Rick Michel will sing at the Butterfield Amphitheater July 18.      Photo courtesy of Rick Michel

Second ISCS features American Songbook

On July 18, Frank Sinatra classics will be heard at the second concert of the Idyllwild Summer Concert Series (ISCS). He will be here in the person of Rick Michel, who will be joined by the Harry James 12-piece band.

Michel does “Sinatra Forever: A Salute to Frank Sinatra” around the world. He also does a Rat Pack tribute. “Sinatra Forever” will bring the American Songbook with all the original arrangements to Idyllwild.

But Michel stresses this is not an impersonation show, it’s his interpretation of Sinatra’s works.

“I am not trying to impersonate Frank Sinatra, just pay homage to the man’s music, and share the stage with the original members of his band,” he has written on his website.

Michel is well known in Las Vegas and performs around the world. This is Michel’s second concert in Idyllwild. He performed during the 10th anniversary concert series and has visited Idyllwild several times.

Ken Dahleen, the ISCS producer, and Michel have worked together many times. “But it began long ago and the exact moment is buried in memory,” Dahleen said. 

The show business bible, “Variety,” has described his performances as the, “closest thing to Frank Sinatra we have ever heard.”

“I think Frank Sinatra was the most articulate of all the pop and standard singers,” said Michel on his website. “He made songs his own by uniquely phrasing the words to wrap around the melody line like no one else before him or since.”

The audiences recognize many of the song selections in the show. “I have tried to touch upon all aspects of Mr. Sinatra’s life by choosing the variety of music that best represents his career,” Michel explains on his website.

When asked how he got interested in singing Frank Sinatra songs, Michel replied, “In 1961, my mother took a picture of me with a Brownie camera. I was seven years old and I was doing an impression of Stan Laurel, he began. 

“As a teenager, I could do Sinatra, but I began as a stand-up in Las Vegas comedy clubs,” he continued. “By 1980, I was singing. I’ve been doing this for 40 years.” 

Sentimentally, “You Make Me Feel So Young” is his favorite Sinatra piece because his mother introduced him to it. 

“But I have so many songs I love,” he said. Michel does Sinatra in a variety of contexts from small groups to large bands, and sometimes just with strings.

Dahleen emphasized that the audience should pay attention while Michel is performing — Sinatra is not the only voice Michel sings. 

“He also does Dean Martin and he may actually do a couple of other voices. So if you are not watching, you may think other singers have returned,” Dahleen cautioned.

The ISCS starts at 7 p.m. at the Butterfield Amphitheater. Dahleen is anxious to present his concerts there. 

“The Amphitheater sound should be good,” he said. “People will enjoy it.”

Michel will be performing at Ferro on Friday, July 19.