“Ol’ blue eyes,” “Chairman of the Board,” “the voice” — classic crooner Frank Sinatra had many nicknames in his time, and Marty Beech is doing justice to them all.
Known as Marty Beechler in his alter ego as a broker for Islandia Real Estate, when the Ohio-native takes the stage, he becomes Beech and channels Sinatra.
Beech, who moved to the Virgin Islands in 1998 with his wife and two children, just released his first CD, “Summer Wind, A Tribute to Frank Sinatra.” While this is his first professional release, Beech has been flexing his vocal chords since high school.
Inspired by The Fab Four
“I started singing and playing music when I heard “Love Me Do” on the radio and saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show,” said Beech. “I bought an electric organ and started playing bar mitzvas and school dances as a kid.”
Beech has come a long way since pounding the electric organ at bar mitzvah, as evidenced on “Summer Wind,” filled with songs Sinatra made classics, like “Just One Of Those Things,” “Love Is Here To Stay,” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”
Before “Summer Wind,” was even a thought, there were the Nashville Hoo-Haas, who rocked honkey tonk bars from Florida to Ohio, Beech explain-ed.
Honkey Tonk Rocker
“In the 1970s, after a couple of years of college, a bunch of us from Cleveland moved to Nashville and we formed the Nashville Hoo-Haas,” Beech remembered. “We were a travelling band and it lasted a few years. We didn’t make much money, but we had a hell of a good time.”
After the Nashville Hoo-Haas went their separate ways, Beech eventually found his way back to Cleveland, settled down and worked in the family business. Music was on the back burner, but only for the time being.
“After the band broke up, one of the members, Bert Elliott, moved to Atlanta and started a recording studio and I eventually went back to Ohio,” said Beech. “Music was on the back burner for a long time, but then in 1998, my family and I moved to St. Thomas and lived on our 40-foot sailboat in Red Hook.”
Before his first month of residency was over, Beech found himself on stage, and music was no longer on the back burner.
Looking for Crooners
“When we first got here, my wife brought an ad that was in a local paper to my attention,” said Beech. “It said there was a benefit for a non-profit group at Magen’s Point Resort. The theme was a tribute to Frank Sinatra and they were looking for a singer.”
“I called and talked to a gentleman named Jerry Harris — a very accomplished singer and entertainer who still performs regularly on St. Thomas,” Beech continued. “Singing like Frank Sinatra was becoming my thing. I had been doing it for friends and family, but I hadn’t really done it professionally yet.”
Harris didn’t need to hear much. After chatting during a break at the gig, Beech was signed on and told to show up for practice a few days later, he explained.
Friends from Marina
“The rehersal was at the Old Stone Farmhouse on St. Thomas,” said Beech. “I got there early and then Jerry (Harris) showed up in a car with a bunch of people and one of the them was Sally Smith. I said ‘what are you doing here,’ and she said, ‘I’m the piano player.’”
“She asked me ‘what are you doing here,’” Beech continued. “And I said, ‘I’m the singer.’ We both just started laughing because she worked at American Yacht Harbor during the day and my family and I were always in and out of there because we were moored out in the harbor.”
By introducing Beech to a number of local musicians, Smith proved to be an invaluable asset to jump-starting the singer’s musical career. Since the first benefit at Magen’s Bay, Beech has been a regular fixture on the local music scene, and even appears on Steve Simon’s “The Best Of Jazz In the Moonlight; Volume One” CD.
“I’ve played regularly at Chloe and Bernard’s and Robert’s American Grill at the Elysian Beach Resort,” Beech said. “I’ve been playing at least once a week for the last five or six years. I’m now playing at Infusions Lounge the first Friday of every month.”
“I just love to play — every time someone hands me a microphone, I am more than happy to comply,” Beech added.
In the meantime, Beech’s old friend Elliott had released a CD and sent it to down to the Virgin Islands.
“Bert (Elliott) is an accomplished guitar player, sax player, flute player, composer and signer,” said Beech. “He made a CD and sent me a copy of it. He mentioned me in the liner notes along with the other members of the Nashville Hoo-Haas.”
A Week Is All It Takes
“I told him how much I loved his CD and thanked him for mentioning my name,” Beech continued. “I said I wanted to make a CD and have his name on it.”
Beech went up to Atlanta in June, collaborated with a number of accomplished studio musicians and recorded “Summer Wind” in a week. Now Elliott’s name does appear on Beech’s CD — as recorder, engineer, producer and mixer.
“The recording exceeded my expectations,” said Beech. “The musicians were excellent and I’m very proud of the CD.”
Covering a variety of composers, from Cole Porter to Bart Howard, Beech sings both ballads and up-tempo selections on the release. While a number of the songs date back at least 50 years, they are still relevent today, explained Beech.
“I find that people of all ages love these songs,” said the singer. “I’ve done wedding receptions where the bride and groom are in their 20s and have “The Way You Look Tonight” as their wedding song. From people in their 20s to people in their 60s, a lot of people love thyis music and know these songs.”
“Summer Wind” may be a tribute to Ol’ Blue Eyes, but it’s dedicated to Beech’s mother, who passed away about a year ago.
“I dedicated the CD to my mother because she is really the one who turned me on to Frank Sinatra,” said Beech. “She loved him, had all his albums and played him all the time. My mother passed away about a year ago, but my last performance in her presence was at her nursing home in Arizona.”
Singing for Mom
“She was in the nursing home and I started playing the piano and singing for her,” Beech continued. “The next thing I knew, all the residents were in the room with their walkers and wheelchairs and making requests. My mother was just beaming — I wish she could’ve heard this CD.”
Beech, who has lived in his Coral Bay home since 2000, also writes his own music and plans to release another CD with original scores.
“There will be a next CD — watch out for it,” he said.
Beech will be performing at Chloe and Bernard’s on Decem-ber 13, 20 and 27 from 7 to 10 p.m. and the first Friday of every month at Infusions Lounge from 8 to 11 p.m.
Great Holiday Presents
Pick up a copy of “Summer Wind,” which make great holiday gifts, at Freebird, Everyting, St. John Spice, Sun Dog Cafe, Infusions Lounge and Home Accents. The CD is also for sale whenever Beech is performing and on his Web site at www.martybeech.com.
Beech is available for private functions. Contact the singer at [email protected] for bookings.