Monday, February 16, 2009


Sandy Zacky and Mike Clifford: A Special Valentine Evening of Love Songs

Sterling's Upstairs @ Vitello's

Saturday, February 14

Sandy Zacky and Mike Clifford have been a popular singing team for the last 20 years, and I must admit this is the first time I have seen them perform. But, God willing, it will certainly not be my last. This was their second appearance at Sterling's - a sold-out concert - and a stunning evening of cabaret. Both singers bring a warmth and love to the work that is unforgettable.

For me, Zacky is a cross between Rosemary Clooney and Ella Fitzgerald. She is a truly great singer with consummate phrasing. I agree with her when she says, "Music is my soul."

Clifford, singing since 1959 with Patience and Prudence and with the pop hit "Close to Cathy" (1962) to his credit as well as the very first touring company of the Broadway classic Grease, has a velvety smooth delivery and style reminiscent of Vic Damone. Both Clifford and Zacky know their way around a song. As Zacky said, "I love lyrics. They tell a story. Each song is a one-act play." She was not referring to just any music, but to the great standards of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Rodgers and Hart. She sang an abundance of these, thank goodness, including: "Our Love Is Here To Stay", "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" and, of course, this being Valentine's Day, the Rodgers & Hart favorite "My Funny Valentine". Another beautiful arrangement for Zacky was Gershwin's "Embraceable You" and a tribute to her husband "The Very Thought Of You".

Clifford's high points included a medley of Barry Manilow songs: "Daybreak" and "Could It Be Magic". Another terrific moment came with Jimmy McHugh's "Sunny Side of the Street".

Together Zacky and Clifford soared with "Come In From the Rain", "Love Is Everything" (from their popular CD ), "Evergreen", "For Once In My Life" and "Bye Bye Blackbird".

Backed by the fabulous Matt Harris Trio, Zacky and Clifford created real magic and made my Valentine's Day, as well as that of every other cheering member of the packed room at Sterling's, a truly memorable one.

This is one of the finest examples of what good cabaret is all about. Zacky and Clifford are a class act. Don't miss them when they return! I know I'll be back.


Post Note: It was a real treat to see actress Elena Verdugo, friend of Clifford and Zacky, introduce their act. She is still spunky and adorable!


Blogger LindaStearns said...

Wow, what a wonderful review. We can only imagine what a great time everyone had on Valentines Day. We are huge fans of Mike Clifford and love his music as well as Sandy's. Wish we had been there to share in this exciting evening.
Once again "Thank You" for this fantastic write up.

February 16, 2009 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger TUNEDEX said...

I am leaving this comment for Mike. The link for Sandy and Mike is incorrect. Please go to their MySpace page at:

Chuck Benjamin

February 18, 2009 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger Phyllis Spizzirri said...

Thank you Mr. Grigware for such a wonderful review on Mike Clifford
and Sandy Zacky. I was so thrilled to read the review as Mike called and told me about it. I was unable to make the show as I am semi handicapped and live in Chicago but if I would have been in better health I would have made an effort attend. I have been a fan/friend(former fan club president) of Mike Clifford's going into 46 years. Mike has always had a voice who could do so much and his voice has always melted my heart. Recently one other thing Mike's voice did for me was what I would call a miracle. I had lost contact with Mike for a long time but I always thought of him and prayed for him and well in 2006 lets say I had a bad fall and by July 2007 I had to go into a nursing home and I thought I would just die there .Then one day a friend came to visit me and brought Mike and Sandy's CD "love is Everything". it was great but at that time I knew I would never see or talk to Mike again. Well then on Oct 20,2007 my friend informed me that Mike was performing at Vitello's and well it was Sweetest Day and I thought
okay she wanted to do a conference call and I told her to do it and she did. Mike was not there yet but we left messages and then I sent him a birthday card in the first part of November I sent MIke a birthday card and about 2 weeks later I got a package and letter in the mail from Mike with the new CD. I had no Cd player but got one.Well
that was the start of my wanting to live and walk again. Then while I was in the nursing home Mike called me twice and it was in regards of a mutual friend of ours. By Feb 15 2008 ,I was leaving the nursing home when everyone there told me I would never leave well when you have a wonderful friend and most of a guy with a voice that can heal anyone I knew I would come home again. I thank God every day for Mike and others who have helped me. So who ever reads this should
take the time and listen to Mike
sing and if you are able to see him perform that is an added blessing. From your true Chicago
fan/friend a lady who does care Phyllis Spizzirri

March 28, 2009 at 2:38 PM  

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