I recently returned from France, which included a two-day stop in Normandy. I was pursuing the story of a Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City born soldier, John R. Simonetti, the son of Italian immigrants, who was killed during the Battle of the Hedgerows, on June 16, 1944, in the fields of St. Germain d’Elle, France. (Photo attached.)  

John’s name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France since his body was not recovered from the battlefield where he died. It was a tragedy that the family lived with for generations. In the years that followed his death, the family was in contact with the Army and pursued various paths to determine what had happened to their son and uncle on that fateful day. Finally, in May 2009, while doing some minor excavation work, the skeletal remains of an American soldier, with his dog tags still around his neck, was unearthed in the center of the town. It was John Simonetti.

It’s stories like these that will be included in my show, “New York City and WWII: Connecting Time and Place,” on October 26, 27 and 28, 2020 at The Cell Theatre, which is part of the series, “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads.”

For more information on the series and to purchase a subscription for all eight events at 25% discount CLICK HERE.


I saw WWII through the eyes and ears of my mother and father’s generation. The images…the flag raising at Iwo Jima, the soldier and nurse in Times Square…and my parents’ stories and music—In the Mood and Moonlight Serenade on the jukebox of Popp’s Ice Cream Parlor in Woodhaven Queens. The music, images and stories painted a vivid picture of their experiences.

That was very different from the way I viewed my generation’s war. The images were far from uplifting–the young girl running and covered with napalm, the police captain putting a bullet in a young man’s head and body bags arriving at airports are the symbols I remember. And the songs that Americans connected to the images were decidedly “anti-war.” Pete Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” The Doors, “Unknown Soldier,” Edwin Starr’s “War,” and many others filled the airwaves. And there were no heroic welcomings– fifteen of my local high school friends died in Vietnam.

The soldiers had their favorite songs too: Aretha Franklin’s, “Chain of Fools” and Marvin Gaye’s, “What’s Goin On?” but I believe the most popular song among the fighting forces was a song that tells of the misery of living and working in an urban environment. But within the context of serving in a foreign country, thousands of miles from home, knowing that any moment might be your last, the words, “We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do,” took on an entirely different meaning: CLICK HERE FOR SONG

You can follow my “Musical History of New York City” HERE



So many great New York City musical moments: Sinatra, the Beatles, Marian Anderson, the Ronettes and the Ramones, Billy Joel, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington…and that’s just scratching the surface.

From the time I was three or four years old, thanks to my mother, I was listening to the radio. First it was what we now call the American Songbook, then it was Doo Wop, the Girl Groups, Rock, Jazz, and Classical. And then there were/are the venues….the Village Vanguard, Carnegie Hall, the Apollo, Central Park, 55 Bar and on and on.

I, like so many of us, live for good music…and I’m also very interested in the history of music, particularly in New York City.

So join me at Facebook by CLICKING HERE: Share your favorite New York music stories with a photo. (No YouTube videos, please, I’d like this to be a story and photos page.) If you want to personalize a story, go ahead. Everyone loves a universal story…it may be your story, your parents, your grandparents, a friend or an old family acquaintance.

A few rules…please don’t use this sight to promote a product or your career…no politics….no musical downloads such as YouTube videos…no more than two posts a day…please do not repeat what someone else has already posted…and remember…this should be specific to New York City.


I love this poster created by Professor Joseph McElligott. It’s being used to promote my short films, discussion of family and ancestral history, and the impact that New York City had on my family and me. The event is at Lehman College this Thursday, Feb 14, 12:30pm. 

The afternoon is sponsored by the City and Humanities Program, which is chaired by Professor McElligott. It will take place in the Studio Theatre, which is located in the Speech and Hearing building.

This is a free event. For directions to Lehman click here


Over the past thirty months, the David Raleigh Quartet, including Tony Carfora/sax, Daniel Glass/drums and Danny Weller/bass or Evan Gregor/bass and I have taken our audience on a journey…a musical journey, incorporating story and song.  The show features the stories and songs of the artists and composers who for the past one-hundred years have paid homage to city they call home. Many of their songs were popularized in New York’s venues like the Village Vanguard where Miles, Mingus and Monk performed and venues that are long gone, such as Cafe Society where Billy Holiday debuted “Strange Fruit.” And then there are the stories and songs that I associate with New York through ancestral, familial and personal recollections.

We are now working on an all new Jazz in the City, which will feature great jazz standards, some well-known, others equally great but not as popular. Once again, we’ll be blending the music with New York themed stories.

Certain songs jump out at me for personal reasons and are contenders for inclusion in the new show. One of them is “You’ve Changed” a 1941 tune written by Bill Carey and Carl Fischer. Click here to hear what I consider the quintessential recording of this tune:  Eva Cassidy  “You’ve Changed”

More details to come in the following weeks. 



From top left: Miho Hazama, Nicole Zuraitis, Sunny Lee, Charles R. Hale. From bottom left: David S. Goldman and Yuri Juarez

Charles R. Hale Productions’ series “New Yorkers: Together in Story and Song.” was both an exciting and succesful experience. Each of the seven shows filled The Cell theatre and consistently offered superior performances to appreciative audiences.

This year’s series, “Thoroughly New York” is set and our performers and I are looking forward to rewarding our audience with another great season of top-notch entertainment, in a great setting–The Cell–at a very reasonable price. The “New York” performers are Seunghee Lee, Yuri Juarez and the Afroperuano Group, Miho Hazama and m_unit, the Nicole Zuraitis Quartet and David S. Goldman and Charles R. Hale.

Clarinetist Seunghee Lee/”Sunny” is a multi-faceted musician, international recording artist, and musical entrepreneur, Seunghee brings a vivacious energy, an exquisite elegance and extraordinary precision to all her endeavors.  Of Sunny, Allmusic.com said, “Now here is a talent… who has as warm, silvery, and woody a tone as anyone could imagine with fast and keen finger work to match… amazing expressive capabilities… positively lovely” May 16, 7:30pm. Tickets are on sale now at $25 if purchased in advance– click here.  Tickets are $30 at the door. 

Yuri Juarez has performed in a number of shows written by Charles R. Hale, including, “The Musical History of the Lower East,”” New York: A Shining Mosaic” and Yuri appeared with his Afroperuano band in last year’s series “New Yorkers: Together in Story and Song.” Yuri and his band are proof that the music of Peru is fast occupying a prominent part of the world stage. If you haven’t heard these musicians perform you are in for a great treat. Yuri and the members of his band are internationally acclaimed and their shows are nothing short of fabulous. June 13, 7:30pm

Tokyo born composer Miho Hazama, one of New York’s most astounding young talents, will be performing with her signature ensemble “m_unit.” Lauded in Downbeat as one of “25 for the Future,” Miho is quickly establishing herself as a force of nature on the world’s stage. Her masterful understanding of harmony and orchestration combined with a who’s who of musicians results in riveting performances to packed adoring audiences at venues such as the Jazz Standard, Blue Note NYC and Tokyo, Dizzy’s Club Coca-cola, the Jazz Gallery and wowed the crowd at The Cell last year, as part of CRH Pro’s series “New Yorkers: Together in Story and Song.” July 12, 8:00pm

Audiences worldwide have been enchanted by the seismic talent of inspired jazz vocalist, keyboard player and songwriter Nicole Zuraitis who blends bountiful songwriting skills, an effervescent presence and dazzling vocals in a consummate package that has thrilled audiences. Nicole is the 2016 New York City Songwriting Competition Coffee Music Project Winner, 2015 second runner-up in the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition and the 2014 Herb Albert ASCAP Young Composer Awards Winner. Nicole has headlined the Blue Note (NYC) and maintains residencies at the 55 Bar (every second Thursday of the month), Rockwood Music Hall (with the Dan Pugach Nonet), and Redeye Grill. August 14, 7:30pm

David S. Goldman is a world-traveled singer-songwriter who performs in many genres, including blues, folk, pop-jazz, and the romance and other foreign languages. He has appeared at Tarrytown Music Hall, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Irvington Town Hall Theatre, etc. and recently did a reading of his original work at Deepak Chopra’s CD and book release.  Charles R. Hale has written a number of  “New York” centric shows that blend imagery and performance art to create uniquely New York experiences. His historically-themed shows, including “Crossing Boroughs” which was recently performed at the Museum of the City of New York, incorporate story, music, imagery and dance.  David and Charles share a great love for the family “characters” who came before them and the New York neighborhoods they inhabited. Using music and story, a central part of each of their lives, Charles and David re-create the stories of their family’s lives, some sad, some uproarious. November 19, 7:30

A very big thank you to our Executive Producers, Chris Grygon and Michael Fletcher, Gail and Joe McElligott, John Moran, Tom Myles and Lisa Sullivan for once again making another great series possible.

Tickets in advance of each show are $25. CLICK HERE for Seunghee Lee’s show. Ticket links for the remainders of the shows will be added shortly. A subscription to all five performances is $90, which is a 28% discount CLICK HERE