ARLINGTON -- Eighty-year-old June Bratone says her
opening number will be It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp when she takes
the stage next month.
She's just kidding, of course.
After all, Bratone and the three other Moonmaids come
from an era when hits had names like
"There! I've Said it Again, Racing With the Moon
But there's apparently still an audience eager to hear
the swing quartet vocalize again, more than 50 years after they toured with
Vaughn Monroe and his orchestra.
"We jumped at the chance," to play a series of Florida
dates with legendary jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli and the Palm Beach Pops
orchestra, said Bratone, a 1942 Arlington High graduate. "We're all hams."
Bratone, the daughter of an Arlington Baptist choir
director, grew up harmonizing around the kitchen sink with her sisters.
But she was just a teen when Monroe called and invited
her to New York City to try out with the Moonmaids, who, like Bratone, were
veterans of the North Texas State Teachers College music scene that later
launched the likes of Pat Boone.
She passed the audition and for the next several years
criss-crossed the nation with the Monroe orchestra and the other maids,
cutting more than 50 records on the Victor label and appearing on
Ed Sullivan's CBS television show.
"We had a radio show every Saturday night, wherever we
were," said Bratone, who now lives in Pantego. "We really had a lot of fun."
The folks in Florida, where the Moonmaids are slated to
do six nights beginning on April 1,
are expecting big fun.
"It'll be lot of full houses," at the 2,200-seat Kravis
Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, said Pops spokeswoman
Maureen Roschel, adding that the shows celebrate Pizzarelli's 80th birthday.
"He is definitely a legend."
The Moonmaids quit the road to marry and have children
in the early 1950s, but they regrouped in the 1980s and performed into the
early 1990s, when two members moved to North Carolina.
Although they hadn't sung together in years, dusting
off their microphones to work with Pizzarelli again was a no-brainer.
"There are no wrinkles on talent," said Moonmaid Mary
Jo Grogan, 78.
"I can't wait to hear the first chord," said Grogan,
who lives in Dallas. "We giggle and laugh
just like we always did."
But, Grogan said with a laugh, the gigs ought to be
billed as "The Antiques Road Show."