By Eden Laikin
Thousands of concertgoers sprung to their feet Saturday night, as actor-turned-singer Robert Davi took his musical interpretation of Frank Sinatra from atop Nassau’s Lakeside Theatre stage, down to the crowd. Davi left the stage to “You Make Me Feel So Young” and returned with “Pennies from Heaven.” As he strolled, Davi – best known for his tough-guy roles in films including Die Hard, License to Kill and the Goonies – shook hands and crooned his way into the hearts of his fans.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano hosted Davi Sings Sinatra – the Second Time Around as part of his free Summer Concert Series at Eisenhower Park. Warm-up acts for Davi included world renowned classical pianist, Svetlana Smolina, and comedian Dave Konig. Davi has been performing his musical salute to “Old Blue Eyes,” around the Globe, for about two years now, most recently in Australia where he received rave reviews. Robert has also played top venues like the Venetian and Orleans hotels in Las Vegas.
In addition to singing such favorites as All the Way, Day In Day Out, Summer Wind and Come Fly With Me, Davi sang a heart-rendering “The House I Live In” after which he saluted veterans, police officers and firefighters from the stage. His ballads, such as “I Have Dreamed” and “Old Man River” – a stirring tribute to Maya Angelou, enthralled all. Among the luminaries in the audience were 95-year-old Ervin Drake and his wife Edith, recognized as one of the Great Songwriters of all times. Davi sang Drake’s “It Was a Very Good Year,” and then introduced him to the crowd.
A Long Island native, Davi spoke to the audience about his reasons for selecting songs to perform from The Great American Songbook – which he calls the Shakespeare of America – being his desire to bring back the spirit of the US he feels has been lost. Davi ended Saturday’s performance with “New York, New York” to more than 10,000 screaming fans.
His debut album, Davi Sings Sinatra- On the Road to Romance, was produced by Phil Ramone and was at #6 on Billboard’s Jazz Charts for several weeks.
Davi said his salute to his idol and old friend, Frank Sinatra, as well as his critically acclaimed interpretation of the Songbook, is “reminiscent not only of Sinatra’s musical accomplishments but also emerges with a deep understanding of the social significance of the music.”
Music icon Quincy Jones once sang Davi’s praises: “Davi has the voice, the tone, the flavor and the swagger. He absolutely touched me down to my soul and brought back the essence and soul of Ol’ Blue Eyes himself.”