Tony Carrafa

There was a time when parents would go to great lengths and much sacrifice for the sake of giving a son or daughter the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and thereby experience the joy of making music.

The late Tony Carrafa was encouraged at an early age to take up the piano accordion and for this he remained truly grateful to his father Angelo who, as a guitarist himself, knew and appreciated the value of cultural development.

So began the story of yet another talented artist whose first instrument was invariably purchased from none other than the Lamberti Bro's music store in North Melbourne.

Showing immediate promise, a young Tony began serious music lessons and his tutors included such distinguished names as Egidio Bortoli and, subsequently, Lou Toppano.

While studying and rehearsing he was also invited to participate on Italian radio which was at the time transmitted by Melbourne's 3AK Radio Station.

Eventually Tony formed his first band - a six piece ensemble known as Mambo and which included trumpet and sax as well as a vocalist. The band provided entertainment not only in metropolitan Melbourne but frequently also in regional country centres such as Swan Hill, Shepparton and Tatura to name just a few.

As years went by and what with new technology and a tightening economic situation most club bands were forced to downsize - some became trios, some duos and others outright one man bands.

Tony teamed up with two of his brothers who were also musicians - Michael on bass and Matt on drums and together they formed the C. B. Combo (as in Carrafa Bro's Combo) and so began a lengthy period as resident band in one of the city's major social clubs of Italian origin, the Fogolar Furlan Club in Thornbury.

They remained at the club for a remarkable fifteen years since 1985 consistently providing quality entertainment for members and friends at weekly dinner dances, gala events, special occasions and Sunday family functions.

Throughout the years Tony and the boys had the opportunity to meet and work alongside prominent international artists who appeared at the Fogolar Furlan Club as part of their Australian tours and some names which come to mind include cabaret artist extraordinaire Strindule and Sanremo Song Festival superstars Nilla Pizzi and Giorgio Consolini.

The Combo Carrafa eventually became a duo with Tony joined by Vito Lentini on drums and apart from an always busy schedule performing at various clubs and dance venues Tony finally found time to complete a long awaited recording project.

The CD, titled Balliamo Liscio and released in 2002, comprised of twelve instrumental songs in styles ranging from waltz to tango, polka and beguine with all works composed, arranged and produced by Tony.

Following the success of that first release Tony subsequently completed another recording project titled I Miei 50 Anni Di Musica, meaning literally my fifty years of music, which comprised sixteen original songs once again all composed and arranged by Tony.

A feature of that latest CD was the song titled Cristoforo Colombo Polka (words & music) penned by Tony in homage to the Columbus Day Parade festivities held each year in New York by the Columbus Citizens Foundation.

The new CD was in fact launched at a Columbus Day function organized by Tony and his wife Lina in October 2006 at the Lazio Marche Club in Melbourne's northern suburbs.

Tony Carrafa will be remembered with affection for his capacity to delight audiences over the years with his repertoire of Latin American and Continental music always enhanced with a selection of his own original numbers.


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