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Veteran musician returns to Stanley Park to perform

July 25, 2014 | By Carley Dangona

The Kielbasa brothers from left to right: Jack Monko, Louis Liptak Jr., Bobby Monko, Fran Pignatare and Don Blair. The band played its first show at Stanley Park in the 1950s. Liptak, the surviving member, will be featured as part of the Jim Blanch and the Boot Hill on July 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the park.
Reminder Publications submitted photo

WESTFIELD – The July 27 concert at Stanley Park features a veteran musician who has performed at the park for decades.
Jim Blanch and the Boot Hill Band will perform country tunes from 6 to 8 p.m. The band features Blanch on lead guitar and lead vocals, Fran Liptak on guitar and vocals, Dan Liptak on drums and Louis Liptak Jr. on bass and vocals. Dick Drake and Trevor Reilly join in on the fiddle and slide guitar, when schedules permit.
Liptak started playing weekly gigs at Stanley Park with the Kielbasa Brothers in 1958. He is the last surviving member of the group that included Jack Monko, Bobby Monko, Fran Pignatare and Don Blair.
“It’s been our upbringing,” Liptak told Reminder Publications. “We came from Stanley Park.”
He compared the Stanley Park of today to the place of his childhood. “They tried to keep it as it was, but like anything else today, it has to go with the mood,” Liptak said, noting that many features such as the fountain, concert series and horticultural aspects of the park remain staples.
“You meet a lot of interesting people [as a musician],” Liptak said. He and Blanch have played together for more than 30 years.
“I probably would’ve been a milkman,” Liptak said if he hadn’t become a musician. His father also worked for Stanley Home Products, but extended family members took park in the family business Liptak Dairy.
Liptak’s father, Louis Liptak Sr. was the first superintendent of the park. The family lived in a house within the park for 20 years. Liptak, 75, began playing guitar in high school, but switched to bass when the band was in need of a bassist.
Mike Baker and the Country Gentlemen – Baker on lead vocals and guitar, Blanch on lead guitar and vocals, Carl “Rocky” Beane on drums and Liptak on bass and vocals – spent 10 years playing at the Southwick Inn and S P Club on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively. Liptak now plays a couple of times a month at different venues.
He also worked at Stanley Park growing up. Liptak said he couldn’t chose just one feature as his favorite, but prefers to drive through the park and “see the different things that I worked on through the years.
By day, he owns and runs Liptak Industrial, a metalworking company. When asked to compare writing a song and creating a work of metal he responded, “It’s about the same. If it comes out good, I like it.”
Music remains his first love. Liptak’s son Dan recently gave him a Hofner bass for Christmas. “It was a big surprise. It was the bass I had always wanted,” he said, admitting he was like “a little kid on Christmas.”
Liptak, a Westfield native, still lives within the city. “I don’t like to move. I like right where I am. I’ve got my family here. What else could you ask for?”
In regards to the upcoming concert, Liptak said, “I look forward to playing with friends and [playing] some new music. There are a lot of people [band supporters] through the years that will most likely be there. I hope it’s a nice day and that everyone enjoys it.”
He predicted the performance would be “robust” and “lively.”
Liptak said he will always have “an affinity for the park.”
For more details, visit http://stanleypark.orghttp://stanleypark.org.

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