Pat Yankee returns to Lodi for evening of music, laughter
Several dozen fans turned out on Thursday evening to see jazz legend Pat Yankee as she returned to her hometown of Lodi.
Lodi jazz band Cell Block 7 warmed up the crowd at the Eagles Hall. Then, band leader Bob Romans asked Yankee if she was ready to perform a few tunes.
“She has to have a drink first,” coronetist Bob Schulz called out.
“Just one?” Jim Maihack of Cell Block 7 fired back.
“Good Lodi wine!” Yankee replied. The back and forth continued as she took her place at the front of the room. She regaled her audience with a story about how Cell Block 7 member Bob Sakoi’s father once tried to steal a kiss from her when they were classmates at Victor School. She wasn’t used to bright lights anymore, she said, because she stays up until 3 a.m. and sleeps in every day.
“When I first met all these guys, they were standing up, but for the past few years they’ve been sitting down — including me,” she said, gesturing to the Lodi musicians.
Yankee first left Lodi in 1944 to pursue a career in show business. She danced, sang, led a band, landed a movie role, headlined at Las Vegas and more over her nearly eight decades in the industry.
Now 92, Yankee is finally retiring from the jazz festival circuit, but she’ll continue to perform in Pacifica.
She was at the Eagles Hall to sign copies of her new biography, “You Gotta See Your Mama Every Night,” by Medea Isphording Bern. But she took the time to perform several songs, including the one that inspired the book’s title, with Schulz — who previously performed with Turk Murphy and now leads the Bob Schulz Frisco Jazz Band — and Maihack.
After a handful of songs on Thursday, Yankee wound down, ready to sign books for her fans. But as the music quieted down, she got the crowd laughing one more time.
“It’s so quiet in here,” she said. “Nobody’s drinking!” To see video of the performance, visit www.lodinews.com.
Pat Yankee sings for her Lodi fans at the Lodi Eagles Hall on Thursday.