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Grit: April 13, 1969 – Nicolosi Band to Play for Final Time Friday

Call it what you will — “a jam session,” “a blast” or “a gathering,” — but music fans of a decade or so ago will have a chance to listen to some of their favorite toe-tappers when the one time award winning Johnny Nicolosi Orchestra gathers for “one last time” in the Patio Room of

Call it what you will — “a jam session,” “a blast” or “a gathering,” — but music fans of a decade or so ago will have a chance to listen to some of their favorite toe-tappers when the one time award winning Johnny Nicolosi Orchestra gathers for “one last time” in the Patio Room of the Lycoming Hotel at 10 p.m. Friday and it is for free.

The “gathering of the clan” was inspired by area music lovers who either danced or listened to the Nicolosi music as it progressed through the Big Band Era.

Johnny, who has been connected with music since he was 14 said, “there were so many people urging me to get the band together for one last session, and I finally agreed to do it.”

To Nicolosi such urging is tantamount to telling a fire horse there is another fire.

“The response from the boys who made up the band has been fantastic,” Nicolosi said. “They are coming from all over to hit this one session.”

The 15-piece band hit its peak in 1960 when it entered the “Band of the Year” competition in Detroit sponsored by the American Federation of Musicians. The competition included more than 250 bands from throughout the nation. When the smoke had cleared, the Nicolosi band had won fourth place.

Prior to the contest the band had been playing nightclubs throughout central Pennsylvania. With the Band of the Year award the band began getting offers. The band played Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Penn State and into New Jersey.

It was about this time that the “rock and roll” music began to gather steam and the big band “dates” became fewer. A decision had to made.

“In order to make money,” Nicolosi said. “We had to decide whether we wanted to go strictly professional and hit the road. Otherwise we had to “cool it” and go our separate ways. The latter won.”

Compiled by Lou Hunsinger Jr.

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