The WWIIunes

The WWIIunes

The WWIIunes are a quartet reproducing the sounds of the USO shows that entertained the troops behind enemy lines during World War II. The quartet’s featured instruments are saxophone, clarinet, accordion, tenor banjo and guitar. The WWIIunes have been known to throw in a guest singer and a little fiddle playing to spice things up sometimes.

Frank Nanna was playing an Oktoberfest in Ocean City, Maryland with his band, The CowPolkas, where he met accordion player Carole Wolek. The producer of the Oktoberfest wanted The CowPolkas to play for a Chicken Dance competition which could last for up to an hour! Frank begged Carole to come up with her accordion to help him last through the duration of the competition, which she graciously did.

About six months later the National Endowment for the Arts was sponsoring the Big Read program for libraries all over the country. The current book was called “The Shawl”. It was about a shawl that went through the concentration camps during World War II and the Big Read wanted music that fit with the time period and the theme of the book. Lisa Harrison, from the Worcester County libraries, called Frank to ask him if he could do music for the book tour and he suggested Klezmer music. Frank called Carole Wolek and longtime friend Dave Dalfanso who plays sax and clarinet to see if they would be interested in playing Jewish Klezmer music for a book tour. Carol got all the music together and they practiced for about a month and then hit the road. The music sounded just like something you'd hear during World War II and a USO show. The trio started throwing in some big band numbers from the likes of Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey and the blend was like magic. Thus, The WWIIunes were born.

A New York styled cabaret called “The Blue Dog Café”, owned by Gary Weber and Todd Crosby, in the little Eastern shore town of Snow Hill Maryland, took a chance on this unique sound and group. Within a couple of months the word spread and now if you don't have a reservation by Wednesday you won't be able to get in on a Friday when the WWIIunes strike up the classic hits of the 40s. Snow Hill celebrates first Fridays every month and the WWIIunes perform in World War II uniforms and give the history of what was going on in the war on that particular day in that particular month. Patrons are treated to songs like: Take the A Train, All of Me, Barkeley Square, Begin the Beguine, Bei Mir Bist Du Schon, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree, Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter, Moonlight Serenade, In the Mood and I'll Never Smile Again just to name a few. The diners literally get out of their seats and start dancing in the aisles. One of the highlights of the evening is a tribute to the military anthems and the veterans and their families in the audience.  Another highlight is the singing of owner Todd Crosby who can belt out a Broadway tune with the best of them.

The WWIIunes have had the honor of performing with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and for many reenactment groups and fly-ins. WWIIunes' biggest honor was performing for the National Reunion of the 10th Mountain Division in Washington, DC , where 42 World War II veterans from the age of 90 to 95 showed up, some wearing their original uniforms celebrating the 70th anniversary of the opening of Camp Hale, Colorado. WWIIunes is honored to be a member of the 10th Mountain Division Descendants, Inc. Delaware River Valley Chapter.

The WWIIunes love the music they play and the people they play it for. And it shows!!!

The WWIIunes consists of:

Frank Nanna on guitar and vocals.

Dave Dalfanso on saxophone and clarinet.

Carole Wolek on accordion.

Lenny Wolek on tenor banjo.

With special guests:

Todd Crosby on vocals.

Frankie Nanna on piano and vocals.