Festival a chance to remember Martin

He had talent that, even by today’s standards, often seemed larger than life.

He was the symbol of the era of cocktail cool, hanging out with his pals, holding a cigarette in one hand and a glass of whiskey in the other, a beautiful woman or two not too far away.

Together with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford, Dean Martin was a part of the famous Rat Pack, entertainers who brought the once-sleepy little town of Las Vegas to life in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Martin’s name continues to carry magic, some 101 years since he was born as Dino Crocetti in Steubenville on June 7, 1917.

And, it’s appropriate that his hometown celebrate his legacy during this week’s Dean Martin Festival at the Spot Bar.

He rates among the most versatile of entertainers, successfully appearing in live shows — his work in Las Vegas remains legendary — in films — think “Rio Bravo” and “Airport” — and on television — his “Dean Martin Show” was a top-rated program for NBC from 1965 to 1974. But he’s best remembered for his music, providing popular hit after popular hit, with his signature song “Everybody Loves Somebody” even knocking “A Hard Day’s Night” by the Beatles from the top of the Billboard charts in 1964.

The festival opens at 8 p.m. Thursday at the 217 S. Fourth St. location with the annual singing contest. Entertainment continues at 8 p.m. Friday with performances by Bob Morelli, Dave Selara and Chris Denem. On Saturday, the Frank Gallo Band and special guest Romina Perri take the stage at 1 p.m., with Morelli, Selara and Denem returning to perform at 8 p.m.

There is no charge to attend the Thursday night or Saturday afternoon events, and a $10 charge for the performances on Friday and Saturday nights.

It’s a fitting way to remember Martin, and the contributions he made to the world of entertainment.

COMMENTS