The 52-year-old Wilmington native has been entertaining folks at nightclubs and weddings as Ol’ Blue Eyes for the past couple years. He took the act to another level in June when he topped 12 other contestants to win the Frank Sinatra Idol Contest in Sinatra’s hometown, Hoboken, New Jersey.
Reilly was introduced to Sinatra’s style as a baby, when his mother would rock him to sleep while singing songs from the 1955 album “In the Wee Small Hours.”
“I was personally trained by Frank Sinatra,” he says, half-joking. “Every song, every note, every breath I learned from him. I can hold any note Sinatra can hold on any album he ever recorded.”
When Reilly was 7, he listened to his parents’ Sinatra albums. By 13 he was saving grass-cutting money to buy his own records—“Sinatra, not The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, like everyone else.” Since then, he has committed at least 1,200 Sinatra tunes to memory.
Reilly works as a headhunter with The Network Group in Trolley Square. He and his accompanist, David Zipse, played a regular Sinatra gig at the Ameritage Restaurant and Lounge until it closed last summer.
The pair met during an audition for a local musical about Judy Garland, in which Reilly played the role of Sinatra. That’s when “Sean Sinatra” expanded beyond wedding receptions and friends’ homes.
“When he walked in, well, he had the hat, he had the look,” Zipse says. “He opened his mouth and sounded like Frank. I was just blown away.”
Reilly’s mannerisms and baby blues bear an uncanny resemblance to those of The Chairman. He wears no makeup for the part. He simply maintains a neat haircut.
“As I’ve gotten older, I look like him. I act like him. I didn’t mean to do that,” Reilly says. “What I’ve learned is you just never know what the next 50 years of life will bring.”
How far can he ride the Sinatra gig?
“Exactly,” he says. “It’s open-ended. You go with the flow.”
Asked if this could be his 15 minutes of fame, Reilly laughs. “How about 15 years?” —Drew Ostroski
Page 2: Fighting the Good Fight | Dave Tiberi is inducted into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame fo efforts to reform his sport.
Dave Tiberi is inducted into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame for efforts to reform his sport.
It’s been more than 17 years since boxer Dave Tiberi’s famous final bout, but the Delawarean is still being recognized for his contributions to the sport. In May Tiberi became the first pro boxer from Delaware inducted into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame. A two-time Pennsylvania Golden Gloves champion, Tiberi spent early parts of his career training and boxing there.
Though proud of his 22-2-3 professional record and International Boxing Council super middleweight title, Tiberi believes it’s his efforts to clean up the sport that got him into the hall. “The Hall of Fame really took a look at me outside the ring,” says Tiberi, a member of the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame.
Tiberi retired after losing a 1992 fight to James Toney that most spectators and experts thought Tiberi had won. Tiberi subsequently worked with the late U.S. Senator Bill Roth and others to pass the Muhammad Ali Bill that improved safety and fairness in professional boxing.
Tiberi, known for his work with underprivileged youth, turned down significant monetary offers for a rematch with Toney and concentrated on reform, which he continues to push for today.
“Every boxer hopes to leave some legacy for the sport,” Tiberi said during his induction speech. “While I enjoyed many memorable bouts, it’s not a record of wins, losses and draws that God dictated as the landmarks of my career.”
Tiberi, 42, has no regrets about leaving the ring while in his prime, especially when he hears the slurred speech of boxers who stuck around too long.
Tiberi, a practical joker, says he has one side effect from being punched repeatedly about the head. It acts up around the holidays when he goes to the mall.
“When I hear the Salvation Army bells ringing,” he says, “I start tapping my nose and shadow boxing.” —Drew Ostroski
Page 3: The Eyes Have It | Local artist Kristen Margiotta’s scary illustration bring children’s book to life. Just ask Ivy Spookerton.
Local artist Kristen Margiotta’s scary illustrations bring children’s book to life. Just ask Ivy Spookerton.
Kristen Margiotta of Wilmington has always enjoyed Halloween, so it’s no surprise that she earned her first illustration credit with the children’s book “Better Haunted Homes and Gardens.”
The book tells the tale of Ivy Spookerton, who goes house hunting to find “the most haunted house in all of Pumpkinville.” Margiotta’s spooky yet charming style brings author Jennifer Barnes’ characters to life.
Margiotta, 26, has been busy promoting the book since its release in June. She will exhibit several original illustrations and sign copies of the book on September 11 at the Talleyville Frame Shoppe and Gallery as part of the Wilmington Art Loop.
Gallery owner Wendy Mitchell is impressed with the young artist’s style. “I find her work to be sweet and whimsical with slightly somber undertones,” Mitchell says. “Her work is very unique, but her charming characters and painting style will appeal to a wide audience.”
Margiotta struggles to define her own work because she uses many styles, including realism and surrealism. She credits her signature big-eyed characters to her own self-image. “I talk to my artist friends a lot about how, when we do self-portraits or illustrations, it reflects the artist’s subconscious or self,” she says.
Margiotta’s scary subject matter is subtle and suggestive, so while parents enjoy the storyline, kids are entertained by the colorful images. “I love reaching a wide range of people,” she says.
Margiotta hopes to license her characters for merchandise in forms other than books. Though she loves using oil paint in her illustrations, she also has explored 3-D art, including toy novelties, to make her art more affordable and interactive.
“I want people to enjoy it rather than just hang it on a wall.”
For more, visit kristenmargiotta.com. —Jen Bray
Page 4: Biden Time | A monthly review of the veep.
A monthly review of the veep.
Joe’s eulogy for Senate Pro Tempore Thurman Adams: “I don’t think we’re going to see someone like him for a long, long time. Men like him don’t come along every few years. They come along every few generations.” Nice.
We recently spied Joe at Boscov’s in Christiana Town Center—a life-size cardboard cutout of Joe telling customers (via a word bubble) that he bought a tie there. Note to Boscov’s: You’re going to need a bigger word bubble.
After watching the Phillies storm from behind to beat the Pirates in July, Joe headed to the clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park to congratulate Ryan Howard, who was talking to media. “Sorry guys,” Howard said. “It’s a matter of national security.”