Last week, at the legendary Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, pianist Jim Hudak performed with vocalist Fred Pierce, the Tony Bennett Impersonator extraordinaire. In an unexpected series of events, Hudak, who had been booked at the Adobe Company's special party for clients, was teamed up with Pierce, the Reno based performer in the Fairmont's Penthouse Suite. The duo performed five Bennett-recorded songs together, opening with "Pennies From Heaven" and thrilling the crowd with "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" as their closing number. The Fairmont Hotel was the site where Bennett first performed his monster hit recording of "San Francisco" nearly 50 years ago. Performing the song at the Fairmont with Pierce was a memorable experience for Hudak. "The Adobe people decided that the significance of having a Tony Bennett impersonator as part of a party for some of their prized clients might be a nice touch," Hudak explains. "It turned out well for everyone, as Fred is a real pro. He helped me learn some of the songs he does from Bennett's repertoire on the fly, and I quickly realized that Fred comes from the old school of singers. By that I mean he's a musician first, like Bennett or Sinatra. They've all got a great sense of rhythm and timing, and they know how to swing. It was an honor to perform with such a fine talent." With recent performances with such noted musical artists as The Relyks, Blues Journey, and even an informal session earlier this month with his childhood musician friends, The Spunkies, Hudak's engagement with Pierce continued his recent trend of playing more often with other musicians. "The interaction factor cannot be overestimated when you're playing music," says Hudak. "You give and take with the other players, and always learn something new. As much as I enjoy the total freedom of performing as a soloist, there's still nothing like the spirit and camaradarie of getting together and playing music with other people." Last week's Fairmont Hotel performance was part of a busy performance stretch for Jim Hudak. He had 10 performances during a 10-day stretch in the middle part of May, including a Mother's Day engagement at Round Hill Country Club and two large private party events. He enjoys the frequent engagements, as it keeps his chops intact and his fingers limber. "Besides that, the extra cash is always welcome, too," chuckles Hudak.

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Jim Hudak

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