There have been two great shows for the past two months showcasing The Johnny Holiday Program at the Sportsmen’s Lodge Events Center in Studio City. And the music lovers who were there are still talking about the elegant evenings enjoying dinner, dancing, and entertainment. It’s so memorable and fun to see couples of all ages on the Empire Room dance floor bouncing and swaying to the best Big Band music ever composed.
The new monthly series takes on the atmosphere of the Supper Clubs back in the days of the classic Big Bands. It features a lot of humor thanks to the fun-loving band leader Johnny Holiday and the Dean Mora Orchestra. He also has sensational singers, with Christine Nelson and Adam Tunney, and a chorus line of dancers, the sizzling Satin Dollz, who burn up the floor.
The event has star power too, with celebrities in the audience as well as music stars on stage. The first show had Toni Prima (singer-daughter of Louis Prima and Keely Smith), and the second had the wonderful Mills Brothers. Now Johnny Crawford is ready to wow the crowd as Johnny Holiday’s special guest star on Friday, April 12.
Johnny Crawford was in the audience to enjoy the show last month, and said he is looking forward to joining Johnny Holiday and sharing his love of vintage music. His career as a young actor started on The Mickey Mouse Club when he was nine, and then he was cast as Chuck Connors’ son on the classic TV Western The Rifleman. As a teenager, Crawford had five hit records, and his passion for music finally had him pick up the baton of his own Big Band orchestra. He specializes in songs from the 1930s, and performs at special events including the Playboy Jazz Festival.
Crawford told me, “There are a lot of fans who remember me from The Rifleman, but I’m proud that so many are aware of the great music I am presenting now. I’m looking forward to playing at the Sportsmen’s Lodge Events Center.”
Holiday said, “In many ways I grew up with Johnny Crawford. We have known each other for many years and our mutual love of the great songs, primarily those from the 1930s, is part of our connection. Johnny has always worked in the public eye starting when he was on The Mickey Mouse Club, and then on The Rifleman. But it’s the music that I admire so much about Johnny. I think I first caught him performing with his dance band on Sunset years ago. And to this day, his pipes still have that youthful sound that he is known for around the world. His authentic delivery of a lyric is so refreshing and the arrangements he uses are on par with his ability to sing a song and take you back in time.”
Holiday’s shows also take you back in time, to the era of his great uncle Bing Crosby’s vintage radio programs. A veteran performer who often tells tales about his “Uncle Bing,” Holiday has performed with legends such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Jerry Vale, Dick Haymes, Nancy Wilson, Eddie Fisher, Frankie Laine, Mel Torme, Tony Martin, and many more who helped create the Golden Age of singers and songs. That background helps make his marvelous shows an extravaganza of music filled with surprises.
So, if you can’t wait to put your ballroom dancing lessons to the test, come for the entertainment and dancing. But those who come early can also enjoy a gourmet three-course dinner starting at 7 p.m. The Sportsmen’s Lodge is offering a Dinner and Dancing package at $69; general admission (dancing only) is priced at only $20; and there is a no-host bar. Of course, for such an elegant evening cocktail dress/jacket is required, but many couples embrace the bygone era and come in vintage attire. It adds to the charm of the atmosphere called “old school cool with a new cool vibe” at the Sportsmen’s Lodge.
Next on the schedule after April 12 are the May 10th and June 21st presentations of The Johnny Holiday Program, featuring The Dean Mora Orchestra and special guest stars. Call (818) 432-7502 for information and tickets.