The Chicago Syndicate: Drummer for the Mob

Friday, June 30, 2017

Drummer for the Mob

Drummer for the Mob, a novel by by Frank Catanzano (AuthorHouse), is an irreverent and often funny look at life working with members of organized crime who ran many of the clubs in Pittsburgh. Based on true events, Frank has taken great pains to disguise the people, places and things in this tell-all story of how the wise guys ruled through intimidation and threats.

"Frankie, give this envelope to Mr. Passano when you see him tomorrow," club manager and ever-vigilant doorman Jerry D'iorfio said. The envelope was sealed but I could tell there was a great deal of cash in it. I'm just the drummer with the band, and now suddenly I am making some sort of delivery to the syndicate. My mother would have been proud.

"Don't worry," Jerry laughed. "We trust you. After all, you're a paesano, am I right?" He suddenly grew serious. "Plus, you pull any fast one and, bing bada bing, you're history." Then Jerry laughed again. Frankie Severino wasn't laughing. When the FBI and IRS investigated him four years later, they weren't laughing either.

In Frank Catanzano's novel, Drummer for the Mob, main character Frankie Severino launched his musical career at the tender age of 14 in bars and clubs in the city, where men pushed their inebriated wives on him and girls would make offers he couldn't refuse. He quickly learned the charisma and power a musician held for some, and grew into a young man who would crack wise to anyone, from the wise guys themselves to the FBI and IRS, which tried to coerce him into identifying the men he worked for. In his own inimitable fashion Frankie said, "I had the FBI so far up my ass I could taste Brylcream…but I gave them bupkus." This investigation ultimately cost him his day job at an advertising agency. It wasn't until he met the 17-year-old Toni that his life began to change and with her support, would break the hold the syndicate had on him.

Frankie's narrative is a personal account of the sometimes hilarious and often dangerous years he and his fellow musicians in The Nite Lites toiled in these clubs. Drummer for the Mob is a no holds barred, behind the scenes look at the sex, drugs and rock and roll during these pre-AIDS years, told through the lens of social values and the music genres of the period. Drummer, a work of fiction, is based on actual events. The names of the crime families, bosses, clubs and band members have been changed to protect Frankie "because he can't swim."

The reader can almost smell the beer and cigarette smoke settling like a shroud over the infamous after hours club, the Horizon Club, as Frankie Severino has to deal with owner Big Julie Passano, who intimidates with a heavy hand and a deadly stare. When Frankie and his band tried to leave the Horizon, Big Julie called him:

"You ain't going nowhere. My customers like you guys. I like you guys." I could feel his love through the phone."

"Mr. Passano, we've played at the Horizon for a little over three years, and we're tired. I believe it's a good time to bring in new blood, and another band that will re-energize the club." There was a deafening silence on the other line. Then Julie Passano calmly said in a frosty voice, "Frankie, can you swim?"

Drummer for the Mob will appeal to a wide range of readers, including those fascinated with the Mafia and organized crime, the millions of musicians who ply their trade in cover bands around the country and the Baby Boomers who boogied their way through the 70s in the clubs, while dancing to live music. They will find Drummer to be a compelling look at the way the wise guys ran their operations and controlled their customers. The millions who watched The Sopranos and The Godfather will love the way this book uniquely combines the color and sounds of Saturday Night Fever with the violence and dark humor of Good Fellas.

Frank Catanzano is a respected journalist and public relations consultant who has worked for corporations and organizations around the world. He has written speeches for top executives and hundreds of articles on subjects ranging from stainless alloys for aerospace to life aboard an oil super tanker. Frank has won more than 16 national and local writing and publicity awards and today owns Emerald City Communications, one of Pittsburgh's leading marketing firms. An accomplished musician, he also plays drums with local bands, primarily for fund-raising events.

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