IF YOU GO:
Who: Ricci Martin
When: 6 p.m. May 22
Where: The Georgetown, 5945 South Ave., Boardman
Tickets: Admission is $45 for adults and $40 for seniors; price includes dinner. For more information, call 330-757-2779
By John Benson
For Ricci Martin, memories are made of his father, Dean Martin, every time he takes the stage for this retrospective “His Son Remembers” show.
“It’s the same show I’ve been touring for the last almost 10 years now,” said Martin, 57, calling from his Utah home. “As long as people keep inviting me back, I’m going to keep going because it’s a show that honors and celebrates Dad. I kind of stay away from the whole idea of a tribute because all I have are visions of Elvis impersonators in my head. This is different. I sing a song, offer stories and show photos that people have never seen from the family album. And there’s Q&A. It’s just kind of sharing an evening with Dean’s son and celebrating his life, basically.”
Martin is no stranger to music and performing. He briefly explored his own singing career in the ’70s, even opening for the Beach Boys on a 1977 tour, but it wasn’t until a few years after his dad passed that he decided to keep the songs alive. Today, he performs everything from “Volare” and “That’s Amore” to “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime” and “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head.”
And then there are the stories. Looking back to the famed Rat Pack years, when Dean, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. palled around together in Sin City, Martin remembers the time fondly.
“We would actually go to The Sands and see the shows,” Martin said. “The upside was, in those days, they had the showgirls up front doing big numbers, so it was always incredible for me to see that. But the downside was there was nothing going on in Vegas. It was desert and was just plain boring. Still, it was special because we were getting on an airplane, and in those days you dressed up to do it. Then you got dressed up to go see the show. And there was that electricity of just being Vegas before the curtain went up, and also because that was Dad there. We knew in a week or so he’d be home, and we’d be sitting on the couch hugging him in the living room.”
Finally, the legend of Dean Martin grows more distant year after year. That is, most folks under 40 don’t understand that during his heyday, The King of Cool was Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Elvis Presley rolled into one. To say he was a superstar is almost not doing him justice. He ruled movies, television, music and more. This is what keeps Martin out on the road.
“I see that obviously more and more since his passing; however, I’ll still have parents my age who take their parents of Dad’s age to the show,” Martin said. “And they in turn are taking their children. So they are turned onto Dad’s music. Usually, the folks that were into Dad, it was like Beatlemania. There’s a fanatic aspect to their love for Dean. And it’s a family affair, but they are still there and hard core.”
He added, “What’s fun is the casinos know that, too, because the high rollers these days aren’t the Franks and Deans at the craps table. It’s the gals with the bungeed club card in a slot machine that keep it going. So there’s a lot of blue hair at my shows, but it’s the best audience. They’re rooting for me. They’re on my side. It’s all good.”