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Producer keeps standards alive

Pat Patera

Diane Dragone, executive producer for Reno’s Silver Star Productions, books the stars that sing the standards and she’s motivated by fear that the music is about to be forgotten.

Silver Star books what she calls “solid B-list singers” singers such as Eddie Watkins or Terese Genecco into venues far more intimate than the stadiums favored by rock stars.

Just as people in the 21st century may not know the music of Irving Berlin or Oscar and Hammerstein, they may not know either the stars of which she speaks.

Silver Star books monthly cabaret jazz concerts at venues such as the Capri Club at the Peppermill or Lakeside Community Church. Dennis Wigent, Dragone’s spouse, helps out on the technical front at show time.

During decades past, most casinos provided showrooms, complete with house orchestra, capable of hosting cabaret entertainment. That’s the void Dragone seeks to fill.

“My fear is this music will go away unless we keep it alive,” she says. The cabarets keep Broadway entertainers alive between big shows. In downtimes, they create one-man or one-woman shows, but they need a place to perform.

Dragone has 30 years in the music business. While living in San Francisco she owned and operated four record stores and hosted lunchtime and weekend concerts.

“Cabaret has a big audience in San Francisco,” she says.

But when book and record sales moved online in 2001, people stopped shopping, and Dragone was forced to close her stores.

She moved to Reno, but kept her contacts alive in San Francisco.

“I have more people than venues to book them,” says Dragone. “When I moved to Reno,

I couldn’t find small independent venues.”

Silver Star’s solvency depends on ticket sales, and Dragone promotes shows online at silverstarprod.com. But there’s a tremendous amount of competition for the entertainment dollar.

Especially now.

“Times are tight. When times are tough, people need an outlet for all the blues they feel in life,” Dragone says. “I’m trying to present excellent quality music at an affordable price.

In our highly techno society, people are losing touch with music making. Artists need our support.”