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By Barbara Ellis and Mim Swartz
Denver Post Staff Writers
Monday, June 17, 2002, www.denverpost.com/scene
Danny Wein sings a Frank Sinatra tune at Marelli’s Grille. “I don’t try to sound like him, “ Wein says of Sinatra, but the resemblance is unmistakable.
Danny Wein’s Sinatra imitation dead-on
It was Saturday night. There were nine of us all nostalgic souls in search of a magical, musical high.
We were Sinatra junkies, looking for a sound-alike we can believe in.
And, thanks to an obscure roadside sign, we found one at Marelli’s Grille, a 44-seat, middle of the road restaurant in Pleasant View, a hamlet southwest of Golden that causes you to scratch your head and wonder how it got its name. It is a town full of struggling businesses, low-income houses, trailer courts and even a state prison, an unlikely place to find a singer paying tribute to Old Blue Eyes. But there he was, the sign boasted, performing Friday and Saturday nights from 6 to 9p.m.
“So,” We asked owner Chet Marelli, “Is this Frank sound-a-like a good Italian boy from Hoboken?”
“Nah,“ Marelli replied. “He’s a good little Jewish boy from Denver.”
No matter. It was the sound that we were after, this group of career men and women in search of something that died off long ago, even before Frank Sinatra’s death in 1998.
What was it about Sinatra that pulled each of us in, never to be released? Was it that hint of danger that hard-drinking, tough-talking, bad-boy persona? The cockiness, the swagger?
Or was it just The Voice? That perfectly pitched, fabulously stylized voice that entertained a generation and spawned a slew of imitators?
“I’ve got you under my skin; I’ve go you, deep in the heart of me. So deep in my heart that you’re really a part of me…”
All Sinatra, all the time
There were only two other diners at Marelli's when we arrived, both of them busily working on plates of pasta. The singer, 41-year old Danny Wein, appeared nervous, pacing the makeshift stage area underneath the cardboard cutouts of musical notes. On the wall behind him were publicity photos and a singing fish that didn’t work.
Flipping through his collection of CDs, Wein emphatically denied being a Sinatra impersonator.
“I don’t try to sound like him,” he said, but he does. And he only sings Sinatra tunes, mostly from the “Capitol Years” collection: “I’ve Got The World On A String,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “You Make Me Feel So Young,” “I get A Kick Out Of You.”
He peppers his performances with Sinatra trivia, Sinatra jokes, and Sinatra mannerisms. “I used to be a professional boxer; I’ll lay down; maybe you’ll remember me.”
He mimics Sinatra’s stage movements, a shrug of the shoulder here, a swing of the microphone there. His publicity photos show him in a dark suit, dapper hat tilted to one side, a la ‘50s Frank.
A couple walked in and headed for he table nearest the stage. “You know how lucky you are, don’t you?” he said to them. “That table is usually reserved for Frank’s broads, but they aren’t here yet.”
It was our big chance. In unison four of us shot up our hands and shrieked: “Yes, we are! We’re here! We’re Frank’s broads!”
The house, now numbering more than a dozen, roared. We were recognized as the official groupies, a fact confirmed when we began to sway, shoulder to shoulder, to “New York, New York,” fingers snapping, eyes closed, grins fixed. This was the high we had hoped for.
“When you’re singing, you’re singing with feeling,” Wein said. “It’s almost scary. You feel the song. It’s like I’m reincarnated.”
“I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps, and find I’m A- number one, top of the list, cream of the crop, top of the heap.”