By ROBIN LEACH
NICHE DIVISION OF LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
It’s a family affair when Vin Adinolfi takes the stage of Windows Showroom at Bally’s because his sons Nick on drums and Vin III on keyboards belt out the hits for Dad to sing and accompany with his rhythm. The trio who make up The Bronx Wanderers for their new show are joined by Joe Barui on sax, Joe Bonasorte on lead guitar and Jeff Saltzberg on bass guitar.
Vin Sr. told me: “The band started with my two kids and myself and a few of my friends. Our original sax player was one of The Tokens (“The Lion Sleeps Tonight”) and the other was a guitar player who was an original member of The Earls (“Remember Then”). Doing up to 225 one-nighters a year took a toll on them and also took them away from their families.
“My kids had their own band of friends from high school who I knew from always being in our house. The kids invited me out one night to play with them, and I asked if they wanted to tour and do this. I thought it would make for a fun dynamic. The old guy trapped with the kids and the kids stuck with the old guy.
“We are together as this unit almost 4 years. In 2002, we were doing oldies shows with members of Dion’s current band at that time. In 2004, we left and went out on our own as the family act you see today.” Vin credits Dion for his start. In the show, he refers to him as the group’s patriotic saint.
“I grew up in the same neighborhood as Dion and The Belmonts and Chazz Palminteri. Dion was close with our family, as my grandmother and Dion’s mother were distant cousins in the Campanella family. I know Dion since my crib. In our neighborhood even to this day, he is looked upon as our star who made it out of the neighborhood and is known worldwide.
“Chazz, too, with ‘A Bronx Tale.’ I’m down the chain but have been presented awards by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and our New York senators. I went to the record label and told them I know Dion and I wanted a job, and they called him with me in the office saying, ‘There is some kid here looking for a job who says he knows you.’ He told them to hire me, and they did. I have seen him through the years and will forever be indebted to him.”
Vin began at the New York recording/music publishing company in 1977. “I have remained with them until this day. We are not operating as a full-blown label anymore, but we still license material for movies and TV. I am involved with that. The production company owners have always treated me as a son, and I do all I can to always help them out.”
For the last five years, The Bronx Wanderers have played South Point twice a year. Vin continued: “As a record executive, I knew we would have to have a game plan, so I had a 10-year plan. I told the boys if they work hard, someday we will get our own room in Las Vegas. To do this without a hit record would mean we would have to work twice as hard as everyone else.
“They agreed, and in the first five years, the plan was to play in the New York Tri-State area and establish ourselves as a serious act. I gave them a group to target and said I want to be on the level by year five. We got there in year four. The next phase was to travel across the country and establish ourselves as a national act.
“We went from Seattle to Miami and from Los Angeles to Massachusetts. We roughly play 225 dates a year with the most being a sit down for only three days. So lots and lots of traveling.” For as long as he can remember, Vin’s dream had been to have his own show here: “I’m a throwback. I always say I was born too late.
“I love Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Paul Anka, Tony Orlando and Wayne Newton. I always watched and studied them. They were who I wanted to be, and Las Vegas was where they worked.
“In 1983, my wife and I stopped in Las Vegas from Hawaii on our honeymoon, and I took a photo in front of a marquee picture of Frank Sinatra and wrote the caption ‘someday’ on the picture. Just a few weeks back on Sept. 30 when we celebrated our 33rd anniversary here, I wrote in the card to my wife, ‘we finally did it!’ referencing that picture.”
Now The Bronx Wanderers are playing to packed audiences and getting standing ovations and loud cheers. Said Vin: “This is an amazing dream, and there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t look up and say thank you for all that is happening to us. It’s an incredible opportunity in this amazing town.
“I almost can’t believe it. I keep waiting to be told to wake up, that this is all some sort of dream. I keep thinking back to when I looked at the kids and we were unloading all of our band equipment on a cold winter night, and I would be looking at them as they were 14 and 11 and wondered what kind of father am I making them do this?
“I never thought this would work, but I never stopped hoping and praying. I tell the kids all the time we have all of this because of the audiences who come to see us. Never forget that and each and every night, we personally thank all who come to our shows in our meet-and-greets.
“We are all humbled every night as audiences come to our show in a city where there are hundreds of choices. The next phase of that plan is to hope we will be here a long, long time.”
“Solid Gold Soul” is the other new musical at Bally’s, and we’ll take a look at that amazing tribute to Motown on Wednesday.