While Calvert alumnus Tom Shook was spending time in Fort Meyers, Fla., he and his wife discovered a popular entertainer named Danny Albani performing at a club called Sandy Parrot. Friday, Albani is to appear in Tiffin as a fundraiser for Calvert Catholic Schools. The event is set for 7:30-10:30 p.m. at Camden Falls.
"Paul Hemminger and I and another couple discovered him at a club in Fort Meyers. I know he plays in multiple locations, several nights a week. He's very talented and very entertaining," Shook said. "The idea struck me that this would be a good fundraiser for the Catholic schools."
Shook said he approached Sharon Albani first to ask if her husband might be open to giving a show to benefit a small Catholic school system in Tiffin, Ohio. She told Shook to "ask him yourself." The result was a positive response. Shook got the performer's contact information and gave it to the school's administrators. Adam Smith agreed to host the event at Camden Falls at no cost to the school system.
Albani is a regular performer in Fort Meyers October through April. He appears at Michigan venues April through October. His energetic show covers doo-wop, country and rock 'n' roll music from the 1950s, '60s and '70s.
"He sings it all himself ... and he's very good on the saxophone. People like to dance to his music," Shook said.
Melvindale, Mich., is Albani's hometown. Having just returned from doing three shows in Florida, Albani gave a phone interview about his background and his performances. He describes himself as "100 percent Catholic, 100 percent Italian." His parents came to the United States through Ellis Island from Samarino, Italy, and his brother was born in Italy. The family enjoyed music.
"My dad played the accordion - typical Italian. Growing, up, we'd have our family get-togethers and he would play the
accordion, another guy would play the guitar and I would play saxophone. Then my brother picked up the banjo - I know banjo doesn't sound like an Italian instrument," Albani said. "He played the accordion, also."
It turns out entertaining is Albani's second career. He attended South Allen Beauty College and earned a beauty operator's license months before he graduated from high school. He started out working in a local salon for about six months before opening his own shop.
"I was a hairdresser for a lot of years. I had seven salons and a fast-food restaurant," Albani said. "I'm a typical businessman."
Even so, music remained important to Albani. He had played saxophone in the high school band and teamed up with three friends to form a group called The Nationals. They played for two years at all the "record hops" and earned a spot in Rockabilly Hall of Fame. The four original members still play two major concerts together spring and fall in Michigan, with audiences of about 400 people.
While managing his salons, Albani had little time for music, but after about 10 years, he and a member of The Nationals started playing as a duo, "just for fun."
"We ended up playing for about 10 years. That's when I learned to play guitar. My friend was a guitar player, so he taught me how to play guitar," Albani said.
Then Albani took another break from music. After retiring from the hair business, he bought a house in Florida. There, he met people who convinced him to start singing again. He put together some recorded tracks to accompany his vocals and saxophone.
"This was four years ago. I started doing a little bit more and a little bit more. Last season, I was in Florida for seven months and I did 101 shows," Albani said. "I'm 68, working like crazy and having fun."
Albani also has opened for numerous other acts, performed with orchestras, and appeared at clubs, festivals and veterans' events. He said his interactive show is family-friendly with no offensive language. Sharon sings with him on occasion, but she prefers to remain in the audience. Two of their granddaughters, ages 7 and 11, and a 9-year-old relative have performed with him.
"I cater to little kids. If they're not embarrassed, I get them up on the stage, get them dancing with me, singing with me. I'm very interactive. That's the best part of my show," Albani said. "I'm a decent singer, but I rely more on my entertainment skills to get the party going. There's entertainers and there's singers; I'm an entertainer."