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About the Sgro Brothers
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The Sgro Brothers, Dom and Tony, were born and raised in Wellsville, Ohio. Their parents, Frank & Felicia, were Italian immigrants who worked very hard to provide for their family. The family consisted of Dom and Tony, two brothers, Ralph and Peter, and a sister, Josephine.

Their father, Frank, had a great love for music and played the Violin, Mandolin and Guitar. One Christmas when Dom was six years old and Tony, four, their father gave them each a Hohner Marine Band harmonica as a gift. They were fascinated by the instrument and immediately began to play some of the popular songs of that time. They practiced endlessly. The more they practiced the more they mastered the instrument.

When Dom and Tony were students at Wellsville High School they were asked to perform in the Easter pageant. They played the "Old Rugged Cross" on their harmonicas. From that time on, they were stage struck. Later, both became inspired when they saw the famous Borrah Minevitch Harmonica Rascals in the movies.

In the early 1950's, they began to enter many local talent contests and performing at local functions and school programs. In nearby Pittsburgh, Pa, there was a popular talent show called "The Wilkens Amateur Hour" televised every Sunday evening. Dom and Tony entered the contest and won first place. Through the Wilkens Amature Hour they were recognized by several Pittsburgh agents who became interested in booking them in the Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Akron areas. While working in these areas they worked with stars such as Tony Bennett, the Four Lads, Don Cornell and the Four Freshmen. Station WOHL in East Liverpool, Ohio, invited Dom and Tony to perform a weekly Monday night radio show. Every Sunday morning, they performed on their own Italian radio show in Alliance, Ohio.

In 1951 The Borrah Minevitch Harmonica Rascals were appearing at Bill Greens Night Club in Pittsburgh. Dom and Ton decided to go see the Rascals and while there, they met the start of the show, "little Johnny Puleo". Johnny asked Dom and Tony to audition for him. Johnny was very impressed with their performance. Two weeks later, Dom received a phone call from Borrah Minevitch himself. He asked Dom and Tony to take the next train to NYC...they did. Borrah wanted the brothers to join the Rascals. It was a dream come true. Unfortunately it didn't last long because Tony was a sophomore in high school and wanted to remain in school to graduate.

After Tony graduated, he and Dom joined the Marine Air reserve. After a year in the Reserves, Dom received his draft notice, which was during the time of the Korean War. Instead of joining the army, he and Tony decided to enlist in the USMC in hopes of being kept together. The Marine Corp was very good to the Sgro Brothers. They were kept together in Special Services and also performing in the Marine band. The USMC sponsored the Sgro Brothers in a 52 week nationwide radio show. AT that time they were known as "The Marine Corps Own Harmainiacs". They appeared on many shows representing the USMC, such as the Herb Shriner Quiz Show, Arthur Godfrey Talent Show and the Easter Parade of Stars. The highlight of their career in the USMC was appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show, the Navy Relief Ball in Washington, DC and the Elite Belmont Futority Ball at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC. It was exciting that the Sgro Brothers and Bevo Francis, both from the little town of Wellsville, Ohio, appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show within a few months of each other.

In 1955 Dom and Tony were discharged from the Marine Corp and went to NYC to record for RCA Vistor. While in NY they were reunited with Herb Shriner who formed a harmonica band which lasted 2 years. They did TV shows and recorded for Columbia Records. While still in NYC Dom and Tony were introduced to Lucy and Angela Di Nardo, two sisters from Hornell, NY. In 1957 Tony married Lucy and in 1958 Dom and Angela were married. Dom and Angela have three daughters and 11 grandchildren. Tony's wife Lucy died in 1988. Tony married Dorothy Demyan on January 19, 2002.

After the death of Borrah Minevitch in 1956 little Johnny Puleo took over the Minevitch Rascals and it became Johnny Puleo's Harmonica Gang. Johnny immediately contacted Dom and Tony in NYC and offered them a contract to join his group. Johnny and his Harmonica Gang appeared in some of the most famous places in the world. These included the Tropicana in Havana, Cuba, the Tropicana in Las Vegas, the Latin Quarter in NYC, the Moulin Rouge in Hollywood with Dean Martin, the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Hollywood with Frank Sinatra and the London Palladium where they did a command performance for the Queen of England. They also did a series of Dr. Pepper commercials on ABC Radio.

After a number of years with Johnny Puleo, Dom and Tony left the group to settle with their families in Elmira, NY. They purchased a restaurant/ night club combination and performed there every Friday and Saturday evening.

While still operating their own night club, country music star George Morgan, visited their restaurant and was very impressed when he heard Dom and Tony play their harmonicas. George invited Dom and Ton y to perform on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. They performed several times on the Opry and were the first harmonica duo to appear on that stage. While in Nashville they were invited by Ralph Emery to perform on his "Nashville Now Prime Time TV Show".

The Sgro Brothers are still very active in show business. They appear on many cruise ships such as the Cunard, Royal Caribbean, Holland American, Costa, NCL and currently Princess Lines. They do Conventions, Festivals, work in Atlantic City and every year they play the NY State Fair.

One of their greatest enjoyments was returning to perform in their native home town of Wellsville, Ohio.

In June of 2004 The Sgro Brothers were guests of the White House playing for President Bush and members of Congress. You can read about their White House experiences by clicking on: The Sgro's at the White House

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The Sgros' Blow

"The Sgro Brothers, the nationally famous harmonica duo, have presented their unique show for years at venues all over the country, as well as entertaining on cruise ships and television. Harmonica aficionados will recall the dynamic duo as part of the famous Harmonica Rascals with little Johnnie Puleo, making music on instruments ranging in size from the size of a pea to several feet wide.

Branching out on their own, the brothers have done stints on stages as diverse as the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and the London Palladium, and have shared spotlights with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett and others. The talented pair also currently performs at many ethnic festivals and shows; they have been called back every year for the Italian Festival in Milwaukee, for example, an event which draws more than 500,000 people.

Dom plays the 64 Chromonica and Tony plays the chord harmonica. "We play music from operas and, of course, the vocals like 'Oh Marie,' 'Return to Sorrento,' 'Mala Femina,' and 'O Sole Mio,'" Dom pointed out. The brothers boast a broad repertoire that includes Broadway and pop tunes as well. But playing the harmonica and singing for Italian engagements seems to be their specialty. "Italian ethnic is going strong and it has really helped us," Tony adds. "We've even sung 'Pretty Woman' in Italian."

 

--Lorraine Smorol

 

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