It seems a lifetime ago that I met Maria Parisi Pennello in homeroom at North Bergen High. Even then, she had a silky, raspy voice perfect for singing — and boy, can she! If you don’t believe me, have a look and listen to the immense talent that she and Phil Corollo bring to their performing duo, Sage.
Last Saturday night wasn’t exactly the type of evening to be traveling — OK, the weather was icy-rain nasty — but my man Joe got us to the Poconos one piece.
We had little trouble finding Antonio’s Grille, a top-notch Portuguese restaurant run by another North Bergen ex-pat, Carrie Gallagher, and her husband, Marcos Herrera. And neither did the locals: The place was packed.
Maria has been singing she was a little girl. She‘s been in various bands and was in the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” for seven years at the 8th Street Playhouse.Lynn Paret
Phil, meanwhile, plays in an Italian wedding band and was looking for this type of project. So, after meeting through a mutual friend, they conjured Sage this past July.
Theirs is an eclectic mix. It began Saturday night with “Be My Baby,” before a sultry rendition of “When He Cheats” (Carrie Underwood). Among others were “Come to My Window” and a version of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love” re-arranged into a gorgeous ballad. “I Want to Know What Love Is,” a less hysterical version of “Walking on Sunshine,” than the original:
That Sage even did “White Rabbit” floored me. That they took it to such heights made the surprise that much sweeter. And while “All of Me” is a standard you’re sure to hear from any number of singers, Maria’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” evoked all the yearning the song expresses — and then some.
Phil handled the guitar flawlessly and is clearly a perfect second in their two-part harmony. He and Maria restrained the urge to hit the high notes — this was a supper crowd, after all.
Then Maria picked up a flute to accompany Phil during the Cyndi Lauper song “Time After Time.”
After 18 songs(!) , it was time for a break. When they returned, Maria dedicated a song to her daughter, Toni, a young talent in her own right. “If it weren’t for her,” Maria said, “I wouldn‘t have ever known this song.” Then they did a cool-for-adults version of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”
Hopefully, the weather will cooperate come March 5, when Sage is booked to play Antonio’s Grille again. Meantime, you can find them at Music by Sage , as well as on Facebook . Click here for musical SAMPLES .
A word about Antonio’s Grille : Easy enough to find on Rt 2 09 in Brodheadsville, PA, it’s a labor of love now in its sixth month . As the weather warms, it will become more of an attractive destination — for the ride, the superb food and service, and the talent. Check them out at Antonio’s Grille and on Facebook .
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