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Winiker Orchestra Carries Family Tradition Onward:

Bill and Bo Lead Versatile, Ubiquitous Ensemble

 

By Susie Davidson

Advocate Correspondent

 

BOSTON - Every Sunday, the sounds of a local institution fill Skipjack’s at 199 Clarendon St. in Copley Square. On Friday and Saturday nights, it happens at Skipjack’s in Brookline on Route 9. And at the recent Brookline Rotary Club Annual Pancake Breakfast, they filled the Brookline High cafeteria as well.

But the music of the Winiker Orchestra is nothing new to many fortunate and knowledgable attendees, who have long experienced the work of the crowd-pleasing and personable ensemble.

“We are multi-faceted, playing all styles of music with great authenticity, from Swing to Pop and Rock,” says Bo Winiker. “No matter how diverse the group of guests, we will play music that keeps everyone happy.”

With a repertoire that includes over 15,000 songs, they have filled the bill at myriad bar mitzvahs as well as civic events, doing classic Judaic favorites to patriotic standards. Indeed, their genres include high energy rock and pop, authentic swing and ballroom with a real 30’s and 40’s feel, music from around the world, including not only Jewish, Yiddish and Israeli, but also Calypso, French, Greek, Irish, Italian, Latin American, Polish, and more. They do classical for formal dinners and even unobtrusive background accompaniment for cocktail hours or quiet dinners.

Improv? Sure. “Just ask,” says Bo.  “We can learn to play any song!”

Ed Winiker, Bo and Bill’s father, was a teacher and pianist, and along with mother Annette, spurred his sons into the craft. The family shared a musical heritage based on traditional swing, and were featured on national TV shows including 20/20 and Nightline. When Ed passed away, the sons began sponsoring annual, innovative fundraising charity events on each anniversary at their native Millis High School, for their Ed Winiker Scholarship Fund. For one, they donated a Yamaha concert grand piano and sold the individual keys with Annette for $100 each; buyers had their names put on a plaque and the piano was donated to the school.

"My dad was a great pianist and a great educator," says Bill. "What better way to honor him than to do something that would help the struggling arts education program at a school we all attended."

“Experience, professionalism, reliability - these are the hallmarks of the Winiker Band,” adds Bo. “Through the years, our corporate clients have repeatedly said that they can absolutely depend on us.

“We are the hardest working band you'll ever find,” he promises. “When it's time to really party, we can raise the roof with our high energy swing, and dynamic rock and pop music.”

The Winikers have backed up Bob Hope, Billy Joel, Aretha Franklin, and they were even asked to play at the Bill Clinton inauguration.

It appears they aim, and do, please.

"A person or company is only as good as the people they surround themselves with,” says Legal Sea Foods’ Roger Berkowitz. “I'm honored to have had the Winiker Orchestra on hand when we celebrated Legal Sea Foods' 50th Anniversary."

"They blew the house away,” says Jerry Fensterman, Executive Director of Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International.

So don’t pass up any opportunity to experience this classic and classy ensemble, be it at upcoming, varied regional summer events, local functions, or at Skipjack’s. But don’t be shy. “When you visit Skipjack's, be sure to come up to the bandstand and say hello!” says Bo.

And if you make a request, it’s a pretty good bet you’ll hear it played.