Skip to content

Hall together now Updated

Carmel Lucenti didn’t particularly understand or like rock music, his son Terry says, but he knew the best way to play it.

Carmel Lucenti didn’t particularly understand or like rock music, his son Terry says, but he knew the best way to play it.

Lucenti, who died in 2000, was one of 10 inductees Saturday night into the North Bay Musicians and Entertainers Hall of Recognition, which is located in the foyer of the Capitol Centre.

Inducted with Lucenti were the late bandmaster and musician Egidio Virgili, the late country and western singer Irwin Prescott, the late musician and radio show host Bernie Meehan, The McFarlane’s Country Band, magician Ray Bedard, musician Eddie Sarlo, dancer Barbara Treleaven, actor Bob Clout and pianist Ann Dicker.

Plaque in their honour
“This has been two years in the making,” said hall president Don Brose, “and this is being done because nobody before has recognized the work, the time and the effort that goes into making music, acting or being in the entertainment field, and we thought it was time the city did something about it.”

All inductees will have a plaque with their story and picture on it hung in the Capitol Centre foyer.

They, or their representatives, received glass mementoes at the ceremony.

The ceremony was held at the Voyageur Inn and attended by 250 people.

The meat's down there
Born in 1911, Lucenti became a well-known singer and trumpet player whose performance was once broadcast across Canada by the Canadian Radio Commission Network, precursor to the CBC.

After representing his father at the induction ceremony, Terry Lucenti relayed an anecdote which underscored the old man’s across-the-board musical knowledge.

“At the time my heroes were rock guitarists like Eric Clapton and George Harrison, and one night I was playing the high notes just like them,” Lucenti said.

“My father heard me, came downstairs right away and asked me what the heck I was doing. ‘The guitar’s not a violin,’ he said, ‘the meat’s down there.’ And he was right because that’s where the guitar sounds best, not at the high frets but the lower ones, because that’s where the wood is.”

Lucenti’ s sister Linda Allen, said Carmel was the type of father “everyone wanted.”

“I mean he was always there, always happy, he was just amazing and we idolized him, he was bigger than life for us,” Allen said.

Lucenti's son Tony called the evening "a fitting tribute to a man who loved music.

Wonderful tribute
Family members, for the most part, represented those who were inducted posthumously.

Laverne Hummel represented Prescott, though, who died at 45 in 1977, and accepted the memento on his behalf.

“Irwin was so good he could have made it in Nashville but he chose to stay in Ontario, and we’re all the better for it,” said Hummel, who had played fiddle in Prescott's band.

Virgili, who died in 1965, was represented by his daughter Rita McDonnell, who said she was “thrilled.”

“This was a wonderful tribute to him. He was very musical, had a lot of bands, had the choir at the cathedral, where he was choir master for 40 years, and I guess he must have taught music to just about everyone here in North Bay,” McDonnell said.

Meehan was represented by his son Garry, who relived Bernie broadcasting an episode of his radio program.

“It’s your old buddy Bernie Meehan giving you the first part of Western Caravan. We’ve got Wilma Lee, Stony Cooper and the Clinch Mountain Clan, got Doc Williams and the Border Riders, and Chickadee, the girl with the lullaby voice, and her three daughters Peeper and Pooch and Pumpkin, and right now I’ve got my son Garry who’s going to sing Roses are Blooming. Take it away Garry,” Meehan said.

“And dad, I’m taking this away for you.”

Wasn't cool then
June McFarlane recalled singing in the ‘30s with her brothers Curly, Don and Stan.

“Country wasn’t cool then, but it is now,” she said to thunderous applause.

Clout, who moved to North Bay in 1969, said he first came to the city in the early ‘60s on an ice-fishing trip and met Don Brose at the old Commodore Hotel afterwards.

“I thought if the fishing is this good and the people this friendly than this is the place to be,” Clout said.

He was accepting the award, he added, on behalf of the acting fraternity in North Bay, “and I’m a representative.”

“It’s for all of us,” Clout said.

Pick a card
Bedard displayed some pyrotechnical flare, setting his acceptance speech on fire in true magician style.

He was particularly grateful to his wife of 54 years, “for putting up with ‘pick a card’ for about 8,000 times.”

The evening featured entertainment, appropriately enough, including a performance by the Barbara Treleaven School of Dancing trouple.

And the night ended with Eddie Sarlo picking up the licorice stick, as the bands swung into high gear and couples hit the dance floor until the place closed down.