pat dinizio

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‘Pat DiNizio Way’

Published May 5, 2018 by Maryanne

Pat DiNizio Way

Pat DiNizio Way (photo by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta)

Scotch Plains Township Ceremoniously Unveils ‘Pat DiNizio Way’ in Honor of Late Smithereens Frontman

By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

(Artical originally appeared in Scotch Plains Monthly)

Smithereens fans, friends, family, and township officials gathered on April 17, 2018, at Montague Avenue, at the corner of Westfield Avenue, for the official Pat DiNizio Way street unveiling

Pat DiNizio, frontman for The Smithereens passed away December 12, 2017, at the age of 62. He was a proud resident of Scotch Plains.

“It’s a little bittersweet for us. Obviously, we’d rather have him than the sign,” said Paul “Paulie” J. Smith, who grew up in Scotch Plains with DiNizio. “It’s very heart warming for the town we grew up in to give him recognition. It’s emotional he’s not here anymore. Deep inside he’d feel touched and honored. He was humble, he’d be a little embarrassed about the recognition.”

Jim Babjak, Smithereens guitarist agreed. “He’d say, ‘Don’t make a big deal of it’ on one hand, but he’d be winking; Pat would be very honored.”

Babjak performed a Smithereens song, “Life is So Beautiful” prior to the street unveiling. He also gave a heartfelt speech, ending with, “He was a real trooper, he kept playing to the very end.”

Severo Jornacion, Smithereens bassist, who was able to fly in from L.A., said, “Of all places Pat lived in his life, Scotch Plains was his favorite.” He reminisced about the places in Scotch Plains that Pat took him to, like Alfonso’s Pizzeria, Stage House Tavern, and even the local Quick Check.

Band members Dennis Diken and Mike Mesaros weren’t there, but Babjak read emotional messages from them, as well as a heartrending letter from DiNizio’s daughter, Elisabeth.

Musician Rick Winowksi, who played in Pat’s other band, The Scotch Plainsmen, performed a poignant song he wrote in honor of DiNizio.

Mayor Al Smith said the he “got emails from all over the country. Best thing we could do is have a street named after him.”

Township Manager Al Mirabella said, “I wish we weren’t here. I wish Pat was here. I’m glad you are here to honor Pat. Pat was a real fan of Scotch Plains and we’re a real fan of his.”

Bill King, fan and friend, said “We’re still mourning. His voice is so full of emotion reflected in his songs. One thing was evident; how much he loved his mom.”

After each speaker at the podium shared their memories of Pat, there were cheers and tears from the audience. It was truly a moving event. After the unveiling Antoinette DiNizio, Pat’s mom, made an appearance. She proudly spoke about her beloved son to the many who approached her.

Fan Frank Lima, who spearheaded the event, said, “Pat’s one of the greatest songwriters. I’m sad the whole thing had to happen. I’m glad to get the whole ball rolling. [Regarding the street naming].”

The Smithereens sold millions of records/CDs of melodic pop alternative hits like “A Girl Like You,” “Only a Memory,” “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” and “Blood and Roses.”

For more information on The Smithereens, visit the official website at: officialsmithereens.com.

To see original article, including more photos by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta, visit: https://rennamedia.com/scotch-plains-township-ceremoniously-unveils-pat-dinizio-way-in-honor-of-late-smithereens-frontman/

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the author of “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” available on Rebel Press: https://www.rebelpress.com/product/on-the-guest-list/

 

 

Pat DiNizio at Crossroads, Garwood New Jersey

Published July 2, 2015 by Maryanne

SAM_7922A Monkees Evening with Pat DiNizio

It was a real treat seeing Smithereens legend, Pat DiNizio perform in an intimate setting at the Crossroads in Garwood. This was the third time I saw him perform and every time in addition to Smithereens songs he honors other bands like The Beatles and The Who. This time we got to hear The Monkees. My husband is the true Monkees fan of the family. Shame on me, I only knew the hits, including “Stepping Stone” (which I first knew as a Sex Pistols song). But I’ve come a long way, as over the years with my husband I got to see Mike Nesmith and the Monkees Reunion Tour. Now I’m a Monkees fan too, favoring the work of Nesmith.

DiNizio was accompanied by three guitarists and it was like getting a private basement rehearsal show. One of the guitarists was WNEW DJ Jim Monaghan.

Some of the songs included:

Monkees: “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Daydream Believer,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “Hey, Hey We’re the Monkees” (twice); “Behind Blue Eyes” (The Who); and “Norwegian Wood” (Beatles); “Barbara Ann” (Beach Boys) and Smithereens hits, “Only a Memory” and “Blood and Roses.”

Like many other great artists, what I love about DiNizio’s performances is that he’s a great story teller in between songs. One of New Jersey’s finest!

SAM_7915Before the show with my husband!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the author of “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” — available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/162903908X

When Stars Were In Reach: The Who at Union Catholic High School – Nov. 29, 1967

Published October 22, 2014 by Maryanne

SAM_6248Author Michael Rosenbloom, it was an honor to meet him!

New Jersey has the coolest surprises!

Michael Rosenbloom, author of “When the Stars Were in Reach: The Who at Union Catholic High School – November 29, 1967”  gave an amazing presentation at the Fanwood Library last night.

The short of the tale is that The Who performed at this NJ High School while they were big in England but not yet in the U.S. Union Catholic had them as a fundraiser. The warm-up act was a band called The Decoys. Donation: $2.50.

Can you imagine?!

Some people who attended the library event were actually at the show and shared their stories.

“When Stars Were in Reach” is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/When-Stars-Were-In-Reach/dp/1482052636 and it has great reviews! I look forward to reading my copy!

I attended the book signing with my husband Dennis and our friends Paul and Mair met us there. And Pat DiNizio,  of The Smithereens was in the audience! I introduced myself and got a photo.  Then I met Michael Rosenbloom and his wife and got our book autographed.

I wish Michael all the best. If you have a chance to see this presentation — don’t pass it up!

After the presentation, my husband drove by the legendary Union Catholic High School. Ah, driving along the same road as The Who … long live rock!

SAM_6257With Pat DiNizio

 SAM_6250Mair and Paul with Michael Rosenbloom

SAM_6255Being silly after the event

The Smithereens at Duke Island Park, Bridgewater, New Jersey

Published August 25, 2013 by Maryanne

SAM_2237New Jersey’s legendary Smithereens

Had a wonderful time with my husband at the Smithereens show at Duke Island Park.

A classic 1980s band from Scotch Plains, New Jersey, did many of their songs plus some Beatles songs, a Who song and the Youngbloods.

True musicians, such great talents and Pat DiNizio has such a gorgeous voice.

Current line-up: Pat DiNizio on vocals, rhythm guitar; Jim Babjak, lead guitar and vocals; Severo “The Thrilla” (from Manila) Jornacion on bass (awesome bassist!) and vocals; and Dennis Diken on drums and percussion.

My favorite songs included: “Only a Memory” “Behind the Wall of Sleep” and “Blood and Roses.”

The entire show was phenomenal! They were fun, making the audience feel as if you knew them personally, shared great stories on stage. Very cool.

I only have one CD, now we’ll get more, definitely.

Thank you to The Smithereens for performing tonite! Much appreciated — a million times!!

SAM_2238Pat DiNizio

SAM_2239Pat DiNizio and Jim Babjak

So cool, looks like Jim is posing for me!