Peel him a grape. When Paul Marinaro sings Anita O’Day’s classic jazz melody, another era takes shape in the smoky haze and candlelight. Instantly, the room becomes dark, the air is thick and the mood—just mellow. The gin is cold, but the piano's hot, and the heartfelt soul in Marinaro’s voice entrances, creating a drive to do just as he says: You want to peel him a grape.
"He takes the words and brings them alive," says Sideshow
Musical Director Scott Williams of Marinaro. "In this day of club music, when all you can hear is the beat, [Marinaro] brings the music and the melody, making it personal for everyone who comes in."
Headlining every Wednesday and Saturday night at 3160 N. Clark St., in the jazz and piano lounge aptly named "thirty-one sixty," Marinaro is joined by John Paluch on piano, giving heart and history along with a powerful performance.
"I was born in the wrong time," says Marinaro, "the great American songbook—Cole Porter, Gershwin, Herald Arlen—is the music I identify with."
The youngest of 10 children, Marinaro was performing in his hometown of Buffalo, New York before moving to Chicago in 2000. Since, Marinaro and Paluch have been the headlining performances at Gentry on State, Cornelias on Halsted and 3160
as well as this year's Mr. Continental pageant.
As for the history, Marinaro introduces each song by sharing his personal experiences with the music. "You have to live these things in order to sing about them," he says, "[This music] wasn't meant to be 'covered' by other artists; they were meant to be autobiographical." The biography of Marinaro's music ranges from personal heartbreak to meeting the song's original recording artists. Anita O'Day, for instance, chose a stage name that was Pig Latin for "dough." She wanted to make some dough. "At least that's what she told me," says Marinaro.
Williams credits Marinaro for inspiring his new sense of musical appreciation. To that, Marinaro responds: "If it was good enough for Frank Sinatra, its' good enough for you."
Paul Marinaro can be found online at www.paulmarinaro.com