The "Swingin' with Dean" Show
Article about Dean's performance at Poway, CA Library
Traveling soloist playing Poway Library May 15, 2010 José A. López Published 05/05/2010 - 4:36 p.m. Many musicians may say they live on the road, but unless they’re Dean Ratzman, chances are that they’re only speaking metaphorically. For the past five years, Ratzman and his wife, Valli, have been without a fixed address as he performs his one-man show, “Swingin’ with Dean” at senior centers, libraries and other venues throughout the country. He lives and travels to the shows in his motor home, a 2017 28' Four Winds C-Class, that he and his wife drive throughout the country. He performs between 20 to 35 shows a month (often two in a day). Last year he had 266 gigs (he had 322 in 2008). His website (www.ratzpack.net) shows a similar schedule for this year and the beginning of next. The couple used to live in San Diego for about 20 years when, according to Ratzman, the landlord at their Pacific Beach apartment told them they would have to move into a smaller apartment while theirs was being remodeled, and pay more rent when they moved back. They said "No, we don't have to do that". After seeing that he could book two week’s worth of gigs at senior venues quickly, he realized he could make a living as a traveling musician, he said. “I told Valli, ‘We can do this if you’re on the phone booking gigs ... we can both live on the income,’” Ratzman said. “We started checking out RVs online ... and we decided, let’s do this. Let’s move out of the apartment and use our money to spend on fuel for the gigs.” Ratzman said his wife warmed up to the idea after initially being wary of the thought of leaving her full-time job for a life on the road. Now, she books the shows and he plays, said Ratzman, who added that his wife has been able to book twice the number of shows he originally thought she could. The performer — whose repertoire includes songs from the ‘40s to the ‘80s ('40s - '60s for seniors) — said adjusting to the ambulant life didn’t require a “downward adjustment,” just different thinking. “In our situation ... We’re on the road hitting our jobs as we go. It’s kind of nice, you’re never really backtracking like you do when you’re commuting to work.” The couple have a garage/music studio in the Northwest and are up there every summer, and another storage unit in Southern CA. They spend a couple of months in the spring and also the fall in San Diego visiting a grown daughter who lives in the SDSU area, and a son who lives in Santee. The rest of the time they’re on the road, said Ratzman, who added that they try to schedule their touring around places they would like to visit, or friends and family they would like to see. During the shows, Ratzman plays trumpet, trombone, a Korg keyboard (or Yamaha) and sings. He accompanies himself with his own real drumming recorded onto MiniDisc, (no drum machine or computer tracks). He says he looks forward to the drumming sessions every summer in Port Angeles, WA., with his Pearl drum set. Ratzman, who attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, has vast experience being on the road. In the ‘70s he was on the road touring with a Seattle-based Top 40's cover band named “Carnival” that toured the U.S. and Canada. “That was at the height of the disco era and we were playing the best clubs. We were opening new clubs around the Southeast for the Big Daddy's/ Flanigan's chain." Ratzman says he was hired over the phone in Seattle, to join "Carnival". An agent with the Wm. Stephan Agency had seen him play trumpet with a Seattle group, "Roadshow" at an outdoor Pike's Place Market rock fair and thought he would fit well with "Carnival". "Roadshow" was one of the top bands with the Unicam Agency playing a lot of BS&T and Chicago Transit Authority. "It was a very interesting scene," describes Ratzman. Bruce, the leader of "Carnival" told Dean to meet him and the band at the "Love Affair" night club in Vancouver, B.C., where "Carnival" was performing." Well, the band was 'hot', a four piece rhythm section with organ and sax and trumpet. I was just hoping I could live up to Bruce's expectations. Plus, the song list was a little daunting with a multitude of 'funk' from Tower of Power and Kool and the Gang." Ratzman said, As I was milling around a scant audience, Monday nights usually being a bit slow, I was noticing a few other guys interested in the band too, not really looking like patrons, but more like musicians. A few of us started talking while the the band was playing, and we discovered we are all up for a part in the apparent "re-making" of "Carnival". The band we were witnessing was heading to Boise with a new agent, and Bruce wanted to continue the "Carnival" name and the current song list around the Seattle area with new guys. I knew we were all wondering if we could pull this off. In the days to follow, we got to know each other and rehearsed and discovered we were all coming from different musical arenas, but were also enjoying the mix. We each had significant track records in Northwest bands, and the end result was a great rhythm section plus 3 horns that were top notch, and everybody sang. In San Diego, Dean played trumpet with the "Mar Dels", the most prominent oldies cover band in San Diego. He also owned his own bands in the 80's, "Dean and the Persuaders" and "The Ravells" a Motown showband, both based in San Diego. When you see Dean perform as a solo, you will notice an osmosis of modern musical history that he has been a part of throughout the years. His repertoire will include great American hits from the ‘40s - ‘60s, along with a few originals, during his Poway library show. For reference on the internet: Google Dean Ratzman, Broadjam.com, and Ratzpack.net.
Article on Dean's Performance at Julian, CA Library
Music on The Mountain
On Tuesday, December 7th, the hardest working one-man band in show business is coming to the Julian Branch Library. Dean Ratzman is bringing his highly polished act - "The Swinging With Dean Show" - to the library for a Music on the Mountain concert at 6:00 PM in the main library room. Dean will sing and play "Hits from the Great American Artists" including Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Cole Porter, Ray Charles, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Buddy Holly, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Young Rascals, Neil Diamond, The Temptations, Santana, and Gary Puckett.
Audiences love Dean, but like a fickle lover, tomorrow he will be gone - off to the next of the 300-plus road shows he performs a year. For the last five years Dean, and his wife Valli, have enjoyed the vagabond lifestyle, traveling the country in their 2017 28 foot motor home. Dean averages 25 to 30 performances a month. Valli manages the business side of the enterprise, booking Dean's shows up and down both coasts and everywhere in between. Their favorites venues are libraries, performing arts centers, RV parks and retirement developments. Somehow they manage to fit themselves and everything they need to live happily - including Dean's two keyboards, trumpets, trombone and sound equipment - into their RV. Their only other modes of travel are a motorcycle and two bicycles, strapped to the back of their rig. They travel each summer to Port Angeles, Washington to work on fresh material in Dean's music studio. In the Spring and Fall they stay in San Diego, spending time with two grown children and grandchildren living here. The rest of the year they have no fixed address - just anywhere and everywhere.
Dean and Valli's nomadic lifestyle began as most big life changes do - as a small crack forming in an otherwise set lifestyle, creating the opportunity for change. For years the couple had rented an apartment in Pacific Beach. Dean, a life-long professional musician who attended Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music, played trumpet in the "Mar Dels", an iconic San Diego's oldies band. Valli had a good job and a steady paycheck as an office manager in a local medical practice. Life was good - and as predictable as a musician's life can be.
A visit from the couple's landlord changed all that. Their apartment was going to be renovated, they were told that meanwhile they would have to relocate to another unit. After the remodel was completed, they could move back in to their regular apartment, but the rent was going up. Their contented life would be disturbed, at least for a while. To Dean, the situation presented the opportunity to think outside of their comfortable box. He got on the phone and easily booked a full two week's schedule of "The Swinging With Dean Show" performances outside of San Diego. That boosted his confidence, enough to present the idea of living and working on the road to Valli.
“I told Valli, ‘We can do this, if you’re on the phone booking gigs ... we can both live on the income,’” Ratzman recalls. “We decided, let’s do this. Let’s move out of the apartment and use our rent money for fuel for the gigs.”
After her initial concerns of leaving a full-time job for a life on the road, Valli warmed up to the idea. A suitable RV was found and purchased. Fortunately, they soon discovered that life on the road suited them both. Dean loved performing in the ever-changing venues. Meanwhile, the business side - too often the weak link in a musician's career - flourished. Valli routinely booked twice the number of shows Dean originally thought she could.
Of course, all their success rests on the strength of Dean's ability to entertain audiences with his sizable musical talents. His one man show is a non-stop energy romp, with Dean accompanying his Sinatra-like voice on keyboard, trumpet and trombone. The background drum tracks are also his own - performed by him on his drum set, and recorded in his Port Angeles, WA music studio during their summer stops. His website, www.ratzpack.net, includes a host of positive reviews of Dean's past performances.
The light-hearted couple are enjoying their unique lifestyle, knowing it wouldn't be for everyone. For now, for them, it's perfect. But seriously, wouldn't you expect it to get a little old someday? Asked how long they plan to continue their life on the road, Valli replied, "Dean has talked of giving it up - usually he mentions sometime in his eighties…"
Don't miss Dean Ratzman and "The Swinging with Dean Show" - Tuesday December 7th, 2010 at the Julian Branch Library at 6:00 PM. Refreshments will be served. Perry Savage, Julian News. 12-3-10
Dean opened for The Beach Boys with his "Ravells" band in San Diego, in 1988.
Performed for the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, CA. 2010 and 2011.
Performed with conductor, Dr. Frederick Fennell, in Osaka and Athens, in 1970 and 1972.
Trumpet player for the iconic oldies San Diego band, The Mar Dels, in 1987.
Dean's Ratzman's audience rapport, humorous twist, and style of arrangements provides for a highly entertaining performance.
Dean is a veteran of stage and performs 240 to 300 gigs per year around North America.
His show is called: "The Swingin' With Dean Show." Dean is a smooth and talented solo performer. He can easily replace a band, since he performs on piano, trumpet, trombone, and sings. He plays '40s Swing, Big Band, Jazz Standards, 50's, 60's and 70's Jazz, Blues, Rock and Soul hits of Great American Artists. Dean does patriotic and holiday music, as well. Dean can do a full hour of themes such as Neil Diamond, 60's, Beatles/Eagles, Beach tunes, Motown, and Original tunes.
Dean touches on the styles of Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Elvis, The Beach Boys, The Young Rascals, Neil Diamond, The Temptations, Santana, Tommy James, and a few of his originals. See the song list on our web site for a complete selection.
Dean has assembled over 400 backtracks using all real instruments, including his own real drum kit.
His music works in every venue, with a musical range to support any mood.
Concerts, Marketing parties, BBQs, Happy Hours, Dances, Car Shows, and any special occasion.
Our PA system can handle small venues, concert halls, or outdoor parties. He has a keyboard if needed.
Our fee for the last couple years has been ranging from about $175. to $550. per hour.
* We are somewhat flexible according to the distance traveling, size of the venue, and your budget.*
Please e-mail or call to let me know if you have a budget and any openings during the time that we will be in town.