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Ron Ernst - Biography

Ron Ernst Started studing accordion in 1948 at the Ionic Ave Boys Club in Worcester. After awhile the teacher told my parents that he taught me all he could and suggested they get me a private teacher. I started studying with Doris Forccelli On Front Street. Was with her for 9 years total. In the meantime I was playing with my Dad at various sportsmens' clubs. My Dad played Piano and my mother sang. When my brother Bob got out of the Air Force in 1955 he got me interested in jazz. Bob was a fine guitar player and had been working with a Shearing type group in Minnisota. We formed a trio with accordion guitar and bass. Played various gigs around Worcester. In 1956 we we in Walbergs music and saw a set of vibes for rent for 5 dollars a month. This was the start of my vibe playing as the next day I played them at a dixieland session in Hopkington at the Peasant Club. I picked up bass at this time also. The first gig I had on upright bass was at the Driftwood Lounge with Bill Clemmer. Pat Goodwin, and Gary Maynard. Around this time my brother and a were rehearsing with Fred Holovnia's big band and octet also. In 1958 I studied sax with Boots for about a year before deciding that this was not my ax. My brother had been taking me to the 371 Club to hear Emil Haddad and the Notables. We use to sit in with them often and I got to know their whole book including vocal parts just be doing it. So when John Mason left the group they hired me on vibes because I knew the book. I was with them until 1961 when I had to go in the service. We were playing at that time at the Red Barn in Chicopee right off of Westover Air Force Base. The great Worcester pianist Bobby Holt was a master sgt. with the 590th A F Band. He came to see the group as he knew all the guys. I told him I was hot for the draft and he said I'll get you in the Westover Band. I did just that. They took me in as a french horn player, it was the only opening they had. Bob wanted me for my combo ability anyway. I was at Westover for two years and played all the time with Bobs group. 1963 got shipped to Guam and who was there but Bob Holt. Worked with his group for another year and a half until my discharge in 1965. After coming home from Guam I started working with a great pianist from Springfield by the name of Ed Cerveny. We had a trio and worked various venues around the Springfield area. 1976 Ed and I went to Martha's Vineyard for the summer and did a duo gig at the Boston House in Oaks Bluff. After the summer we started rehersing a nine piece show group consisting of a trio, 5 singers up front, and our own lighting and sound guy.The summer of 1977 we opened the Camelot Room in south Yarmouth Ma for the whole summer doing three showes a night, all different. We we asked by a Lady that summer who was on the board for Fight For Sight if we would like to play Carnigie Hall in New York in the spring of 1978. We went to New York in May of 1978 to play the benefit for Fight For Sight. The band had 3 different shows. One was from the swing era, another more cotemperary. and another show of all Beelles music. We chose excerpts of the swing show. We had 3 girgs and 2 guys upfront, close 4 and 5 part harmony. We were the opening act on this show whice featured, Lisa Minelli, Bob Hope, Yul Brenner, Ertha Kitt, Robert Merrill, Thelma Carpinter, Hank jones and various other stars.It was an eerie feeling being on the stage at Carnigie Hall where everywhere you looked it was packed and you could hear a pin drop. We left there and drove to Nothhfield Ohio for a monday night opening. That summer we worked the whole summer at the Provincetown Inn. I left the show group in the latter part of 1978 and joined Emils band again with Emil, Bill Clemmer, Bobby Wright, and myself. Left this group after a couple of years and that is when Emil started the duo with Dick Odgrin. Played various jazz clubs in the Springfiele area until I went to Florida in 1988. Did jazz clubs in the Fort Lauderdale area and did three Florida tours with big band singer Don Cornell. After that I played in Boca Raton at the Musicana Dinner Theatre doing excerpts of Broadway shows with five singers up front. I did this for 6 years playing electric bass and synth with a trio. Moved back from Florida in 1998 and since then have been working off and on with a guartet featuring Tom Tisdell sax, Ralph Whittle piano, Chet Pasek drums, And myself , bass and vibes.