So we go to lunch today at the venerable Cosmic Café, craving hummus and nan and other noshables, but we got a bonus we never expected. Seated at the front of the restaurant, near the water and tea pitchers, was accordion player Matt Tolentino. The baby-faced and witty guy serenaded the sparse dining room with Lionel Belasco tunes, songs from the teens (as in 1911-1919) and that ditty everyone knows to be from Amelie. During one of his breaks, I approached him because well, the dude looked really familiar. Turns out, he’s played out and around with Austin’s White Ghost Shivers (including the Granada show a while back) …but that’s not the extent of his band plans. Tolentino is in the process of forming a 13-piece ’20s- and ’30s-style dance orchestra by the name of The Singapore Slingers—“named after the gin cocktail popularized in the teens and 1920s, of course,” he added.
As we demolished our veggies and starches, Tolentino regaled us with Ed Morton’s 1907 “hit” “Mariuch-Mak-a-the Hootch-a-ma Kootch Down at Coney Isle” after explaining the story of a man who thought his love had left him, but it turned out she had just become a dancer (wink, wink) on Coney Island. “Hey, before 'Jerry Springer' there was Coney Island,” he offered. A couple of foxtrots later and we were truly sad to pay our check and head back to the office (and, no, not just cause we were headed back to the office). Tolentino is an true-blue, old-soul musician and as his MySpace profile states, he’s “playing what everyone else forgot!”
But all hope is not lost. The squeezeboxer/singer has a weekly schedule at Cosmic (7:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays and 12:30 p.m. Fridays) and is oompa-ing it up this evening at the Bavarian Grill in Plano. Forego some football shenanigans and check him out. -- Merritt Martin
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