The Orlando Philharmonic opened its 2015-2016 season with a concert with The Hot Sardines.
The Orlando Philharmonic opened its 2015-2016 season with a concert with The Hot Sardines.

ORLANDO — “I love Paris every month,” Miz Elizabeth Bougerol sang, and while her sweet rendition of the Cole Porter classic was filled with charm, it was also obvious that the great French city was not what Bougerol was trying to evoke.
Instead, Bougerol and her band, The Hot Sardines, took the audience at the Bob Carr Theater to a very different place: the late 1930s and the 1940s, and evoked a speakeasy, perhaps, or a big city nightclub in that era, when Jazz was king and so was swing.
On Saturday afternoon, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra kicked off its 2015-2016 Super Series program at the Bob Carr, and opened with their conductor, Albert George Schram, showing that his musicians really could swing as they recreated the Big Band sounds of yesteryear through a concert done in collaboration with The Hot Sardines, a band from New York City.
They were formed just about four years ago when bandleader Evan “Bibs” Palazzo and lead singer Miz Elizabeth brought them together, complete with their own tap dancer, Edwin “Fast Eddy” Francisco.
In October 2014 they released their debut, self-titled album, featuring early Jazz and some original Sardines compositions. On Saturday, they were in Orlando to join the Philharmonic in a concert that evoked the sounds of New Orleans to Manhattan, the classic style of Billie Holiday to the Andrews Sisters, and the era from Prohibition to World War II.
“We’re the Hot Sardines from New York,” Miz Elizabeth said at the start of the concert. “We’re so thrilled to be here.”
They performed both an afternoon and evening show at the Bob Carr, and David Schillhammer, the executive director of the Orlando Philharmonic, noted that their presence in Orlando owes much to another very well known orchestra.
“The Boston Pops found them about 18 months ago, and wrote charts for them,” Schillhammer said. “They discovered them in a nightclub.”
The collaboration between the Boston Pops and Hot Sardines, he said, caught the attention of the Orlando Philharmonic.
“We decided if they’re good enough for the Boston Pops,” he said, “they’re good enough for the Orlando Philharmonic.”
During the concert, Bougerol talked about their recent trip to Walt Disney World, where the band seemed at times to resemble the Country Bears Jamboree attraction in the Magic Kingdom.
“We’re here for the next two hours,” she told the sold out audience at the afternoon concert, “so enjoy.”
Bougerol reintroduced the audience to some classic early singers and songwriters, including Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller, the American Jazz pianist, composer, singer, and comedic entertainer, known for having made a major impact on modern Jazz piano.
“Are there any Fats Waller fans in the house,” she asked, and she then performed his song “Your Feet’s Too Big.”
“That’s a romantic tune,” she added.
The Hot Sardines moved then to a second Waller classic.
“This was one written in a speakeasy in Harlem,” she said, “that’s now a grocery store. This one is called ‘Honeysuckle Rose.” ”
As she sang, Francisco performed some eye-popping tap dance moves for the audience, prompting Miz Elizabeth to at one point note, “It’s jackets off time for us, folks.”
She occasionally addressed the members of the Orlando Philharmonic, noting “Orchestra, how are you doing? I feel like I should have baked you cookies.”
The Hot Sardines also paid tribute to the late film director Stanley Kubrick and his 1980 horror movie “The Shining,” by performing the song “Midnight, the Stars and You.” That 1930s tune, originally by Ray Noble and his Orchestra, was on the soundtrack of the movie when Jack Torrence (played by Jack Nicholson) enters the bar at the Overlook Hotel to speak to the ghost of Lloyd the Bartender. During Miz Elizabeth’s rendition of the song, the chorus sang “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” in the background — a line taken from the movie.
“There was a lot going on in that tune — a lot,” Bougerol said.
The Hot Sardines also reached back even further, to pre-Depression years, for one song.
“Right now, these gentlemen are going to play the most recorded song of the 1920s,” Miz Elizabeth said. “Does anybody know what that is? I bet you didn’t know you had to prepare today. Ladies and gentlemen, this is ‘The Charleston.’ ”
The Orlando Philharmonic will continue its 2015-2016 series on Thursday, Oct. 22 with The Maestro’s Debut, hosted by Michael Elsberry and Sally Blackumu, and David and Judy Albertson, when they welcome the orchestra’s new music director, Eric Jacobsen.

Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at

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