Frankie Scinta offers this invitation to all fans of his family’s Las Vegas act:
“Come celebrate the life of Joey Scinta at Statler City this Friday.”
Frankie Scinta has assembled some of Buffalo’s best restaurateurs and corralled top musicians for an evening of complimentary food and music at the downtown landmark from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday to celebrate the life of his brother, Joey.
Joey Scinta, a member of the West Side family that regaled local audiences during the 1970s and 1980s before taking their act to Las Vegas, died Nov. 17 in his adopted hometown. He was 69.
Now Frankie Scinta, who remains part of the show, has invited all its fans to the Statler City’s Golden Ballroom for a free admission with a cash bar on their night before a Saturday Christmas performance at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda.
“We look forward to gathering friends and family to celebrate the life of one of Buffalo’s own,” he said in a phone call to The Buffalo News.
Statler City owner Mark Croce said he is donating its Golden Ballroom to accommodate the show’s old and new fans.
“We wanted to celebrate Joey’s life too, and they have a lot of deep roots and a lot of friends in Buffalo,” he said.
Though the “Scintas” show has grown into a major casino attraction over more than 30 years, the family act launched in Buffalo. Tony Scinta, a retired Buffalo Police Department detective and another brother, recalled that back then, former Buffalo Bills punter Paul Maguire was running a bar on Elmwood Avenue in Kenmore called Maguire’s Arches, just as his brother was ready to quit the music business and join a friend in Florida installing burglar alarms.
“He contacted my brother and said he was looking for somebody for his piano bar,” Tony Scinta said, adding his two brothers began “filling the place.”
“They played music, ad libbed, talked with the people,” he said. “From then on, they got to more and more clubs. And finally Chrissie was old enough to join them. They went around the Midwest – to Detroit, to Cleveland – and finally to Vegas. They’ve been playing out here ever since.”
Chrissie Scinta sang with the group for many years until vocal chord problems led her to retire about five years ago. Saturday’s Riviera show features “adopted Scinta” Peter O’Donnell and vocalist Janien Valentine.
Playing with a rock band called Parkside Revival, Top Banana and other local bands, the Scintas opened for Yes, J.Geils, Procol Harum, Sly and the Family Stone, and other internationally known bands.
Joey Scinta played bass and guitar with the group, and also sang. He was best known for his imitations of comedian Jerry Lewis and rock singers Joe Cocker and Neil Diamond.