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TWO FUNNY PHILLY GUYS starring the amazing Joe Conklin and Big Daddy Graham
is coming to Phoenixville's Colonial Theatre April 15.
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If you are a music lover and you haven't been listening to BIG DADDY'S CLASSIC ROCK THROWDOWN with Spins Nitely, then check it out!

Every THURSDAY at 8 PM. Listen live at http://wildfireradio.com/big-daddy-graham. By the way, all you have to do is click on that wildfire blue line and the most current show will AUTOMATICALLY begin to play,  Just give it a moment



We salute:
Part 1

Check out last week's  Keith Richards Part 2
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Check out Ava's podcast THE AVA GRAHAM HOUR on Wildfire Radio live every Thursday at 5:30 PM.  It's really funny and of course being a podcast you can listen to it anytime you want.  Just click here to check it out




THURSDAY ~ Red Star Craft House in Exton PA at 8 PM


My daughter Ava is running a Quizzo nite every every Monday at 7:30pm at ROCCO'S in Wilmington!   And now at CHICKIE & PETE'S in Drexel Hill every Tuesday at 7 PM! Plus every Wednesday night at 8PM at PJ WHELIHANS in Haddonfield. Don't forget Thursday night at 7pm at CHICKIE & PETE'S in South Philly! That's a busy schedule!

Big Daddy Graham-Marc Farzetta & Joe Conklin taking a stab at Sinatra's "Summer Wind!" Click Here

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As the song states "I've been everywhere" and I have.  So here begins my search for the top 7.  This is just the nomination process and they are in alphabetical order.  And I'm leaving out Philly for an obvious reason.  I've lived nowhere else.


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Here's my latest article for the South Jersey Mag...


My daughter Ava and I were watching this really cool show on Netflix titled “Doctor Foster.”  Ironically, considering this is my annual Valentine’s Day article, “Foster” is about infidelity.  But there’s a scene in it where their son is enjoying his parents (unbeknownst to the kid, his Father is a cheating dog) telling a story about when the moment was when they realized they were falling in love.
Which led to Ava asking me the same exact question about my wife Debbie and I.  Here were the first four moments that first sprung to mind.


We now live in a world of Uber and because of our awareness of the perils of drunk driving, cabs and limo’s are also used now more than ever.  But tunes logothat was not the case a million years ago in the early 80’s when I was a doorman at the Philadelphia Sheraton in downtown Philly.  It was midnight and I had just gotten off work and I was driving my $200 “car” home.  I had just turned the corner at Market when I saw her.  Debbie, hailing a cab.  She was waitressing downtown herself and had just finished her shift and was meeting some girlfriends at a club.
We had met at a couple parties and I knew who she was.  She was living in my Southwest Philly neighborhood with her grandmother, so to me she was a “local girl.”  And I had never seen anyone from my parish hail a cab.  I know today that is hard to believe, but it’s the truth.  She looked so hot standing in the street.  Hailing a cab!  That was something rich folks did in Manhattan or in the movies.  I floored it and pulled up to her before a cab could get to her and drove her across town to the club.  Nothing happened that night, but the mental note had been made.  “Who is this cool chick?”


A few years have gone by and I was in Wildwood on a humid summer Saturday night.  It was past midnight and all the parties my boys and I had crashed were duds.  Or, more to the point, “we” were the duds none of the girls had any interest in.  Then I remembered that I heard Debbie might at this party in Margate.  Now that’s a good thirty minute ride and then I would have to find the apartment when I got there, which back before cellphones was not always easy to do.  But off I went.  Solo.
A miracle occurs and I actually locate the jam, but Debbie is not there and some drunk on a couch wearing a “Disco Sucks” tee shirt tells me she went out to Merrill’s.  It’s now about 145am and the club is still packed as I walk towards one of the back bars.  I swear to God, it’s like the Red Sea parts, and there she is.  Sitting at the bar, shining like a million bucks, and when she sees me she shoots me a look like there’s no one else in the world that she would rather see at that very moment than me.  No one had ever given me that look before and I’ve never forgotten it.   We were off and running.

big daddy dinerSINATRA

We were officially an “item.”  Not married, not engaged yet, but an “item.”  I was living with a bunch of slobs in this rented house in Collingswood.  Deb and I had returned from the movies and no one was home.  We had seen Sinatra a few months ago at Resorts, almost by accident, and we eneded up seated at one of the front tables.  We were both music lovers, but at that time my taste in music was almost exclusively rock and soul.  Seeing Ol’ Blue Eyes live had converted me in a huge way.  (Today, I have one of the largest collections of all things Sinatra in South Jersey.)   But I was still in my twenties at this point and the crowd I ran with?  Well, I was the official DJ at our house parties and if I had dared trying playing any Sinatra between Springsteen and the Four Tops, I would have been stripped of all music responsibilities immediately and forever.  “Get that off!” would have been screamed out by the revelers had any Sinatra entered the fray.
But this night the house was empty and when I slipped on this Sinatra obscurity “All My Tomorrows,”  I kind of jokingly asked Deb to dance and she accepted.   Now I’m not that much of a Michael Jackson.  Play something funky and I come off like the white guy in a Soul Train dance line.  But I can slow dance with the best of them and “All My Tomorrows” has a mellow groove and when we danced I felt like Deb just melted in my arms.  Right there in the middle of the living room of this crummy rental.  She had no problem whatsoever digging on the Chairman of the Board’s sound.  I like to consider myself a music explorer (still do) and I remember during that dance that maybe I had found a music soul mate as well.  I had and it was a huge moment.  (BTW, I defy you to come up with better lyrics that describe the beginning of a relationship.  Many friends of mine have used it as a wedding song over the years at my suggestion.)


One thing about Debbie that I always found attractive was her energy level.  I always wanted to fall in love with a woman who was adventurous and enjoyed getting the most out of life.  But you also have to get lucky and find someone that you dig hanging with when you do nothing at all. 
I had a friend who worked for a big hotel chain and because of this we would occasionally get a room in Manhattan completely free.  The fact that we would check in with about forty bucks between us never stopped us from going.  And “go” we would.  It’s called the town that never sleeps for a reason and we would tackle the Big Apple all night long. 
We were up there on a rare Sunday night but we still had the night’s festivities all mapped out.  We were just not the kind of couple who stayed in.  But it was bitterly cold and it started pouring.  The TV had about three channels and the classic film “Casablanca” was coming on.  I had seen the film before but Deb had not.  We started watching and never stopped till it finished.  We had just spent a night in Manhattan not leaving the room at all, which we had never done before.  Yet we had discovered something very important.  That we could have a great night doing nothing at all except laying around watching the tube. 

So if one of your kids wants you to describe the “moment that you knew you two had fallen in love,” be prepared to answer.  It’s fun.  Happy Valentine’s Day!


Here's my latest article for the South Jersey Mag...


“It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!”

As the song goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year. “ Why?  It’s January.  Time to take stuff back.  And I love taking stuff back!  I actually consider it an art form.  An elaborate game.
Many of you reading this now have already done the deed.  Plenty of you return items on December 26th.  Now that to me is someone who can’t stay out of a mall.  A shopaholic.  The same knuckleheads who wait outside the Deptford Best Buy at midnight on Thanksgiving night.  (Pretty soon Macy’s will open at noon on Thanksgiving Day and offer a full Thanksgiving dinner while you shop.  Mark my words) 
Here are a few of my favorite “returning stuff” stories.


Back when my boys and me used to rent Sea Isle City shore apartments, we were always throwing huge keg parties.  None of us had any money, so going out to a bar to meet chicks was out of the question.  No one even had the dough for the cover charge.  In fact, the only way we even managed to acquire the apartment to begin with was by renting a one bedroom joint miles from the beach and then thirty seven of us would go in on it.  We would spend the day on the beach enticing girls over with elaborate tales of how luxurious the apartment was. 
FLASHBACK WITH WILDGOOSE CHASE“The bay views are extraordinary!”  (It had a view of the back wall of Sea Isle Ice)
“Bobby Clarke is coming!”   (Now Clarke was known to have property in Ocean City, so this actually wasn’t that far fetched.  And we did have a Bobby Clarke in on our place, he just didn’t play for the Flyers.  He was a Navy Yard apprentice.)
“We have the best DJ in town!”  (Fat Rat’s 8-track collection was second to none)

The problem was the apartment was so small the only place to put a keg was in what laughably was called the kitchen.  And to keep it cold it had to be kept on ice which would cause huge puddles of slop.  What to do?
I think it was Pimples who came up with this ingenious idea.  Both Sears and Home Depot sold these huge industrial strength trashcans.  Big enough to put a half a keg in and then pack it with ice.  Leakage problem solved!
There was however, one little problem.  These trashcans actually cost more than the beer did.  And we barely had money for the beer.
So here’s what we did.  We would all chip in what remaining dollars we had, buy the trashcan, throw the party and then take the trashcan back for a full refund.  We had more than a couple Sears and Home Depots in our home area and Rt. 9 had one apiece.  Every week for an entire summer one of us would buy it on Thursday and then take it back on Monday.  Rarely would anyone even ask why we were returning it or even inspect the trashcan for damages.  As long as you had the receipt you were good as gold.  If a clerk even asked why we were returning it, I would just say, “I don’t know other than my Dad saying I bought the wrong one.” 
And that would be it.  That’s the beautiful aspect of purchasing anything off a big chain.  You can’t do this with a Mom and Pop store.  So I guess “corporate” sometimes comes in handy.


My daughter Ava bought a green dress for the holidays two years ago at the Cherry Hill Mall Macy’s.  Not only did she never wear it, she completely forgot she even bought it.   Two years ago, not two months.  The receipt was long lost, but the tags were still hanging on it.   And she got the money back on it.  Not full price, mind you, because at some point that dress went on sale (probably during the Persian Gulf War), but still.  It’s amazing how easy it can be.

But not always.


Years ago when my wife and I were dating, we took one of those buses down to Atlantic City that you would get from some diner or deli.  You would pay like ten dollars and get round-trip bus fare and a roll of quarters to gamble with.  The hope was they would get you in the door where you would proceed to gamble away your life savings.  (Which between my wife and I was about forty dollars)
My wife and I didn’t gamble.   We were barely twenty-one, just starting out, and as usual, broke.  But we loved seeing Sam Butera and many other terrific lounge acts that AC used to be known for.  And they were free.  We were at the Rendezvous Lounge one night watching Sam perform and Sinatra showed up.  Fun times.
Dr DonnSo we used this bus scam to get free transportation.  However, one night we had one too many, and missed the last bus leaving town.  We certainly couldn’t afford to stay at Resorts or any of the other beachfront hotels, so we wandered away from the strip and ended up at this “hotel” called The Kentuckian.  The name itself should have warned me.
But I was a young kid who had never spent any time in Atlantic City, so I might as well had been in Bolivia.  It was a scene right out of a John Hughes movie.  Rooms at the Kentuckian were only twenty bucks.  We had that much between us.  We were in luck!
Well, there was no elevator in this dump and we walked up three flights of stairs and quickly found out why the “rooms” were so cheap.  Many of them appeared to have no doors at all and let’s just say it appeared to be a joint where a woman of “the oldest profession in the world” union would thrive in.
We quickly went right back down the steps and I actually had the nerve to go back up to the clerk and ask for my money back.  The front desk clerk who was wearing a nametag on it that said “Mr. Slimeball” yelled to this very intimidating dude sitting in the dark lobby, “Hey Earl, this guy here says he wants his money back.”  Earl and Slimeball found this hysterical and Debbie and I could not get out of there quick enough.  We ended up sleeping on the beach where I woke up with half of my face as red as a lobster. 

So, no, you don’t always get that refund. 

I turned all this into a topic on my talk show one night and I was amazed of the stuff people had actually used and still returned and got their money back.  One caller from Collingswood needed to cut his huge lawn ASAP and his landscaper had gone out of business.  So he borrowed a pickup truck, went down to Sears and bought a tractor mower, cut the grass, and still managed to take it back and get a full refund claiming that after a few minutes it “wasn’t cutting right.”  Yeah, right. 

So whatever you do, when someone hands you a wrapped present, and they say “If you don’t like it, you can always take it back,” get the receipt!


Here's my December article for the South Jersey Mag...


447PMMARCH 5TH, 2015Francis Ford Coppola is the director of “The Godfather” among other classic films as well as being a wine mogul.  He was once asked what his all-time favorite Christmas present was and he said “a big plate of my wife’s white cheese and chicken lasagna.”

Coppola said that the kids were gathered around the tree and everyone was opening their gifts when his wife came in from the kitchen with the lasagna and said “Merry Christmas.”  It was his best-loved dish and here he was being served it for breakfast.  It was exactly what he wanted at that moment.  He never forgot it and it really didn’t cost her a dime.  (Years ago, when we were living in Sea Isle City year round, I pulled off a similar present with a Mack & Manco’s Pizza for my wife.  The 9th St. Manco’s is open year round and it’s her favorite pizza in the world.)

I bring this up because I want you to realize I’m not all about the money.  My wife and daughter have given me many inexpensive, creative presents over the years that have been in my office or hanging on a wall somewhere in the house for years.

One year my daughters Keely and Ava recreated a photo of the two of them sitting on the lap of the Cherry Hill Mall’s Santa.  Keely was six years old and Ava was two when the original photo was taken and both were in their twenties when they recreated it.  That gift knocked me out and I thing it cost them about twenty bucks.

One December my wife took all her favorite Christmas photo’s and had a calendar made out of it.  (Which you can do by the way at in Woodbury at Bellia.)  I treasure that calendar and again, she spent about twenty bucks on it.

My family has given me many much-appreciated gifts like this over the years.  Again, I bring this up to prove to you that there is a sentimental, sappy side to me.  That, indeed, I am not “all about the money.”

But the point of this article is to defend something that no one ever praises.  In fact, the mere salute to it makes you come off as some materialistic creep.  I’m talking about “THE EXPENSIVE GIFT.”  What is so despicable about the expensive gift?! 

There’s a running gag of a question and answer that has been hovering around my family for years now.  So much so that I am surprised that any of them still ask this question.   “What do you want for Christmas this year?”

My answer is always the same.  “Oh, something really expensive.”  They will laugh at the crassness of the answer.  Let’s face it.  We’ve been conditioned to accept that ridiculous “Oh, it doesn’t matter what you get me, it’s the thought that count.”  BALONEY!

But think about it.  What are the normal replies to that question?

“Something little is good enough for me.”

“Oh, you don’t have to get me anything.”

“All I want for Christmas is you.”

Of course that last question can change when the kids aren’t around if asked by a husband, but this is a family magazine.

But the fact is I remember and cherish the expensive gifts as much as the thoughtful, creative presents mentioned above.  There’s something about opening something costly where you think to yourself, “Wow, I didn’t think they liked me THIS much.” 

bdg armen pink caddy smallYears ago, I was sick at Christmas time, and a friend of mine who would want to remain nameless sent me a fruit basket.  After the fruit had been picked off I was about to throw the basket out when I noticed it weighed more than it should.  It turned out there was a $170 bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue that had been in the middle of the fruit that no one had noticed.  And I was this close to throwing it away!  That would have made for one happy trash picker.

My daughters once got my wife and I a two-night stay at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.  And neither one of them was making dollar one at that time in their lives and I still think about that gift and what it meant to me.  I’m not sure how they pulled it off.  So you can’t say the cost of this gift has no factor at all in the remembrance and specialness of it. 

The same goes for a gift my wife gave me back in the eighties.  (Ah, remember the 80’s?  Uh, I don’t either) We were not even married two years yet and she had just given birth to our first-born.  Bruce Springsteen was coming to town.  Now I NEVER miss a Springsteen show.  I saw him at the legendary 175 seat Main Point five times and have continued on to be one of those knuckleheads who has seen him over a hundred times.   But please don’t confuse me with Governor Christie.  I wouldn’t be caught dead in Cowboy owner Jerry Jones stadium suite.

We were stone cold broke and living in a tiny one bedroom basement apartment..  My comedy career was just beginning.  Ever hear folks discuss how “happy they were before they had money?”  That’s because they didn’t have tuition or car insurance or mortgage bills yet.  And why?  Because you didn’t have kids, a car, or a house yet.  Now while we certainly wanted all those things, we forgot (or didn’t realize) the years of bills that were going to accompany them. 

But now I was a first-time Father and I just didn’t feel right scraping up the money anymore for something like a concert.  I had bigger responsibilities now.

Well, somehow my first-time Mother of a wife came up with two primo Bruce tickets and put them is a giant gift wrapped box. She’ll never forget the look on my face when I discovered what was inside and all these years later I’m still talking about that gift.  I have no idea where she came up with the dough.

So here’s a salute to the much maligned and downtrodden present.  The expensive gift.

PS  Right at the deadline for this article, my daughters pulled off something amazingly thoughtful.  My wife’s Father, a real Prince of a man named Phil, passed away at the age of 83.  He lived in Rehobeth Beach with my Mother-In-Law Elvira. My wife spent the week in Rehobeth aiding her Mother who had just gotten out of the hospital herself.  Now,  no one likes decorating the house for the holidays more than my wife.  But it’s a major undertaking when you have to put up more lights and garland than the Moorestown Mall.  So as much as she loves the house when she’s finally done, it’s a huge chore.

So what did my daughters do?  They decorated the entire house while my wife was out of town.  When she finally got back home after six days and saw what they had done, she burst into tears. 

To tell you the truth, I think I had to wipe my eyes myself.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!






Saw the Rolling Stones Exhibition at Industria down in the village and if you're a Stones fan, it's thorough and fun and worth it.  Check out the times it's cheapest to go.

There is this amazing talent in the New York area by the name of Rachelle Garniez.  She's an versatile singer who accompanies herself on piano, guitar, and, yes, accordion.  She's a gifted songwriter with a tremendous sense of humor.  She often performs at a really cool Village venue Pangea that seats maybe fifty that itself is worth checking out.  Go to these sites for more info: www.rachellegarniezcom.virb.com & www.pangeanyc.com

You can take an inexpensive tour  of RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL that's well worth it.

Check out MASH ARMY & NAVY on 8th Ave between 45 & 46th streets.  A blast from the past!

Folks are always asking me about piano bars in Manhattan.  There's two I would recommend and they couldn't be any bit different.  DON'T TELL MAMA is on 46th St between 8 & 9th Avenues.  It's a comfortable narrow long bar where you either sit at thee bar or at a table.  They have a singing piano player and every fourth song or so a member of the bar or serving staff will get up and sing a three song set.  And sometimes a member of the audience will get up at the mic and sing. And they have awesome food also. It's a really fun joint, but completely different from MARIE'S CRISIS CAFE which is at 59 Grove St in the Village.  (Make sure you have the address handy before you get in the cab.)  MARIE'S is a tiny hole in the wall basement club where there is a piano player but no professional singer.  YOU are the singer.  It's insane.  People (like my nutty wife) go there TO sing.  There's no microphone and literally 150 people or so will be singing at the top of their lungs to some Broadway tune  Which, by the way, IS ALL Marie's does.  They don't mix in pop tunes like MAMA does.  The two couldn't be any different from each other and any more fun if a piano bar is your bag.

A HOTEL TO STAY AT?   We always use some hotel site and often stay at one of these two hotels which I would both recommend.  THE BELVEDERE on West 48th St is clean with a nice lobby and it's very convenient to Broadway and many clubs and bars.  THE WARWICK is pricier, but still affordable when you go through Expedia.  It's at 54th & 6th and many famous folks (like the Beatles and Liz Taylor have stayed there.

As obvious as this sounds, you can spend a couple hours exploring Central Park and never get bored.

LEXINGTON CANDY SHOP on Lexington between 82 & 83rd St. has been opened since 1925 and is a don't miss trip.

THE METROPOLITAN ROOM on 22nd St is a very cool, classic NY cabaret room where we have seen many cool acts at a very affordable price.

BIG ONION WALKING TOURS are a lot of fun and reasonably priced.  I have taken many of them and they never disappoint.

54 BELOW on 54th St. is literally the basement of the famous Studio 54 disco. It's a terrific place to see anybody. Top notch club.

Finally made it to BIRDLAND for one of those CAST PARTY shows. What a great time and the sight lines are excellent.  Legendary jazz artists perform there and if you ever thought about seeing one of them at BIRDLAND, do it.






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