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  • Richard Duckett, Telegram and Gazette

Worcester's Marco Turo singing six nights a week in Florida, but coming back for 60th

Updated: Apr 4

Published in the Telegram & Gazette on Jan. 24, 2021.

Telegram & Gazette

If it's Wednesday or Saturday, he's singing at  Matteo's of Boca Raton. If it's Friday or Sunday, he's singing at Matteo's of Hallandale (Beach). Tuesdays you can catch him at the Seagate Hotel in Delray Beach. Thursdays, the Seagate Beach Club, Delray Beach.

"My quote in life is 'When I’m singing, I’m happy,' " said Worcester native Marco Turo, who grew up in the Shrewsbury Street area, worked for many years as a restauranteur, and then packed that in while in his 50s to try for a career as a singer.

He mostly sings as Marco Turo and has his own distinct pleasing voice while sounding quite at home doing Frank Sinatra covers, Tony Bennett, Tom Jones, and more. Besides his voice, Turo has been praised for his charm in concert.

"I’m doing what I love and this is my contribution to life," Turo said.

As the weekly schedule suggests, Marco Turo's currently been singing six nights a week in Florida, where he first ventured to audition as a singer  at  hotels, lounges, restaurants, country clubs, and casinos in 2015/2016. He now lives in Boca Raton.

Turo has cut back a little bit.

"I just came off 15 nights in a row," he said of a Christmas/New Year's Eve stretch of engagements in the Sunshine State.

 "It's pretty much six nights a week. It's been really good. Very, very busy."

With that, Turo said he didn't want it to come across as if he was boasting during a recent telephone interview from Florida.

"I feel bad for the singers up there. My friends. I feel bad for them that they're not working," he said of up here in the Worcester area.

Indeed, Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but Turo has heartstring attachments for Worcester.

And so come June, the itinerary, and hopefully the bookings, move north.

In what is becoming a yearly tradition, Turo will head back to the Worcester area for the summer to sing. He'll be staying in Shrewsbury with his 86-year-old uncle Franny.

"My plan is to come home June 1," Turo said.

On June 4, Turo will turn 60.

"I want to come home, see my son, see my family, see my friends. Hopefully things will get better," Turo said. He'll head back to Florida around the end of September.

If the pandemic here has led to the shutdown of live in-person singing and also quite a few restaurants, it's a different situation in Florida in some respects.

The Matteo's establishments are big Italian restaurant venues. Turo sings outside a good deal, and when he sings inside, the space is large enough that people are spread out, he said.

"We're careful. Waiters have masks and gloves. A lot of people are dining outside," Turo said.

He also usually sings to an older audience. "People are cautious."  

As are venue owners. "Once  in a while I'll use a piano player. Most of the time I'm doing solo," Turo said. 

"They're cutting back on the bands. They don't want a lot of interaction (dancing). I'm fortunate just to be working." 

Turo has some other bookings lined up including  dinner shows at private clubs such as Broken Sound CC and Boca West CC, both in Boca Raton, and even three shows at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. 

Turo’s father, the late Leo J. Turo, was a local legend in Worcester, a former state representative and Governor’s Council member who owned Leo’s Ristorante at 11 Leo Turo Way, off Shrewsbury Street. Marco Turo grew up right next to Shrewsbury Street on Shamrock Street.

Turo has previously recalled that there was always music being played, whether at home or at the restaurant, with quite an emphasis on Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin and other legends of that kind and time. Turo would sing in the kitchen and later at weddings. People told him he had a good voice.

Leo’s is still run by the family. Meanwhile, Marco Turo subsequently owned and operated Bistro Limoncello Ristorante in Northboro.

But he wanted to do what would make him really happy — and that meant singing professionally. One day he said "I’m gonna give it a shot." He sold Bistro Limoncello, hired a voice coach, and practiced in a friend’s garage.

His first professional singing gigs were at the former G Bar on Green Street and Padavano’s Place. In the summer of  2015 he performed at venues on Cape Cod and in Providence, as well as Villa Napoletana in East Longmeadow. That winter, he drove down to Florida. The first venue to hire Turo as a singer in Florida was Vinnie’s by the Sea in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.

Turo's set lists and repertoire have evolved since then and, like his bookings, have grown larger.

 "When I started singing five years ago my set was seventy percent Sinatra and thirty percent other artists," Turo said.

"As as time went on, I now do thirty percent Sinatra and seventy percent other artists and have 130 songs and about 25 different artists I can do. For the most part my crowd loves Elvis, Tom Jones, Dean (Martin), Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin, Paul Anka and Frank, but I also do dance music such as Barry White, Lou Rawls, Dion, and '50s and '60s. Each show usually runs three to four hours and I do about 50 songs per show. Try that five to six nights a week and you need a strong voice, but I love what I do."

Still, "I don't want to come home and sing six nights a week. I'll sing three or four nights a week," Turo added.

He came back last summer and did find places to sing frequently at such venues as Constantino's Venda Bar and Ristorante in Providence. As for this summer ("hopefully if things get back to some normalcy") Turo will be returning to Constantino's Venda Bar and Ristorante on Fridays and Sundays. He may also help the Constantino family (who he knows well) at the restaurant by working as a maître d'.

Additionally, he has four shows at Fulchino Vineyard in Hollis, New Hampshire, and, all being well, shows at Chapel Grillle in Cranston Rhode Island, Calabria Ristorante in Millbury, Tomatoe’s Italian Bar and Grill in Sandwich, and "a beautiful new restaurant in Newport called Vieste, which happens to be the name of the town in Italy which my ancestors came from owned by my good friend Tony Larusso from Worcester."

So there will be "a number of opportunities."

He'd also like to perform a dinner show or two with a five- to six-piece band, "if they allow us."

In 2017, he did “An Italian Dinner Show” with Joe Cariglia and Lori Z — Sounds of Streisand at Mechanics Hall in Worcester.

"Hopefully I'll get some work in Worcester. I'd love to go back to Mechanics Hall," he said.

 Padavano's Place, where Turo also performed in 2019, is now closed, although it shut down pre-pandemic.

Other restaurants and performance venues in Worcester have suffered badly since the pandemic started, as Turo is well aware.

During his visit last summer, he said he didn't perform in Worcester at all. "Last year nothing in Worcester, unfortunately."

He speaks to relatives at Leo's. "Like all the other restaurants, they're hanging in there," Turo said.  

"I feel really bad for all the restaurants. It's horrible for me. I know the feeling. I sat there. I owned a restaurant. I know the stress. The sleepless nights. You can't pay the bills. So I know how they feel."  

His performances last summer were mostly outside gigs. For Constantino's Venda Bar in Providence, "what really helped on Fridays and Saturdays at Federal Hill they blocked all the streets off," Turo recalled.  

"I just want to stay safe and healthy. I'd like to be up there for my birthday at least until Labor Day. Last year I was there until the end of September."   

His son, Dante Turo, recently graduated from Quinnipiac University and now has a job doing social media for a company.

"I enjoy coming home. It's nice to get to spend time with my son." 

Besides missing family and friends, he also has occasional pangs for the restaurant business, past sleepless nights notwithstanding.

"I miss the business. I miss it a lot. There are a lot of restaurants available in Boca,  but its not a good time to open a restaurant in Boca right now," Turo said.   

"I'd just rather focus 100 percent on my singing. I still believe once we get through this (pandemic) I have the opportunity to get to the next level if I can be this successful now."

So to paraphrase Sinatra, is the best yet to come?

"Absolutely," Turo said. 

One plan is to be the opening singer for a big act. 

"I have different things going on. Oh yeah, the best is yet to come. We just have to get through this pandemic. I had some things that I was working on that got shut down. This year is the best stage of my life. I bike five miles (a day). Swim. Do weights. I'm in the best shape of my life," Turo said.

And perhaps best of all for someone who loves to sing, "My voice is stronger than ever."    

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