Big Chuck Remembers Oneonta Music Legend Jack Stahl
Oneonta's most famous piano player, Jack Stahl, has died. He was 82. Jack Stahl was a mainstay at Oneonta night clubs and events for over six decades. I first met Jack in the 1960s. My dad, Don D'Imperio, had a dance band in Sidney, Whenever Dad needed a piano player he would put the call out to his good friend Jack who would come down from Oneonta and sit in for the gig. Later I became the singer in the band and it was such an honor to be out front of a group which included my father on stand-up bass, Jack Stahl on keyboard, Louie Colone on drums, Russ Nygren on saxophone, and Al Gallodoro on clarinet. Talk about playing with the legends!
In the early days I used to come up from Sidney to listen to Jack play at the piano up behind the bar at the old Oasis on Chestnut Street. Later he was a regular at Sunday brunches at the old Homestead in Colliersville. And then of course too many other jobs to even mention.
The last time I saw Jack was a year ago Christmas (photo). I was emceeing the annual holiday party at St. James Manor.. I did my shtick, told a few Christmas stories and then introduced Jack. His back was hurting him a little, and he was moving a little slower than I remember. But all of that disappeared when he sat down at his piano. Oh, how the memories flooded back. I must have sang in a band with Jack a hundred times over the last half century, since I was a teenager. Mostly in Sidney, but a couple of times in Oneonta also. My Dad used to say Jack was "an engine of a piano player who had four hands."
I can only imagine that Al was at the pearly gates to greet Jack when he arrived Thursday and that somewhere tonight the two of them are playing "the prettiest music this side of heaven.
"Rest in peace Jack Stahl, "Oneonta's Piano Man."