Plus, Steven Van Zandt and the Wiz push garage rock, and more

By Tom Sinclair
August 03, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Sopranos Illustration by John Cuneo
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CHICAGO MOB It’s been about 30 years since anyone thought of horn-rock group Chicago as hip, but the band recently received the imprimatur of cool from a few ”Sopranos” cast members, including Dominic Chianese (Uncle Junior), Federico Castelluccio (Furio), and Vincent Curatola (Johnny Sack), all of whom attended the group’s July 12 show at Jones Beach in New York. In fact, Castelluccio (who shares a manager with the band) and Curatola joined the group on stage to sing ”Old Days.” Gushed Castelluccio: ”It was one of the most exciting moments of my life. I grew up listening to Chicago.”

Chicago saxophonist-woodwind player Walter Parazaider was similarly jazzed, offering the following politically incorrect comment: ”It was a kick — the guys from ”The Sopranos” and a buncha greaseballs from Chicago.” Given the mutual admiration, can we expect to see Chicago drop by the Bada Bing next season? ”I can’t say absolutely,” says Parazaider, ”but I wouldn’t be surprised if some Chicago music filters into the show somewhere along the way.”

WIZ BANG While his colleagues groove to ”Saturday in the Park,” ”Sopranos” star Steven Van Zandt is spreading the gospel of ’60s-based garage rock, as EW recently reported. On July 17, he presided over a surreal press conference at a Manhattan branch of Northeast retail chain the Wiz. As suits from the Wiz’s parent company, Cablevision, looked on, Van Zandt talked about the company’s commitment to the garage aesthetic, which includes putting a garage section in 22 of its stores. ”This scene has been below the radar,” said Van Zandt. ”An infrastructure was needed. The infrastructure starts here.”

The Wiz is also sponsoring a talent search for ”the coolest garage band on the planet,” with the winner set to perform at November’s Cavestomp! Garage Rock Festacular in New York City. Perhaps by way of explanation, Cablevision president and CEO James L. Dolan confessed: ”I had a little garage band myself. The biggest gig I ever played was my own backyard.” Van Zandt also hopes to announce a syndicated garage-rock radio show soon. But the true garage spirit shone through in the Swingin’ Neckbreakers’ short set after the conference. Bassist-singer Tom Jorgensen quipped, ”Now I’ve gotta take a whiz at the Wiz.”

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