August 3, 2008

Third Time’s a Charm

August 3rd, 2008

Bobby Massi
Nick Massi’s oldest son, Bobby, holding his father’s artwork.

By Audrey Rockman, Jersey Boys Blog Special Correspondent

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, A tale without much fuss.
That started in the town of Union aboard a mini- bus
The mate was a man named Gollender, The skipper quite excited, for sure.
Ten passengers signed up that day; for a four hour tour, a four hour tour.
The weather started out quite nice, the bus was the only cost,
If not for the homework of the fearless crew,
The history would be lost, the history would be lost…

The third Old Neighborhood Tour, taking in the homes and haunts of the Four Seasons on July 27, is now a part of history. Once again, new points of interest were added. The morning started at Yesterday’s Treasures in Union, where we had a chance to visit with Nick Massi’s oldest son. Jim Petrecca invited Bobby Massi to come and bring one of Nick’s beautiful paintings.

After snapping some photos, we headed off to our first stop at Charlie Calello’s home in the early 1960’s. The gracious homeowner invited us in and showed the sound-resistant room which Charlie added on…where the band would rehearse before going to the studio to record; songs like “Dawn”, “Let’s Hang On” and “Working My Way Back to You.” From there, we went to the site of the Four Seasons Play and Recreation Center and saw several ‘Four Seasons Lane’ road signs that line West Chestnut Street- ever since the street dedication held last month.

Another new tour spot was the site of the former Silhouette Club in Newark- a location referenced by both Frankie and Bob in the Jersey Boys book (pg 16, 33). This address and the former address of Muscara’s Music in Belleville (JB book, pg 55), as well as so much more, was provided and verified- with ads from the 60’s- by the always entertaining and incomparable archivist and historian, Walt Gollender (

Many of the sights of the bus tour have been covered in earlier JB Blog articles, and I hope that you’ll read those- if you haven’t already. However, I’d like to particularly highlight the Belmont Tavern, which has been a staple on each of the three tours. It is, without question, one of our most popular stops! I encourage fans of Jersey Boys to visit this place- so rich in neighborhood history and ambiance. I know that several JB cast members have made the trip to the Belmont.

Here is what you’ll need to plan your visit: The Belmont Tavern and Restaurant (tel: 973-759-9609) is located at 12 Bloomfield Avenue in Belleville. The tavern opens daily (closed Tuesdays) at noon; the restaurant opens at 5:00. Closing time ranges between 9 pm and 1 am, so it’s a good idea to call first. If traveling from NYC, check the NJ Transit light rail train schedule from Newark to the Silver Lake section. From that train stop, it is about a ten minute walk straight down Heckel Street to the Belmont.

It gets better though… you’ll be within walking distance of the first place Tommy brought Frankie up on stage, a former home of Nick Massi’s, two former homes of Tommy’s and the favorite local hangout- with ample wall photos and articles of interest- Dickee Dee’s Hotdogs.

If you stop by, tell proprietor Jimmy Cuomo, that Audrey sent you. I promise he’ll take good care of you- showing you photos, giving you neighborhood directions and telling some stories!


  1. Thank you so much Audrey. I hope to be able to join the bus tour some time in the future. It sounds like a blast from the past!!

    Comment by Linda — August 3, 2008 @ 7:55 pm

  2. Audrey…You are Simply the Best JB Tour Guide!
    I truly appreciate your posts & the JB Tour updates as unfortunately I do not have supernatural powers..I am not Superman, Batman..nor even the Joker..maybe the Riddler & cannot possibly be present everywhere..anytime at all of these great JB events!

    Have not been able to go on a JB tour..but rest assured having been born & raised in the NJ area..I still have lots to see & experience thanks to you!

    Comment by NewJerseyLasagna — August 3, 2008 @ 8:10 pm

  3. Thank you so much, ladies!
    If anyone has missed the past bus tour articles covering the many NJ sights we see, here is a link to (most) of that coverage:

    Comment by Audrey — August 3, 2008 @ 8:33 pm

  4. This was my second time to venture into the “old neighborhoods” of the original JB. Each time I learn so much about the Four Seasons and locales they inhabited that it gives me a richer experience when I see Jersey Boys onstage. This trip is fun because of the camaraderie of the group (so nice to see Linda, Howard, Charles, Pam, Beverly & Charlie again and meet new friends like Priscilla and a few others), Audrey’s well-planned tour with new and interesting tour sites and historical commentary, and words of wisdom from Walt Gollender with his interesting and hysterical commentary! Jim Petrecca’s store, Yesterday’s Treasures is a nice place to begin and end the tour. Thank you, Audrey, for another outstanding tour and a pleasant day spent with friends.

    Comment by LuluThompson — August 3, 2008 @ 10:01 pm

  5. I just played one of Nick Massi’s compositions with Bob Gaudio, “Little Pony (Get Along)” from “Folk Nanny”, for some friends and they loved it. They said it should have been as big of a hit as “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”! The original had Nick Massi singing lead as “Alex Alda” circa 1961.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — August 4, 2008 @ 10:14 am

  6. How about “Living Just For You”… a nice little Nicky composition that was worth putting on two of their lps in the mid sixties. (Working/Entertain You).

    Too bad Nick couldn’t have been around for the success of this show.

    Something tells me that he would have appreciated the groip’s “validation” more than anybody.

    Comment by Ray Ricci — August 4, 2008 @ 11:25 am

  7. As David pointed out to me, “Little Pony (Get Along)” is actually from the “Born To Wander” LP. I should have looked it up before I posted. I recently got the CD with both albums on it, and I was thinking of that.

    I don’t think almost anyone realized Nick Massi’s multiple musical and artistic talents until recently.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — August 4, 2008 @ 2:05 pm

  8. Audrey,
    I so enjoyed the bus tour! I found the following stops to be the most interesting: Frankie Valli’s house in the projects, the Belmont Tavern, the club where Tommy first brought Frankie up on stage, and Bob Gaudio’s family home, high school, and the mansion he purchased in the 60′s. I also was impressed with the town of Belleville. I had never been in Belleville before. People who clap at the reference in JB to Belleville can be proud of living there. I also think it would be great fun to have dinner sometime at the Belmont Tavern. Its ambiance is a reminder of what life was like back in the 60′s! It is amazing the research, work, time, and effort Audrey has put into arranging the itineary for these bus tours. If the JB movie comes to be and they film it on location, the producers could really use Audrey’s knowledge and expertise!

    Comment by Beverley Micciche — August 4, 2008 @ 2:58 pm

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