If you’re a fan of the late and great Rat Pack singer and all-time best crooner Frank
Sinatra, this show will not disappoint you. The candlelight series is just a series of
immersive events across the country in unique venues.
Michael Sailors and the Higher Calling Orchestra put on an excellent finger-snapping,
foot-tapping show. I regret that I couldn’t make out any of the band members’ names
when announced by the lead singer, Brian Anthony, as the reverb was a bit overwhelming.
Mike Sailors, leader of this band and trumpet player, was phenomenal with elegant styling
from Tommy Dorsey tunes to bossa nova to classic croon tunes. The cellist was sublime
and subdued throughout the one-hour performance, while the big band drummer kept the
joint jumping. The pianist on the Hammond organ was bright and alert. He was the
youngest of the members, which made me smile.
My dad was a huge jazz aficionado. He owned LPs and 78s from 1925 through the 1940s. I
grew up listening to Bing Crosby, Tommy Dorsey, Cole Porter, and Sinatra. It was
heartwarming to see a younger band member dig the tunes of yesteryear. I found the
short explanations of the origin of each number informative and well done.
The set included gems such as East of the Sun, West of the Moon; The Lady is a Tramp, and
a Rogers and Hart tune. Brian announced that number with an anecdote (sic) from Sinatra,
which in today’s world was totally out of place, sexist, and embarrassing, and IMHO,
should be removed from the set. He told the audience that the tune was used for the film
of the same name, which featured Rita Hayworth and Kim Novac. Sinatra said,
paraphrasing, “That would make a great sandwich.”
The 1930s classic Under My Skin, written by Cole Porter, went undetected until 1956
when Sinatra recorded it, which, not ironically, is the exact name of my memoir
The beautiful ballad Don’t Take Your Love From Me has some
peculiarly sad lyrics, such as “If I would tear a bird’s wing.” The famous Fly Me To The
Moon song was played on the Apollo 10 and 11 flights. Just as the music was midway and
bopping, Sailors peered at his watch onstage. During the set! Was he getting ready to take
flight, I wondered?
Brian should have announced the band’s full names or given them space to play solo. He
was ignoring them. The pianist and saxophonist/clarinetist got two chances to jam out.
I sat smack dab in the middle in the front row and still couldn’t see the cellist nor the
drummer as Anthony blocked the cellist and Sailors blocked the drummer under their
stance. A slight reconfiguration of where everyone stood and thoughtful placement would
have provided the audience with a surround pictorial of all musicians instead of three out
The backlit wall of amber and sunset gold was magical against the floor candles, which
flickered imperceptibly. The closing tune My Way was just what the doctor ordered.
The Mansion, or “The Fed,” is a Georgian Revival mansion in Austin, Texas, with a history
dating back to 1931. It’s a popular venue for weddings, banquets, parties, concerts, and
dances, and it is a Texas Historic Landmark and listed with the National Register of
The only drag about this location is the parking. There is none! There was no valet parking,
which is the least the organizers can do for an event like this. I
went with a friend early to dine before the show. No luck. The food trucks were shuttered
around the corner, so we bought a bag of pistachios at a corner grocery and dined on that.
The Mansion had an open bar inside the room for fifteen minutes and the price of the
alcohol was reasonable compared to other venues.