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Vocalist to present Sinatra tribute Saturday at Holmes

Steve Lippia will perform his 'Simply Sinatra' presentation April 26 at the Historic Holmes Theatre.

Have you ever found yourself feeling nostalgic for the era of "big band" music, and iconic vocalists like "Rat Pack" members Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.?

Then come on down to Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre this Saturday, April 25, for a special presentation by nationally acclaimed vocalist Steve Lippia and his 10-piece orchestra.

Entitled "Simply Sinatra," the concert will prominently feature Sinatra's music, as brought to life through Lippia, whom many call a "vocal dead ringer" for "Old Blue Eyes," as Sinatra was sometimes called.

"I'm very much looking forward to it," said Lippia in a recent telephone interview. "I love the older, refurbished theaters (like the Holmes) that have a history of 50 to 80 years or more. Sometimes acoustically they are the best venues (to perform in)."

Though Lippia grew up as a member of the "rock and roll generation," he continued to have an affinity for the music of generations past.

"I've always loved this style of music," he said. "My mom used to sing professionally for a short time... she introduced me to this music, and it stayed with me.

"My peers may have thought it was their parents' music, but I happen to think it's just great music, with great composition and great arrangements -- and great music matters."

Lippia has been a singer since his early years, when he sang in glee club and choir, and even emceed a high school variety show for a few years.

"Right out of high school I started working as a roadie with a big band... little by little, the band leader started working me into doing some singing with his band. I did that on and off for 10 years, while I was going to undergraduate and graduate school. Most of my training (in music) was on the job."

For the past 10 years, Lippia has worked as a full-time, professional musician, touring the country with his band -- though the size of that band may vary.

"Because of high travel and lodging costs, what I tend to do is bring just a few musicians with me, and the rest we hire from the best musicians in the area (where each show is held). Then we do a two or three hour rehearsal.

"We've developed a group of players in each area that we hire back whenever we're in that area -- people we know are good players and know my book (of songs) very well."

His experience with Minnesota musicians is not vast, however; up until his big 40-city tour of the Midwest last spring, Lippia had only performed a handful of dates in the Minnesota-Wisconsin area.

But that 40-city tour, started in the fall of 2007 and completed in spring 2008, included stops in Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho and Illinois.

"That was with my regular 10-piece band," Lippia said. "We had enough dates that I was able to bring my entire band, all 10 players."

Though he recently completed a short tour of southern U.S. communities in Florida, Tennessee and Oklahoma, Lippia said his stop in Detroit Lakes would be a "stand alone date -- a one nighter."

The Saturday show will "focus almost exclusively on the musical legacy of Frank Sinatra." Some of these songs, however, are from the "classic American songbook" -- it's just that Sinatra was such an iconic figure, both in terms of talent and on-stage persona, that his interpretation of many familiar songs became the standard for all future recordings, Lippia noted.

Tickets for "Simply Sinatra" are $25 for adults and $12.50 for students. Call the Historic Holmes Theatre Box Office at 218-844-SHOW, buy online at, or visit the box office at 806 Summit Ave., Detroit Lakes.

'Simply Spring'

As the finale of the 2008-09 season at the Historic Holmes Theatre, Saturday's concert will be preceded by a special community social, catered dinner and silent auction called "Simply Spring."

According to Amy Stoller Stearns, executive director of the Historic Holmes Theatre, the Holmes' season finale will be "an evening of great food and great music."

The community social and silent auction will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Holmes Ballroom.

The three-course dinner, catered by Convent on Reeves, will begin at 6 p.m., and includes a choice of Tender Beef Pot Roast with Cabernet Sauce or Brie Stuffed Chicken Breast with sides of Rosemary Garlic New Potatoes, Asparagus with Garlic Butter, Rosemary Herb Bread, Honeywheat Butterhorns and either Lemon Ginger Cheesecake or Poached Pears in Cabernet Sauce with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Cost is $25, or $50 for both the dinner and concert. Please RSVP dinner reservations by Tuesday, April 21.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454