Celebration adds new element

STEUBENVILLE – “Ain’t that a kick in the head.”

There’s a new family-friendly element to the upcoming Dean Martin Hometown Celebration Weekend that will feature a variety of Dino selections to entertain all ages and raise funds for the Grand Theater Restoration Project in the process.

It happens Friday in the museum room at Froehlich’s Classic Corner at Fifth and Washington streets from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., as classic rock artists the Granati Brothers (Joey and David) perform with about 14 students from their “Those Who Are About to Rock” Children’s Academy that they operate in Ambridge, Pa.

Also on hand will be Dean Martin impersonator Bob Morelli.

Tickets are $10 and will be available at the door; by calling (740) 284-8008 or (740) 632-2899; or they can be purchased in advance at Two Brothers Dry Cleaners on North Fourth Street, the Center of Music and Art in Wintersville or at the law office of event coordinator Francesca Carinci on the ninth floor of the Sinclair Building.

“I think it’s really going to be fun,” Carinci said. “Many people said that they wanted something new, and they wanted something different and something that the family could attend during the Dean Martin festival in addition to the traditional activities, so the Grand Theater Restoration people worked with the Dean Martin committee this year to bring a new event,” she said.

Bringing them into the festival mix “gives it a rock and roll, more modern approach, but also brings a family type event,” she said.

As Dean Martin fans and people appreciative of the movement to restore the Grand Theater, the Granati Brothers said they’re excited about coming again to Steubenville, which they recently visited to check out the progress of improvements to the theater located on South Fourth Street.

“We are very, very proud Italian Americans, and when we were invited to do the festival, it’s kind of like the law. We couldn’t say no,” Joey said in a telephone interview. “When you grow up Italian American like ourselves and very proud of our tradition, Dean Martin is like ‘the guy,’ ‘the man,’ the coolest thing ever,” Joey said. “We wanted to be like the Rat Pack when we were growing up. Those were the guys. As much as I love the Beatles and pop rock stuff we do in our shows, the origins and genesis of all that, in my personal opinion, was very influenced by the Rat Pack because they were the first cool guys,” he said.

The Granati Brothers founded the “For Those About to Rock” Academy, a program inspired partially by the 2003 film “School of Rock” starring Jack Black. The two work with students to develop their performing skills, teach them the nuts and bolts of the music industry and have them put their skills to practice, performing at venues and outdoor concerts.

They’ll be bringing about 12 to 14 youth, “the best of the best,” most of them around 15 but one is 10 and the oldest is 21, according to Joey.

“They are really good kids and talented musicians, and they are completely jazzed to do this show, because we have explained to them that in a city like Steubenville, Ohio, this is where one of the greatest entertainers of all times came from. This is huge way to show respect to everything that came before them,” Joey said.

The Granati Brothers are classic rock artists whose rich harmonies have been compared to Jellyfish, Queen and Supertramp, according to promotional material. “They rocked the nation at 78 sold-out concerts with Van Halen in the ’80s. David Granati’s soaring melodic guitar riffs earned him a nomination for player of the year by Guitar Player Magazine in 1981,” according to their resume.

They released two recordings on A&M Records – the “G-Force” album (1979) and the opening cut “Go Crazy” on the A&M sampler “Propaganda” (1979). Their independent CD, “G-The Continuing Adventures of the Granati Brothers,” was released in 2002.

They also have performed with Bruce Springsteen, J. Geils, Ian Hunter, the Doobie Brothers, Sammy Haggar, Heart, Peter Frampton, Boston, Def Leppard, Southside Johnny, Gentle Giant, Dionne Warwick and many others at venues across America.

Joey is a classically trained pianist with a successful dueling piano show at Sing Sing in Pittsburgh.

Carinci said the brothers love Dean Martin and offered their help for an event during the annual celebration to help with the Grand Theater project. “Bob Morelli will join the Rock Stars to give Steubenville an incredible night of entertainment,” Carinci said. “David and Joey graciously agreed to bring their sensational talent to Steubenville. I am so grateful that these incredibly busy, nationally recognized artists have agreed to come to Steubenville to entertain us during the Dean Martin festival,” Carinci said. “This is a family oriented show, and all ages are welcome.”

Joey said he is looking forward to the event and coming to Steubenville.

“Cities like Steubenville you couldn’t have got Dean Martin out of anywhere else, because this part of the country they come with the kitchen table mentality,” he said. “I feel like I knew him, and if I had ever met him, I think I would have known exactly what to say to him because I could tell he grew up the same way we did, that when you make a mistake, the whole family corrects you – your uncles, your aunts, everybody tells you what a jerk you are. You could tell Dino had extreme style, extreme respect of everything he ever was. He carried on the tradition in such a noble way, and nobody ever looked better doing it,” Joey said.

“He was so cool.”