
- 1963- Evans Hotel in Loch Sheldrake. Band leader Tony Stevens.
- 1964- Commodore Hotel in South Fallsburg
- Also Stevensville Lake Hotel in Swan Lake with band leader Paul Shelden; Gilbert’s;Gibber’s.
During my Catskill years, I learned how to accompany performers by having to do it, often with little or no rehearsal. It was a wonderful opportunity to work with some greats. Here are a few favorites who come to mind – listed alphabetically:
Allen & Rossi, Cab Calloway, Diahann Carroll, Myron Cohen, Rodney Dangerfield, Phil Foster, George Kirby, Jackie Mason, Jan Murray, Neil Sedaka, Dick Shawn, and Joe Williams.