Double and bubbles: 'Live Welk'
Accordionist, TV show veterans bring back memories for appreciative audience
Peoria Journal Star, The (IL) March 27, 2003
PEORIA - If one were to believe in reincarnation, it would be easy to believe Lawrence Welk had come back as Tim Padilla - or at least that Padilla had received Welk's talent when it comes to playing the accordion.
If you're old enough to remember Welk, his orchestra, singers and trademark ''champagne bubbles,'' you know he was a master at playing the accordion. Before Monday night, I would have said Welk was the best accordion player I had ever heard. But he had nothing on Padilla.
When Padilla stepped onto the stage at Monday night's ''Live Lawrence Welk Show'' at the Peoria Civic Center Theater, the 23-year-old almost could have passed for Welk's double.
He was dressed in a tuxedo, his hair was cut and combed very similarly to the orchestra legend's and, from the first sound he made on his accordion, it was deja vu.
When Padilla played ''Somebody Stop Me Polka'' from his debut CD titled ''Accordionly Yours,'' the audience, mostly seniors, clapped and clapped and clapped.
And you wouldn't have thought the older crowd would come to their feet much, but they did time and time again. As each of the six original members of the Welk show made their way to center stage and sang oldies but goodies, the crowd cheered, clapped along and rose to their feet.
Mary Lou Metzger and Ralna English opened the show with ''That's Entertainment,'' followed by ''Say It With Music'' performed by the orchestra.
Country singer Ava Barber brought two men from the audience, ''Harry'' from Peoria Heights and ''Wade'' from Towanda, Wis., onstage to help her with ''Y'all Come.''
And Dick Dale sang oldies such as ''On a Clear Day'' to the delight of many, especially an elderly gentleman sitting near the back of the theater who was singing along. And he didn't miss a beat.
Everyone performed well, and no one missed a note; the years have not weakened their voices.
Jack Imel - who produced Welk's television shows in addition to performing in them - amazed the crowd with his tap dancing skills.
Imel still plays the marimba, which he describes as ''a xylophone's big brother,'' with the zest and zeal of a young man. When he tap danced while playing ''Bye, Bye Blues'' on the marimba, everyone clapped and cheered. But when he stopped playing the marimba and continued to tap out the tune, the entire audience came to its feet - justifiably so.
As Welk himself would say, it was a ''wunnerful, wunnerful'' show.


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