Swingin’ & singin’

Musician Bruce Klauber will host special Frank Sinatra tribute show Dec. 30 at Bowman’s Tavern

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

It’s showtime: Author and professional jazz drummer/singer Bruce Klauber will perform a special Frank Sinatra tribute show at Bowman’s Tavern in New Hope on Dec. 30. SOURCE: Bruce Klauber

Who else wishes they could go back to the good old days of Ol’ Blue Eyes? Well, you almost can. On Dec. 30 at Bowman’s Tavern in New Hope, Philadelphia-based musician Bruce Klauber will transport audiences to a simpler time when music was meaningful and High Society could be seen at the local theater for a few cents. A free and family-friendly event, “Bruce Klauber Swings and Sings Frank Sinatra,” will include favorite hits, audience requests and entertaining tidbits on the legend that is Sinatra.

When it comes to performing classics like “My Way” and “Fly Me to the Moon,” Klauber understands no being could live up to the original, beloved singer. That’s why his show doesn’t include a cheesy impersonation of him in a Sinatra-esque hat. Instead, it’s Klauber using his years as a professional musician to do each and every song justice.

For a little more than 50 years, Klauber has worked simultaneously as a jazz drummer and singer, much like Karen Carpenter. The Center City native’s vast career also includes writing three books, as well as serving as a PR professional and entertainment and jazz columnist.

After a number of years behind the drum kit, Klauber decided it was time to experience the stage from a different point of view. He wanted to be front and center, interacting with the crowd with just a microphone in between. But what would he sing? The answer came to him almost immediately in the form of his unexpected childhood idol.

At 13, Klauber took drum lessons and naturally, one of his biggest influences was popular jazz drummer Buddy Rich. One night, he snagged tickets to see Rich in concert at the old Convention Hall in Philadelphia. Though the drummer received praise from the audience, the 15,000 fans in attendance were there to see the one and only Sinatra. Prior to the show, Klauber was semi familiar with Sinatra from seeing him in a handful of movies, but had little interest in seeing him live. That changed instantly.

“This man walked out on stage and bolts of electricity went through me. I have never experienced that since,” Klauber said. “He made me believe in the music he was singing.”

In the years that followed, Klauber saw Sinatra perform dozens of times, including a show in Atlantic City. Reflecting on the experience, Klauber explained how the entire town became electrified simply because Sinatra was there.

It’s been three decades since Klauber emerged from behind the drum kit to create his Sinatra tribute show, and he only sees the format becoming more popular. Across the country, tribute shows are dedicated to not only Sinatra, but The Beatles and other landmark artists no longer alive.

As old fans long to experience that electric feeling again and new fans wish to be introduced to it, the music remains relevant and more in demand than ever. According to Klauber, a number of musicians are giving the masses what they crave, especially artists like Tony Bennett, Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Buble. At a recent show at Tower Theater, Bob Dylan dedicated the majority of his show to Sinatra covers.

“Audiences just can’t get enough of it,” Klauber said. “They want some of it and I say, who doesn’t?”

For Klauber, it’s an honor to help Sinatra fans relieve those musical memories. At every show, he performs classics like “New York, New York,” and though he goes into the evening with a setlist, he’ll throw it to the wayside if need be. During his first show at Bowman’s a few months ago, he found that the audience preferred upbeat songs over slower ones as they dined, and he was happy to alter his show accordingly.

Klauber is also more than willing to take requests from the crowd. After years of interacting with Sinatra fans, he’s learned they’re extremely knowledgeable about his discography. Audience members regularly ask him to play some of Sinatra’s lesser-known songs, including some exclusive to movie soundtracks. But no matter the request, as long as it was once sung by Sinatra, he’ll happily oblige.

In between songs, Klauber gives the crowd a bit of fun, never-before-heard background information. He’ll tell entertaining stories about Sinatra and give tidbits on many of the songs, all from a musician’s point of view — not an impersonator’s.

At the Dec. 30 show, attendees will not only get to experience Klauber’s musical talents, but also his writing abilities. His new book Reminiscing in Tempo: Farewells and Recollections of Showbiz, Jazz and Drums, which was recently released by Hal Leonard Publishing Company, will be available for signing and purchase.

From an in-depth interview with Connick Jr. to a reflection on a day spent with Moe Howard of The Three Stooges, the book provides a firsthand glimpse into the world of show business. It also features eye-opening anecdotes about his personal association with Sinatra himself, whose kind words to Klauber are printed on the back cover.

It states, “It is quite obvious you are an educated student of American music. Your knowledge of some marvelous and memorable years in America’s musical history is truly impressive, and your warm words supporting my music and my efforts as a musician touched me deeply.”

“Bruce Klauber Swings and Sings Frank Sinatra” will take place Saturday, Dec. 30, from 7 to 11 p.m. at Bowman’s Tavern, 1600 River Road in New Hope. There is no cover charge. For reservations, directions or more information, call 215–862–2972 or visit bowmanstavernrestaurant.com. ••