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23 Skidoo keeps Memorial Park swinging

Swing and big-band group 23 Skidoo at Memorial Park on July 30.
The members of 23 Skidoo are, front row, leader Dick O’Dell. Back row, from left: Jayd Mollnar, Ralph DeMarco, Cam Lane and Andy Ehnes.

HAMBURG — Residents and visitors alike turned out at Memorial Park in the village of Hamburg on July 30 for a concert by 23 Skidoo. As a part of the Summer Concert in the Park Series, 23 Skidoo entertained attendees from 7 p.m. until dusk. The sounds of wind in the trees and light traffic at Lake and Union streets were drowned out by the upbeat sounds of 20s swinging oldies, when the band took the stage dressed in red and white.

The five men who are a part of 23 Skidoo work together with a legacy that has lasted for 28 years, according to the group’s leader, Dick O’Dell.

O’Dell is the front man and banjo player. He is joined by Cam Lane on keyboards, Jayd Mollnar on the trumpet, Andy Ehnes on the tuba and Ralph DeMarco on the saxophone.

The latter four each hold music degrees from the State University of New York at Fredonia or Villa Maria Colleges. The dynamics of the group is varied, with their ages ranging from O’Dell, 81, to the youngest person to ever play with 23 Skidoo, 20-year-old DeMarco.

When asked how the band members ended up playing together, Ehnes said each sought out O’Dell and asked him to join. O’Dell agreed.

O’Dell said that, “All of 2014’s 23 Skidoo performances are dedicated to the 130,000 heroic men and women who landed on the beaches of Normandy 70 years ago on June 6, 1944.” In their honor, O’Dell started the evening with the song, “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

Mayor Thomas Moses was on hand to introduce the swing band and remained to enjoy the program. Audience participation was encouraged, with O’Dell shouting out accolades for the band members and the veterans he sought to honor.

The corporate sponsor for the concert by 23 Skidoo was Elderwood, and transportation was provided for residents to enjoy the band’s swing sounds. The other sponsors for the event were Mammoser’s Tavern and Restaurant and Nino’s Pizza.

All current members of 23 Skidoo are from Hamburg and the surrounding areas. They practice each Monday evening at the Herbert E. Shero Veteran’s of Foreign Wars Post 517, located at at 65 Church St. in the village of Hamburg. O’Dell invited anyone interested to join them for the practice sessions.

The band has also played at the Holland Tulip Festival, for the past several years. Traveling to perform, 23 Skidoo has played concerts in places including New Orleans, Key West and Silver Springs. O’Dell said that the band introduced comedian Steve Martin in the aofrementioned Florida city when Martin was there for the movie “All of Me,” which he starred in with Lily Tomlin.

The song by the same name was performed at the Memorial Park concert, among other standards from the 20s swing era. O’Dell said that The Andrews Sisters and Glenn Miller were large influences for 23 Skidoo.

Groups, families and individuals came prepared with lawn chairs to join their neighbors and friends listen to 23 Skidoo. Clouds initially threatened, but rain stayed at bay.

O’Dell made several mentions of the clouds and expressed his pleasure at the sun on his face, as the band worked its way through the set list.

The next performance will be South City, taking place in Memorial Park on Aug. 13, beginning at 7 p.m.

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